Have you spent much time with animals? If people were going to compare you to a type of animal what would you like them to choose? A lion…because you are brave? A bear…because you are strong? A fox…because you are quick and clever? An owl…because you are wise?
What about a lamb?
Maybe you haven’t spent much time around animals, but with what you know about sheep, would you want to be one of them? They seem so helpless, defenseless, and maybe even dumb. Yet, a lamb is exactly what someone compared Jesus to. His name was John and he was a prominent and popular figure. He saw Jesus walking toward him and he said, “Look! The Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.”
He wasn’t saying Jesus was helpless or defenseless, and certainly not dumb. This had a much deeper meaning. This would have immediately grabbed the attention of the Jewish people who heard it first. Every day they sacrificed lambs as part of their worship life. They knew their lives didn’t always follow God’s plan. They knew it was true: “We all like sheep have gone astray.” (Isaiah 53:6) They knew they failed to live up to God’s expectations. They knew they needed the blood of a substitute to pay for their sins.
You know those failures too. Whether we would like to admit it or not, we also are like sheep who have gone astray. Sometimes we don’t recognize the full magnitude of those failures – those sins, but sin isn’t just what we read about in the newspapers. It has weaseled its way into our own lives. Sin is when parents want the best for their children, but forget that what’s best isn’t having everything you want. Sin is when spouses want to be loving, but instead put their own needs and desires first. Sin is when teenagers struggle for independence, but go too far and become disrespectful to parents and other authority figures. Sin is nothing more and nothing less than failing to be the perfect people our perfect God expects us to be.
So Jesus became the Lamb of God. He became the perfect substitute whose blood takes away our sins. He is the perfect Lamb who never fell short of God’s expectations. He was our substitute offered on the altar of the cross. His blood fully pays for the sin of the world. And he paid for your sin too! He is the sacrifice that enables you to live life without fear of God’s punishment. Jesus is the Lamb who gave you what you could never earn—eternal life and a home with him in heaven.
This month our church enters a season known as Lent. In Lent our focus is on everything the Lamb has done for us. Come, gather with us and thank him who died for you. Join us as we say, “Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise” (Revelation 5:12).