Lamb of God

It’s Holy Thursday, and what better day to share with you an Easter tradition of the Tabone family that we have cherished for several years now?

It’s Lamb Bread, and it looks like this:

Basically, it’s a nice way to celebrate the Easter holiday in a special way that honors Christ, who is the Lamb of God. My kids love it because it’s so cute and they look forward to it. Plus, since we’re all trying our best to keep isolated, it’s a lovely way to break up the monotony of being at home.

The recipe that I use is Michelle DiFranco’s recipe, which she published in Northwest Catholic Magazine and Faith Magazine. She has really detailed instructions, so please check out her recipe!

Since I’m lazy and have a bread maker, I just combine all the ingredients together, set it on the dough setting, and then let the bread maker do its magic and make the dough. I also used a milk wash instead of the egg white wash she recommended, since apparently my egg wash mixtures don’t quite work out well. Other than that! It’s delicious, and I definitely recommend it!

Why Lamb?

If you remember! The whole reason why Jesus and His disciples gathered together was to celebrate the Passover together! For those who are a bit shaky on your Old Testament, basically…

Because Egypt would not set Israel free from slavery, as Moses demanded, the Lord inflicted ten plagues on Egypt. Here’s an awesome pictures of one of the plagues, in which God rained hail down on Egypt…

Seventh Plague of Egypt, by John Martin, c. 1823. Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Massachusetts, United States.
Seventh Plague of Egypt, by John Martin, c. 1823. Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Massachusetts, United States.

The final plague was the Passover. Basically, the children of Israel were to sacrifice a lamb, roast it, and eat it with their loins girt, as if they were ready to run away. Then they were to paint their doors with the blood of the lamb. An angel of the Lord would come and “pass over” the doors that were stained with the blood of the lamb.

Those that didn’t have the blood of the lamb? Their firstborn would die. (The following picture, by the way, kind of gutted me.)

Lamentations over the Death of the First-Born of Egypt, by Charles Sprague Pearce, c. 1877. Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, D.C., United States.
Lamentations over the Death of the First-Born of Egypt, by Charles Sprague Pearce, c. 1877. Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, D.C., United States.

After losing his son, Pharoh order the children of Israel out.

And then other plot twists happened, and you should basically read the story laid out in Exodus, because it is such an epic story in every respect. (Here’s the first chapter!)

After this, the Jews celebrated every Passover, or Seder, in a similar way. And this is what Jesus was celebrating with the Twelve!

The Last Supper… with Lamb

Now, there is a lot of speculation whether or not Jesus had lamb in the Last Supper… and apparently, it is quite a contentious debate with lots of people having very strong opinions! Some people assert that He didn’t since He was the Lamb of God who would be the sacrifice. Others say that, because He was a Jew, He totally had lamb.

And so, there are lots of artworks that go both ways. As you might expect, the emphasis is of Jesus offering the bread, since that is a huge deal in our Christian celebration! So, there are lots of pictures of Jesus with only bread and no lamb, such as this famous painting, in which there is an empty platter with no lamb.

The Last Supper, by Juan de Juanes, c. 1555-62. Museo del Prado, Madrid, Spain. Via IllustratedPrayer.com
The Last Supper, by Juan de Juanes, c. 1555-62. Museo del Prado, Madrid, Spain.

And yet, you can often find roast lamb in many of the artworks as yet another nod that Jesus Christ is in fact the Lamb of God.

Some of the artworks, it’s really hard to tell that Jesus is eating a lamb since the artists don’t really paint it very well. For example, this picture. Though you can tell that the artist did his best, and it has actually quite a lot of fine details to it, such as the angels holding the sign that says “Bread of Angels eaten by men” (if my Latin is correct!) and look at the attention to detail for that lace tablecloth edging! Still, drawing a roast lamb was not his main focus, and it shows.

The Last Supper, by Daniele Crespi, c. 1629-30. Pinacoteca di Brera, Milan, Italy.
The Last Supper, by Daniele Crespi, c. 1629-30. Pinacoteca di Brera, Milan, Italy.

Then there are some that have parts of a lamb, but not the full lamb, which would have been more scripturally accurate. For instance, in this painting, they are eating lamb chops.

(While the artist clearly didn’t get that particular accuracy right, take a closer look at the background at the right and left! To the left, you can see the disciples being led to the meeting place in which the Last Supper will take place, and on the right you can see Jesus washing feet!)

The Last Supper, by Pieter Pourbus, c. 16th century. Private collection.
The Last Supper, by Pieter Pourbus, c. 16th century. Private collection.

And then, there’s some artists who clearly have Jesus and His disciples eating a whole roast lamb! (Plus, a bonus dog… I am not sure why, but there are a surprising number of Renaissance artists who add a dog into this scene.)

The Last Supper, by Bartolomeo Carducci, c. 1605. Museo del Prado, Madrid, Spain.
The Last Supper, by Bartolomeo Carducci, c. 1605. Museo del Prado, Madrid, Spain.

Lamb of God

But the most powerful reminder (to me!) of Christ being the Lamb of God is this simple painting, by Francisco de Zurabarán:

Agnus Dei, by Francisco de Zurabarán, c. 1635-40. Museo de Prado, Madrid, Spain. Via IllustratedPrayer.com
Agnus Dei, by Francisco de Zurabarán, c. 1635-40. Museo de Prado, Madrid, Spain.

It is of a sheep, bound with cords. The sheep is still alive for now, but is docile. Soon, it will be sacrificed, but for now the sheep is content to simply lie there, meekly awaiting his fate.

While there is no halo or anything around it to indicate its sacredness, there is a sense nonetheless that something about this ram is sacred and makes you pause. For me, it reminds me of this painting of the crucifix (which I delved into earlier!) In which Jesus is shown crucified with a stark black background.

The Crucified Christ, by Diego Velázquez, c. 1632. Museo del Prado, Madrid, Spain.
The Crucified Christ, by Diego Velázquez, c. 1632. Museo del Prado, Madrid, Spain.

Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world, have mercy upon us! Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world, have mercy upon us! Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world, grant us peace!

Karina Tabone

Karina Tabone is a wife, mother of four, author, blogger, and lover of Christian artwork. She's the author of the Illustrated Rosary series, which pairs every prayer of the Rosary with beautiful religious artwork. She likes also milkshakes, sunshine, and mystery novels. Follow her on Twitter at @illustr_prayer.

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