John 1:29-34 The Coming Lamb

Preached Sunday 26th December 2010

Click here to download the Bible study in PDF format.

 

READ John 1:29-34

Over Advent and Christmas we have been thinking about the coming of the Lord into our world of sin – I’ve preached on the coming King, the coming Opposition, the coming Word, and today I want to finish this series by sharing about the coming Lamb.  Christmas reminds us of the love of God and the gift of life He offers.  Of all His titles, Jesus as the Lamb of God reminds us most of this.

LOOK briefly at the first chapter of each of the four gospels and see how they begin.

The four gospels, (which tell us about the life and ministry of Jesus,) all have different starting points.  Matthew begins with the birth of Jesus from Joseph’s point of view, and Luke begins with Jesus’ birth from Mary’s point of view; it’s these two gospels we get most of the Christmas story from.  Mark’s gospel begins with Jesus’ ministry when he is 30 years old, and there’s no nativity.   But John starts in a different place altogether; he starts way back in eternity: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the word was God” [John 1:1].  There’s no nativity story in John, even though John tells us Jesus is born – he is the word become flesh.

And in John in chapter 1, John gives us seven names of the person he is writing about.

LOOK UP the following verses to find the names of Jesus in John 1:-

John 1:1 – he is called                     _________________________________

John 1:14,17 – he is called            _________________________________

John 1:34 – he is called                  _________________________________

John 1:41 – he is called                  _________________________________

John 1:49 – he is called                  _________________________________

John 1:51 – he is called                  _________________________________

John 1:29 – he is called                  _________________________________

All these names are given to Jesus of Nazareth, son of Joseph.  We’ve thought a bit about Jesus as King and as the Word of God.  In John 1:29, John the Baptist says, “Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.”

Jesus as the Lamb of God gets to the heart of the purpose of his birth: Jesus was born to die.

I have four children and so I have four experiences of children being born.  The very last thing you are thinking about at the birth of a child is death; no, you are thinking about life; when a child is born and everyone is happy.  Yet for Jesus, even from His birth, there were signs that this child would die a special kind of death.  For example one of the gifts of the Magi was myrrh, used as an embalming fluid.  This was unusual.

Furthermore, usually a biography of someone is about his/her life and work, and with a small part at the end is devoted to his death, maybe.  But in the gospels of Jesus Christ, even from the beginning, the cross casts its long shadow.  John begins by saying that this child who has been born, and who has come into the world, this person the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.

But, you may ask, how does this title, Lamb of God, indicate Jesus’ death?

REFLECT on this picture.  How does it speak of Christ as the Lamb of God?

This picture takes us back to the story of the Exodus.  The Hebrew people were slaves to Pharaoh, but God used Moses to lead them out of Egypt to the Promised Land.  On the night of their escape the Hebrew families were to take a lamb, kill it, sprinkle the blood over the doorframes, then to cook and eat the lamb.  The destroying angel would see the blood on the doorposts and Passover, and space the family from judgment.  This Passover meal was to be celebrated ever year as a lasting ordinance, and it is still remembered to this day.

The whole Exodus story reveals God as a righteous God who therefore brings judgment on sin and evil; but he is also a God who saves, and a God who blesses people who are in covenant relationship with him.  The Hebrew people would be saved from judgment of the first-born by sacrificing a lamb and sprinkling the blood over their door posts (you can see the lamb and the blood in the picture.)  they would be saved, not because they were special or favourites, but only by the blood of the lamb.  Putting the blood on the door posts was an act of faith.

DISCUSS: in what way is the character of God related to the sacrifice of a lamb

REFLECT on this second picture.  How does this picture speak of Christ as the Lamb of God?

The tabernacle which was the centre of Jewish worship (and the temple was based on the same design.)  The sacrifice of lambs for the sins of the people at the morning and evening sacrifices was an important feature of the Priestly Code in the Old Testament.  John the Baptist, who described Jesus as the Lamb of God, was from a priestly family, so he was well acquainted with all this. When he saw Jesus coming towards him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world” [John 1:29], he would have had in mind the Old Testament sacrifice as well as the Passover.  He was saying that just as all those lambs were sacrificed for sins, Jesus as the Lamb of God will be killed once and for all sfor the sins of the entire world.

So if this baby born in a manger Jesus is the Lamb of God, in what way is he the Lamb of God?  If we look at some of the requirements for the lamb in the Old Testament we can find similarities with Jesus, and there are things we can learn.

  1. The first thing is that the Old Testament lamb was to be in its first year and in the prime of its strength.  In the same way, Jesus, when he died, was in the prime of his life, 33 years old.  I know people who have heard the gospel and they think, “OK, I’ll give my life to God when I’m a bit older, but I want to enjoy myself first!”  But if we love God we should want to give him the best of our life, not just the fag ends.  If we give him the best, then we will find that he gives us the best in return.  So we shouldn’t put off God’s call in our lives.  We have to do something about it.

QUESTION: Is there anything you are holding back from God?  Is there any area of your life which you think you can do better without the Lord?  Or do you want to keep the best for yourself?

  1. Second, the Old Testament lamb was to be without blemish.   In the New Testament, in 1Peter 1:19, Jesus is described as a lamb without spot or blemish.  Jesus was completely without sin and according to the Bible he never did anything wrong.  No-one could ever find a reason to accuse him. But we can’t say that about ourselves.  We can be accused quite easily, which is why we need forgiveness.

“For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous,

that he might bring us to God” 1Peter 3:18].

Jesus was good and he died to make us good.  So Jesus as the Lamb of God reminds us that we all need spiritual transformation.  This is not just in becoming a Christian, but we need to continue to grow in our spiritual lives.

QUESTION: Are there sins in your life which need forgiving?  Jesus forgives and transforms, just confess you sins to him.

  1. Next, the OT lamb was slain, was killed.  Jesus was killed on the cross, in John’s gospel this happens at exactly the same time as the Passover lambs were being killed.  Jesus paid the penalty for our sins on the cross for us.  He was the Lamb of God.  He was of God, he is God’s provision for us.

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever

believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” [John 3:16]

This shows that God gave his only Son, the Lamb of God, out of his love for people, for you.  It’s through the blood of Jesus, and only through his blood we find forgiveness.  Someone said, “Forgiveness is a funny thing, it warms the heart and cools the sting.”  Jesus is the Lamb of God and his death makes forgiveness possible.  When we receive God’s forgiveness we should experience this warming of the heart and cooling of the sting.  People who are critical of Christianity sometimes say you can’t just walk around all the time feeling guilty all the time; it’s bad for the self-image.  That’s exactly right, and this is why we need to forgiveness Christ offers.  We don’t walk around feeling guilty all the time, in fact the exact opposite, since we know the freedom Christ brings.

QUESTION: Do you really know that Jesus, the Lamb of God, died for your sins?  Do you know the Lord in your life?  If not, you can invite him into your heart now, and ask him to forgive your sins and fill him with your love.  If you really mean this, your life will change.

  1. Finally, the Old Testament Passover lamb was not only to be killed, but also to be roasted and eaten.  In the same way, not only was Christ killed; not only does his blood cleanse our consciences from all our sins; but we must also feed on Christ in our hearts by faith.  Christ is the source of our spiritual strength and nourishment.  Roasted lamb is in fact a very tasty meal, I suppose as long as you are not vegetarian; in the same way we should taste and see that the Lord is good.  When we feel weak or are down in the dumps, we need to come to Christ and ask him to strengthen us.  Paul prayed in Col 1:11, “May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy.”  We need endurance, we need patience with joy, and these things can be found in Christ who strengthens us with his power.  There’s no shortage of his strength and power for us to be strengthened by.

QUESTION: are there any areas in your life where you feel totally weak?  If so, that’s not necessarily a bad thing.  It’s an opportunity for you to come to Christ to be strengthened with his power.

So when John the Baptist said to his disciples, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world,” he had all this in mind and much more besides.   He was saying in effect, “Look, behold, take notice of, see! This Jesus, this Lamb of God, He is the one who can meet your need.”

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