The next day he saw Jesus coming to him and said,
“Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!”
– John 1:29 NASB
The “he” in this verse is John the Baptist. He called Jesus “the Lamb of God” because this was one of the names given to Messiah by the Old Testament prophets. John the Baptist was highly revered by God-fearing people, and he wanted to make sure that the people understood that Jesus was to be revered far more.
Why would God have His spokesmen use the term “lamb” to describe the Messiah? Wasn’t the Messiah supposed to be powerful? There are actually two strains of messianic prophecy: one having to do with suffering, the other having to do with glory. One of the reasons that it became clear to so many first-century Jews that Jesus was indeed the Messiah was that His life fully displayed both of these contrasting strains of prophecy.
The two signature events of Jesus’ life – His crucifixion and His resurrection – dramatically spoke of suffering and glory, with only three days to separate them. No other human life could fulfill so many seemingly conflicting prophecies. A prophet like John the Baptist could fulfill the suffering part – remember how he was imprisoned and beheaded? And someone like Solomon could fulfill the glory part. But where was there someone who could embody both terrible suffering and enormous glory? Only in Jesus could such divergent destinies be combined.
To first-century Jews, a lamb implied a sacrifice. Yet hardly anyone in that day appreciated that humanity’s sins would require the sacrifice of Messiah Himself – which is to say, the sacrifice of God Himself. God was sacrificing whatever future He had without us in order to make sure we had a future at all. The only way we could have a future would be if He died as one of us…and then paved a path of resurrection for us. Resurrection de-fangs death and opens up all sorts of possibilities.
The example of Messiah (Christ) shows us that true love means sacrifice – sacrificing what’s best for you to do what’s best for another.
(Remember that prayer is more about listening than talking. Use the words below to start yourself, but then allow time to reflect more on the Scripture above before you say the “Amen.” During that time of quiet reflection, let God shape your thoughts and wait for a sense of peace to come. That’s your signal to say “Amen” and go forth to the day.)
Lord Jesus, thank you for dying for our sins and showing us how awful are the consequences of sinning. Thank you also for demonstrating the importance of living a life of sacrifice. Help me see how to sacrifice my day for the benefit of those you’ve called me to love…(this is where you remain quiet in order to let Him work in your thoughts)… Amen.