The transcendent theme of “the Lamb of God” runs throughout the pages of Holy Scripture. We may note the following:
This chapter records perhaps the most crucial moment in Abraham’s life of faith, Heb. 11. 8. The details are of course familiar—the separation from the rest of the family to go the fifty mile journey occupying three days; the selection of the material for the journey, Gen. 22. 2-4, 9; the suffering of Abraham contemplating offering up Isaac, vv. 11-13; the saving of Isaac through divine intervention. The spiritual principles in this chapter also are vital. There is, firstly, the need for surrender in our relationships with God, both personal and in the assembly; nothing is to come between us and God, and the dearest idol in our lives must be sacrificed so that we can “worship only Thee”. Then there is the fulfilment of Abraham’s words in response to Isaac’s plaintive request, v. 7, not only immediately in the ram being caught in the thicket, but ultimately in the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ. Thirdly the idea of substitution, “in the stead of his son”, is gloriously exemplified in the Lord Himself, Rom. 5. 6.
The plan for the deliverance of the children of Israel had at its core the celebration of the Passover Feast. It was to be a sacrificial occasion, for instead of the firstborn a lamb was to be slain (sacrificed). Its flesh would provide sustaining food for the delivered, v. 8, whilst its blood would be a sign of deliverance, v. 13. All believers delight in the way it parallels the sinner’s deliverance from the bondage and power of sin and Satan through the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ. We rejoice in the knowledge that Christ, our Paschal Lamb, has been slain in our place, 1 Cor. 5. 7.
Bearing shame and scoffing rude
In my place condemned He stood;
Sealed my pardon with His blood:
Hallelujah, what a Saviour!
How fully the words of this Fourth Servant song are fulfilled in the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ. The Servant of God is despised, forsaken, bruised, mocked, afflicted, not for His own sins, (being the Just One and without sin), but for us. His was a voluntary, personal and total surrender to the will of God, cf Gal. 1. 4. He gave Himself so that He might bring us to God; we have redemption “through his blood”, Eph. 1. 7.
He bears away our load of guilt,
The Lamb of God, for sinners slain
For us the precious blood is spilt
That washes white our darkest stain.
John identifies the Lord Jesus Christ as “the Lamb of God”, as One commissioned to take away the sin of the world—for Jews and Gentiles. Such an inscription was particularly significant at this time because the passover was at hand, 2. 13, with the presence of the sacrificial lambs in Jerusalem. Here was John pointing to One who would make one “sacrifice for sins for ever”, Heb. 10. 12, in total contrast to the oft-repeated sacrifices under the old economy. John 1. 29 and 33 pin-point two aspects of our Lord’s work: to save, and to baptize with the Spirit. It is important to notice that the passage does not teach a universal atonement, as modernists would have us believe.
In this chapter we notice: (a) The centrality of the Lamb: the Lamb was in the very middle of the throne occupying thus a position of supreme power and dignity, (b) The sacrificial character of the Lamb: “as it had been slain”. Compare John 1. 29. (c) The perfection of the Lamb: “having seven horns and seven eyes”, indicating the Lamb’s perfect strength and knowledge, (d) The adoration of the Lamb: “the four beasts and four and twenty elders fell down before the Lamb”, (e) The worthiness of the Lamb: the myriad voices proclaim the fact that the Lamb is “worthy … to receive … honour, and glory, and blessing”. Not only is He worthy, but He is Lord, and that of all creation, see Phil. 2. 9-11. Later in Revelation 19a scene of unparalleled glory and triumph is presented. The location is heaven itself and the apostle John portrays the Lord Jesus Christ not only as the Bridegroom, but as “the great executor of God’s judgments on earth” (E. W. Rogers). He is seen as a conqueror, as the “white horse” indicates. All authority is invested in Him. What a grand consummation it will be and all because of the “Lamb without blemish and without spot”, 1 Pet. 1. 19.
He and I in that bright glory,
One deep joy shall share.
Mine to be forever with Him,
His that I am there.
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