One of the most significant moments in the New Testament occurs in the first chapter of John’s gospel when Jesus is presented by John to begin His public ministry. It is the day after John has declared that he is not the Messiah. We read these words in verse 29 “The next day he saw Jesus coming to him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (NASB)! This is a very amazing statement and it begins with the word “Behold”. This word calls us to give careful and deep consideration to what John is about to say. John draws people’s attention in every age to the primary purpose of Jesus’ coming. The fact is that Jesus as the Lamb of God is the central truth on which all human history hangs. A lamb has always been a symbol of sweetness, innocence, harmlessness and patience. Remember when Abraham was marching up Mt. Moriah to offer Isaac as a sacrifice and Isaac asked the question, “Father, here is the wood and the fire but where’s the lamb?” Remember Abraham’s response “God will provide himself a lamb.” Behold, the Lamb!
I can think of at least 3 reasons we’re encouraged to “Behold, the Lamb!” First, the Jewish people were very familiar with lambs. Lambs were part of the morning and evening sacrificial system. They were in the most critical place in the Passover celebration. Remember the blood of the lamb had to be applied to the doorpost so the death angel would pass by that house. The lambs for the sacrificial system were born in Bethlehem, but this sacrificial lamb walked on two legs. Isn’t it interesting that this lamb was also born in Bethlehem.
Notice secondly that this was God’s lamb, “the Lamb of God.” In the long history of Israel, some 2,000 years at this point, there is something totally unique about this Lamb. This is God’s Lamb, the manifestation of God’s own humility and submission. This Lamb perfectly fulfilled all the requirements for the Passover lamb found in the 12th chapter of the book of Exodus because He was God’s Lamb, God in the flesh come to save humanity.
Thirdly, this Lamb’s purpose was to “take away the sin of the world.” The Greek verb “takes away” means to lift up and then to remove as one lifts a burden and carries it away. Notice it is the “sin”, singular, that denotes the collective burden laid on the Lamb and the all embracing effectiveness of His great sacrifice. The writer of the book of Hebrews tells us in the 10th chapter, “For the law, since it has only a shadow of the good things to come and not the very form of things, can never by the same sacrifices year after year, which they offer continually, make perfect those who draw near (v. 1 NASB).”
But later in the 10th verse we read, “By this will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all (NASB).” Behold, the Lamb who paid for all our sin.
John had the great privilege of declaring the pre-eminence of Jesus and the purpose of Jesus’ coming. As we worship Him we should serve Him as our master, obey Him as our king, study Him as our prophet and follow Him as our example. But above all else let us bow our knee to Him to worship and love Him as our sacrificial Lamb who shed His blood as a payment for our sin. Let His blood be more precious to us each day as we put the weight of our trust and faith entirely on Him.
“Behold, the Lamb!”
For God’s Glory,
Pastor Rich Sivo