"Behold! The Lamb of God..."

 Dr. Tom Berry

The apostle John portrayed John the Baptist with the words, "There was a man sent from God, whose name was John.  This man came for a witness of the Light, that all through him might believe."  John 1:6, 7.

The apostle Matthew stated that John the Baptist was "He who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah, saying:  'The voice of one crying in the wilderness: 'Prepare the way of the LORD; Make His paths straight.'".  Matthew 3:3; Isaiah 40:3.

Mark informs us that "...They (the religious leaders) feared the people, for all counted John to have been a prophet indeed."  Mark 11:32.

Jesus gave this testimony of John, "For I say to you, among those born of women there is not a greater prophet than John the Baptist..."  Luke 7:28; Matthew 11:11.

It is clear that John the Baptist was called, commissioned and empowered  by God to correctly present Jesus to mankind.  And how did John present Jesus?  First of all, it is worth noting that John did not present Jesus as:

God manifest in the flesh; the Agent in creation of the universe; the Source of all life; the Supreme Teacher of pure truth; the Perfect Example to follow; the Author of man's salvation; the future King of Israel and the world or the Supreme LORD of  the new creation. 

John would have been right if he had presented Jesus in any or all of these ways.  John's task, however, was to bear witness of the pre-eminent reason Jesus came into the world.  As Jesus approached John down by the Jordan River John pointed towards Him and proclaimed to his great great crowd of followers, "Behold! The Lamb of God Who takes away the sin of the world!"  John 1:29.  Anyone inquiring about a true understanding of Jesus and all those who teach about Him should hold these words in highest regard.  This message is an effort to describe how we are to behold Jesus as "The Lamb of God." 

PICTURED AS LAMB OF GOD IN OLD TESTAMENT TYPES

Abel and His Lamb

"Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat.  And the LORD respected Abel and his offering."  Genesis 4:4.  To this our New Testament provides this understanding, "By faith Abel offered to God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, through which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts..."  Hebrews 11:4.  The key thought here is that It was through faith Abel made this sacrifice to God.  Romans 10:17 also helps us.  "So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God."  Abel heard God's message that fig leaves could not provide a satisfactory covering to make his parents acceptable to God.  Instead, God provided them a covering from the skins of animals to make them acceptable.  Abel proceeded to offer his sacrifice that pictured the coming sacrifice of the true Lamb of God.

The Ram That Substituted for Isaac

Abraham was commanded to offer Isaac as a sacrifice on Mount Moriah (Genesis 22:2).  Abraham obeyed immediately (Genesis 22:3).  For three days Isaac was a sacrifice in the mind of Abraham (22:4)

Abraham instructed his servants, "...The lad and I will go yonder and worship, and we will come back to you. (Genesis 22:5).  This expressed Abraham's faith that God would raise Isaac from the dead because God had promised that through Isaac all nations of the earth would be blessed.  (See Genesis 17:18-19; Romans 4, and Hebrews 11:17-19).

As Abraham and Isaac walked up Mount Moriah Isaac asked, "Look, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?"  (Genesis 22:7).  Abraham answered, "My son, God will provide Himself a lamb for a burnt offering." (Genesis 22:8 KJV).  Many translations add the word "for" before Himself.  It is true that when the Lamb of God died as a sacrifice for sins on Mount Moriah some 1900 years later that God provided for Himself a sacrifice that takes away the sins of the world.  However, that insertion of the word "for" obscures the fact that "God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them..."  ((2nd Corinthians 5:19).  God not only provided a sacrifice for Himself but He provided Himself as the sacrifice.

As Abraham completed the binding of Isaac upon the wood of the altar he picked up a knife to slice Isaac's jugular vein before burning his body to ashes.  At that instant in time God stopped him and provided a ram as a substitute for Isaac.

To all this, some 400 years later  Moses added "And Abraham called the name of the place, 'Jehovah-jireh (THE-LORD-WILL-PROVIDE), as it is said to this day, 'In the Mount of the LORD it shall be provided.'" (Genesis 22:14).  This prophecy was fulfilled some 1900 years later when Jesus died on a cross located on Mount Moriah.

The Passover Lamb - Exodus 12

God's 10th plague on the nation of Egypt was stated in these words, "For I will pass through the land of Egypt on that night, and will strike all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment:  I am the LORD."  (Exodus 12:12).

However, to the people of Israel God made a provision.  He instructed every male head of household to select a lamb out of his flock and inspect that lamb for four days to make certain it was without spot or blemish.  On the 14th day of the month the lamb's blood was drained from the jugular vein and the flesh roasted with fire.  With a branch of hyssop the father struck the blood upon the lentil (cross board at the top of the door) and side posts.  God instructed, "Now the blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you are.  And when I see the blood, I will pass over you; and the plague shall not be on you to destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt."  (Genesis 22:13).  All this was shortly fulfilled and devout people in Israel observe the Passover to this day.

On April 10, 30 AD Jesus entered the temple in Jerusalem.  For four days He was inspected by priests, attorneys of the Mosaic law and by Pilate, the Roman governor of Judea.  Pilate summed up the true legal finding, "...I have found no fault in this Man concerning those things of which you accuse Him."  (Luke 23:14).   Nevertheless Jesus shortly died as a sacrifice for sin on the cross and rose again on the third day.  This is how He fulfilled the preeminent purpose for which He came into the world---"The Lamb of God Who takes away the sin of the world!" 

The Burnt Offering Lamb Exodus 29:38, 39; Leviticus 1.

Under the Mosaic economy a lamb was offered as a burnt offering every morning and every evening upon the brazen altar.  God was indicating that what enabled Him to abide in covenant relationship with His people was the continual covering over of their sins by the blood of sacrificial lambs.

Hebrews 10 gives helpful insight into Christ's fulfillment of this picture.  "For the law, having a shadow of the good things to come, and not the very image (picture) of the things, can never with these same sacrifices...make those who approach perfect...But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God...For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified."  (Hebrews 10:1, 12, 14).

ISAIAH  PLAINLY PROPHESIED JESUS AS THE LAMB OF GOD 

Isaiah 53.  In the Hebrew language that Isaiah wrote, this 53rd chapter is in poetry consisting of 24 completive parallels.  That means the first statement introduces a thought and the second statement completes it.  At the exact center of these 24 parallels is this statement:

"He was led as a lamb to the slaughter.  And as a sheep before its shearers is silent".

In verses 4-6 Isaiah makes seven statements of the Lamb's substitutionary death as Isaiah saw them from the human side:

He has borne our griefs
And carried our sorrows
He was wounded for our transgressions
He was bruised for our iniquities
The chastisement for our peace was upon Him
And by His stripes we are healed
And the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.

In  verses 8-12 there are seven statements of the Lamb's substitutionary death seen from God's viewpoint:

For the transgressions of My people He was stricken
When You make His soul an offering for sin
By His knowledge My righteous Servant shall justify many
For He shall bear their iniquities
And He was numbered with the transgressors
And He bore the sin of many
And (He) made intercession for the transgressors

The most significant truth revealed by Isaiah is that the Lamb is a Person.  In every instance the Lamb is referred to with a personal, masculine pronoun.  A careful reading reveals that Isaiah prophesied that the Lamb of God would be a Person Who would die for sins; be buried; rise again and intercede for those who appropriated His sacrifice for their sins by faith.

JESUS WAS PREACHED AS THE LAMB OF GOD IN
THE NEW TESTAMENT RECORD

The eunuch in charge of the treasury of Queen Candace of Ethiopia had traveled some 500 miles to worship Jehovah in the city of Jerusalem.  He was returning in his chariot and was reading the book of Isaiah.  Philip, a deacon and evangelist of the Jerusalem church, had been directed by an angel to station himself along the road.  As the eunuch was passing Philip heard him reading the core verse of Isaiah 53, "He was led as a sheep to the slaughter; And as  lamb before its shearer is silent..."  Philip asked the eunuch, "Do you understand what you are reading?"  The eunuch answered, "How can I, unless someone guides me?"  and invited Philip to join him in the chariot.  "And beginning at this Scripture, (Philip) preached Jesus to him."  See Acts 8:26-35.  As a result the eunuch accepted the sacrifice Jesus made for him and placed his faith in Jesus Christ to be his Savior.  Members of the Coptic church in Ethiopia will enthusiastically tell you that the Coptic church is the oldest continuing church in existence and was founded by this eunuch.  (See also Peter's words in 1st Peter 1:18-21).

The apostle Paul found it necessary to write to the Christians of the church in Corinth and chastise them for slipping back into their old fleshly habits.  He strongly reminded them that as the Lamb of God Jesus not only came to save believers from God's condemnation of their sin, but also from the practice of sin.  "Your glorying is not good.  Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump?  Therefore purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, since you are truly unleavened.  For indeed Christ, our Passover (Lamb) was sacrificed for us."  1st Corinthians 5:7.

 JESUS WILL BE PRAISED AS THE LAMB OF GOD FOR ALL ETERNITY

There are 27 references to Jesus as the Lamb of God in the book of Revelation.  Perhaps the fullest section is Revelation 5:6-14.  We discover in Revelation that it is as the Lamb of God that:

Jesus has purchased our redemption.  5:9
Jesus gives power to overcome Satan.  12:10, 11.
Jesus has regained dominion over all things for redeemed mankind. 11:15, 16.
Jesus will defeat all rebellion and establish His throne. 11:17, 18.
Jesus will provide white robes of righteousness for His saints. 7:14.
Jesus enables His people to overcome Satan.  12:11.
Jesus composes "the book of life". 13:8.
Jesus will be married to His bride, the church.  19:7.
Jesus and His heavenly Father are the eternal light of the New Jerusalem. 21:22, 23.
Jesus will sit on His throne with God, the Father.  22:1, 3.

In the great work of defeating Satan; redeeming mankind from the curse and restoring paradise Jesus did it all as the Lamb of God. 

Have you beheld the Lamb of God?  Ponder what He has done for you as the Lamb of God and reach out to Him in sincere faith.  He will not turn you away.

 

J

 

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