The Lamb of God
This past Sunday in 12:13 we learned that Jesus is the Lamb of God who came to save the world.
In John 1:29, John the Baptist sees Jesus approaching and declares, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” What does it mean? To fully appreciate the significance of this remarkable declaration we need to understand the Old Testament background.
At the beginning of the book of Exodus the people of God are slaves in Egypt. They cried out to the Lord and “God heard their groaning” (2:24). He sent a deliverer – Moses. God sent him to tell the king of Egypt to let God’s people go. Pharaoh, however, refused. In response, God sent plagues on the land of Egypt. The final plague was the most terrible: every firstborn in Egypt would die. “I will go through the land of Egypt on that night, and will strike down all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgments – I am the LORD” (12:12). The people of Israel, however, would be treated differently: “against any of the sons of Israel a dog will not even bark, whether against man or beast, that you may understand how the Lord makes a distinction between Egypt and Israel” (Exodus 11:7). The Lord judges the idolatry of Egypt and spares the people of Israel. Simple enough, right? Well, there’s a big question to consider…
God was judging the gods of Egypt; he was judging the idolatry of Egypt. But here’s the thing, Israel was equally guilty (Ezekiel 23:8). How could God judge the Egyptians and not the Israelites? The answer: God provided a substitute. The Lord told the people of Israel to get an unblemished male lamb and to kill it. They were to take its blood and put it on the door posts of their house and on the lintel. When the Lord saw the blood on the house, he would pass over that house and the lives of the firstborns would be spared. The blood of the lamb signified the death of the lamb in the place of the firstborn.
The Scripture tells us that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). Egyptian or Israelite we are all equally deserving of God’s judgment. God, however, has made a way: he has provided a substitute. When John the Baptist, Jesus’ cousin, saw Jesus walking, he declared, “behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (1:29). When Jesus died on the cross, he died to satisfy the claims of God’s justice against our sin. He died in our place. He died for us. Every person is called to look to him, to trust in him, to entrust their life to him as the savior-king who died and rose again for them.
“He who believes in the Son [Jesus] has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.” (John 3:36)