The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29 ESV)
The next day again John was standing with two of his disciples, and he looked at Jesus as he walked by and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God!” (John 1:35-36 ESV)
Have you ever wondered why John the Baptist referred to Jesus as the Lamb of God? The Apostle John, in the book of the Revelation, speaks of the Lamb twenty-five to thirty times depending on which translation is used. So, why use a lamb to describe God’s son?
Let’s begin our journey in the book of Exodus. The children of Israel had been in bondage to the Egyptians for many years. God’s appointed time of deliverance had come and he sent Moses to take a stand against Pharaoh and lead Israel out of Egypt. After numerous plagues decimate the land God called for the first born in Egypt to die because of the hardness of Pharaoh’s heart. Before the death angel passed through Egypt, God gave this command through Moses and Aaron:
Tell all the congregation of Israel that on the tenth day of this month every man shall take a lamb according to their fathers’ houses, a lamb for a household. And if the household is too small for a lamb, then he and his nearest neighbor shall take according to the number of persons; according to what each can eat you shall make your count for the lamb. Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male a year old. You may take it from the sheep or from the goats, and you shall keep it until the fourteenth day of this month, when the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill their lambs at twilight. “Then they shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and the lintel of the houses in which they eat it . . . In this manner you shall eat it: with your belt fastened, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand. And you shall eat it in haste. It is the Lord’s Passover. For I will pass through the land of Egypt that night, and I will strike all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and on all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgments: I am the Lord. The blood shall be a sign for you, on the houses where you are. And when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and no plague will befall you to destroy you, when I strike the land of Egypt. (Exodus 12:3-7; 11-13 ESV)
It was God’s recognition of the blood of the lamb that saved Israel from death. The lamb’s blood saved a people for God and bought them life. The Apostle Paul wrote, “For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed.” (1 Corinthians 5:7 ESV) Peter wrote, “Knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.” (1 Peter 1:18-19 ESV) Just has the blood of the lamb rescued the Israelites from death, so the blood of Christ rescues from spiritual death all those who put their trust in him. When God sees the blood of Christ on the life of one who believes his judgment for sin is satisfied and the sentence of death is pardoned or passed over (Romans 3:25; 5:9).
In the Revelation, John saw a lamb as though it had been slaughtered standing between the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders. Upon taking the scroll out of the right hand and the one who sits on the throne, the creatures and the elders sang a new song.
“Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth.” (Revelation 5:9-10 ESV)
Jesus was known as the lamb because the shedding of his blood has redeemed a people for God. And by his blood spiritual death is averted for those who believe and eternal life is purchased.
That’s why we praise him!