WHAT’S THE DEAL WITH “THE LAMB”?
Many terms in the Bible have become clichés and have lost meaning as a result; one of those is “the Lamb of God”. But when placed in historical context it is a wonderful love story.
When Adam and Eve first sinned, they were no longer innocent. Having experienced evil, they felt vulnerable and exposed when faced with the inevitability of the justice demanded by their actions. To compensate for their feelings of shame they tried to cover their nakedness with fig leaves, but the flimsy leaves were insufficient. Whereas, rather than immediately punishing His children for their sin God, in His love, provided them with new clothing in the form of animal skins. This first sacrifice is a picture of what was to come later through Christ; an innocent life offered by a loving God, to pay the price for, and to cover up the mess made by His kids, so that they could be reunited again.
For thousands of years after Eden, God accepted the temporary sacrificial death of innocent animals as a type, or picture, of what would ultimately be the permanent solution to sin; namely the death of Jesus for our sakes. Bear in mind that it was never the death of the sacrificial lambs that saved the Old Testament believers, it was their faith and trust that God would do what He said He would do, if they simply took Him at His word.
When John the Baptist said of Jesus, “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world”, he was announcing the arrival of the permanent and all sufficient replacement to the old, temporary and ceremonial sacrificial system. Jesus’ death and resurrection is what ushered in the new and better way.
The Old Testament sacrifice was just a physical expression of what the saints trust in God. There were many who made sacrifices in vain because they did so without trusting God; instead they saw their faithless self-sacrificial “acts” alone as payment for their sin. Likewise, history is rife with those who claimed to be Christians, but consistently demonstrated their lack of trust in Jesus by their words and deeds. The Crusaders might be the most obvious examples, but we see it also in many church buildings today.