Jesus Is The Lamb Of God
John the Baptist was a man with a mission. His life was planned for him. His task was to herald the coming of the Messiah to the Jews. He prepared himself for this task by living an austere life in the wilderness.
Mary and Elizabeth were cousins so John the Baptist was a second cousin of Jesus. Both his parents knew something of the status of Jesus and he would have learnt from them who Jesus was. His father Zachary proclaimed his son in these words, “And you little child, you shall be called Prophet of the Most High.” His mother Elizabeth on meeting her cousin at the Visitation said, “Why should I be honoured by a visit from the mother of my Lord?”
We can be certain, therefore, that John too realised just who Jesus was. So when John saw Jesus coming towards him in the river Jordan to be baptised we should not be surprised to hear him say, inspired by God, “Look, there is the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world.”
What exactly did John mean by that and how did his hearers understand his words? Did John believe what we believe? When we think of the words, “the Lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world” we think of the Passover Lamb. The old story of the Passover was that, if the blood of the slain lamb was smeared over the door posts of the Hebrews’ homes, they were protected on the night when they left Egypt. On that night when the Angel of Death walked abroad and smote the first-born of the Egyptians, those Israelites whose doorposts were smeared with the blood of the slain lamb were saved. The angel seeing the blood would pass over that house. It was the blood of the lamb that delivered their first-born from death.
So when John the Baptist said, “Look, there is the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world,” he was proclaiming Jesus to be the one true sacrifice Who will deliver the world from its sins.
John was the son of a priest. He would know that every morning and evening a lamb was sacrificed in the Temple for the sins of the people. This continued throughout his own time until AD 70 when the Temple was destroyed by the Roman army. In so many words John was saying, ‘In the Temple a lamb is offered every morning and evening for the sins of the people, but Jesus is the one sacrifice that can deliver the world from sin.’
Isaiah (53:7) prophesied that the Messiah, God’s Servant, would be led to the slaughter like a lamb. To pay the penalty for sin, a life had to be given – and God chose to provide the sacrifice Himself, namely His only beloved Son Jesus. The sins of the world were removed by His Son Jesus when He died as the perfect sacrifice on Calvary. This is the way our sins are forgiven.
Finally, let us for a moment give some thought what ‘the sin of the world’ is. It is something gigantic. It includes all the sins ever committed by our first parents Adam and Eve to the sins of the last person God will create – and includes your sins and mine. How can we ever comprehend all that evil? Even if every person who ever existed in the whole of human history, got on their knees and begged God to forgive us, we could never make amends to God. It could only be done by someone who was sinless and equal to God and that Person is God’s Son Jesus. He took all our guilt on His shoulders, carried it to Calvary and in dying on His cross begged our heavenly Father’s forgiveness. We can receive this forgiveness when we confess our sins and ask for the Lord’s forgiveness. How indebted we should be to Jesus.
Lord Jesus, You are the innocent Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. We thank You for all You did for us. Conscious for how much You suffered for us we ask You to give us the grace to try our best to sin less.