This article is adapted from a sermon preached by Adam Brock entitled Behold!
Genesis 22:7 says, “Then Isaac spoke to his father Abraham and said, ‘My father.’ And he replied, ‘Here I am, my son.’ Isaac said, ‘The fire and the wood are here, but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?’”
This story is about the time Abraham and his son Isaac traveled up a mountain for a sacrifice. Abraham had been commanded by God to go and sacrifice his son. It was both a test of faith and an opportunity for God to intervene and showcase His great love for humanity. The story tells us that they traveled together and when they arrived at the place where the sacrifice was to be made, Abraham built an altar, tied up his son, and was about to kill his son when God intervened. God stepped in at just the right moment to protect the life of Isaac. One thing to remember is that they were in a culture where child sacrifice was rampant. God stepped in to show Abraham just how much He values life. Instead of killing the boy, God provided a ram for the sacrifice. The text says that Abraham called the place, “the Lord will provide.”
What God would not allow Abraham to do, sacrifice his son, He ultimately did. The sacrificial death of Jesus was the ultimate display of how much God loves His creation and how far He would go to rescue us!
But can you imagine what this whole ordeal was like for the father and son? To be walking with your child and for them to look up and ask, “Where is the Lamb?”
This question in many ways became the defining question for all of the Old Testament.
The Bible begins with these words, “In the Beginning God …” (Gen. 1:1) You see, God is the creator. He spoke and everything came into existence. Genesis 3 tells us that the serpent came and questioned the word of God. “Did God really say you can’t do this?” And in that moment, Adam and Eve chose to rebel and disobey God’s word. They sinned against God.
Shortly after God comes and is handing down the just punishment for their sin. The consequences were the natural result of the choices the people made.
And yet, Genesis 3:15 says this: “I will put hostility between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring. He will strike your head, and you will strike his heel.”
While that verse may seem odd to just be lifted from the passage and read to you, if you will go back and study the passage, you’ll find that this is the first Messianic Promise.
Even as Adam and Eve are being exiled from the Garden (the just punishment for their sin), God still promises that one day, He’s going to restore things. This was the promise that God would send a redeemer who would ultimately set things right again.
Maybe today that’s your question?
If you’ve ever asked that, or any variation of it, then I want to direct your eyes to the scriptures. From the Gospel of John, chapter 1, verse 29, we read this: “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.”
I love the Gospel of John. It is interesting and different from the other three gospel accounts. We have four books in the New Testament that we classify as “gospels.” This is where the life, teachings, death, and resurrection of Jesus are all recorded. The first three are known as the Synoptic Gospels because of how similar they are. The word synoptic means “to see together.” And although they are all unique, the fourth book is the most unique. We know that it was written quite a bit later than the other three. Mark was believed to be the earliest written. You see what happened is the church started noticing that as the apostles got older and died, they needed to preserve the accounts of Jesus. So, they went to John and asked him to write an account. Because it was a bit later, he had the chance to carefully organize his book theologically and strategically.
One example of the strategic nature of this book can be found in the verses that precede our section today. John wanted to turn the eyes of everyone who read this to Jesus, and that meant he needed to make sure those in the early church who had placed an overemphasis upon John the Baptist understood exactly who John the Baptist was.
Now this was John’s testimony when the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem sent priests and Levites to ask him who he was. He did not fail to confess, but confessed freely, “I am not the Messiah.” (John 1:19-20)
John the author records how John the Baptist was clear, I AM NOT the Messiah. He didn’t want anyone looking to him as savior and messiah. And so, he structures his book to reflect that truth.
And aren’t we glad he did? Because we need to hear these lessons! Take this right here as an example. How often do we try to make other people and other things our source of life and identity? Every time we do that, we’re basically asking someone else to function for us as a messiah. This happens more than we’d like to admit.
How often do we look to our children to be for us what they never could be or were intended to be? How often do we try to make our kids into little functional messiahs by getting our identity, our worth, our life, from them? We try to polish them up so that we can show them off as little trophies for our own ego, all the while we’re just trying to find life in a place we shouldn’t.
Your kids can’t give your life meaning and purpose; yes, maybe that’s true for a moment in time, but those kids are going to grow up, and then where is your source of validation?
Far too often our source of life becomes our spouse. When you’re single you just think, if I was only dating, and then when you’re dating you think, if I was only married, and then when you’re married you find out, your spouse is going to let you down! And listen, that’s not a burn on my wife. My wife is a gift from God. But she’s not my savior! I love her and she means a ton to me. But I don’t look to her for life or identity. It’s not fair to her and it is just bound to leave us both disappointed.
If you look to your job, or your school, or your club, or your possessions to give you life and identity, you’re going to be severely disappointed because all these things make really crummy saviors! Nothing created can ever take the place of the creator.
And so, we have this book that was written so that we would place our trust in the only savior! Which is not John the Baptist. So let’s turn to the Word, starting in John 1:29. In this first chapter, John goes to great lengths to help us see clearly who Jesus is. “The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, ‘Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!’”
Where is the Lamb? Well, John points Him out! He says of Jesus, He’s the Lamb of God!
To say of Jesus that He is the Lamb of God is a rich image, full of meaning. As we think about it, we should be mindful of the Passover Lamb. The Passover Feast was not very far away when this event occurred. The story of the Passover comes from the book of Exodus and records how the blood of the slain lamb was applied to the door frames of those houses who trusted God enough to obey His instructions. In doing so, the houses were protected as the angel of death went about slaying the firstborn of all who were not covered by the blood. The angel upon seeing the sacrificial blood would pass over that house. It was the blood of the lamb that delivered them from destruction.
Think about this, scripture doesn’t record it explicitly, but it’s entirely possible that as this scene is unfolding, at that very moment when John makes his declaration, flocks of lambs were being driven into the city for the officials in Jerusalem to use as sacrifices for the Passover.
With that as the backdrop, it’s as if John the Baptist was trying to grab everyone’s attention and say, “Here is the one true Lamb!”
Paul picks this same idea up when he writes in 1 Corinthians 5:7: “Get rid of the old yeast, so that you may be a new unleavened batch—as you really are. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed.”
But lambs were not just significant during the Passover celebration. In fact, every day two lambs were killed at the temple, one in the morning and one in the evening. John the Baptist’s father was a priest who served at the temple.
John would have been familiar with the sacrifices offered there. His father would have returned each day with blood-stained clothes from the slain lambs. Why must lambs be slaughtered every day? Their death was necessary because of sin: Blood must be shed for sin to be forgiven (Heb. 9:22). These lambs pointed to the one who would be sent from God to shed His blood one time so sin could be forgiven forever (Heb. 7:27). The book of Hebrews makes clear that the entire Old Testament sacrificial system was merely provisional until the coming of Christ.
Jesus was the Lamb sent by God to offer His life as a sacrifice. He was the one of whom Isaiah wrote, “He was oppressed and afflicted, yet He did not open his mouth. Like a lamb led to the slaughter and like a sheep silent before her shearers, He did not open his mouth” (Isa 53:7).
This “lamb of God” will take away sin through a sacrificial, substitutionary death. According to the pattern set by the Old Testament sacrificial system, the shed blood of the substitute covered the sins of others and appeased the divine wrath by way of atonement. Remember the word “atone” means “to cover.” And that is exactly what the Lamb did! He provided a means for our sins to be covered!
After making this declaration, John continues by saying this in verse 30: “This is the one I meant when I said, ‘A man who comes after me has surpassed me because He was before me.’”
This is a theological statement on the divinity of Jesus. Although John was conscious that he was the forerunner of Christ, he was conscious also of the deeper truth that Christ was before him, as a father is before his son.
Read the first few verses of John 1 to see this same theme being established.
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through Him all things were made; without Him nothing was made that has been made.” (John 1:1-2)
On this passage, Spurgeon observes, “We cannot describe the deity of Christ in clearer language than John uses. He was with God. He was God. He did the works of God, for He was the Creator. If any doubt His deity, they must do so in distinct defiance of the language of Holy Scripture.”
Why is this significant? Because it forms the foundation of Jesus’ authority.
And actually, this emphasis on the pre-existence and deity of the Messiah is a repeat of John 1:15. Anytime something is repeated in the Bible we ought to take note of its importance.
Now let’s read verse 31: “I myself did not know Him, but the reason I came baptizing with water was that He might be revealed to Israel.”
When he says, “I did not know Him,” this implies that John the Baptist did not know Jesus as the Messiah, not that he did not know Him at all. As relatives, surely they had met at family or religious gatherings over the years.
But the larger point is this: In Christ, we see God revealed to us!
The word “revealed” has the idea of causing something to be fully known.
In Colossians 1:15-19 Paul writes, “The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in Him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. And He is the head of the body, the church; He is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything He might have the supremacy. For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in Him.”
In Christ, we see the Image of the Invisible God! In Christ is the fullness of God! The book of James says to draw near to God, and He will draw near to you. (James 4:8) Paul preaches in Acts 17:27-28 that, “He did this so that they might seek God, and perhaps they might reach out and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us. For in Him we live and move and have our being.” We have a God who delights in revealing Himself to us!
There is a claim in the realm of philosophy that argues against the existence of God, and it’s called “the problem of divine hiddenness.” Now this is an oversimplification of the idea but basically, the argument is, if God were real, He’d reveal himself to us.
And as far as ideas go, this is not that difficult in my opinion, to dismantle. However, the problem with it is not intellectual, it’s emotional.
When we go through the difficult and dark moments of life, there is a temptation to cry out, where are you, God? In fact, this is an idea expressed in multiple places in the Psalms.
But instead of concluding that God is either hiding or doesn’t exist, I challenge you to cling to the truth. The Word of God tells us, that if we want to know where God is or what He’s up to, we look to Jesus. “Behold the Lamb of God!”
Jesus is the proof, or as it says in Romans, the demonstration, of God’s love and involvement in this world! And if you’re going through the storm today, look to Jesus!
Verses 32 and 33 say: “Then John gave this testimony: ‘I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on Him. And I myself did not know Him, but the One who sent me to baptize with water told me, ‘The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is the One who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’”
This was Isaiah’s way to recognize the Messiah. This does not mean to imply that Jesus did not have the Spirit before this time. It was a symbol of God's special choice and equipping.
This has implications for us today! Because of Jesus, we have access to the Spirit of God that indwells the life of the believer. That means we can walk according to the Spirit.
When we get the section of the New Testament known as the epistles, we’ll look at this idea in greater detail, but know this: You are no longer a slave to sin! So don’t walk according to the flesh, instead, live by the Spirit!
The last verse in this section records John the Baptist saying, “I have seen and I testify that this is God’s Chosen One.” (v. 34)
The two main ways of translating verse 34 are either “God’s Chosen” or “Son of God.” The reasons for choosing one translation over another are very small and I think we benefit the most from reading multiple English translations and holding both phrases together.
The main idea is that referring to the suffering servant, the Lamb of God, the Lord’s anointed, with the title of the Davidic King, “Son of God.” John is saying that He is the one on whom the hopes of God’s people rest. He is the long-expected one, the Word, the life, the light, the only begotten Son of the Father, who takes away the sin of the world.
Make no mistake, making payment for sin is our greatest need. Without this provision, nothing else would matter. That’s why everything we do, everything we say, and everywhere we go, we must be calling people to place their faith in Jesus, so they might have their sins forgiven.
The question for you today is not whether you agree with the image of Christ as a Lamb. Or even how well you understand it. The issue and questions are: Have you made Jesus your personal Lamb? Are you trusting squarely and wholeheartedly in this sacrifice for the forgiveness of sin? Because anything short of that is missing the mark.
Near the end of his book John writes this: “But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in His name.” (John 20:31)
He says that his purpose in writing is that you may know Jesus as the Son of God and that by believing and trusting in Him, you would have life!
This means you confess your sin, which is the act of repentance, and then you turn to Jesus, trusting fully in His work on the cross. If you’ve never done that, then I want to invite you to take that step of faith.
There is no magical prayer that you have to say perfectly, rather you just honestly go to God and respond in faith to His invitation of forgiveness.
If you are ready to surrender to God or want to know more, reach out to us by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 337-480-1555.
Adam serves as Teaching Pastor in the North Venue. His prayer for Trinity is that we would always be a place that God uses to rescue people and transform lives.
What’s happening here is Jesus has just finished a miraculous moment and is traveling with His disciples. He takes this opportunity to ask them some questions. He begins generally by asking, “Who do the people say that I am?” Remarkably, so many different opinions were held by the people, but that remains true to this very day.
It doesn’t matter the details of your sin, if you are In Christ, then you’ve gone from death to life. And if you’ve not yet turned to Christ for salvation, then the details don’t matter, you can go from death to life!