The notes today have been prepared by Bethan.
The hype surrounding Prince William, Catherine and their two children, George and Charlotte, is worldwide. If they are set to visit any location across the world, their every move needs to be considered and prepared for. There will be site inspections from government officials, menu consultations, staff training and then the necessary security measures must be carefully considered.
This was not so for Jesus. What preparations were made for his arrival? John the Baptist. The locust eating, camel-hair-wearing wild man.
Despite John’s unusual traits, his announcement of Jesus’ arrival is perfect. He seems excited by his presence – as any of us should be – and declares, ‘Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!’ Immediately, before Jesus has begun his ministry, he is identified by John as being the ‘Lamb of God’. He is immediately identified as being a sacrifice.
A lamb would be a familiar symbol from the Old Testament for two reasons. Firstly, they were a daily sacrifice. Lambs were offered morning and night as a sacrifice to God. Christ being called the ‘Lamb of God’ reminds us that Jesus’ sacrifice is continual and everlasting. His sacrifice does not run out or reach its optimum level. Christ’s sacrifice is always enough.
‘My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.’ (1 John 2: 1-2)
Secondly, lambs are a reminder of the Passover, where a lamb’s blood on a house’s doorframe meant that God’s judgement would pass over. Jesus being declared the ‘Lamb of God’ also reminds us that, if we accept Jesus’ sacrifice and death on the cross, God’s judgement will pass over us and we will be declared righteous and welcomed into heaven.
Furthermore, Jesus ‘takes away the sin of the world’. This is a reminder to us that this was Christ’s purpose; it always was. He was always going to take away our sins; it wasn’t a change of plan or change of heart. Hallelujah! Making us righteous is his constant work; he has and does overpower sin and darkness. He has overcome. He has conquered sin and death. Praise the Lord!
What does this mean for us? What doesn’t it mean for us? It means that if you feel guilty or burdened, if you’re self-loathing or feel worthless, ‘Look, here comes the Lamb of God!’
He is the continual sacrifice for your guilt and burden; his judgement has passed over; you are righteous because of His great sacrifice. Look to the Lamb of God; ‘Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.’ (Hebrews 12:1-2) His sacrifice is enough; He is sufficient; you are not worthless, you are worth everything.
Finally, let us not forget that this all-consuming, all-encompassing, incredible gift came at a great cost. He was the lamb that was slain. We should be constantly overcome with gratitude and adoration of Christ and hatred of sin and evil.
Man of Sorrows! what a name
For the Son of God, who came
Ruined sinners to reclaim.
Hallelujah! What a Saviour!
Bearing shame and scoffing rude,
In my place condemned He stood;
Sealed my pardon with His blood.
Hallelujah! What a Saviour!
Guilty, vile, and helpless we;
Spotless Lamb of God was He;
“Full atonement!” can it be?
Hallelujah! What a Saviour! (Philip Bliss)