cow_faceMary had a little lamb, it’s fleece was white as snow. Mary was disabled and walked with a crutch. Her father, Jacob, was taking his family to The Temple in Jerusalem so they could offer Ralph (the lamb) to God. The family had been preparing for this sacrifice for some time.

When they arrived at the temple courts, they found a crowd. The scene sounded like a livestock auction and smelled like a cow patty. In different areas there were priests and temple functionaries who had everything from grain to bulls arrayed around the courtyard. Mary led Ralph as she followed her father past the various tables and stalls. As they passed the lambs venders a priest stopped her father.

Priest (pointing at Ralph): You call that a sacrificial lamb?! Look at these over here — bigger, stronger — all would be great rams if they survived. AND these on the left have been raised by Levite priests and blessed for a very special sacrifice for you and your family.

Jacob (lifting Ralph’s muzzle): This is a special lamb. Mary’s raised it from a kid and the whole family has gotten to know and love him. That’s how we do it — our family has chosen to love and set apart what we give to God. Ralph, here, is our best and we’re thankful for him.

Priest (condescendingly): That may be, but God should get the best and that’s what we have here for you. Not some little milk-fed, scrawny pet.

Mary (shouting): He’s not a pet! He’s God’s lamb for our family! You are a mean man!

Jacob (slightly troubled as Mary begins to sob): Well, we want the best, but this is all we have…

Priest (with a sweeping gesture): We have some real deals today. This prize lamb has been blessed by the chief priest and is the best lamb in all of Jerusalem and Judea – just 30 pieces of silver.  But the real deal today is the ‘Walk-Away-Clean-and-Forgiven Special’ for 300 gold coin. This includes the best in every category — all prime, blessed and ready-for-the-altar — one bull (pointing toward the temple steps where bulls are hobbled standing in piles of their own dung), four rams, three heifers, two goats, two lambs, seven doves, 100 easy-lite logs,  a special commemorative altar set, grain and a ‘Certificate of Forgiveness and Purity’ for your entire family (including immediate relatives) signed by the chief priest — suitable for framing.

Jacob (deflated): All we have today is this lamb and a couple of doves, some grain and an offering for the less fortunate.

Priest: Well, let’s talk about that offering for the less fortunate — I’ll have to talk to my manager, but I’m almost certain we can get you into a sacrifice that’ll make your family proud. Are you interested in a trade-up? We have some fine heifers. Did you ever think you’d be able to sacrifice a heifer?

Jacob: No.

Just then, at the top of the steps a crazy man begins yelling.

Crazy Man: Levites! I’m home! You have some ‘splainin’ to do!

With that, the man pulls off his belt and begins swinging and kicking and pushing and generally losing it in front of God and everybody. Everyone is dumbfounded. Animals are running loose, grain is spilled and priests are grabbing their coins while getting kicked and whipped.

Crazy Man (roaring): This is supposed to be a house of prayer, but you’ve made it a den of thieves! Get ready, ’cause I’m kickin’ tails and takin’ names!

Mary hangs on to Ralph as her father protects her from the crowd surging out of the courtyard. Within minutes the area is cleared of almost everyone, though the bulls are still hobbled in their mess. The crazy man puts his belt on and wipes his brow. His followers are standing behind him in shock, but a few begin to laugh.

The crazy man winks at them and walks over to Jacob and his family. He smiles, nods, and kneels down in front of Mary.

Crazy Man: What a wonderful lamb!

Mary: His name is Ralph. We brought him for God.

Crazy Man: Well, thank you, Mary, but you can keep him.

Jacob: No, he’s been set aside for no one but God.

Crazy Man: That’s me! How ’bout this: your sins are forgiven.

Jacob: Ummm. Thanks, but can’t do that, only God…

Crazy Man: Well, then, how ’bout this: Mary, drop your crutch and walk.

Mary throws down her crutch and lifts her skirt. Her leg is whole.

Jacob (astonished; dropping to his knees): Sir, forgive my unbelief! God have mercy!

Crazy Man: Okay. Done. Now take Mary, Ralph and the rest of your family home. Go! Blessed is the man who is no offended by me being God.

Tr8: Sacrifice from the heart and trust in Jesus’ grace.

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