© 2000 Walter E. Gast
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Ladder
The ladder was one of the instruments used in the crucifixion of Christ, and so may be used as a symbol of His Passion. In this case, it is often shown together with a sponge affixed to a reed which was used to offer Jesus vinegar to drink while he was on the cross. The ladder may also call to mind the story of Jacob and his dream of angels ascending and descending a ladder (or staircase).

Matt. 27:48 Immediately one of them ran and got a sponge. He filled it with wine vinegar, put it on a stick, and offered it to Jesus to drink. 49 The rest said, "Now leave him alone. Let's see if Elijah comes to save him." (NIV)

Gen. 28:11 When he reached a certain place, he stopped for the night because the sun had set. Taking one of the stones there, he put it under his head and lay down to sleep. 12 He had a dream in which he saw a stairway(n) resting on the earth, with its top reaching to heaven, and the angels of God were ascending and descending on it. 13 There above it(n) stood the LORD, and he said: "I am the LORD, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac. I will give you and your descendants the land on which you are lying. 14 Your descendants will be like the dust of the earth, and you will spread out to the west and to the east, to the north and to the south. All peoples on earth will be blessed through you and your offspring. 15 I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you." (NIV)


Lamb of God
See Agnus Dei.

Lamp
The lamp is most often used to represent the Word of God. It may also be used as a symbol of wisdom taken from the parable of the wise and foolish virgins in Matthew 25. The lamp was associated in the Old Testament with worship, where it symbolized God's presence (see Candlestick). A lamp can also represent life itself, or the Holy Spirit's indwelling. An interesting use of the word "lamp" in the Old Testament comes from several references to God's promise to preserve King David's descendants ("maintain a lamp"). It is also an emblem of several saints. The lamp is sometimes portrayed as an oil lamp more common in the land of Palestine.

Ps. 119:105 Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path. (NIV)

Prov. 13:9 The light of the righteous shines brightly, but the lamp of the wicked is snuffed out. (NIV)

2Chr. 21:5 Jehoram was thirty-two years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem eight years. 6 He walked in the ways of the kings of Israel, as the house of Ahab had done, for he married a daughter of Ahab. He did evil in the eyes of the LORD. 7 Nevertheless, because of the covenant the LORD had made with David, the LORD was not willing to destroy the house of David. He had promised to maintain a lamp for him and his descendants forever. (NIV)

Season: The Sundays after Pentecost


Lamps (Seven)
Seven lamps represent the seven gifts of the Spirit - wisdom, understanding, counsel, might, knowledge, fear of the Lord, and delight in the Lord.

Isa. 11:2 The Spirit of the LORD will rest on him - the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of power, the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD - 3 and he will delight in the fear of the LORD. (NIV)

Season: Pentecost


Lantern
A lantern calls to mind nightime activity, and it is used particularly as a symbol of Christ's Passion, which began in the evening at the Garden of Gethsemane and continued under the cover of night.

Lectern
See Chancel Furnishings.

(Lectern)


Lily
The lily is a symbol of purity and has become a symbol of the Virgin Mary. The Easter lily, a particular variety which blooms in spring from a seemingly lifeless bulb, has become symbolic of Christ's Resurrection. A lily blooming among thorns has been used to represent the Immaculate Conception. A lily can also be used as a symbol for Christ.

Song 2:1 I am a rose(n) of Sharon, a lily of the valleys. 2 Like a lily among thorns is my darling among the maidens.


Lion
The lion is a symbol of Christ, the Lion of Judah. It is also symbolic of Christ because of the myth that lion cubs are born dead but come to life after three days, a tale which reminded early Christians of the Resurrection. A medieval belief held that the lion sleeps with its eyes open, leading to use of lions as symbols of watchfulness. A winged lion is a symbol of St. Mark the Evangelist because of his clear proclamation of Jesus' Resurrection. (See also "Eagle".) Conversely, the lion can also represent the treachery and stealth of Satan.

Rev. 5:4 I wept and wept because no one was found who was worthy to open the scroll or look inside. 5 Then one of the elders said to me, "Do not weep! See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed. He is able to open the scroll and its seven seals." (NIV)

1Pet. 5:8 Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. (NIV)


Loaves & Fishes
Five loaves and two fishes call to mind the story of the feeding of the five thousand and represent Jesus' miraculous providence. They also remind us of Jesus' claim to be the Bread of Life.

Matt. 14:17 "We have here only five loaves of bread and two fish," they answered. 18 "Bring them here to me," he said. 19 And he directed the people to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people. 20 They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. 21 The number of those who ate was about five thousand men, besides women and children. (NIV)

John 6:35 Then Jesus declared, "I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty. (NIV)


Lotus (Waterlily)
Because a lotus blooms above the water from roots anchored in the mud, it it sometimes used as a symbol of the sanctifying power of Christ's Holy Spirit. It can also borrow its meaning from Greek mythology to refer to spiritual sleep or stupor.

Luther's Seal
This seal was designed by Martin Luther. At the center is a black cross to remind the believer of the terrible sacrifice of Christ on the cross for all people. The red heart represents the love, joy and peace produced by faith. The rose is white, the color of "angels and blessed spirits." The blue ground represents the hope of heavenly joy, and the gold ring represents heaven's eternal bliss.