Isaiah 53:4-7
Surely he took up our pain
and bore our suffering,
yet we considered him punished by God,
stricken by him, and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him,
and by his wounds we are healed.
We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
each of us has turned to our own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.

He was oppressed and afflicted,
yet he did not open his mouth;
he was led like a lamb to the slaughter,
and as a sheep before its shearers is silent,|
so he did not open his mouth.

John 1:29
The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

So far this Advent season we have looked at the names of our Lord Jesus Christ as given or foretold in the Old Testament.  Starting today we look at names given to him in the New Testament, or which he himself claimed.  When we think of lamb today, we possibly associate it with mint jelly.  But when John called Jesus the Lamb of God, no doubt those who heard him had very different associations.

For starters, they would have remembered the Passover lamb (Exodus 12), which was to be a lamb without defect and whose blood on that first Passover was smeared around the doorframes to keep out the angel of death.  And every Passover after that reminded them of God’s marvelous delivery of his people out of bondage in Egypt.  And they would think of the sin offering, where the common people would bring a goat or a lamb (Leviticus 4:27-35) to the priest for him to sacrifice for their sin.

And if they were sharp, and knew the Old Testament Scriptures, they would have remembered the passage from Isaiah that we read today.  They would have been reminded that there was a person coming on whom would be placed all the sins of his people, and who would be led like a lamb to the slaughter, and who by his death and sacrifice would bring peace and healing.  And then John points to Jesus, and says, there he is: the Lamb of God himself!  He is the perfect, spotless Passover lamb.  He is the one on whom we can place our sins.  He is the one who will be sacrificed for our sin, and will give us peace with God.  Yes, Jesus is not only the high priest who offers up the sacrifice of atonement: he himself is the sacrifice!

In Revelation 5, we see “a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing at the center of the throne”.  The elders and the four living creatures bow down before the Lamb; thousands of angels sing “Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain”; and every creature in heaven and earth sings “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power, for ever and ever”.  Will you join that chorus of praise to the Lamb of God?  Will you worship the one who sacrificed himself for your sins?  Worthy is the Lamb!

Not all the blood of beasts,
  On Jewish altars slain,
Could give the guilty conscience peace,
  Or wash away its stain.

But Christ, the heavenly Lamb,
  Takes all our sins away;
A sacrifice of nobler name,
  And richer blood than they.

(Isaac Watts)

Upon a cross my Savior died, to ransom sinners, crucified,
His loving arms still open wide; all glory be to Jesus!
(Timothy Dudley-Smith)

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