Worthy is the Lamb that was slain
to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength,
and honor, and glory, and blessing.
… Blessing and honor, and glory and power,
be unto Him that sitteth upon the throne,
and unto the Lamb for ever and ever.
Many of you have heard Handel’s Messiah presented live – at least parts of it. The full work has fifty-two pieces, and takes about two and a half hours to perform. As glorious and inspiring as it is, let me assure you (as a member of the chorus) it is also exhausting. Yet, we come to these final words – this big finish – and we give it our all, a sacrifice of praise, because He is worthy. He needs nothing – He is complete and perfect in Himself. But this one thing we can give Him – our praise.
Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise – the fruit of lips that openly profess His name.
The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said,
“Look the lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!”
John 1: 29
Often we forget just how much we sin, and that the Lord has said, “He who breaks one of my commands breaks all of them.” We often sin without even thinking about it; usually its little things like neglecting to tell the whole truth, forgetting to do something, or telling a small lie. We forget that God is holy, and that any sin is repulsive to him, and that even though we aren’t as sinful as some people, we are still in need of his forgiveness.
Justification can threaten to supplant the desire to stay faithful and true to God, with the desire to spend more time “working off’ our sins by any number of means. This is not to say that we should not try to perform good works or help people as all true Christians should, but rather — we should remember that it is not our deeds alone, but simple faith that saves us.
Around the world people are being born, living, and dying, most of them in conditions far worse than the ones we enjoy. In places like the Middle East, where Christians are persecuted and killed, the faithful are still standing strong, holding onto the belief that Jesus will return, and that when he does, he will repay them a hundred times over for their suffering. All around us there is sin, and it is hard to resist the temptation to join in with the rest of the world in any of thousands of activities that tempt us. But God knew this when he sent Jesus — when he sent “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” to save us.
~Tate Garrett, age 16
Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.
John the Baptist is the only one who actually calls Jesus a Lamb to His Face. It seems a curious label to put on the Messiah expected to bring the Kingdom of God to His people with great power, might and fanfare.
A defenseless helpless lamb?
How could God send a mere lamb?
The label is particularly apt for this Messiah. This mere lamb is marked for slaughter, destined for sacrifice. The Jewish people well understood the age-old directive to find a “year old male lamb without defect”, the perfect lamb, as only that blood would demarcate their Passover rescue in Egypt. There would be no mistaking what “Lamb of God” implied to the Jews who knew their Passover history.
But John is being even more revolutionary than simply calling Jesus a Lamb of God. He is not talking about a sacrifice meant only for his own people. He is talking about a sacrifice on behalf of the world. For the Jews, for the Gentiles, for the enemies of the Jews, for the millions of people as yet unborn. His words cannot be clearer, ringing through to the unsettled times and people of today.
The perfect lamb is sacrificed, his blood marking the hands of the slaughterers, and washing them clean.
No mere lamb would forgive the holder of the knife. Only the Lamb of God.