“Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!”
This is what John the Baptist declared about Jesus as he was coming towards him one day.
Lamb of God is a phrase stemming from the Old Testament sacrifices. When people sinned – when they failed to fully love God or love others – it separated them from a holy God. But in Old Testament times people could offer an unblemished animal sacrifice as an atonement (Lev 4:32). This action indicated that the sin had been dealt with; that God and the sinner had been reconciled to each other. The problem was, when they sinned again, they had to keep repeating the sacrifices.
A lamb also featured at the first Passover, where each household was instructed to sacrifice a lamb and put some its blood on the door frames of the houses where they ate the lamb before fleeing Egypt (Exodus 12). The blood was a sign that God would “pass over” the Israelites and spare their firstborn when a destructive plague struck the Egyptians.
When we come to the New Testament, this sacrificial language is used to explain the death of Jesus. He is God’s “Lamb”; giving up his life once and for all to “take away the sins of the world.” And significantly, Jesus dies just at the time when the Passover festival was celebrated. Paul wrote of him as “Christ our Passover Lamb” (1 Cor 5:7).
When the New Testament writers describe Jesus’ death as a sacrifice for us, this is what they have in mind – how Jesus as the “Lamb of God” perfectly fulfils all the sacrificial rituals prescribed in the Old Testament. By dying on the cross, Jesus offered himself as the perfect sacrifice, “a lamb without blemish or spot” (1 Peter 1:19). It is through Jesus that we can be reconciled with God, have confidence in coming to Him, and receive his forgiveness.
How wonderful that Jesus willingly became the Lamb of God to deal with our sin once and for all time!
Are we humbly taking hold of his immense gift with thankful hearts?
Are we confidently drawing near to God, trusting in his Lamb?
Let’s rejoice and live each day in the freedom and forgiveness he has accomplished for us.