Behold, The Lamb of God

Neither of the Johns could contain themselves. People find it hard to keep good news to themselves. With quill in hand, the apostle John recounted another John’s words. As John the Baptizer saw Jesus walking down the road his voice proclaimed the sacrifical language of atonement, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.”/1 The next day John’s acknowledgement spilled forth again when he saw Jesus passing by, “Behold the Lamb of God!”/2

From the beginning of his ministry, Jesus’ voice had foretold he would be slain to provide eternal life for those who would believe in him. He cried out, “Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so also it is necessary for the Son of Man to be lifted up, that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.”/3 However, unlike a sacrificial lamb whose life is involuntarily stolen from it, Jesus’ affirmation was, “I lay down my life … No one takes it from me, rather I lay it down of my own accord.”/4

Within a few years from when his ministry began, the Lamb of God would be slain. While the use of lambs for Passover and as a sacrifice are quite different, Jesus would be described in terms of both. The Gospel of John describes how on a particular Passover, Jesus was lifted up on a cross to be crucified./5 On that day as Passover Lambs were being slaughtered for the evening meal, the Lamb of God was dying on a cross. That evening families and friends would be gathering to eat the Passover in remembrance of how God had passed over their ancestors when he saw the blood of the lambs and freed them from Egyptian bondage. Earlier that day Jesus’ blood had just been spilt making freedom from sin possible. The blood of this Lamb would enable God to remain righteous in passing over those sinners where the Lamb’s blood had been sprinkled on their hearts. Christ, the Christian’s Passover lamb, had been sacrificed./6

Years later on the isle of Patmos, the throne room of God was revealed to John. Standing in the midst of the throne was the triumphal risen Lamb of God, looking as if it had been slain. As the Lamb took the scroll which no one else was worthy to open, a song broke out in heaven:
“You are worthy to receive the scroll and to open its seals because you were slain and you purchased for God with your blood men from every tribe and language and people and nation.”/7

For the original readers of this letter facing dark days when the future of God’s people on earth might have appeared tentative, this song broke forth words of hope.

“You have made them to be a kingdom and priests
for our God and they will reign on the earth.”/8

What the Lamb had achieved would not be stamped out! Suddenly, a heavenly chorus around the throne of God broke out in praise:

“Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain,
to receive power and wealth and wisdom
and strength and honor and glory and praise!”/9

Behold the Lamb of God! Slain. Triumphal. Worthy.

1/ John 1:29
2/ John 1:36
3/ John 3:14,15
4/ John 10:17,18
5/ John 18:28
6/ 1 Corinthians 5:7
7/ Revelation 5:9
8/ Revelation 5:10
9/ Revelation 5:12

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