2013 Easter Coloring Contest Symbolism
Lamb of God
The Easter season is the time that we celebrate Jesus’ triumph over sin and death. Jesus’ passion, death, and resurrection are the fulfillment of Gods covenant promises to His people in the Old Testament as well as a foretaste of our life in heaven. Our Easter picture displays an ancient symbol for Jesus’ triumph, the “Agnus Dei” or “Lamb of God.”
We know that Jesus is called the Lamb of God. When Jesus started his public ministry at his baptism, St. John the Baptist announced, “Behold, the Lamb of God!” What significance is in that title? Did the people of the day understand what it meant? We sing about the Lamb of God at Mass, how he takes away our sins. But how and why is Jesus a lamb and how can this lamb take away our sins?
Throughout the Old Testament, sacrifices are offered to God. Sometimes they are offered as a sign of a covenant promise with God, such as with Abraham or with the Passover remembrance of release from slavery. At other times sacrifices are offered in atonement for sins. The Jewish priests would offer these sacrifices in the temple. The animal to be sacrificed was quite often a lamb, the most famous example being that of the Passover lamb. But, because we are imperfect sinners, we can never offer a perfect sacrifice. It had to be constantly renewed.
Throughout history God promised His people that he would one day send a Messiah: someone to lead the people back to God, a perfect priest to offer the perfect sacrifice. The Jewish people were waiting and watching for God to offer the perfect sacrifice, the Lamb of God.
So, when St. John the Baptist announced, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world!” the people of his time knew exactly what he meant. Here was the promised Messiah! Here was the one who would redeem us from our sins and reunite us with God our Father in Heaven! But they were uncertain how he would accomplish this.
It is at the Last Supper (a Passover meal) that Jesus explains that He is to be the Lamb of God, He is to be sacrificed, His blood poured out in atonement for the sins of the world. This is God’s final covenant promise, uniting the promise of a Savior with the atonement sacrifice for sin. Jesus releases us from the bondage of our sin and death through His Resurrection and thus brings us in union with God our Father.
The last book of the Bible is the culmination of the story of salvation. The Book of Revelation is a heavenly vision filled with strange and wild imagery. But, understood properly, it is simply a vision of the “supper of the Lamb”, the once and for all offering that we share in. It is the sacrifice of the Mass, the source and summit of our faith, the final covenant of God with the people of the world, fulfilled through His Son, the “Lamb of God”.
The “Lamb of God” is pictured in Revelation as a Lamb slain, yet standing in triumph: and so our Easter picture portrays Him, standing, with a banner of triumph, displaying the cross of redemption in red as a sign of the blood of the Lamb, poured out for our sins. The wheat and grapes are signs of the bread and wine, which are the signs of His Body and Blood that we receive at Mass. The banner is crowned with the word Alleluia! Echoing the choirs of angels in Heaven rejoicing at His triumphant victory over death!
Rejoice! Alleluia! He is risen!