Behold! The Lamb

Behold! The Lamb

Behold! The Lamb. 

There are some individual words and short phrases in Scripture that need to be highlighted as they are read, words or phrases that are significant or point to something meaningful. Some phrases might be: Fear not. Here I am. Woe to you. One another.   And maybe some words are: AmenHallelujahBlessedAbba. Come.  The word Behold! is one of those significant words, an exclamation that is intended to get our attention. Listen, people, this is something you need to hear! Behold says to the audience, Look at this and take note! You would be wise to remember these words and think about them! Careful now, don’t be deaf to what I am about to say! Stop what you’re doing and listen up! As the Eastern Orthodox Christians say before they read the Gospel in the Liturgy… Attend! The following verse begins with Behold! So the words that follow must be important.

“The very next day, the Baptizer saw Jesus coming to him to be baptized, and John cried out, ‘Behold! Look! There He is – God’s Lamb who will take away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29).

When John the Baptist shouted out that Jesus was the Lamb of God, he was referring to the Passover lamb, the defining moment in Jewish history (Exodus 12). Inspired by the Holy Spirit, John is saying that, just as the blood of the perfect, unblemished male lamb provided a way to escape judgment and experience redemption from slavery in Egypt, Jesus will soon provide for redemption through His very own sacrificial blood. The lamb became the primary sacrificial animal in Mosiac Law, a lamb sacrificed in the Temple every morning and evening for the sins of the people (Ex. 29). For centuries, a lamb’s life had to be sacrificed for the penalty of sin. And now the Messiah, Jesus Christ, offering His pure blood as sacrifice to atone for the sins of the world. “You were not redeemed with corruptible things, but with the precious blood of Christ as of a lamb without blemish and without spot. He indeed was foreordained before the foundation of the world” (1 Peter 1:18-19).

Jesus didn’t die for just a few lucky saints. He didn’t merely take away the sins of the spiritual elite. Jesus died for the universe, for the sins of everyone, of all mankind. His redemption is as universal as man’s sin. All those who live into Christ’s life and accepts His gift of salvation can have the power of sin taken away. The sins of the world are forgiven, but not everyone has accepted the gift of salvation. The Greek word for “takes away” is often used for “lifting up and away” an anchor stuck on the bottom floor of the sea. We are anchored down to the bottom by our sinful nature. Jesus succeeded in lifting up the anchor and taking it away so we can enjoy new life.

John’s Lamb of God image brings to mind the story of Abraham and Isaac on Mt. Moriah (Genesis 22). A sheep was caught in the bushes and was used as the sacrifice in place of Isaac. Father Abraham made sure there was a blood sacrifice. Jesus was the lamb caught in the thicket to be offered up in our place as a sacrifice.

John the Baptist’s reference to the Lamb also causes us to think about Isaiah’s Suffering Servant as described in Isaiah 53. Jesus was the Servant of God who suffered for the sins of the people, and the Servant offers Himself for our deliverance from the power and consequences of sin.

“Yet it was our weaknesses he carried; it was our sorrows that weighed him down. And we thought his troubles were a punishment from God, a punishment for his own soul! But he was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins. He was beaten so we could be whole. He was whipped so we could be healed. All of us, like sheep, have strayed away. We have left God’s path to follow our own. Yet the Lord laid on him the sins of us all. He was oppressed and treated harshly, yet he never said a word. He was led like a lamb to the slaughter. And as a sheep is silent before the shearers, he did not open his mouth. Unjustly condemned, he was led away.” (Isaiah 53:4-8).