The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” John 1:29 NIV
To the Jews, the unblemished lamb was an animal used in the temple for sacrifice. It was offered to appease God’s judgement for sin. Even at the beginning of Jesus’ ministry—three years before the cross—John understood Jesus would be sacrificed for our sins.
Like the picture above, the lamb is such a sweet looking animal. When I consider Jesus from the accounts in the Bible, I marvel at his miracles, his authority over spirits and seas, his compassion and love for the downtrodden, his boldness exhorting religious leaders, but I don’t think of him as a lamb. Perhaps that’s why even his disciples were surprised by his death on the cross—though he spoke of his death and resurrection several times.
The thing which fascinates me is the fact Jesus knew he was the Lamb. He knew he would die for us. He knew we wouldn’t understand the significance of his death. He knew we would be ungrateful. He knew he would be falsely accused, tortured, and killed. He knew and yet he walked forward in obedience—a lamb to the slaughter. And it was all done in love. (John 3:16)
How I’m humbled by the love of Jesus, by the love of God.
Although it’s conjecture, the book Unafraid, by Francine Rivers paints a picture of Jesus’ childhood. I wonder if Joseph understood, as John did, his adopted son would save the world by becoming the Passover lamb.
No one realized. Everyone looked at Jesus and saw a twelve-year-old boy like any other, studying the Torah, working beside his father, growing up under the heel of Rome.
Jesus. Messiah. God with us.
Every year Joseph remembered the angel’s words as though he had heard them just yesterday. He would shiver in awareness, and again it would strike him as the eight-day celebration progressed without John’s appearing at the door. Passover was about a lamb sacrificed, a lamb whose blood marked for salvation those who believed what God said he would do. The lamb…the bloodred wine…the unleavened bread. His heart ached.
Jesus raised his eyes and looked into Joseph’s, and for the briefest moment, Joseph imagined the boy slain. Shuddering, he closed his eyes and swallowed the anguish that welled up inside him as love for the boy gripped him. Oh, Lord God…Oh Lord, Lord…“Unafraid.” Unafraid, by Francine Rivers, Tyndale House Publishers, 2001, p. 84.
Jesus is the Lamb of God. Our ransom. The Passover lamb sacrificed so we could have life.
“For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Mark 10:45 NIV