John chapter 1 introduces us to the greatness and uniqueness of the Lord Jesus. John writes his prologue and introduction to his gospel in order to present Jesus as to who He is. John identifies Jesus directly himself and relates how others identified Him at the beginning of His ministry. The way Jesus is described and the titles He bears tell us of the roles He fulfils in the redemptive plan of God. Thus in John chapter 1 we discover that
He is the WORD OF GOD vs 1-5, 14 He is the CREATOR vs 3, 10 He is the LIFE giving LIGHT vs 4-5, 6-12 He is the ONLY BEGOTTEN SON OF GOD vs 14, 18, 34, 49 He is the MESSIAH/the CHRIST vs 20, 25, 41 He is the LORD v 23 He is the LAMB of GOD vs 29, 36 He is the MASTER vs 38, 49 He is the KING of ISRAEL v 49 He is the SON of MAN v 51
These descriptive titles tell us why we should notice Him, why we ought to consider Him and without doubt, why we can trust Him.
This message focuses upon the unique title, the Lamb of God. John identifies and points the Lord Jesus out as such when He, Jesus, returns from His wildness experience in which He encountered the Devil and dismissed and defeated him and his temptations (Matt 4 vs 1-11; Luke 4 v 14). John the Baptist before the baptism of the Lord Jesus presented Him as the coming Messiah who would bring salvation and judgment (Matt 3 vs 11-12), now after fully understanding who Jesus is by divine revelation (John 1 vs 32-34), he presents Him as the Lamb of God who has come in His first advent, not to judge, but to take away the sin of the world.
What a person, and what a title this is. As we ‘look’ at Jesus and consider this remarkable identification we are made to understand the importance of this title as it applies to the Lord Jesus and what it means in terms of the gospel.
1. A Special Title – Lamb of God
↘The Source of this title – Why it Exists. Stating the obvious, this is a figurative title given to the Lord Jesus the source of which comes from a Sacrificial Animal. Other animals were used in Judaism for sacrifice as appointed by God. Animals such as a bullock, a goat, a ram and even turtledove or pigeon. But, there was something special about the lamb. There are three particular scriptures in the Old Testament that indicate why this animal was special and pointed forward to Christ, both in terms of His sacrifice and character. As to the latter, He was submissive like a lamb as the prophet of Isaiah prophesied He would be
‘He was oppressed and He was afflicted, Yet He opened not His mouth; He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, And as a sheep before its shearers is silent, So He opened not His mouth’ – Isaiah 53 v 7.
Regarding the three important scriptures, which I will only mention briefly, but encourage you to read for yourself, we first go to Genesis chapter 4 were we read of
>Abel’s Offering In Genesis chapter 4 vs 1-15 we are introduced to Cain and Abel, the sons of Adam and Eve. It’s a story about the first family on earth. Cain offered to God as a worshipper seeking acceptance. He brought of the fruit of the ground and the labours of his hands without either faith or humility. God rejected Cain’s offering, but not without affording him the opportunity of repentance. But angry Cain defied God and murdered his brother Abel whose offering was accepted and through it ‘he obtained witness that he was righteous’ – Heb 11 v 4. We read that ‘Abel brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat. And the Lord respected Abel and his offering’ – Gen 4 v 4; Why? Because Abel and his offering shows the Necessity of aSACRIFICIAL APPROACH to God. That is, it is only on the basis of blood sacrifice that sinful man can be accepted before God as a forgiven sinner and a worshipper. The penalty of death because of sin must be borne to satisfy a holy and just God. The innocent animal bore the sentence and through its sacrifice the worshipper found acceptance with God. The lamb or lambs which Abel offered pointed forward to the Lamb of God and the ultimate sacrifice of all.
The next great chapter to consider is Exodus chapter 12. There we read of
>The LORD’s Passover The LORD brought the tenth plague on Egypt and this time all were affected. All firstborn sons were under the sentence of death, both Egyptian and Israelite. The reason is explained in the words of Romans chapter 5 v 12: ‘Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned’. God is impartial in His grace and in His judgment (Rom 2 v 11). Israel’s firstborn sons were sinners like all other people. This is why God provided a substitutionary lamb for their deliverance from judgment and Israel’s deliverance from Egypt. The LORD viewed Israel, who were about to be birthed as a nation, as His firstborn son. He said: “Israel is My son, My firstborn” – Exodus 4 v 22. Thus Israel was first delivered from divine judgment because of the sacrifice of the lamb and the visible application of its blood to the doorposts and lintel (Exo 12 vs 12-13), and they were also delivered from the bondage of Egypt by the power of God because of the blood of the lamb.
Thus we learn the Necessity of a SUBSTITUTIONARY SACRIFICE for the accomplishment of redemption. The one other essential scripture to consider is Genesis chapter 22. It is
>Abraham’s Assurance That is his assurance in response to his son Isaac’s question as they went to the place of offering appointed by God: “Look, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?” To which Abraham answered: “My son, God will provide for Himself the lamb for a burnt offering” – Gen 22 vs 7-8. The story of Genesis 22 is among the most sacred of the Bible. It reaches the heights of human devotion and obedience to God. Abraham through his experience was given an insight into the heart of God and what it meant for Him to give His only Son.
Thus we learn from Abraham’s prophetic statement the Necessity of aLAMB PROVIDED by GOD HIMSELF. All of these scriptures point us, as God intended them to, to the Lamb of God. Therefore we learn from John the Baptizer that JESUS is that LAMB, HE is the LAMB of GOD that is the LAMB PROVIDED by GOD. ↘The Significance of the Title – What it Means. The significance of this figurative title can be summarized as follows: >Jesus was the LAMB Appointed for Sacrifice – He is God’s Lamb >Jesus was the LAMB Acceptable for Sacrifice – He is the Unblemished Lamb (Ex 12 v 5; 1 Pet 1 vs 19-20) >Jesus was the LAMB Able for Sacrifice – He became the Sin-bearing Lamb (Isa 53 v 6)
Think about the second part of this verse as we consider
2. A Sacrificial Work – He takes away the sin of the World
↘The Cause of Alienation – TheSin of the World Sin in its essence is rebellion against God. It is the rejection of the revelation He has given. His revelation comes by His Word, in Creation and through Conscience. Sin entered the world by an act of rebellion against the revealed will of God made known by the direct command of His word (Gen 2 vs 16-17). This is what Adam, the first man, did even though a perfectly created being. His act of disobedience was sinful rebellion and by it sin entered the world to become the reigning principle and the driving power in fallen man. Moreover sin brought the penalty of death as God had warned. This was first and foremost the reality of man’s spiritual alienation from His Creator along with his own personal and moral degradation. What therefore undergirds human rebellion is disobedience and unbelief. It is the failure or refusal to believe and obey God’s revelation in whatever form it comes and while there are many types of sin, common to all sin is the rebellion of disobedience and unbelief. This is why fallen man is a rebel against God. This is why he is marked by a refusal to believe God and this is why the world is alienated from God.
The Lord Jesus came to take away, to remove the barrier of sin which divided and separated man from God, His Creator. He came to deliver us from the bondage and corruption of sin and He came to reconcile us to God by the Cross.
So when John the Baptist said: “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” He was stating the purpose for which Jesus came into this world. This is what He came to do sacrificially by His Cross toward God and this is what He came to do actually in the lives of repentant sinners. So as He commenced His public ministry, like John His forerunner, He called men and women to repentance and faith. We read: ‘Now after John was put in prison, Jesus came to Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel”’ – Mark 1 vs 14-15. He was calling them from rebellion and disobedience to life and liberty. He continues to do the same today through the gospel of His grace.
Ultimately, there is coming a day when the kingdom of God will be established in this world and it will be then that the fruit of the Cross will be seen universally. Instead of a world of rebellion and unbelief it will be a world of obedience and faith. This is only possible because of the Lamb of God and His sacrificial death. The solemn thing to remember however, is that when that day comes only those who have repented and believed in the Lord Jesus will enjoy the kingdom. Those who remain in rebellion and unbelief will themselves be taken away in judgment. The Lord explained it like this:
“The Son of Man will send out His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all things that offend, and those who practice lawlessness, and will cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears to hear, let him hear!” – Matt 13 vs 41-43.
↘The Cost of Atonement – The Cross of Christ It cost the Lord Jesus everything to satisfy God’s justice. It cost Him everything to reveal the love of God. It cost Him everything to bring forgiveness to you and me.
>The Blood of Christ Speaks of His sacrificial death. He laid down His life, He offered Himself. Thus we read of ‘the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot’ – 1 Peter 1 v 19. We think also of
>The Bearing of Judgment The Bible says of Him:
‘All we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned, every one, to his own way; And the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all’ – Isa 53 v 6.
‘For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him’ – 2 Cor 5 v 21.
The Berlin Wall represented a divided city, country and peoples. It was a symbol of the Cold War between communism in the East and the free nations of the West. Its construction began on the night of August 12th-13th 1961 by the East German Democratic Republic to keep those from the West out and keep those from the East in. It is reported that about 2.5 million people fled to the West to escape the communist East between 1949 & 1961. The Wall eventually ran through the divided city for 28 miles and a further 75 miles around West Berlin separating it from the rest of East Germany. This concrete barrier reaching up to 15 ft in height with its barbed wire, dog runs, watchtowers and checkpoints prevented the free movement of people until 1989 when change came. It was on November 9th that year when East Berliners were finally free to cross into West Berlin from the hour of midnight.
Ronald Reagan the 40th President of the United States made his speech at the Brandenburg Gate on June 12th 1987. He said these memorial words: “General Secretary Gorbachev, if you seek peace, if you seek prosperity for the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, if you seek liberalization: Come here to this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall”.
God has through Christ removed the great barrier of sin. He has removed the wall of separation and division between Him and man. He has opened the gate to freedom. Because of the Cross and Christ’s finished work He invites us into the glorious freedom of redemption.
The only hope for salvation, forgiveness, and heaven is the Lamb of God. He died to save you, He waits to save you and if you come to Him today in repentance and faith He will save you.
Behold! Behold the Lamb of God, On the cross! For us He sheds His precious blood On the cross. O hear his all-important cry, “Eli, Lama sabachthani?” Draw near and see the Saviour die On the cross!
Behold His arms extended wide On the cross! Behold His bleeding hands and side On the cross! The sun withholds his rays of light, The heavens are clothed in shades of night, While Jesus wins the glorious fight On the cross!
By faith we see Him lifted up On the cross. He drinks for us the bitter cup On the cross. The rocks do rend, the mountains quake, While Jesus doth atonement make, While Jesus suffers for our sake On the cross.
And now the mighty deed is done On the cross! The battle’s fought, the victory’s won On the cross! To Heaven he turns His languid eyes; “Tis finished” now the conqueror cries; Then bows His sacred head and dies On the cross.
Where’er I go I’ll tell the story Of the cross; In nothing else my soul shall glory Save the cross. Yes, this my constant theme shall be Through time and in eternity, That Jesus conquered death for me On the cross.