Jesus, the Lamb of God

I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing in the center of the throne, encircled by the four living creatures and the elders. He had seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth. He came and took the scroll from the right hand of him who sat on the throne. And when he had taken it, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp and they were holding golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. And they sang a new song:

   “You are worthy to take the scroll  and to open its seals, because you were slain,  and with your blood you purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation.” (Revelation 5:6-9) 

This rather bizarre picture focuses on one of the most important aspects of who Jesus is.  From the beginning of history God has been receiving animal sacrifices as a means to forgiveness.  Why such a gory method?  Well, imagine that you are the sinner who has brought your unblemished lamb to God’s priest and you must reach a knife under its throat and slit it and allow the lamb to bleed out.  You have just laid your hands on the animal to transfer your guilt to it.  But how can this innocent animal take your guilt?  Why must such a gruesome and deadly act be done to acquire forgiveness?  What if you don’t transfer your guilt to the lamb?

By this means God has shown for millennia that the penalty for sin is an awful penalty – death.  The possibility of a sacrifice in one’s place is a divine reality.  I don’t have to pay the penalty for my sin myself if there is a suitable substitute for me.

And God has spoken through His prophets about one who will be our substitute.  Isaiah declares of the Servant of Yahweh (Isaiah 53:4-6),

Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted.   But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.   We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.

Then the day comes when another prophet of God, John the Baptist, declares when he passes Jesus (John 1:29),

Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!

Jesus is worthy to open the sealed document containing God’s judgment on the world (Revelation 5) because he has paid the ultimate price for our disobedience.  He has become the sacrificial lamb for all who will accept his sacrifice.  For those who will not there is no one more able to say, “I gave you every chance and offered you a way out of this judgment by my own death.”  If we will but “lay our hands” on Jesus and transfer our guilt to him, he will take it.  It is our sin that has slain him.  God sees it and is satisfied with the perfect, spotless sacrifice of His Son, the Lamb without blemish.  You are forever forgiven (Hebrews 10:11-14),

Day after day every priest stands and performs his religious duties; again and again he offers the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But when this priest had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God. Since that time he waits for his enemies to be made his footstool, because by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.


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