Download audio here 🎧 The Lamb Of God
Listen here 🎧
This morning I want us to briefly consider a sermon titled The Lamb of God. You obviously can tell where this title is coming from, can’t you? It is there in the text: “Behold, the Lamb of God”?. Here is John announcing who Jesus is. Let me give you an outline for this morning. We will look at our first point which will be that The Lamb Was Provided By God, then secondly, The Lamb Was A Scapegoat and thirdly, The Lamb Was A Once And Forever Sacrifice.
Before we proceed, let me say a few things. When the text begins with “The next day”, it is the period between John 1:19-34 which will be considered a full day. Then another day began on vs. 29. Last week we saw how the Jews came asking John of his identity. And the Scripture tells us where all this interaction with John the Baptist took place (v.28). That’s the location. Apart from the location of John The Baptist, we also see what John was doing there. We get a picture of the routine of John’s life: he was baptising.
After his interactions with the Jews, it’s highly possible he continued baptising all day till he closed for the day. Then the next day, he showed up to continue his baptism. And of all the people who were coming to him, on this day, Jesus Christ himself showed up to be baptised. There is, I believe, a gap in John’s narrative which Matthew supplied. When John reports that John the Baptist saw Jesus coming toward him, the understanding I believe is that he was coming to be Baptised (Matthew 3:13).
It’s in this encounter with Jesus, that John the Baptist announced who Jesus is. The Lamb of God. Therefore it’s not difficult who The Lamb of God is. The text is clear: (I) Jesus walks towards John the Baptist then (ii) John the Baptist announces him as the Lamb of God. Maybe, to be sure the people don’t mistake anyone else for the lamb of God apart from Jesus, John further supplies more information. He refers to the previous conversation with the Jews: v.30 compare v.27.
Let me tell you something that happened to me during the Christmas holidays. We visited a family who rears poultry for sale. After the visit when we were leaving, they offered us a live chicken. I gave many nice reasons to refuse it. Fortunately for me, we had no place in the boot of our car to carry it so eventually we left the chicken. But I didn’t refuse it because I didn’t like it. But that was a live chicken. It has to be slaughtered when we get home. And obviously I was the one going to do the slaughtering… I wasn’t prepared for all that blood work. I don’t even remember the last time I did that. So I gave all reasons to refuse it. End of story.
Now for most of us modern people and city dwellers, we do not know how the meat we enjoy gets to us. Most often, we buy frozen meat. And if it is not frozen, we may buy it from a butcher in a little kiosk in our community. Now apart from slaughtering animals for food as meat, the animals we eat are usually also used for sacrifices in pagan, traditional religions and even Old Testament religion—Judaism.
So when John the Baptist described Jesus as the “Lamb of God ”, his immediate audience, that is the Jews will have a clear understanding of what he was talking about. Why will they understand? Because their whole lives were a life of sacrifices. Slaughtering animals for sacrifices to God. There were sacrifices for almost every event in the life of a Jew. And those sacrifices were primarily to atone or pay for the sins of the people. The book of Leviticus gives us a list of all these sacrifices: Burnt offerings (Leviticus 1), Grain Offerings (Leviticus 2), Peace Offerings (Leviticus 3), Sin Offerings (Leviticus 4), Guilt Offerings (Leviticus 5). Apart from these, there were various sacrifices that are made for specific events like childbirth, bodily discharges.
All these sacrifices were a shadow that points to Christ. What that means is that they were all done temporarily until Jesus came.
The Lamb is Provided By God
The Lamb of God clearly points out that the lamb was provided by God himself. Compared to the Old Testament worship system, the Jews had to provide their own animals for sacrifice. But Jesus as the lamb of God was provided by God himself. God gave Jesus as a lamb to the world. And this is plainly attested to in the New Testament. The most common place this is taught is in John 3:16: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” God gave his only son. Speaking about Jesus Christ, Paul says “God put [him] forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins.” (Romans 3:25). These verses teach us that God himself provided a lamb.
Long before Jesus was born, God had promised him to the world. Genesis 3:15, Isaiah 9 and 53 are some of the places we see this clearly taught. Finally on this point, when Jesus came also, the Bible tells us that it was God who gave up Jesus to be crucified (Acts 2:22-24).
So you see, Jesus as a lamb was provided by God. Think about it this way. God has commanded a sacrifice to be made. And he gave the animal to be used in the sacrifice. It’s again like you owing someone money. And the person gives you the money to pay him back. This is a display of the love of God, his mercies and grace. This is biblical truth. Everything we need to please God, God himself provides. He supplies the grace for us to have faith in him (Ephesians 2:8), He supplies us with the will to obey him (Philippians 2:13). Even before John 1:29, we have seen God already revealing himself as the provider: Jehovah Jireh.
7 And Isaac said to his father Abraham, “My father!” And he said, “Here I am, my son.” He said, “Behold, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?”
8 Abraham said, “God will provide for himself the lamb for a burnt offering, my son.” So they went both of them together.
9 When they came to the place of which God had told him, Abraham built the altar there and laid the wood in order and bound Isaac his son and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood.
10 Then Abraham reached out his hand and took the knife to slaughter his son.
11 But the angel of the Lord called to him from heaven and said, “Abraham, Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.”
12 He said, “Do not lay your hand on the boy or do anything to him, for now I know that you fear God, seeing you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me.”
13 And Abraham lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, behind him was a ram, caught in a thicket by his horns. And Abraham went and took the ram and offered it up as a burnt offering instead of his son.
I cannot finish this point without giving you an assurance that God provides. He provides for the needs of his children. You see, sin is the greatest need of all human beings. Not poverty, not disease, not war, but sin. All these are just the ramifications of sin. And God has provided a sacrifice to pay for that sin. If God has provided a lamb to pay for our sins, what else can’t God provide? He cares for his children. He provides for us. He gives us our needs. I am not saying this. The Bible says so
He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? (Romans 8:32).
Friends, we can trust God with all our needs. In Christ, he will graciously supply all our needs.
The Lamb Is A Scapegoat
A scapegoat is simply someone who is punished or blamed for the wrong doings of another. John the Baptist tells us the lamb takes away the sin of the world. The lamb doesn’t take away his own sin. Rather he takes away the sin of the world. He takes away sin that is not his own. Jesus is a scapegoat who takes sin that is not his. That phrase “takes away the sin of the world means he bore the punishment for sin that sinners deserve. He paid for sins he didn’t commit. He paid for your sins. He paid for my sins. And what is required of us? That we will believe in him and receive the work he has done on our behalf.
Children, have you ever been blamed for something you didn’t do? Maybe in school or at home? It’s painful right? You are made a scapegoat. That is what Jesus did for us. He became our scapegoat. Our sin was put on him. And we received his righteousness when we believed in him. A popular song when I was growing up says “He paid the debt he didn’t owe. I owe the debt I couldn’t pay”. This then is the whole thing about Christianity. Jesus paid for sins in his death on the cross:
But he was pierced for our transgressions;
he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
and with his wounds we are healed (Isaiah 53:5)
For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God (2 Corinthians 5:21)
Now that word scapegoat actually has a biblical root. At the beginning of the sermon, I spoke about the many sacrifices that were required of the Jews. And the greatest of these sacrifices, which is offered once a year is what is called day of atonement. Here the High Priest offers a sacrifice for the sins of all the people including his own sin. And on this day, there are two goats. One is sacrificed, then the High Priest places his hand on the other goat, symbolically to transfer the sin of the people to it. Then it is released away from the camp. It takes away the sins of the people. There is a long list of ceremonies in Leviticus 16 explaining this. But look at verse
21 And Aaron shall lay both his hands on the head of the live goat, and confess over it all the iniquities of the people of Israel, and all their transgressions, all their sins. And he shall put them on the head of the goat and send it away into the wilderness by the hand of a man who is in readiness.
22 The goat shall bear all their iniquities on itself to a remote area, and he shall let the goat go free in the wilderness.
The Lamb Was A Once And For All Sacrifice
The sacrifices of the Old Testament were sacrifices that had to be performed yearly. But Jesus’ sacrifice, through his death on the cross was a one time event. An event that is not to be repeated ever. Jesus’ death is sufficient for the salvation of sinners. Jesus appeased the wrath of God. This is a one time sacrifice which pleases the Father. On the cross, he cried out it is finished. Salvation for sinners is complete. And what sinners need to do is to believe in the finished work of Christ. We can offer no other sacrifice than that which Christ has offered. Sinners cannot find salvation anywhere else outside of Christ. Hebrews 10:1-14
1For since the law has but a shadow of the good things to come instead of the true form of these realities, it can never, by the same sacrifices that are continually offered every year, make perfect those who draw near. 2 Otherwise, would they not have ceased to be offered, since the worshipers, having once been cleansed, would no longer have any consciousness of sins? 3 But in these sacrifices there is a reminder of sins every year. 4 For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins. 5 Consequently, when Christ came into the world, he said, “Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired, but a body have you prepared for me; 6 in burnt offerings and sin offerings you have taken no pleasure. 7 Then I said, ‘Behold, I have come to do your will, O God, as it is written of me in the scroll of the book.’” 8 When he said above, “You have neither desired nor taken pleasure in sacrifices and offerings and burnt offerings and sin offerings” (these are offered according to the law), 9 then he added, “Behold, I have come to do your will.” He does away with the first in order to establish the second. 10 And by that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.11 And every priest stands daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. 12 But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, 13 waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet. 14 For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.
Just as John The Baptist announces Jesus, I announce him to you this morning: “Behold…” Look to Jesus. Cast your gaze upon him. Look up to him. Believe in him. “Behold…” this is an announcement worth considering. For the one our attention is being called to behold saves from sin. “Behold, the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. Your eternal destiny depends on what you do with this announcement. But let me tell you what you should do with it.
Believe the lamb provided by God as a scapegoat for the remission of sin once and for all and be saved.