The Gospel of John

Behold, the Lamb of God! #1

Twice in John 1, John the Baptist spoke of Jesus as a Lamb. In v. 29 he said, “Behold, the Lamb of God that taketh away the sins of the world!” Once again in v. 36 he said simply, “Behold, the Lamb of God”. With these words reference to Jesus as the Lamb of John is found no more in the gospel. However, the designation is found elsewhere in the New Testament.

In fact, there are 30 or more times where the word “lamb” is found, and all of them refer to Jesus except one in Revelation 13:11. Of those more than 30 times the word “lamb” is used to refer to Christ, only twice is it made by someone other than the apostle John. When Philip approached the chariot in which the Ethiopian Eunuch was riding, he heard him reading from Isaiah 53:7. The passage included the phrase “as a lamb before his shearer is dumb” (Acts 8:32). The second time reference to made to Jesus as a lamb was made by Peter (1 Peter 1:19). Otherwise, when one reads of Jesus, the Lamb of God, in the New Testament it will be from the writings of John in either his gospel or in the Revelation of Jesus which He gave to John (Revelation 1:1).

New Testament passages which identify the Messiah as a “lamb” all look to a passage from Isaiah 53:7. There the prophet reveals the Messiah as a sacrificial lamb for the sins of mankind. He bore the guilt of wrongdoings to make it possible for man to inherit eternal life. Thus the prophet identified Jesus as one who bore our griefs and carried our sorrows, was wounded for our transgressions and bruised for our iniquities, chastised for our peace, healed fallen man with His stripes, and a lamb upon whom God laid the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed and afflicted, and cut off out of the land of the living for our transgressions. He was put to grief, bore our sorrows, and made His soul an “offering for our sins”. It was to all this that John the Baptist alluded when he said Jesus “taketh away the sins of the world”.

John, the writer of Revelation, emphasized that Jesus was a sin offering for man. In his first mention of Jesus as a lamb, he said that in the midst of the throne he saw “a lamb standing as though it had been slain” (Revelation 5:6), to which the four living creatures, the 24 elders, and 200,000,000 living creatures declared, “Worthy is the Lamb that hath been slain to receive the power, and riches and wisdom and might and honor and blessing”. They were joined by “every created thing which is in the heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and on the sea, and all things that are in them”. John heard them saying, “Unto him that sitteth on the throne, and unto the Lamb, be the blessing, and the honor, and the glory, and the dominion, for ever and ever” (Revelation 5:8-13). This passage calls to mind Paul’s words in Philippians 2:9-11: “Wherefore God highly exalted him and gave unto him the name that is above every name that at the name of Jesus should every knee should bow, of things in heaven and things on earth and things under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father”.

The reason for the adoration given to the Lamb was as follows: “For thou wast slain and didst purchase with thy blood men of every tribe and tongue and people and nation, and madest them to be unto our God, a kingdom and priests, and they reign upon the earth” (Revelation 5:10).

Of the 144,000 whom God sealed, and of the great multitude out of every nation which John saw, one of the 24 elders asked, “These that are arrayed in the white robes, who are they and from whence came they?” John responded, “My Lord, thou knowest”. And the elder responded, “These are they that came out of the great tribulation and they washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb” (Revelation 7:13-14).

When John saw the “great accuser” cast down to the earth (Revelation 12:7-9), he also saw those who had been preserved by the Lamb and heard a great voice which spoke from heaven and said, “And they overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb”.

Of the 144,000 who stood with the Lamb and followed Him wherever He went, they did so because they had been purchased from among men — clearly bought with the blood of Jesus (Acts 20:28; 1 Corinthians 6:19-20).

The victory that redeemed sinners have over sin and Satan is possible because Jesus, as the Lamb of God, offered His blood to cleanse and save us. From John and Revelation we have studied passages which refer to man’s salvation through Christ’s blood. But many passages in Revelation refer to Jesus as a Lamb, not as a sacrifice for sins but in the exalted position God placed Him after His sacrifice. Those passages will be the subject of our next article.

Jim McDonald