THE LAMB Identified in the Gospels… “…BEHOLD THE LAMB OF GOD…” John 1:29
THE LAMB IS GOD INCARNATE
Man’s redemption and reconciliation to God is the major theme of the Bible. The Old Testament reveals God’s provision for redemption through an animal sacrificial system given to the nation of Israel.
The Scriptures teach, however, that animal sacrifices were never, in and of themselves, a permanent remedy. They never did remove sin; they covered sin – but only temporarily. It is precisely for this reason that animal sacrifices had to be continually offered year after monotonous year (Heb. 10:1). Students of the Word of God realize that the Sacrificial system was not only temporary but that it foreshadowed a future sacrifice which would be both infinite in worth and eternal in duration.
In this regard, two major points are important to grasp; First, only God can forgive sin; and second, the forgiveness of sin must be accomplished in harmony with the nature of God. A holy, righteous and perfect God demands a sacrifice which is holy, righteous and perfect. Three requisites are necessary: First, a redeemer must have the redemption price to perform the task of redeeming mankind; second, he must be desirous of redeeming; and third, he must be related to mankind as a “kinsman”. It was man who lost man’s inheritance, and only a man could redeem it back. But, almost contradictorily, the One who takes away the sin of the world must also be God. In the final analysis, it is the God-Man who is the perfect Lamb.
Abraham, the father of the Jewish race, uttered one of the most profound statements written on the pages of the Bible. It occurred during what must have been the most traumatic experience in his life. In obedience to God’s command to sacrifice Isaac, Abraham, with two servants and his son, started the three-day journey toward Mount Moriah (the southeast corner of modern-day Jerusalem). Nearing their objective, Abraham asked his servants to remain behind. He continued on with Isaac, the son of promise, who was miraculously born during his old age. As they climbed Mount Moriah together, Isaac inquired of his father, “. . . Behold the fire and the wood; but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?” (Gen. 22:7). In response to his son’s question, the great patriarch said, “… God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering . . .” (Gen. 22:8). In this statement the foundational principles for redemption were being laid. God was revealing two indisputable truths: First, that God himself would provide the sacrifice for sin; and second, that God himself would be the sacrifice for sin.
The Messiah would be God in flesh who would provide both spiritual and national redemption for Israel and new birth for all who would come to Him in faith.
The Apostle Paul, in speaking to the elders in Ephesus, said it clearly, “ . . feed the church of God [the called-out ones of God], which he [God] hath purchased with his own blood” (Acts 20:28).
The Apostle John presented the same truth. He wrote that God became flesh and dwelt among men. He became the Lamb who would take away the sins of the world (Jn. 1:29).
The importance that is attached to this revelation cannot be overstated. The Old Testament Scriptures not only portrayed a future, efficacious, permanent sacrifice for sin, but revealed that this sacrifice would be a lamb-like person . . . the Messiah. The One who fulfills this position must be God in flesh.
JESUS OF NAZARETH IS THE LAMB
The Scriptures Declare It
Many centuries had passed without the fulfillment of the promise of the Lamb’s appearance. It was, however, at the fullness of time that God made His physical appearance upon the earth as Israel’s promised Messiah and the world’s Savior (Gal. 4:4).
The New Testament clearly declared Jesus of Nazareth to be that Lamb.
It was not coincidental that the Spirit of God placed the Gospel of Matthew at the beginning of the New Testament. Most appropriately, Matthew’s Gospel account begins with the direct statement that Jesus was the Christ (Messiah), the Son of David and Abraham (Mt. 1:1).
In the same chapter, the ministry of Jesus the Messiah was revealed. He would become the Lamb which had been foreshadowed throughout all of the Old Testament.
The import of this message is seen in the unique fashion through which God chose to reveal it. The angel of the Lord was the special messenger selected by God to announce this truth. The Lamb’s personal name was to be Jesus. The significance is seen in that the name Jesus is the equivalent of the Hebrew name Yeshua, meaning Savior, or “salvation is of Jehovah” .
The angel went on to say that this newly born child was to be called Jesus (Savior) because His ministry would be one of redeeming His people spiritually. “… thou shalt call his name Jesus; for he shall save his people from their sins” (Mt. 1:21).
Peter, in his first epistle moves his readers out of the shadows of the Old Testament into the reality of the New Testament as he unequivocally declares Jesus to be the Lamb of God. He specifically states that it is the blood of Jesus as of a lamb that redeems mankind; He received our due punishment. All of this took place while mankind himself was estranged from God (1 Pet. 1:18-19; 2:24-25).
Fulfilled Prophecy Demands It
The Bible not only records God’s intervention into human history thousands of years ago, but it looks forward, as well. Through prophecy, God foretold future events. At the heart of earth’s future would be God’s ongoing program for the redemption of mankind. This program would center around the Lamb . . . the Messiah. As God did not leave room for doubt concerning the sacrificial system in the Old Testament economy, so He did not leave room for question concerning the Messiah in the future. In fact, He painted a picture of the coming Messiah in minute detail. These portrayals concerning the Messiah were so definite that His recognition should be beyond question to those who have looked at the picture. There are over three hundred messianic prophecies which find their fulfillment in the person of Jesus.
While some of the prophecies are general in nature and might be able to fit more than one individual, many of the prophecies are so specific that there can be no question that Jesus alone fulfills them. Combining the more general prophecies with the specific prophecies, the probability of their “coincidental” fulfillment in one person reaches beyond the possibility of blind chance. Only an omnipotent God could have controlled the events of history so that in His Son, Jesus of Nazareth, all of the prophecies find their fulfillment. Chance is not a realistic option. All of the prophecies were made at least four hundred years before the birth, ministry, death and resurrection of Jesus. And some reach back in time a full 1,500 years before their fulfillment in Him. A number of the prophecies also insist that it was impossible for Jesus or His disciples to have manipulated His life and death to fit them. The truth of the matter is that Jesus, and Jesus alone, is the Lamb of God – the promised Messiah (See chart at end of article.)
HIs Miracles Attest To It
“… How long dost thou make us to doubt? If thou be the Christ, tell us plainly” (Jn. 10:24). The scene was the Feast of Dedication(Hanukkah). Jesus had made His way to the Temple area. Many of the observing Jewish people sought after Jesus to ask Him this most important question. By now, the suspense had reached fever pitch. The life and ministry of Jesus had become known throughout all of Israel. Jesus’ response was a simple one; “Judge Me by My works for they testify of Me” (Jn. 10:25 paraphrased). The miracles which He performed were of such a nature that they should have recognized Jesus to be their Messiah. So miraculous and unique were the works of Jesus that He made them the criteria by which the Jewish people should have known that He was both the Messiah and God himself (Jn. 10).
This truth is borne out again by Jesus’ reply to the heart-searching question of John the Baptist while in prison: “. . . Art thou he that should come, or do we look for another?” (Mt. 11:3).
John had been prepared by God to be the herald of the Messiah. He had already spent much time convincing the Jewish population, particularly their leaders, that he was not the Messiah, but rather the Messiah’s forerunner.
John, now in prison, wanted to know if Jesus was the promised One, the Lamb of God, the Messiah. Had John made a mistake in his identification of Jesus as the Lamb? To clarify his thinking, he sent his own disciples to Jesus to ask Him the crucial question, “. .. Art thou he that should come, or do we look for another?” Jesus’ response was, “Examine My miracles. .. they attest to who I am” (Jn. 10:25 paraphrased).
These miracles, in essence, were the credentials of Jesus. They proved that He was the promised Messiah. He ruled demons, halted the wind, walked on water, made the lame to walk, the deaf to hear, the blind to see, the lepers whole, changed water to wine, multiplied food, and even raised the dead. He was able to do all of this because He was God incarnate. He was the Messiah, the Lamb of God.
Testimony of Those Present Bear Witness To It
A salient review of the testimony of Jesus, as well as others living during the first century A. D., serves to substantiate the fact that He was the Lamb of God.
Three days had passed since the crucifixion of Jesus. Two of His disciples were despondent because of the death of Jesus whom they had understood to be Israel’s victorious Messiah – physical deliverer. It is in this context that Jesus revealed Himself not only alive, but established that He was the One whom the Scriptures of old spoke – the suffering Lamb, as well as the victorious Messiah (Lk. 24).
It was during the Passover feast that He instituted the Lord’s table. The evening before He was crucified, He broke the bread and passed it around. He then took the cup of wine and declared that it was symbolic of His shed blood initiating the New Covenant, announced by God beforehand (cf. Jer. 31:31-34), which would result in the remission of sins.
While enjoying a needed rest from the crowds in Caesarea Philippi, Jesus put this question to His disciples. He asked, “ . . Who do men say that I, the Son of man, am?” (Mt. 16:13). Unlike the others, Peter’s reply had not come from flesh and blood. It was God inspired. He said, “. .. Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Mt 16: 16).
The Lamb has been identified. He is Jesus, the preincarnate, eternal Son of God and, “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abideth on him” (Jn. 3:36).
The Lamb’s Place of Birth
The Lamb’s Unique Birth
The Lamb’s Time of Birth
The Lamb’s Suffering
The Lamb’s Death
The Lamb’s Resurrection
Before the destruction of the Temple and the loss by Judah to rule over Israel
Afflicted in our stead
Cut off without due cause
The grave could not hold Him
Lk. 2:4-7 Mt. 1:23 Mt 1:23
Mt. 8:17; 27:30, 31,41 & 43;
1 Pet. 2:24
Mt. 28:5, 6