ENID, Okla. —
Once upon a time, a long time ago, there lived a lamb.
He was nothing special, just an ordinary little creature, with knobby knees, big eyes, long ears and soft, curly wool.
The lamb grew up running and playing with all his brothers and sisters, munching grass and chasing butterflies through the field.
But he didn’t grow as much as his siblings, and he remained the littlest lamb.
Life was good for the littlest lamb, who loved living with his mother and the rest of the flock.
The flock was tended by shepherds, who looked after the sheep and made sure they were well-fed and safe from harm.
On occasion, the master, the man who owned the land and all the animals grazing upon it, would come by and look over his bountiful flock.
One day, the sheep heard a commotion coming from the road that passed near their pasture. There were the sounds of people’s voices, and of their feet treading on the dirt path. They could see dust rising from just over a small rise.
The littlest lamb couldn’t help but be curious, and he turned to see what the fuss was about.
The crowd came into sight, all walking in the same direction, talking and laughing as they went.
The people were apparently being led by one slender, unassuming man, with long hair, a beard and kind eyes.
The way the people were following him, the littlest lamb thought to himself, the bearded man must be their shepherd.
As the man passed by the flock of sheep, he turned and looked them over, his gaze falling on the littlest lamb, who was in danger of being pushed out of the way by his larger, stronger siblings.
Soon the crowd had passed, the air had grown quiet, the herd returned to normal. But the littlest lamb stood riveted in place, transfixed by his brief encounter with the gentle man who had just walked past.
In the days to come, the littlest lamb couldn’t seem to get the memory of that man out of his mind.
Soon it came time for the Passover, and the master appeared at the edge of the field with the shepherd. As the two men talked, the master occasionally pointed toward the flock. The older sheep, including the littlest lamb’s mother, grew nervous and agitated. They knew what the master’s visit meant — one of their young ones was about to be taken, and would never return.
The lambs, not realizing what was about to happen, continued their play, oblivious to the presence of the two men.
But the littlest lamb stepped away from the flock and walked resolutely toward the master and the shepherd. He wasn’t sure quite why, he just knew he had to.
The master and shepherd watched, somewhat amused, as the littlest lamb walked closer and closer. All at once he felt the shepherd’s strong hands grasp him, and he was lifted off his feet and handed to the master, who turned and began walking away with him.
Behind him he heard the other sheep crying out to him, and above the cacophony he picked out the voice of his mother, but he never looked back.
The lamb soon was placed in a crude cage, which was carried by a servant as the master and his family set out on a journey.
The littlest lamb missed his family, he missed his nice green field, but somehow he knew he was doing the right thing.
After a time, the littlest lamb saw something he’d never seen before, the walls of a city looming in the distance. The closer the group got to the city, the more people were around.
As the group passed through a city gate, the littlest lamb noticed other people carrying lambs just like him, as well as smaller cages containing tiny birds.
The littlest lamb was carried through the city streets for a time, until the group’s progress was blocked by a large gathering of people.
There was another procession passing in front of them. This crowd was angry and unruly, and the littlest lamb couldn’t quite see what all the fuss was about.
All at once the crowd parted and he saw a man, carrying a large piece of wood on his back, which was striped with red. Thorns like the ones in the thicket adjacent to the littlest lamb’s field were digging into the man’s forehead. When the man turned his head, the littlest lamb saw it was the shepherd who had led his human flock past the field just days before.
Later that day, the blood of both the littlest lamb and that passing stranger was spilled in sacrifice. The littlest lamb died to save his fellow lambs, while the Lamb of God gave his life to save the whole of mankind.
That day was death’s last stand. The Lamb of God arose, that his flock might have everlasting life.
Mullin is senior writer of the News & Eagle. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.