Jesus the Lamb of God

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In John 1:29, when John the Baptist saw Jesus, he emphatically declared: 

“Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!”

This precious title, Lamb of God, is full of significance. In this post, we’ll look at verses and notes in the New Testament Recovery Version that will help us understand why Jesus is called the Lamb of God. Seeing the meaning of this title will increase our love for the Lord Jesus and our appreciation for what He did for us.

Mankind’s fall in Genesis

To begin to comprehend the deep significance of Lamb of God, we must go back to Genesis 2 and 3.

After God created Adam and Eve, He put them in the garden of Eden, with the tree of life at its center. This tree represents the eternal, divine life of God. God wanted to share His life with Adam and Eve and be everything to them. By partaking of the tree of life, God would become their life, and they would express Him in their living. This was His plan for all mankind.

But there was also another tree in the garden: the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. This tree represents Satan, God’s enemy, as the source of death. God specifically warned Adam and Eve not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, telling them that if they did, they would surely die.

Sadly, we know that Satan deceived Eve, and she and Adam disobeyed God and ate of that tree. As a result, they were poisoned with the sinful nature of Satan. And since Adam represented all mankind, the entire human race was included in that fall.

God is righteous and holy; He must judge sin and the sinner. The judgment for sin is death. So Adam and Eve came under the sentence of death. 

But God didn’t give up on His plan for humanity. Instead, we see in Genesis 3 that He made coats out of the skin of an animal to cover Adam and Eve. Of course, the animal had to be killed for this to happen. Based on the subsequent revelation in the Bible, that animal was probably a lamb.

That guiltless animal was killed and died for Adam and Eve, the guilty ones. Its blood was shed on their behalf so they could live.

From that time on, no one could come to God without offering an animal to Him to die in their place. This principle of an animal sacrificed on the offerer’s behalf continued throughout the Old Testament.

The picture of the Passover

We see a clear example of a lamb dying on behalf of fallen mankind in the story of the Passover in Exodus 12. After 400 years of bondage, the children of Israel were finally about to leave Egypt. God instructed Moses and Aaron to speak to all the assembly of Israel, telling them each household was to sacrifice an unblemished lamb. The blood of that lamb was to be put on the doorposts and lintel of their houses for God to see. In Exodus 12:12-13, God said:

“For I will pass through the land of Egypt on that night and will strike all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast. Also against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgments. I am Jehovah. And the blood shall be a sign for you upon the houses where you are; and when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and there will be no plague upon you to destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt.”

That night, the children of Israel did as God instructed and ate the sacrificed lamb inside their houses. God saw the blood on the lintel and doorposts and spared the lives of the firstborn in each house.

We might think the Passover is just a ritual of the Old Testament. But the Passover with the offered lamb is a vivid picture of Jesus Christ as the real Lamb of God. In the New Testament, the apostle Paul declared in 1 Corinthians 5:7:

 “For our Passover, Christ, also has been sacrificed.”

Let’s read the first part of note 2 on the word Passover in the New Testament Recovery Version:

“This indicates that the apostle considered the believers God’s chosen people, who have had their Passover, as typified by the one in Exo. 12. In this Passover, Christ is not only the Passover lamb but also the entire Passover. To be our Passover, He was sacrificed on the cross that we might be redeemed and reconciled to God. Thus, we may enjoy Him as a feast before God.”

So the Passover, together with all the animal sacrifices throughout the Old Testament, pointed to the coming Christ, who would take away the sin of the world.

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The requirement for forgiveness

Hebrews 9:22 tells us why sacrifices to God are necessary:

“And almost all things are purified by blood according to the law, and without shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.”

Without shedding of blood there is no forgiveness. This principle was seen in the Old Testament with Adam and Eve and with the children of Israel. In the New Testament, that same principle remains.

Let’s read note 1 on this verse in the Recovery Version:

“Without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins. Without forgiveness of sins there is no way for the requirement of God’s righteousness to be fulfilled that the covenant may be enacted. But Christ’s blood was shed for the forgiveness of sins, and the covenant was enacted with His blood (Matt. 26:28).”

In the New Testament, Christ is the true sacrifice who shed His blood to fulfill God’s righteous requirement upon us. Through His death and the shedding of His blood for us, we can experience God’s forgiveness.

Hebrews 10:9-10 tells us more about Christ, our true sacrifice:

“He [Christ] then has said, ‘Behold, I have come to do Your will.’ He takes away the first that He may establish the second, by which will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.”

Let’s read note 1 on first to understand the meaning of these verses: 

The first here refers to the sacrifices of the first covenant, the old covenant; the second refers to the sacrifice of the second covenant, the new covenant, which sacrifice is Christ. Christ came into the world that He might, according to the will of God, put away the animal sacrifices of the old covenant and establish Himself as the sacrifice of the new covenant.”

How was this possible?

Jesus, the Lamb of God

The eternal and divine Son of God became a man named Jesus. By putting on a physical body of flesh and blood, He could die for us as the unique Lamb of God.

In 1 Peter 2:22-24 we can see some details of His life and His death on the cross:

“Who [Jesus] committed no sin, nor was guile found in His mouth; who being reviled did not revile in return; suffering, He did not threaten but kept committing all to Him who judges righteously; who Himself bore up our sins in His body on the tree, in order that we, having died to sins, might live to righteousness; by whose bruise you were healed.”

Jesus committed no sin and lived a blameless, guileless life on earth. He alone was qualified to die for fallen mankind as the unblemished Lamb of God to fulfill the requirement of God’s righteousness. He shed His precious blood to take away the sin of the world. The guiltless Lamb of God died for us, the guilty sinners. 

Details of the Lord’s death as the Lamb of God were also foretold in the Old Testament in Isaiah 53:5-7:

“But He was wounded because of our transgressions; He was crushed because of our iniquities; the chastening for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we have been healed. We all like sheep have gone astray; each of us has turned to his own way, and Jehovah has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him. He was oppressed, and it was He who was afflicted, yet He did not open His mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter and like a sheep that is dumb before its shearers, so He did not open His mouth.”

Jesus was wounded because of our transgressions and crushed because of our iniquities. As He was being crucified, He bore the sins of all of mankind. What a heavy load was laid upon our dear Savior! 

While Jesus was bearing the sins of the whole world, God judged Him as our Substitute. This is how Jesus accomplished a perfect and eternal redemption for us as the Lamb of God and brought us back to God. How can we help but love Him as we consider what He suffered on our behalf?

When we first repented and believed in Jesus, the Lamb of God, we were saved from God’s eternal judgment. We received Him as our Savior and were forgiven of our sins. And as we continue to go on in our Christian life, we should always remember that it’s only because the Lamb of God shed His precious blood for us that we can approach God and have fellowship with Him. Whenever we confess our sins to Him, His blood cleanses us from all unrighteousness. 

The Lamb for all eternity

In the Old Testament, we see the picture of the Lamb of God. In the New Testament, we see Jesus as the reality of that picture.

Then in Revelation, the last book of the Bible, we still see Jesus as the Lamb of God. For instance, Revelation 5:12 says:

“Worthy is the Lamb who has been slain to receive the power and riches and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and blessing.”

And in speaking about eternity future, Revelation 22:1 says:

“And he showed me a river of water of life, bright as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb in the middle of its street.”

This shows us that Jesus will forever be the Lamb of God.

Note 5 on this verse in the Recovery Version is a wonderful note about the throne. The first part says:

The throne of God and of the Lamb, showing that there is one throne for both God and the Lamb, indicates that God and the Lamb are one—the Lamb-God, the redeeming God, God the Redeemer. In eternity the very God who sits on the throne is our redeeming God, from whose throne proceeds the river of water of life for our supply and satisfaction.”

Jesus, our Redeemer, is the Lamb of God for all eternity. The Lamb is on the throne, and we redeemed ones will enjoy the river of water of life flowing from that throne for our eternal supply and satisfaction. May our hearts be filled with thankfulness and praise to Him!

We hope this post has helped you see more of the significance of Jesus being the Lamb of God. If you live in the US, you can order a free copy of the New Testament Recovery Version here to read the verses referenced in this post with their notes to gain an even deeper appreciation for Jesus as the Lamb of God.