Innocent animals died for the guilty when Adam and Eve made themselves naked by their sin. It’s true, of course, that they were unclothed before their rebellion, but they were not naked. They had been gloriously clothed in their innocence...in the garments of freedom and light.
After their evil, they undertook crude efforts to make coverings for their now shameful nakedness. Their feeble efforts to cover themselves physically are a parable for the efforts of all humans since then to cover themselves spiritually after sin has entered. It simply could not and cannot be done.
What was required was the sacrifice of the innocent on behalf of the guilty. As Abraham and his beloved son, Isaac, made their way up Mount Moriah, Isaac said, “Father...the fire and wood are here, but where is the lamb…?”
Isaac didn’t know it but he framed the question that reverberated through the ages, “Where is the lamb?” Where indeed was the lamb that would do...the lamb that would actually get the needed job done...that would deal finally with all sin for all time?
Oh there were countless sacrificial lambs brought forward in accordance with the Law of Moses, and while this was a good show of faith and obedience to the Word of God (it was what the law required), the blood of all those lambs had no inherent sin-cleansing power (see the book of Hebrews).
Isaac’s question remained unanswered through the ages and resurfaced when there came a rugged prophet to the Judean desert about two thousand years ago now. The people flocked to him. They loved the man and his message. He was a fearless voice in the wilderness who commanded all people to repent of their sins and be baptized.
They began to wonder about him, “Could this be the long-awaited Lamb…the Christ, the Answer for the darkness and oppression of our times?” But the bold and humble John quickly admitted that he was not the One for which the people longed.
He did, however, confess that he had come to prepare the way for that One and to announce His coming. “Look” he said, as Jesus of Nazareth was passing nearby one day, “Look at the Lamb of God Who takes away the sin of the world. This is the One…”
Indeed Jesus was, and is, the One Lamb of God who dealt efficiently and finally with sin, putting an absolute end to the need of any further animal sacrifices and also of any and all further sacrifices of any kind on behalf of sin.
Now John, the Apostle, seizes on the Biblical theme of “the Lamb” and upon the ministry of John the baptizer in order to cause the readers of his gospel (the gospel of John), to consider carefully the truth about Jesus of Nazareth, the Lamb of God. As John writes in order to cause his readers to believe and obtain life in Jesus (John 20:30-31), he too, like the wilderness prophet urges us repeatedly to look at the Lamb.
John presents us with this truth about Jesus...He is willing to be examined...even carefully examined with regard to His claims. He invites people to come and see for themselves. He teaches them, heals them, and helps them to the point that He is willing to be slaughtered like a lamb slain to provide food for people.
Every need of our souls, from salvation to inspiration, from companionship to solitude, from freedom to servant-hood, is satisfied by following John’s directive to “Look to the Lamb!” It’s not a fleeting glance, it is beholding which leads to behaving! So, let us “Look to the Lamb!”
Written and submitted by Doug Oakes, minister, Woodlawn Church of Christ, Zanesville; firstname.lastname@example.org