The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! This is he of whom I said, ‘After me comes a man who ranks before me, because he was before me.’ I myself did not know him, but for this purpose I came baptizing with water, that he might be revealed to Israel.” And John bore witness: “I saw the Spirit descend from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him. I myself did not know him, but he who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain, this is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ And I have seen and have borne witness that this is the Son of God.” John 1:29-34
The sacrificial lamb was a concept that would have been readily understood by first century Jews. Ever since the Jews were instructed by Moses to sacrifice a lamb before the first Passover they had been conducting sacrifices. These sacrifices to God for their sins were codified in Leviticus. Yet for Israel the blood sacrifice goes even further back in time, back to Abraham. We read the story in Genesis when God told Abraham to sacrifice his only son Isaac. Isaac, the promised son between Abraham and wife Sarah finally to come about when they were both advanced in years, Sarah well beyond childbearing age. And the God commands Abraham to sacrifice the long anticipated son. The son through whom God promised to make a great nation and bless all nations.
Abraham’s faith was so great that he followed Gods command believing that even though he sacrificed Isaac that God would still fulfill His promise. We read how just as Abraham was to kill Isaac and angel stayed Abraham’s hand and God spared Isaac. Then, Abraham saw a ram stuck in some bushes and sacrificed it to God. God provided the sacrificial animal.
When God lead Israel out of Egypt and established them as a nation the high priest would sacrifice a lamb for the people to atone for their sins. These animal sacrifices were not enough. Humans continued to live in sin. Israel continued to disobey God forgetting His commands and lusting after other gods. Sin must always be paid for and this payment is always death. But God loved us so much that rather than have each and every one of us to pay this price he once again sent a sacrificial lamb, His own Son, Jesus. Jesus who would live a sinless life and willingly go to a sacrificial death on the cross. All this He did because of love.
“Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!”
Have a blessed day,