Author: Ron Graham
The PERFECTION of Jesus as the LAMB of God whose precious blood, can take away all sins of all people.
This lesson comes to the heart of this GLORY series. At the heart of the gospel of Christ, we find the cross of Christ —or rather the death which God's Son suffered upon that cross as a sacrifice for all humankind.
Going back to John chapter one, the chapter from which each of our GLORY lessons are drawn, we read in verse 29 the statement of John the baptizer:
"Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world."
The outline (See Chart) for this series of lessons is an acrostic on the word GLORY (from the statement in John 1:14, "We beheld his glory"). In John the baptizer’s description of Jesus as God’s "Lamb", we find the L in GLORY.
Peter reminds us that we have been redeemed "with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot... foreordained before the foundation of the world" (1Peter 1:18-20) .
The term "Lamb" is of course a metaphor, referring to Christ as a sacrificial offering for sins. We understand that Jesus is not only the "Lamb", but also Shepherd and High Priest.
In the Jewish religion, various animals, including lambs, were killed and offered by priests as sacrifices for the sins of the priests and all the people.
But these sacrifices could not really, by themselves, take away sins. Sins were forgiven through those sacrifices only because they were prophetic symbols of the true Lamb of God. It is He who really takes away sins.
In thinking about Jesus as the Lamb, we can consider four aspects, and you will notice each of these mentioned in the passages quoted above.
These four aspects are our lesson points...
God accepted Christ's sacrifice because Christ was perfect and without spot or blemish of sin. But Christ was the dearly beloved Son of God —what could be more precious to God than the blood of his only Son? Yet God loved us so much that he preordained that his Son would die for us before we ever came into existence. The power of that blood to take away sin is unlimited, for whosoever will may come to God for forgiveness through the Lamb.
God in times past accepted animal sacrifice as a type or symbol of the true sacrifice to come. God decreed that the animal offered must be perfect. "Your lamb shall be without spot or blemish" (Exodus 12:5) . "A freewill offering of the herd or of the flock must be perfect to be accepted; there shall be no defect in it" (Leviticus 22:21).
When Jesus offered himself as the final sin offering to end all other sin offerings, he presented himself perfect. Although he was truly human, and in all points tempted as we are, yet he was without sin (Hebrews 15) . One might pass this off by saying, "Oh but of course he was God, and God wouldn't sin would he?" We must be careful not to imply that his divine nature somehow lessened or altered his human nature and potential for sin. Yes, he was the Son of God. But let’s not forget he was also the Son of Man.
Two saucepans may both be steel, yet one is capable of going rusty, whilst the other is stainless steel. You may mistakenly think of yourself and Jesus like that. You accept that you and Jesus are both human, but you think you are the kind of human who is easily corroded by sin, whereas Jesus is “stainless human” in the sense that he could not be corrupted, and that's why he never sinned. I think that is a false idea, because the scriptures tell me that Jesus came into this world as much prone to sin and vulnerable to corruption as you and me. The only difference is that he kept himself pure whilst you and I didn't.
When Peter says that we are redeemed "by the precious blood of Christ" he is saying something very profound.
Many ministering Christians become concerned that words such as "the precious blood of Jesus" become mere verbal forms and lose their meaning. That's no reason to change the words. But when we repeat those words, we ought to understand their deep meaning.
What we are talking about here is the love of God for his unique Son whom he loved more dearly than any of us can imagine. When we quote, "God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son" (John 3:16) we usually emphasise God's love for the world. But the measure of God's love for the world is his love for the Son whom he gave for the world. When we realise the cost, that God had to give what was most precious of all to him, then we begin to appreciate the "so" in God so loved the world.
We live in a bloody and violent world where the bloodshed and suffering of innocents is commonplace. God is deeply grieved by man's inhumanity to man. We may be sure that God keeps account of every drop of blood, and every tear, shed in unjust suffering. But what must God have felt when the blood of his only Son was shed. This time God was not grieving for another's son, but for his own.
In some interpretations of the story of Jesus, his death on the cross was a turn of events that temporarily frustrated God's purpose, and required God to revise and postpone his plans. According to this view, God purposed that Jesus be crowned, not crucified.
The Bible tells us that the slain Lamb was foreordained before the foundation of the world (1Peter 1:2,19-20, Revelation 13:8). Even before the human race existed, God knew of humanity's future plight, and made his decision to save the world.
The crucifixion was forseen. John the baptizer foresaw the crucifixion of Jesus when he pointed to Christ and said, "Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world" (John 1:29). Centuries earlier, Isaiah foresaw the same thing (Isaiah 53:12) . Much earlier than that, even before the foundation of the world, God foresaw it. Peter did not think that God's plan went awry when Jesus was delivered up to be crucified. He said it was "by the predetermined counsel and foreknowledge of God" (Acts 2:23) .
By the potency of the sacrifice, we mean what it had the power to accomplish. What was its potential? Was the Lamb limited in his power to take away sins? In other words, was his blood shed for some but not for others? Or did his blood have the potential to save anyone and everyone?
When Jesus died "as a ransom for all" was that "all" or "many" fewer than the number of all mankind (1Timothy 2:6)? When Jesus is said to be the propitiation "not for our sins only, but also for the sins of the whole world" is that "world" fewer than all mankind (1John 2:2)?
To put this question in more immediate terms, what about you? When you read John 3:16 aren't you personally included in the "world" and the "whosoever"? Didn't Jesus shed his blood for you?
We realize sadly that not everyone will have their sins forgiven, but that is because some reject the Lamb, not because the Lamb is impotent to save them.
The Lamb was slain for all the sins of all people. He was slain for you. I trust that you will not reject him, but be "washed... in the blood of the Lamb" (Revelation 1:5, 7:14).