This Week's Focus Passage

Behold, the Lamb of God, that taketh away the sin of the world!

Focus Passage: Revelation 21:23

‘And the Lamb is the light thereof.’

Very early in the record that the apostle John has left to us of the life and glorious works of the Lord Jesus Christ, he relates, immediately in fact, after his wonderfully blessed prologue (1:1-18), the witness and testimony of John the Baptizer (1:19-28). The Baptist explained to his hearers the part that he played, and was playing, in the revelation of the One who was to come after him. Beginning in the twenty-ninth verse when the Baptizer saw Jesus coming unto him for baptism, he declared abruptly and vehemently:

Behold, the Lamb of God, that taketh away the sin of the world!

Apart from the typological references in Isaiah 53 (cited by Luke in Acts 8:32), and Peter’s use of the typological in his first epistle (1:19), which is a clear reference to the type of the perfect lamb of sacrifice found spoken of in so much of the Older Testament, the Baptist’s declaration is the first time that Jesus is specifically referred to as the Lamb of God. Moreover, it is only in the writings of the beloved disciple—as John is often called—that this appellation is to be found, either the Lamb of God, or frequently and more simply, the Lamb. The second occasion of the Baptist’s pronouncement is almost understated. He was simply standing with two of his disciples, and looking upon Jesus as he walked said, Behold, the Lamb of God. We are not informed who both of these two disciples were, but only that one of them was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, who went and told his brother of Jesus. How amazing is that? Andrew did not tell his brother Peter that he had been pointed to the Lamb of God, but rather he told him we have found the Messiah (which is, being interpreted, Christ) and he then brought Peter unto Jesus. He understood that the Lamb of God was none other than the Messiah; the Christ. Andrew saw no contradiction whatsoever between ‘the Messiah’ and ‘the Lamb.’ Andrew’s faith evidently informed him that, in fact, Jesus was the anointed Lamb; the appointed from the foundation of the world Lamb of whom the angel spoke of when he told Joseph, Thou shalt call his name JESUS; for it is he that shall save his people from their sins. While many writers seem to be conflicted about the source of John’s reference to a lamb, the apparently obvious allusion that we might expect is that of the Passover lamb in Exodus 12 and the supposed connection made by the prophet in Isaiah 53; the lamb led to slaughter.

Many of these writers dismiss the allusion to the Passover lamb with the argument that the Passover lamb was not a sacrifice for sin, and John Baptist clearly speaks of the Lamb of God, that taketh away the sin of the world. This Lamb, to whom the Baptizer points, is a sacrifice to deal with sin. The teaching of at least one contemporary theologian suggests this relationship. Speaking of the Lord’s Supper, Morton H. Smith has said:

“Jesus took elements from the Passover table, thus tying the Lord’s Supper to the Old Testament Passover. The elements he took are of great significance. It was no longer appropriate that the meat of the Passover Lamb be used, because this involved the sacrificing of that animal. Christ, the Lamb of God, was to be sacrificed on the Cross. The use of the bread and the wine speak to us of the completed work of Christ. Once Christ has paid the price, there is no more sacrifice for sin.”

Does not Paul concur with that sentiment when he has declared to the Corinthians, and to ourselves that Christ is our Passover (1 Corinthians 5:7)? The apostle makes a conspicuous connection between Christ our Passover when he exhorts the folk to purge out the old leaven. ‘Accordingly, they must see to it,’ says one writer, ‘that their subjective condition corresponds to that objective deliverance from sin which is theirs in Christ.’ And our Savior Himself when He instituted the ordinance of the Table, spoke of this relationship that it has to sin where we read:

And he took a cup, and gave thanks, and gave to them, saying, Drink ye all of it; for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many unto remission of sins. —Matthew 26:27-28

But, all praise be unto God. This is just the beginning of beholding the Lamb of God. The very next time that the Scriptures testify of the Lamb of God is found in the last work of the apostle John, in the fifth chapter of Revelation. Here we have the inestimable privilege to behold the Lion that is of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, in the personage of a Lamb standing as though it had been slain, opening the book with the seven seals. This brought the multitude of angels and living creatures and elders around the throne to burst forth in song, saying all together with a great voice:

Worthy is the Lamb that hath been slain to receive the power, and riches, and wisdom, and might, and honor, and glory, and blessing.

How many visitors to the home of Joseph and Mary recognized that their baby, their child, was the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world? How many in our own day that make much pomp and ceremony over the ‘babe in the manger’ at this season of the year recognize the One whose birth they would honor is, in fact, the Son of God, Emmanuel, God with us and manifest in the flesh; the Lamb slain from before the foundation of the world. This is He who will be forever with us in heaven where the Lamb is the light thereof.

David Farmer, elder

Fellowship Bible Church


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