Lamb of God, Part 2
We are picking up from where we left off last week, in John 1:29-34.
Let’s begin by reading.
The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! This is the one I meant when I said, ‘A man who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’ I myself did not know him, but the reason I came baptizing with water was that he might be revealed to Israel.” Then John gave this testimony: “I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him. And I myself did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, ‘The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’ I have seen and I testify that this is God’s Chosen One.”
Let us pray.
This last verse in the section really defines what is going on here. John says, I have seen and I testify. That word testify is the word for giving witness. The word from which we get our word Martyr. John had seen. John had a really important message. A message so important that he gave up everything to relay it to as many as would hear it. What is that message?
“Look, the Lamb of God...”
“Look, the Lamb of God...”
Last week, I asked the question, “Why did John call Jesus the Lamb of God?” It was not a commonly used term. They typically were looking for the Messiah, the Anointed One, the Prophet who was to come. The King who was to sit on David’s throne. So, why did John use the title, “Lamb of God?”
We saw last week that from the beginning, when Adam and Eve first sinned, God used a lamb to show them that their sin required punishment. Death. Separation from God. To help them see that, God used a visual. He used a lamb that was slain, a lamb that had to die, separating that lamb from life, to show them how sin separates them from life, from their source of life, God.
God continued to use that imagery down through the ages with Job, Abraham, and eventually the nation of Israel as they performed sacrifices as a part of the Mosaic Covenant. The agreement that God made with Israel through Moses whereby they saw God’s holiness and righteous standard through the law, and the provision God would make through a lamb that would die in their place.
Visuals are important in education. That is how we learn. For instance, this time of year reminds me of Pumpkin pie. How many of us are waiting for Pumpkin pie? I know I am!! How is pie used as a visual, a teaching tool? Fractions. Using a pie is a great way to teach fractions. It is a visual that helps us learn an intangible concept.
God made us and knows us better than we know ourselves. So, knowing how we learn, God uses visuals to help us learn and understand intangible concepts. Hence, God uses an innocent lamb to help us learn the intangible concept of Death, Separation, being the punishment for sin, and that the punishment must be made.
That is why even in Isaiah, it was prophesied of the one who was to come, that...
He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth.
Why did Jesus come as a lamb? Because the lamb was the visual learning tool, to help us know that our sin requires punishment, the punishment of Death, being separated from God our source of life.
Well, if God already has a system in place with lambs, why did Jesus come as the lamb?
That leads to John’s continued statement. He said, “Look, the Lamb of God...” and continued with...
“who takes away the sin of the world!”
“who takes away the sin of the world!”
You see, the lambs that were sacrificed never really took away the sin. They were the learning tool. They were the visual. They were just lambs. They could not take away our punishment.
Rather, as the author of Hebrews says:
But those sacrifices are an annual reminder of sins. It is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.
God knew that no animal could take away our sin. God alone can forgive sin when he has dealt with it properly. And, God alone can truly deal with it properly. The proper way is that the debt of sin must be paid. A life must be taken. A human life for human sin. As God declared through Ezekiel,
For everyone belongs to me, the parent as well as the child—both alike belong to me. The one who sins is the one who will die.
And a very real problem is that we all sin. Romans 3:23 tells us that. And being sinners, we will all die. Romans 6:23, for the wages we earn by our sin is death.
However, as God says,
For I take no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Sovereign Lord. Repent and live!
God does not take pleasure in meting out justice. So, he gave the visual of a lamb, an innocent one dying in our place so that we could be righteous if we receive what God is doing for us by faith, trusting Him to deal with the sin. But remember, those lambs were visual aids. They reminded us of sin, and the consequences death. They also pointed ahead to the one that would come, as a lamb to the slaughter that Isaiah talked about. That one, is Jesus. the Lamb of God. Not the lamb chosen by men to sacrifice. No, the Lamb of God, the innocent one, who came to truly take our sins. As we read in Isaiah 53, Jesus was equated to a lamb led to the slaughter. Why? Because as God prophesied through Isaiah,
Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.
Jesus came as a man to identify with us. As prophesied in Psalm 40, and Isaiah. Hebrews 10 quotes Psalm 40 in saying:
Therefore, when Christ came into the world, he said: “Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but a body you prepared for me; with burnt offerings and sin offerings you were not pleased. Then I said, ‘Here I am—it is written about me in the scroll— I have come to do your will, my God.’ ”
Jesus came as a man, a human so he could truly die in our place—a human life for a human life. And, he was truly God, so he was able to take the sins of each and every one of us upon himself at one time. And in one sacrifice,having taken our sins upon himself, he offered himself in our place to pay for all sin, for everyone, for all time, at one time!
Day after day every priest stands and performs his religious duties; again and again he offers the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But when this priest had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, and since that time he waits for his enemies to be made his footstool. For by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.
Jesus is no ordinary lamb. Those lambs never took away sin. Those lambs reminded people of sin.
Jesus is no ordinary sacrifice. Those sacrifices happened over and over and over. Jesus sacrificed Himself one time and done! He never has to die again!! His was the perfect sacrifice that truly takes away the sin of the world!!
His one sacrifice has made perfect forever… ‘Made perfect’ is written in the Greek language in which it was originally written in what is called the perfect tense. In English we have Past tense, present tense and future tense. Other languages have other tenses. Greek has one called perfect tense. What this tense conveys is that the action took place in the past, but its effect is on-going.
Jesus died one time in the past. Never to die again. And that one time, in the past sacrifice, has the ongoing effect of making us perfect. And not only does the perfect tense tell us that, but God emphasizes it by using the word ‘forever’! Which literally means as one lexicon, Louw-Nida, puts it, “unlimited duration of time, with particular focus upon the future—‘always, forever, forever and ever, eternally.’”
What a blessing! What an accomplishment! This is something only God could do! And yes, as John has pointed out so well, Jesus is God!! He has done it all! By one sacrifice, he has made perfect forever, forever and ever, eternally, those who are being made perfect.
That last phrase is important. ‘Who are being made perfect.’ If Jesus died to take away the sins of the world, why isn’t the entire world saved? Because of the very thing that God was looking for in every sacrifice made from the moment Adam and Eve sinned, and God sacrificed that first lamb. Faith.
As John 1:12 says, Yet for all who received him, that is believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God. It is the righteousness that comes by faith. Trusting what Jesus did, and trusting him alone rather than our own righteousness that saves us.
Example of paying debt, it must be received by faith.
Have you received?
The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!
Read Psalm 51. This is a Psalm of repentance from David, over a year after his sins of adultery with Bathsheba and murder of Uriah. David likely was doing the sacrifices required during that year. So, why this prayer? Why verses 16-17? Why verse 19? Why would the righteous need to sacrifice? If it wasn’t the sacrifice that made them righteous, but what the righteous were doing, what made them righteous? Consider Psalm 4:5, and Hebrews 11:4 for your answer.
Read Psalm 50. Does God need sacrifices? What are the sacrifices to do? Prayerfully consider verse 32. How will one be blameless before the Lord? What then would be a Thank offering? For what is the offering expressing ‘thanks’? Why do you think Thank offerings honor God?
Read Isaiah 1. Why were their offerings meaningless (verse 13)? If God commanded the sacrifices, why was he ‘fed up’ with them? Notice verses 21-26. He begins and ends with ‘faithful city’ and ‘righteousness’. In between he speaks of corruption (dross), and bad rulers/leaders that he will purify and restore. What is the connection between Faithfulness, righteousness, and the sacrifices being acceptable?
Read Hosea 6:6-7. What is it that God wants? Sacrifices? Or,…?
Read Hebrews 10. How is Christ’s sacrifice different from all the sacrifices which were done before he came? List the differences. What is the same? Those sacrifices were to be done in ____. Christ’s sacrifice is appropriated by _____. Pay attention to Hebrews 10:22. And think back to when you read Hebrews 11.
Bonus: Look up all the times ‘world’ occurs in John. What does ‘world’ mean?