“Look! There is the Lamb of God!”
(Picture: Matthias Grünewald)
(Note: Before doing, this study please read the “Background Information” post)
The Scripture reading for this study is John 1:29-37
In the Gospel of John, John the Baptist (also called John the Baptizer) is painted as the one who was sent to point people to Jesus, our first image is one that he used to portray Jesus.
1. According to John 1:29-37, who is the most important person (persons) that we meet? Choose from the following and say why you chose it:
1. John the Baptist
3. The Holy Spirit
4. The two disciples
A lamb with a message
We find John calling Jesus the Lamb of God twice in our Scripture passage (vss. 29 & 35). Those listening to John would immediately associate the saying with the Passover Lamb they would eat during the Feast of the Passover. For us to try to understand the meaning of the Passover Lamb it would be helpful to look at the background of the Passover. We find this in Exodus 12. The first Passover takes place just before the Israelites are delivered from Egypt. A lamb is slaughtered as a sign of their deliverance.
Read Exodus 12 and answer the following questions.
1. Which part of the lamb carried a message and what did they have to do with this part (or element) of the lamb? (Ex 12:7)
2. What purpose would this serve? (Ex 12:12-13)
Why a lamb?
To understand the message of the Passover lamb we need to be aware of two distinctive features of the sacrificial system in the Old Testament.
1. When a lamb was slaughtered to be sacrificed it was to ask for the forgiveness of sins (The so called “sin offering” always had to be an animal). The blood was sprinkled around the altar as a sign of reconciliation between God and the sinner. The debt or guilt could only be removed by a blood offering (i.e. where blood was spilled and a life sacrificed).
2. The second thing that we need to note is that it actually was the sinner that had to die for his or her sins but the animal symbolized the sinner being sacrificed on the altar and its blood became the symbol of forgiveness for the sinner. In other words, his or her sins were transferred onto the innocent lamb. The lamb died in his or her place, and this made forgiveness possible.
Of course, the lamb could not really take away the sin. Each lamb that was slaughtered and sacrificed only pointed towards the moment when God’s own lamb would come into this world to redeem all of God’s children. (To read more about this go to Hebrews 10:1-18 for a beautiful explanation).
· How do you feel after reading this passage in Hebrews, especially verse 18?
Isaiah is the one that explains this to God’s people in the Old Testament. In Is. 53 he speaks of the servant redeemer of the Lord that would come. In verse 7 he speaks of him as “a lamb led to the slaughter”. The interesting fact to note in Is. 53 is that Isaiah speaks as if this has already occurred. That is how sure he is of God’s salvation coming through the Lamb.
Read Isaiah 53:5-7
1. Name the images that pointing to the fact that the Saviour would suffer and die and that his blood would be shed.
2. How many times do these verses say that the Lamb of God would die in the place of sinners? Look carefully at these verses and underline he/him with one colour and our/we/us with another colour; can you see the pattern?
5 But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was upon him,
and by his wounds we are healed.
6 We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
each of us has turned to his own way;
and the LORD has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.
7 He was oppressed and afflicted,
yet he did not open his mouth;
he was led like a lamb to the slaughter,
and as a sheep before her shearers is silent,
so he did not open his mouth.
3. With what attitude would the saviour carry out his redemptive work? (cf. verse 7.) Why?
A new Passover
Throughout the ages, the Jewish people celebrated the Passover to remember their deliverance from slavery in Egypt. However, over time, they would realize that a final sacrifice would be needed once and for all.
Just before his suffering and death Jesus, the Passover Lamb of God, celebrated the Passover with his disciples. At this occasion, the Passover would receive a brand new meaning.
Read Matthew 26:26-32 and reflect the following questions.
1. What Christian feast did Jesus institute in the place of the Passover?
2. What would now be the new sign that the blood of the Lamb of God was shed as forgiveness for sins?
3. Can we find any indication, in these verses that the Lamb of God would die in the place of others; if so, in which words of Jesus do we find this?
4. Do you think the disciples understood the full meaning of Jesus’ words at this time? (Give a reason for your answer).
A new covenant
In Matthew 26:28, Jesus tells his disciples that the “new” covenant between God and his people is sealed in his blood as a final confirmation that God has forgiven them.
“27 And he took a cup of wine and gave thanks to God for it. He gave it to them and said, “Each of you drink from it, 28 for this is my blood, which confirms the covenant* between God and his people. It is poured out as a sacrifice to forgive the sins of many.” 
Again, the writer of Hebrews helps us to understand this.
Read Hebrews 9:11-14
1. Name at least one difference between the sacrifices of the old covenant and the sacrifice brought by Jesus.
2. Jesus died in our place. Name at least one consequence that his death has for us as believers. (cf. vs.14).
John the Baptizer’s message
Imagine yourself being in the crowd when John announces, “Look, The Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). Standing next to you is someone who does not understand the meaning of these words.
· How would you explain this to him/her in a few words?
On a personal note
· What meaning does it have for you that Jesus is the Lamb of God? Try to name at least two practical things.
· In John 1:37 we read of two of John the Baptizer’s disciples reacting to John’s words by deciding to follow Jesus. What is your reaction?
· Take time to pray about this study.