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Lamb of God

The focus of the life and work of Jesus Christ is found in His death and resurrection. It is the fulfillment of the great message of the coming redeemer in the Old Testament.

The lamb was the principal animal of sacrifice among the Jewish people at the evening and morning sacrifice (Ex. 29:38-42; Num. 38:3-8), and specials days (Num. 28:11), the Passover (28:16-19), Pentecost (28:26f), Feast of the Trumpets (29:1, 2), the Day of Atonement (29:7, 8), and the Tabernacle (29:12-16). Other personal sacrifices included lambs (Lev. 12:6; 14:10-18, etc), such as the sin offerings (Lev. 4:32-35). Moreover, the Pascal sacrifice is basic to the whole sacrificial system (Ex. 12:13). Thus the figures in Isaiah 53:7 and Exodus 12:13 come together in the designation of the “Lamb of God.” They compliment each other.

The innocence and gentleness of the sacrificial lamb is featured in descriptions in the Old Testament. As a symbol, the sacrificial lamb prefigured the character and suffering of the Lamb of God (Acts 8:32; Isa. 53:7). Jesus is introduced in the Gospel of John as “the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world” (Jn. 1:29, 36; Acts 8:32; 1 Pet. 1:19; Isa. 53:7).

In 1 Corinthians 5:7 Jesus is identified as the Passover lamb. He is also seen as the suffering lamb of God in Isaiah 53, and the fulfillment of all the lambs of sacrifice in the Jewish rituals.

When Jesus came, it was God who substituted His own provision, a Lamb for the people. This substitution aspect is seen in Abraham’s sacrifice of the lamb caught in the briars (Gen. 22). The LORD God who demanded the sacrifice was the One who provided the lamb in the place of Isaac. God in Jesus provided His own Lamb for the sacrifice.

Jesus is “the Lamb of God.” John specifically relates Christ to God in the act of sin-bearing. God is the provider of this special lamb. He is at the same time the sacrificial victim presented to God and the victim provided by God Himself. He removes the world’s sin by taking it upon Himself. John’s language is very expressive, “He lifts up and takes away all our sins.” He bears upon Himself alone the iniquity of us all. The Gospel of John seems to give a composite of the Old Testament typology of the lamb and its fulfillment in Christ. The Passover is a prominent motif in this gospel (2:13, 23; 6:4; 11:55; 12:1; 13:1; 18:28, 39; 19:14, 31, 42). The arrest, trial and crucifixion of Jesus are associated with the customary sacrifice of the Passover Lamb. The sacrifice of the Lamb of God is at the theological center of the good news in Jesus Christ (Heb. 7:27; 9:26-28; 10:1-18; 1 Pet. 1:18-19; Mk. 10:45).

Moreover, the sacrifice of Jesus was worldwide. His sacrifice embraces all humanity in its scope. His death was to take away the sin of the world. That sacrifice avails to all who put their personal trust in Christ as their Lamb (Acts 8:32; 1 Pet. 1:19). He becomes our substitute when we place our faith in Him.

Before their polemic against Christians, Jewish commentators identified Isaiah 53 with the Messiah, the Suffering Servant of God who was an individual. The identity of Jesus as the Messiah with the Lamb of God and the Servant was clearly in the mind of John the Baptist (Jn. 1:29, 36). It was only after Christians saw the fulfillment of Jesus Christ as the Suffering Servant of God and the Messiah that Jewish rabbis began to look for other interpretations for Isaiah 53. Maimonides in the 12th century A. D. was the most influential Jewish leader in this movement.

If Jesus Christ as the Lamb of God did not die for our sins, then we are still under the condemnation of God, and are still the children of wrath (Eph. 2:1-3).

The silent “dumb type of the Passover now finds a tongue” in “the Lamb of God.”

All of the progressive revelation of ideas surrounding the figure of the Lamb in the Old Testament sacrifice finds their fulfillment and expression in John’s Lamb of God (Gen. 4:4; Heb. 9:22; Ex. 12:13; Rev. 7:14; 1 Pet. 1:11,18-19; J. 1:29; Rev. 5:6, 12-13; 13:8).

At the heart of God’s sovereignty is the sacrificial Lamb. In the book of Revelation the Lamb of God is the triumphant victorious Sovereign Lamb who sits on the throne (Rev. 5:1-14). The apostle John saw Him as the “one slain,” as if its throat had been slashed in the vicarious substitutionary sacrifice for sin. He was slain in payment for our sin debt, but is alive forevermore. The risen Lamb is seen as having the same attributes as those of the LORD God. He is the sovereign triumphant lion of the tribe of Judah (Rev. 17:14). He is the triumphant redeemer (Rev. 5:6, 12; 6:16; 7:14; 12:11; 12:11; 17:14; 21:1, 3, 27).

We too shall gather with the heavenly throne saying with a loud voice, “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing” (Rev. 5:12).

Selah!

Message by Wil Pounds (c) 2006

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(c) 2006  Message by Wil Pounds. Anyone is free to use this material and distribute it, but it may not be sold under any circumstances whatsoever without the author's written consent.

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