John the Baptist’s ministry is in full swing, preparing the way for the Messiah that was to come (Mark 1:2). Many Jews went out to listen to John (Mark 1:5) as he bore “witness to the Light” (John 1:7). He made it abundantly clear saying, “He who comes after me is preferred before me, for He was before me” (John 1:15). One day, as John was about his ministry, he saw Jesus coming toward him. Remember, there are Jews all about and he says, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! This is He whom I said, ‘After me comes a Man who is preferred before me, for He was before me’” (John 1:29-30). For the Jew, this seemingly simple title would cause them to look back and remember. It is what we will do today.
Speak to all the congregation of
Israel, saying: ‘On the tenth day
of this month every man shall take for himself a lamb, according to the house of his father, a lamb for a household.
Although our attention will focus on the sacrificial system this year, the descriptive term John gives to Jesus predates the old law. The scene is one of desperate slavery, for Egypt has oppressed God’s people for some 400 years (Acts 7:6). Freedom is soon to take place, but first there was the last plague, the death of the firstborn (Exodus 12:29-30). God’s people needed protection and they would find it through the shedding of blood, the blood of a lamb. God said, “Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male of the first year. You may take it from the sheep or from the goats…And they shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and on the lintel of the houses where they eat it” (Exodus 12:5, 7). God made a promise saying, “Now the blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you are. And when I see the blood, I will pass over you; and the plague shall not be on you to destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt” (Exodus 12:13). From that day forward, Israel celebrated the Passover Feast to remember what God did through the sacrifice of a lamb.
For you know that…you were redeemed…with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.
1st Peter 1:18-19
The imagery is so powerful! Surely, many of his listeners would make the connection. Jesus is the unblemished sacrificial Lamb of God. It was He whom God planned to be “an offering for sin” (Isaiah 53:10). Jesus is the “propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world” (1st John 2:2). As the shedding of blood initiated their freedom, so it is with those in Christ. “To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood” (Revelation 1:5) and set us free from the bondage of sin (Romans 6:6). Thank You Father for Jesus Christ, the only true Lamb of God.