This Week's Gospel Sermons
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December 12, 2010
In History— “On the tenth of this month they are each one to take a lamb for themselves, according to their fathers’ households, a lamb for each household … The blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you live; and when I see the blood I will pass over you” (Exodus 12:1-13).
In Prophecy — “All of us like sheep have gone astray … Like a lamb that is led to slaughter, And like a sheep that is silent before its shearers, So He did not open His mouth” (Isaiah 53:6-8).
In Reality — “The next day he saw Jesus coming to him and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! … I myself have seen, and have testified that this is the Son of God … and he looked at Jesus as He walked, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God!” (John 1:29-36).
In Eternity — “‘Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing.’ And every created thing which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all things in them, I heard saying, ‘To Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, be blessing and honor and glory and dominion forever and ever.’” (Revelation 5:12-13).
Jesus is called the Lamb, not just because of His likeness of perceived characteristics of a Lamb — for His example in meekness (2Corinthians 10:1) or His example in submission (1Peter 2:23). More significantly, He is the Lamb because He was our sacrifice and through His blood we are cleansed (Hebrews 9:22).
There is much to think about in the history of lambs in regard to mankind. Abel offering of a lamb is noted very early. Because of his faith, his offering was accepted of God (Hebrews 11:4).
Continuing, we see the vital importance of faith in the children of Israel and their relationship to a lamb. The firstborn of their houses were saved by the blood of a lamb and faithful obedience (Exodus 12:1-13). The lamb became an integral part of the Passover commemoration.
The Law given to the children of Israel was replete with instructions as to the use of lambs and their blood. Blood was used in the dedication of the tabernacle and vessels, the Book of the Law, and even the people themselves (Hebrews 19:18-22). The consecration of the priests to serve God was accompanied by two daily sacrifices of lambs: “Now this is what you shall offer on the altar: two one year old lambs each day, continuously” (Exodus 29:38).
The use of a lamb covers a lot of years, but we need to realize that the plan of THE LAMB in our relationship with God goes back further — even before the beginning. Peter makes this astoundingly clear: “knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold … but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ. For He was foreknown before the foundation of the world, but has appeared in these last times for the sake of you who through Him are believers in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God” (1Peter 1:18-21). He goes on to tie together God’s plan, our faith, the blood of the Lamb, God’s truth, and our obedience to our redemption.
This is the Lamb about whom Isaiah prophesied (Isaiah 53:7). This is the Lamb of whom John the baptizer exclaimed, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29). This is the Lamb who is in the presence of the Father for us (Revelation 5:6; 7:14; 5:9).
The Law given through Moses was clear that not just any lamb would do in the Israelites relationship with God. The lambs were to be chosen from within their own flock and without blemish (Exodus 12:5). Jesus came to this earth to be taken from among the “flock” of mankind: “Therefore, since the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil” (Hebrews 2:14). Likewise, He was without blemish or spot: “For it was fitting for us to have such a high priest, holy, innocent, undefiled …” (Hebrews 7:26-27) and “WHO COMMITTED NO SIN, NOR WAS ANY DECEIT FOUND IN HIS MOUTH” (1Peter 1:22). Even Judas and Pilate realized and acknowledged that Jesus was innocent (Matthew 4).
Remember, for the firstborn of the houses in Israel to be saved, a faithful, obedient application of the blood had to be made. The Lamb’s blood must be applied for salvation still today: “Therefore, brethren, since we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He inaugurated for us through the veil, that is, His flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water” (Hebrews 10:19-23). All ordinances governing the application of the blood and the eating of the lamb had to be fulfilled by the Israelites. Speaking in spiritual terms, Jesus said the same of Himself: “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in yourselves. He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. For My flesh is true food, and My blood is true drink” (John 6:53-55).
In our age we don’t offer sacrifices of lambs. Most lambs are killed today for two reasons: food or clothing. How fitting that in our Lamb we find spiritual nourishment (John 6:35) and through the cleansing power of Christ’s blood, we can also be clothed: “He has clothed me with garments of salvation, He has wrapped me with a robe of righteousness, As a bridegroom decks himself with a garland, And as a bride adorns herself with her jewels” (Isaiah 61:10). So we see and know the value of the Lamb of God.
— S. Scott Richardson Sr.