Why Is Jesus Called the Lamb of God?
Tom: Our topic for this segment is the gospel of salvation, and we’re going through certain verses of the Gospel of John that relate to the salvation we have in Christ. And of particular concern are verses which tell us who Jesus is, which is critically important to our understanding of the gospel.
Dave, I want to pick up with verse 29—this is chapter 1, verse 29. Now, we covered that last week, but just to kind of bring us back to the context here: “The next day, John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and sayeth, Behold, the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world. This is he of whom I said, After me cometh a man which is preferred before me, for he was before me.”
Now, just to make a comment here, we’re talking about who Jesus is. Now, we know that John the Baptist was born before Jesus, but He was before him. Not just in stature and who He is, but this is the eternal Jesus...
Tom: …that we’re talking about.
Dave: Micah:5:2: whose “Bethlehem Ephrata, out of thee shall he come forth who will be ruler of my people Israel, whose goings-forth have been from everlasting.” This is the eternal God, God the Son, who’s become a man now. Verse 29: “The next day….” That’s an important phrase. “The next day…” What would that be the day after? Well, the day after John had baptized Jesus, because the verse that you’re about to read, verse 31, begins, “And I knew him not.”
He did not know—we talked about that in our last program—he did not know, even though this was his cousin, and he knew Jesus. Surely they must have played together as children; they must have known one another as they grew up.
Tom: Sure. There had to be visitations between Elizabeth and…
Tom: …and Mary, so…
Dave: But he did not know that Jesus was the Messiah. And it was not until he saw the sign that God had given him. He said, “Upon whom you see the Spirit of God descending like a dove and abiding upon him, the same is he. And I saw, and bare record, this is the Son of God.”
So, the day after the baptism, now, John is able to identify Jesus as the Lamb of God. He couldn’t identify Him as that before, but now he knows.
Tom: Yeah. Dave, again, in keeping with what we’re trying to do here, we’re looking to who Jesus is. Now, we just mentioned that “He was before me.” In other words, Jesus is eternal. We’re finding characteristics of His godly nature. Not godly, but He is God, okay?
Dave: Mm-hmm. If He’s not God, He can’t be our Savior.
Tom: Right. But that raises an interesting question. You began by saying that John the Baptist baptized Jesus. Now, isn’t there a conflict here between Jesus being the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world? The sinless sacrifice of God? Yet He’s being baptized. Why is that?
Dave: Well, in fact, John the Baptist refused—mildly. He said, “Look, don’t…you should baptize me. I can’t baptize you.” Obviously, from what he knew of Jesus, He was sinless. And John the Baptist…
Tom: There’s no baptism of repentance here for Jesus.
Dave: No, John the Baptist was calling people to repent, and baptizing them is symbolically washing away their sins—or at least their desire to be cleansed as the Law had made provision.
And he sees Jesus coming to him—He’s sinless. He knows of no sin that Jesus would have to confess. In fact, Jesus said to the rabbis, “Which of you convinceth me of sin? Find out a sin.” I mean, would you dare to say that to anybody? “Point out a sin that I have ever sinned!” So then why would Jesus be baptized?
Well, Jesus said, “It behooveth us to fulfill all righteousness.” Jesus has come to take our place. He’s the one who is going to die in our place. He is the Second Man. He’s the Last Adam. He’s the representative of the human race. He’s the progenitor of a new race. And so, in that capacity, Jesus is being baptized for all mankind.
Now, this statement, “Behold the Lamb of God!” Just a tremendous, amazing statement. We have the lambs, of course, in the Old Testament: well, the Passover Lamb; we have the lambs that were slain—offered on the altar for sin. And their sacrifices, their blood, could never take away sin. They were symbolic. They were looking forward to one who would come.
You get that in a beautiful picture when Abraham takes Isaac up, you remember, to offer him on the altar. And he has the knife raised—he has his son bound on the altar—he has the knife raised and the angel of the Lord calls and stops him, and turns him around, and he sees a lamb caught in the thicket with its horns, speaking of its power. Only God Himself, the infinite One, could pay the infinite price for our sin.
But on the way up the mountain, Isaac innocently says to Abraham, “Well, Father, here’s the wood, and here’s the fire, but where is the lamb?”
And Abraham prophetically said, “God will provide Himself a lamb.”
So, this now comes, the Lamb of God, the One who is the fulfillment of all the Old Testament sacrifices. They could not take away sin. He will take away sin. And He is the Lamb of God.
Now, you get that powerfully in Hebrews 9 and 10, and it tells us, Hebrews 9 says, “Once in the end of the age (that is, the end of that old system under the Law), Christ has appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself, to pay the full price, as it is appointed unto man once to die and after this, the judgment. So, Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many. And unto them that look for Him shall He appear the second time without sin.” He’s coming back.
And then, chapter 10 begins, talking about the Old Testament sacrifices. And the author of Hebrews, inspired of the Holy Spirit, of course, says, “The very fact that these sacrifices had to be repeated over and over and over, day after day, indicated they couldn't take away sin. If they could take away sin, they would have ceased to be offered, because sin, having been purged, you would have no more remembrance of it, and you wouldn’t need another sacrifice.”
Then, in contrast to the Old Testament sacrifices that had to be repeated, the writer says, “But this man, Jesus, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, He sat down at the right hand of the majesty on high,” and verse 18 says, “There is therefore no more offering, no more sacrifice, for sin.”
Now, tragically, there are those who think that every time they take the Eucharist, the bread, the cup, that this is Jesus. That He is literally being offered again for our sins. That is contrary to the Word of God. That is abomination to the Word of God. That is a denial…
Tom: Mm-hmm. It’s a rejection.
Dave: …of the sufficiency of the sacrifice of Christ upon the cross! That He must be offered over and over and over and over—now He is no better than the Old Testament sacrifices. No! This is the Lamb of God, who is the fulfillment of those Old Testament sacrifices, who has come. By one sacrifice, He has paid the full penalty, and that’s why, when He gave His Spirit into His Father’s hand—we pointed this out many times, as have many others—He said, “It is finished. Tetelestai! in the Greek. They stamped it on promissory notes, on documents. It meant “Paid in Full.”
Now, where the payment has been made in full, you don’t continue to make payments! And that is a basic problem with the Roman Catholic sacrifice—they call it the Sacrifice of the Mass. And they say that Jesus is literally being immolated—that’s their language, not ours—that He is literally being immolated, sacrificed, on their altars. Well, then, what He did on the cross was not sufficient. And that’s a denial of the scriptures!
So, if I’ve got to go back again—He’s being offered again and again and again—how many times more must He be offered before my sins are all paid for? Or did He pay for them once for all? And when I believe that, the Bible says I’m saved! If I’ve passed from death to life because I have accepted the sacrifice that was made on my behalf. I have accepted the full payment that Christ made for my sins, but if I reject this, and I say He must be offered over and over and over, then how many more times must He be offered?
So, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who bears away the sin of the world.” What a glorious statement from John the Baptist.
Tom: Right. Dave, this relates to our opening segment, where we were talking about loving the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your mind, strength, and so forth, you just have to be in awe that the Creator of the universe would do this for us!
Tom: Sinners. Not because of who we are…
Dave: Wretches, who…
Tom: …but because of who He is.
Dave: …who have rejected Him…
Dave:…and taken our own way.
Tom: Yet we are—talk about beneficiaries! I mean, this is incredible!
Dave: It’s thrilling! It’s enough to cause you to worship Him and to love Him with your whole heart!