Monday, February 14, 2011

John's Witness: The Lamb Who Takes Away The Sin Of the World

John declared Jesus as the Lamb of God Who takes away sin.

This relates back to Adam and Eve when God told Adam and Eve not to eat the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil, or they would die. Adam and Eve did eat the fruit of that tree, introducing sin and death into the world, something all people have had to live with up to today.

But God, in His mercy, had already prepared a way out. God provided a way for His people to experience and understand His forgiveness. They wouldn't be able to earn it. God forgave them out of His own love and mercy.

The way God provided, to illustrate the awfulness of sin and to point to Himself Who would one day absorb both sin and it's aftermath: corruption and death, was through the sacrificing of an animal that had no flaws.

Typically a person would bring a lamb to the altar and lay their hands on the lamb's head, symbolically transferring their sin to the lamb, before it was sacrificed. Its death represented their own; the result of sin is always death. There was nothing particularly sacred in the animal. The effectiveness of these sacrifices was based entirely on what Jesus, Who is both man and God, would do.

These sacrifices were based on substitution. In Greek this concept of substitution is found in the word huper, which means "on behalf of" or "in another's place." Huper is the chief Greek term for expressing the principle of substitution, and substitution is the chief salvation concept in the Bible.

The animal was sacrificed, killed, in place of the person who was confessing their sin before God. The ultimate expression of this concept was found in the Passover lamb, and this is what John the Baptist meant about Jesus.

The Passover Lamb died in the place of every first born Hebrew the night God judged all Egypt, during the tenth plague. The blood of the lamb saved the lives of every household which had literally painted the lamb's blood on their door posts. The Passover lamb pointed to the Lamb of God Who would one day save the lives of every person who painted the blood of His sacrifice on the doorposts of their hearts.

As the Lamb of God, the Lord Jesus had to be without any flaw – not born with the inherited sin nature and not ever having committed sin. Jesus obeyed whatever the Father gave Him, and even submitted to the whole of the Mosaic law though He Himself is God.

By His sinlessness Jesus was qualified to be the perfect sacrifice for our sins, the perfect substitute to absorb all the punishment and wrath for sin. Because He is God, infinite and eternal, Jesus' sacrifice was once and for all, enough for all sin past, present and future.

We are saved because God sent the Lord Jesus Christ to die huper ("on behalf of") us, or "in our place." He stood in our place, as a sinner, and took the full force of the wrath of God for our sins. As a result, we are able to stand before God "as Christ," and be seen in Jesus' righteousness.

To believe this takes faith because we don’t have a lamb to put our hands on, and we don’t have Jesus physically here, either, to put our hands on. So you and I need to figuratively put our hands on to Jesus as we confess our sins, and envision our sin transferring to Him, and believe that His death is in place of the death that your sin and mine brings us

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