"The Lamb of God" is the central theme of the Bible. John the Baptist said of Jesus, "Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!" (John 1:29) In the book of Revelation the Lamb of God appears 26 times. Rev. 5:9 says, "You were slain, and have redeemed us to God by Your blood out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation." Rev. 5:12 says, "Worthy is the Lamb who was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom, and strength, and honor and glory and blessing!" Rev. 13:6 says, the names of the saved are written in the Book of Life of "the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world." This is the topic of our study today.
1) Is it true that the Lamb of God takes away the sin of the world because He was crucified to pay for our sins?
Answer: Yes, that is the Bible teaching. Jesus was crucified to save us from sin and death. As the Source of all Life, it was not possible for Christ to die. So He took human nature, in order to taste of death for every man. Hebrews 2:9,14 says, "We see Jesus, . . . for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honor, that He, by the grace of God, might taste death for everyone. . . Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil."
2) Here it says that the devil had the power of death. I have thought that God has power to give and to take life. In what way does the devil have the power of death?
Answer: Romans 6:23 says, "The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord."
Satan is the author of sin and its wages, which is death. As Jesus took human nature, "He was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin." Heb. 4:15. So Jesus gave a sinless body to be our sin offering. Before His birth, the angel said to Joseph regarding Mary, "She will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He shall save His people from their sins." Matt. 1:21. When Christ died on the cross, He received the wages of our sins, which is the second death, so we need not suffer it again. Thus Christ broke the power of the devil to destroy us. But all people except the translated ones of the last generation must still die the first death, after which they will rise again. Jesus said, "Do not marvel at this: for the hour is coming in which all that are in the graves will hear His voice, and come forth---those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation." John 5:28,29. All who rise at the resurrection of life will not die again, but all who rise at the resurrection of condemnation will die the second death. Rev. 20:15 says, "Anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire."
For this reason Christ called the first death a sleep, because all who die the first death are to wake up again.
3) Some have argued that it is not fair that we should die for Adam's sin. We are not responsible for his act, why should we suffer the consequences of his wrong?
Answer: Responsibility and consequence are two different things. Deut. 24:16 says, "Fathers shall not be put to death for their children, nor shall children be put to death for their fathers; a person shall be put to death for his own sin." This has to do with responsibility. But there are cases of one man bringing calamity on many people, which is a matter of consequence. For instance, parents who indulge in tobacco, wine and drugs bring ill health to their children, who are not responsible for it. In the same way our progenitor Adam sinned and brought universal calamity to his descendants, passing on a depraved human nature to us all, so that we are born selfish and inclined to sin. Romans 5:12 says, "Therefore just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned." That is a great tragedy, and if there is no way out, we can but wait for the end in despair. But the good news is that "the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world" Rev. 13:8. has opened a way of escape. Romans 5:18,19 says, "Therefore, as through one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one Man's obedience many will be made righteous."
4) Am I correct in understanding that the twice-mentioned "one man" refers to Adam and Christ?
Answer: Yes. But note that the "many were made sinners" is unconditional, while "many will be made righteous" is conditional. Let me illustrate. We may liken Adam and Jesus Christ to two boat captains. Adam caused his boat to capsize, so we are all floundering on a sea of misery. Everybody is struggling in vain, unable to save himself, being unconditionally doomed to die, because after Adam sinned, all humanity became corrupt. We are born inclined to sin and at enmity with God. Now Christ comes with His boat of salvation. All who want to depart from sin and death must get on this boat. This is the condition of salvation. Hence we say, our plight in the sea of misery is unconditional; our salvation on Christ's boat is conditional. When the first boat capsized, its occupants had reason to blame Adam for causing all of them to be wrecked, but now that Christ has come with the boat of salvation, whoever refuses to board it and is lost, can no longer blame Adam, but has only himself to blame for rejecting the way of escape..
5) Now since we are born with sinful natures, does our nature undergo any change after we accept Christ?
Answer: Yes. Christ says, "Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. . . . That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, You must be born again." John 3:3.-7 It is a radical change. 2 Cor. 5:17 says, "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away,; behold, all things have become new."
But if a newborn child is not nourished, it will die. 1 Peter 2:2 says, "As newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby. The "pure milk of the word" is the Bible, which can radically change our human nature.
So the changing of our corrupt natures is conditional on our feeding on the Bible for nourishment to build the new nature.
6) What do we need to do in order to be born again and become new creatures?
Answer: To effect a spiritual change within us, we need to keep our eyes on Christ. John 1:29 says, "Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!" In John 12:32 Christ says, "And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself." In Isa. 45:22 He says, "Look to Me, and be saved, all you ends of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other." Through Bible study we need constantly to look to Christ, who appears to us in the Scriptures.
7) Where in Genesis can we find the first intimation of the Lamb of God?
Answer: Genesis 3:21 says: "Also for Adam and his wife the Lord God made tunics of skin, and clothed them." This intimates the death of an innocent animal. Leviticus teaches that all sacrificial animals must be slain by the sinner who offers it. So we see God letting Adam kill the first sacrificial animal, and use its skin to cover his shame. Adam would never forget this lesson. For it was his first encounter with death: the sinless Lamb of God dying for a world of sinners.
8) I note that Christ as the "Seed of the woman" and as the "Lamb of God", brings out two aspects of one truth.
Answer: That's right. The Seed of the woman is at enmity with the serpent, and deals him a mortal blow in Christ's victory over sin. All followers of Christ must likewise overcome sin in their own lives, so that Christ's victory can be ours. The blood of the Lamb washes away our sins, justifying us in God's sight, passing over "the sins that were previously committed." Rom. 3:25. Then the words which Christ spoke to a repentant sinner, "Go and sin no more." John 8:11. indicate that after our past sins are forgiven, we are to overcome temptation to sin by trusting in the indwelling Christ.
9) It is wonderful how the gospel of Christ is hidden in Genesis! Does it have any other texts related to the gospel?
Answer: Yes. The fourth chapter of Genesis tells of two brothers, Cain and Abel, offering sacrifices to God. "It came to pass that Cain brought an offering of the fruit of the ground to the Lord. Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat. And the Lord respected Abel and his offering, but He did not respect Cain and his offering." After Adam first slew the "Lamb of God", he must have taught his children to do the same. Abel's offering was accepted by God because the firstborn of his flock indicated his faith in the "Lamb of God" who was to die for his sins. Cain's offering was not accepted, because it was a bloodless gift, showing that he had no faith in the Saviour who was to shed His blood for all mankind. Cain trusted in his own merits, so was rejected by God.
10) What other useful teachings are found in the theme of the Lamb of God?
Answer: The lamb is a most docile creature, representing Christ's willingness to offer Himself, and His desire to do His Father's will. Isaiah 53:4-12 gives the following prophecy of Him: "Surely He has borne our grieves and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed and He was afflicted, yet He opened not His mouth; He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its sharers is silent, so He opened not His mouth. He was taken from prison and from judgment, and who will declare His generation? For He was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgressions of My people He was stricken. And they made His grave with the wicked---but with the rich at His death. Because He had done no violence, nor was any deceit in His mouth. Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise Him; He has put Him to grief. When You make His soul an offering for sin, He shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in His hand. He shall see the labor of His soul, and be satisfied. By His knowledge My righteous Servant shall justify many, for He shall bear their iniquities. . . .Because He poured out His soul unto death, and He was numbered with the transgressors, and He bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors."
11) I hear that this was written 700 years before Christ. How was it fulfilled in Christ's life, death and resurrection?
Answer: When the Jewish authorities sent armed ruffians to arrest Jesus, He had led His disciples to a garden for prayer. Disciple Peter sensed the danger and drew his sword in self-defense. But Jesus said to him, "Put your sword in its place, for all who take the sword shall perish by the sword. Or do you think that I cannot now pray to the Father, and He will provide Me with more than twelve legions of angels? How then could the Scriptures be fulfilled, that it must happen thus?" Matt. 26:52-54.
Jesus was then arrested, and the disciples left Him and fled. The high priest and the council "sought false testimony against Jesus to put Him to death, but found none. Even though many false witnesses came forward, they found none. But at last two false witnesses came forward and said, 'This fellow said, "I am able to destroy the temple of God and build it in three days."' And the high priest arose and said to Him, 'Do You answer nothing? What is it these men testify against You?' But Jesus kept silent. And the high priest answered and said to Him, 'I put you under oath by the living God: Tell us if You are the Christ, the Son of God!' Jesus said to him 'It is as you said. Nevertheless, I say to you, hereafter you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power, and coming on the clouds of heaven.'
"Then the high priest tore his clothes, saying, 'He has spoken blasphemy! What do you think?' They answered and said, 'He is deserving of death.' Then they spat in His face and beat Him; and others struck Him with the palms of their hands, saying, 'Prophecy to us, Christ! Who is the one who struck You?'" Matt. 26:59-68.
The Jews were under Roman rule, and had no power to inflict the death penalty, so they sent Jesus to Pilate for a death sentence, accusing Him of claiming to be king of the Jews. This was a crime punishable by death. So the first question Pilate asked Him was, "Are you king of the Jews?"
Christ replied, "My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight, so that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now My kingdom is not from here." John 18:36. Then Pilate asked, "Are You a king then?" Jesus answered, "For this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world, so that I should bear witness to the truth. everyone who is of the truth hears My voice." John 18:37.
12) Jesus' words have compelling power. He does not speak in His own defense.
Answer: That's right. He first affirms that His kingdom is not founded on force like other kingdoms of the world. Then He affirms that His is the kingdom of truth. He appeals to Pilate to submit to the convincing power of truth, as if to say, "Pilate, now is your chance to enter the kingdom of truth. If you are of the truth, you will hear My voice and belong to My kingdom." We are moved by Christ's urgency to save souls under all circumstances, even when His own life was at stake. He gave Pilate a chance to see the truth. It is a pity that the vacillating governor yielded to the cries of the rabble, and after a single question, "What is truth?" he did not wait for an answer, turned from Christ and let go the opportunity.
13) So Christ's meekness and lowliness consisted not only in offering no resistance, but also in fighting for truth.
Answer: Correct! Jesus was always fighting for the truth, never acting from selfish motives, but always seeking to present the truth to the men He reached. For all who love His truth, He reserves a place in the kingdom of heaven. But the high priest rejected the opportunity to repent when Christ directed his eyes to the future coming of the Son of Man, and instead, rent his robes in a fit of rage. Pilate also let pass the rare opportunity to accept the truth. Let us not repeat their mistakes. Let us now open our hearts in willing allegiance to our Lord Jesus Christ.
14) What more precious lessons should we learn from the Lamb of God?
Answer: Rev. 5:5 also calls this Lamb of God the "Lion of the tribe of Judah". This is a union of opposites. In a world ruled by force under Satan the "prince of this world", Christ comes to be a Lamb, and says to us, "Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves. . . Come to Me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light." Matt. 10:16. The life and death of Jesus are examples of overcoming the hard with the soft, and vanquishing evil with good. We recall Christ's words, "Love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven." Matt. 5:44,45. We plead with all to look to the lamb of God, learn His example and trust in His strength to reveal His meekness and lowliness in our lives.
Today we have made a beginning in studying the prophecies of Jesus and their fulfillment. We invite all our friends to read the four gospels in the Bible and be with us again next time as we continue our study of these prophecies.