Is it difficult to think of Jesus as the Lamb? I haven’t been around many lambs, but I find it hard to connect that docile animal with the powerful Son of God who is my Savior.
To understand the biblical reference to lambs, I looked at the Old Testament of the bible. In a time before the world knew a Savior, the Israelites relied on the Law of Moses to make them acceptable to their Holy God. The problem was that they couldn’t live up to the high standards of the Law. They broke the rules and offended God. People couldn’t go to God for forgiveness because they, in their sinful state would die in His presence. At that time, the priest was the only connection to God. They relied on him to perform sacrifices for their sin. An animal used for the sacrifice would need to be perfect - without a defect or blemish. Only the best would be good enough to offer God to make up for the sin of the people. Even then, the cleansing was only for a certain amount of time. They would fall short of the Law again and offer another sacrifice.
In the book of Exodus, we read about the first Passover. When Moses was about to lead the Israelites out of Egypt after over 400 years of slavery, God instructed each Israelite household to sacrifice a lamb and apply its blood to the sides and top of their doorframes. They were to stay inside that protection all night because God was about to bring a plague to Egypt. At midnight He would go throughout Egypt killing every firstborn male. However, if a doorframe had the blood of the sacrificed lamb on it, God would pass over that house.
That first Passover was a reflection of a sacrifice in the future when God would send His own Lamb, one that would end all future need for such sacrifice. This sacrifice would pay the price for the sins of mankind once and for all.
Jesus is called the Lamb of God.
Now let’s look at New Testament times. When Jesus was condemned to die on the cross, He was innocent. He had committed no crime. Like the Passover lamb of the past, Jesus was without defect, He had never offended God. He went willingly to the cross and like a lamb, suffered in silence.
God put all of our offences – yours and mine - on Jesus. Jesus carried our pains, our offenses, and our imperfections – everything that was wrong with us. He took the punishment that we deserve. We have all wandered away from God’s Law to live according to what we think is right. Everything that we did or will do wrong – our enslavement to sin - was put on Jesus’ back and from His sacrifice, we received His innocence. He paid the price with His blood. We are protected under that blood. We are accepted because Jesus was condemned to die.
Unlike the sacrificial lambs of the past, Jesus is alive today. After three days in the grave, by God’s power, Jesus rose from the dead and walked among His followers again. His resurrection guarantees our own resurrection to life with God. Jesus now sits at the right hand of God the Father and reigns in Heaven as King of kings and Lord of lords.
Jesus died as the sacrificial Lamb for us. Our response is to admit that we are sinful – to know that our way of life is an offense to God – to believe that Jesus paid the price for that sin – and to live as beloved children of God assured of eternal life.
- Leviticus 23:12, Exodus 29:38, Exodus 13:13
- John 1:29, 1Peter 1:19
- Matthew 27:4, Matthew 27:11-26 Isaiah 53:7, Philippians 2:7-8, Acts 8:32-35, 1 Peter 2:23
- Isaiah 53:4-6
- Luke 23:41, 1Peter 1:18-19
- Revelation 5:8-12, Revelation 7:9-10, Revelation 22:1-3, Revelation 17:14