The Christmas Lamb (Conclusion)
Last week, we left our little lamb asleep in the manger next to the newborn baby Jesus. Runt was happy and safe. The next morning, Runt awakened to the voices of many local shepherds. They were bowing to the baby Jesus and giving Him their worship. It was quite a sight. Runt recognized one of the men as Bashan, his trusted shepherd. Runt bounced over to Bashan and received welcome hugs. As Bashan held him, Runt could see the wonderful scene in the cave. No one will ever believe this story, he thought.
Later that day, Runt was reunited with his sheep family. After the loving greeting from his parents, his mean brothers listened to the story of his travels. But after he told them about being kidnapped and being trampled in the holding pen, they accused him of lying when he described the birth of the baby Jesus. Every day after that, his brothers taunted Runt and made him cry. Finally, Runt could take it no more and he decided to return to the cave where Jesus lived. Late at night, Runt sneaked away from home.
Several days later, Runt arrived at the cave. But the baby Jesus was gone! Now what? Suddenly, big hands grabbed Runt and tossed him into a pen where sheep were waiting to become Temple sacrifices. There was a strong gate so none would be able to escape. Runt was sad and frightened. He had lost his home and family, and the baby Jesus. Now he was facing certain death. As Runt huddled in the corner hoping to not be seen, he remembered the scene in the cave where the shepherds were worshipping Jesus. Those were such sweet moments, and they brought Runt peace and joy. He hoped that he would see Jesus again, but things looked hopeless. The next day was very strange.
One by one, sheep were taken from the pen to the Temple. They never came back. At sunset, Runt was the only one left in the pen. But then a man came and took Runt to the Temple to a sacrifice for the purification ceremony of a little boy who was 40 days old. Jewish law required a yearling lamb to be sacrificed in praise to God for the birth of a son. Runt was sold to be the sacrifice and taken immediately to the Temple. The area was filled with loud sounds of moneychangers doing business and the bleating of lambs being sacrificed.
Runt panicked and tried to escape, but was quickly tied to a stake by the Temple priest. A young couple with a baby was explaining that they did not have enough money to buy a lamb for the sacrifice. Everyone seemed upset. Then, Runt realized that the baby boy was his friend Jesus, and this was his purification ceremony. Runt was going to die in celebration of Jesus’ birth. Runt loved the baby Jesus, but was afraid to die.
Then his little ears heard the priest say, “If you cannot afford the lamb, you could substitute the bird sacrifice.” YES! Runt again felt hope. There was a plan so that he would not have to die. When Runt arrived back at the pen, the little girl that had saved him before was waiting for him. She kissed and hugged Runt and took him home to live with her. Runt would never be alone again. But he often thought of the baby Jesus, and wondered what His life would be like. Would everyone love and worship Jesus?
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