Summary: Jesus is the sacrifice that has won our redemption.
A tourist visited a church in Germany and was surprised to see the carved figure of a lamb near the top of the church’s tower. He asked why it was there and was told that when the church was being built, a workman fell from a high scaffold. His co-workers rushed down, expecting to find him dead. But to their surprise and joy, he was alive and only slightly injured.
How did he survive? A flock of sheep was passing beneath the tower scaffold at the time, and the worker landed on top of a lamb. The lamb broke his fall and was crushed to death, but the man was saved. To commemorate that miraculous escape, someone carved a lamb on the tower at the exact height from which the workman fell.
The source of that story is unknown, and, whether it is simply legend or truth, it still bears out one fact: we need a lamb for our survival. WE NEED A LAMB! 1) who is named by God, 2) to snatch away our sins, and also 3) to redirect lives.
1) Named by God
John the Baptist was the first to call Jesus the “lamb of God.” That was a title. Titles are symbols of prestige. For example, not every one can bear the title “Doctor.” That’s a privilege. A title also describes an individual for good or bad.
There’s talk of the Charlotte Hornets coming to New Orleans. The whole deal is still up in the air, but people are talking about the prospect. They’re hopeful the team will come. One of the big topics of discussion is what the team will name itself if it comes. All sort of suggestions have been made from the New Orleans Shrimp to reclaiming the name Jazz. Now, imagine if the team came to our state and chose a lamb for its mascot -- just picture the New Orleans Lambs –why, they’d probably be the laughing stock of the entire NBA.
After all, lambs are helpless creatures. They’re born virtually defenseless. Lambs also tend to be awkward and clumsy. They seem to have a knack for getting into trouble. Why in the world would John refer to Jesus as the Lamb of God? Could it be that he was implying that Jesus was weak or unimpressive? No. The opposite is true. This was actually a prestigious title, which John the Baptist had given. To appreciate the significance means we must understand how the Jewish people perceived a lamb.
God had given the lamb a special place in the mind of all Israelites. For the Jews the lamb carried religious connotations. The lamb was one of the animals used to symbolize the forgiveness of sins; that God would make atonement with all people, setting the world “at-one” with him.
Already, in the Old Testament, the lamb carried this special meaning. Lambs played an important part in the Passover meal, commemorating how God delivered Israel from Egypt and from death. In fact, the word “lamb” became synonymous with the Savior. Isaiah uses the word in his prophecy concerning the Messiah: “He was led like a lamb to the slaughter” (Isaiah 53:7).
God promised he would send one who would come to be our Savior, to carry our sins for us. And one day while on the bank of the Jordan River, John saw that one who was revealed to him by God. He saw Jesus, and he gave him the title, “Lamb of God.” John knew that this was God’s Lamb; this was his sacrifice for us. That’s a prestigious title no one else could dare hold.
In a culture that sacrificed lambs twice a day in the temple, Johns’ words were a kiss of death. "Here is the Lamb of God" also means, "Look, everyone, here’s the one that is going to be sacrificed." Suddenly, the title might not seem all that prestigious. Yet, as we understand the work of the Lamb of God, we see that this name is prestigious it is honorable. John says that this lamb, Jesus, is the one who takes away the sins of the world. Do you understand the all-important work this Lamb accomplishes? He takes away the sins of the whole world! Literally, he rips us off. He actually steals away our collective and individual sins, prying them from us.
2) To Snatch Away Our Sins
I remember when my parent’s home was robbed. It was in broad daylight when no one was home. My parents were at work and I was away at college. Two punks broke a window in the back door unlocked the deadbolt, and helped themselves to the house; even making a sandwich and leaving the mess on the counter.
I also recall my initial feelings when I heard about the incident. I was angry. My whole family felt afraid and violated. Our privacy was invaded, and that eerie feeling loomed over us for some time.