Metaphors of Jesus: The Lamb

By Bruce D. James

A statement made by John the baptizer was “Behold the lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). To the Jews a lamb could mean only sacrifice. The entire history of God’s people was highlighted by the sacrifice of lambs. Abel first offered acceptably to God “of the firstlings of his flock” (Gen. 4:4). Remember Isaac’s question: “Where is the lamb for a burnt offering?” (Gen. 22:7). Israel’s great deliverance from Egypt came with the slaying of a lamb and the sprinkling of its blood on their doors. That was recalled yearly in the Passover feast where they ate a lamb that had been slain. Through the prophet Isaiah, the Messiah was understood to be “brought as a lamb to the slaughter” (Isa. 53:7), and to suffer in the place of His people (53:5). When John told the people that Jesus was the Lamb of God they should have known what he meant. It is easy for us to understand that John’s language meant that the sin of the whole world would be laid on Jesus. He was the Lamb of God who died on the cross for all men.

God commanded certain sacrifices, and the sin-sacrifice was “a lamb”– meek and quiet; “of the first year”– tender and helpless; “without blemish”– innocent of all guilt.

Through long centuries God’s people looked for the Messiah. And “when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth His son” (Gal. 4:4). John met Him as the “Lamb.” John the apostle walked with Him and heard Jesus talk of dying. He also saw Him die and believed He was God’s fulfillment of all that the sacrificial lambs had meant.

Peter believed and wrote, “His own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree” (1 Pet. 2:24), and that we were redeemed by the “precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot” (1:19). Paul wrote, “Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us” (1 Cor. 5:7).

In Rev. 14:4 there is reference to a company of people who “follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth.” It is not enough to take refuge in the atoning power of the blood of Christ. We must follow Him “whithersoever He goeth.” This is accomplished through faith and obedience to all that Christ has commanded.

And while certain unbelievers have labeled Christianity as a religion of weakness, scorn is held for the One who allowed Himself to be crucified. His meekness is interpreted as weakness. But Rev. 6:16 reveals that the very One who in meekness suffered for the sins of the whole world will one day cause all who are impenitent to tremble. This will be the day of Judgment, the day of the wrath of God.

To really “behold” Jesus, to see Him as the Lamb of God, is to cause one’s life to never be the same again. After seeing Him as the pure, sinless, spotless Lamb of God, everything else seems insignificant.

Truth Magazine XXI: 23, p. 365
June 9, 1977