… and will not straightway pull him out on the sabbath day?”
These words of Jesus in Luke 14:5 always embarrassed me a bit, I have to admit. I felt a small bit ashamed … it just didn’t sound so cool.
Where I grew up, I’m afraid, your neighbour’s ‘ass’ was what took up too much room on the bus … and we hadn’t seen an ox for some time. I felt that the language had really moved on.
But today this all got a bit ‘relevant’.
A couple of our calves had been acting up like teenagers on a Friday night … posing on the settle filter cover.
I suppose it wasn’t a very new cover – and now we need a new one.
So what should have been a quick run up the hill for me and my lad with the quad bike and trailer … turned into a full blown large animal rescue, a full washing machine load and a full 30 minutes in the shower trying to clean up.
Mercifully you can’t smell that water in the photo …
And there’s the thing …
If you are going into a settle filter to drag out a cold, frightened, thrashing and fighting 80 kg. calf … you’re not coming out smelling of roses.
You’ll stink, and then no-one will be wanting to know you.
I’ve taken a half hour shower. I’ve really done my best. I’ve used Imperial Leather soap. I’ve used Tesco’s Moisturising Antibacterial Handwash. I’ve used the GOJO Pumice Hand Cleaner from the tractor shed … I’ve even used Dr. Bronner’s 18-in-1 Hemp Lavender Pure Castille Soap (oh yes!) But I still can’t hide the reality of what I’ve done today. Ther’s no covering up the pathology of the murky stuff that I’ve been into.
Of course you could say it was worth it. We’ve happily saved the calf. He’s back in the herd alongside his mother … mebbe colder and just a bit wiser.
But I still bear the scars that he gave me.
I still carry the stench of the pit he was in … and, well, it just took the shine off my bread and cheese lunch.
Still – a rescue is a rescue and it always feels GOOD to be part of one … doesn’t it?
Or does it?
I’ve been thinking of a much bigger rescue.
Not a calf rescue. A lamb rescue.
Not the rescue OF a lamb, but a rescue BY the Lamb.
You see, here’s the point … and it’s a point that can hurt …
One way or another, I’ll stop smelling like this pretty soon.
The stigma will quickly be gone.
My bumps, scrapes and bruises will be gone by next week too.
But that Lamb STILL bears the marks of His RESCUE that day, and they rub off on His followers too.
Let me show you what old man John saw of it …
“5Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing in the centre of the throne … You are worthy … because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation …
10You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth.
11Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels, numbering thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand. They encircled the throne and the living creatures and the elders.
12In a loud voice they sang:
Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honour and glory and praise!” (Revelation 5:6-12)
My nine year old son gave his ‘hero’ Dad praise for the stuff he saw me do with that calf. (Yes, it felt REALLY good!) But he quickly went off me when he learned how I smelled …
People went quickly off Jesus when they caught a whiff of the size of the price that He’d paid. Because that price would just cling to them too.
But Heaven … will forever sing His praise.
So … will I?
Or will I shrink back in horror from sharing the smell, the stench of the pit that He took on for me?
Can it MATTER?
Why would it matter?
Because, as Jesus said: “If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels.” (Mark 8:38)