As we head towards Easter we are going to move through a series titled “The Centrality of the Cross.”
Today is part 1 Behold The Lamb of God.
John 1:29 (ESV)
Behold, the Lamb of God
29 The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!
Father, the best gifts we could offer you could never approach the magnitude of your gift to us, Your Son and our Saviour, Jesus.
Therefore, Father, our giving of ourselves to you and our material gifts are an expression of our love for you.
Bless us, and use us to bring honour and glory to your name.
Through Jesus we pray.
Throughout the two thousand years of Christian history, the cross has been the focal point of our faith.
Every other aspect of Christianity is given validity and power because of the cross and that for which it stands.
Without the cross, Christianity would be nothing but a religion.
Because of the cross, Christianity is a way of life.
Every one of satan’s efforts to tempt Jesus was aimed at getting Him to bypass the cross.
Never did satan try to convince Jesus that He was not the Son of God or that He did not have “all power in heaven and earth.”
But he did try to persuade Him to choose some route besides the cross in His mission to save humanity.
But the cross was central in Jesus’ mind.
Time and time again, in His words and in His actions, the cross and it’s redemptive message surfaced and confronted the people to whom He ministered.
It was constantly a troubling thing to those who listened to Him.
It was offensive to the disciples and to the Jews.
- The witness of John ( John 1:19-28).
- John, a recluse who lived in the Jordan River Valley, was an unusual man in many ways.
He dressed strangely, wearing a coat of course camel hair.
His diet was locusts and wild honey.
Furthermore, He was not a social person.
Yet John was a man with a mission, a mission to prepare the way for the coming Messiah.
He was the herald who came before the King.
B. It was John’s unpopular task to shock people into awareness of their sins and of their need to repent and forsake their sins.
His was the prophetic voice to be heard among God’s people since the days of Malachi four hundred years earlier.
No one living had ever heard a true prophet of God, nor had anyone seen the fiery eyes of a person who had been filled by the Spirit of God and used as a voice through which God himself spoke.
John’s word contained a piercing authority that disturbed consciences, confronted minds, and smote hearts.
C. The priests and Levites sought out John in the wilderness of the Jordan and asked his identity.
They suggested three people John may claim to be, the Messiah, Elijah, or ‘the prophet who is to come”.
John answered that he was nothing but a voice crying in the wilderness, pleading with humanity to prepare the way for the King, and that was his purpose in life.
John’s witness was to fade away so that Jesus Christ could be seen.
He saw himself only as a finger pointing to Christ.
2. The witness of Jesus (John 1:29-31).
- This is where we see the title of Jesus that is woven again and again into the language of the New Testament, The Lamb of God.
What was likely in John’s mind when he made this incomparable declaration concerning Jesus’ identity?
He may have been thinking of the Passover lamb.
The story of the Passover and its thrilling events was cherished in every Jewish family.
So John may have been thinking,
Every year during the passover, thousands of lambs are slain on the temple alter.
But you continue to sin, dishonour God, and break His commandments.
Jesus is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the entire world!
He is the Lamb who will provide the sacrifice to end all sacrifices for sin.
B. John was the son of a priest, so he was familiar with the rituals of the temple and its many sacrifices.
He knew that every morning and evening a lamb was sacrificed in the temple for the sins of the people.
As long as the temple stood, this daily sacrifice was made.
In giving Jesus this symbolic title, John may have been thinking,
In the temple two lambs are offered daily to make restitution for your sins, but you continue to sin because you know that tonight, tomorrow, and the next day more lambs will be slain for your sins!
But there is a Lamb who will die one time, and His death will have sufficient power to atone for your sins once and for all and also change your lives!
C. Two great pictures of the Lamb are recorded in the Prophets.
Jeremiah wrote in Jeremiah 11:19 (ESV)
19 But I was like a gentle lamb led to the slaughter. I did not know it was against me they devised schemes, saying, “Let us destroy the tree with its fruit, let us cut him off from the land of the living, that his name be remembered no more.”
Isaiah wrote, Isaiah 53:7 (ESV)
7 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth;
like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth.
Both of these prophets had the vision of One to come who would, by His persecution and sacrifice, redeem His people.
Perhaps John was thinking,
Your prophets dreamed and preached about One who was to come and would suffer and die for humanity.
He has come!
He is in your midst!
D. A fourth picture may have flashed into John’s mind as he spoke of Jesus as the Lamb of God.
In the time between the Old and New Testaments, there were years of enormous struggle for God’s people in which the Maccabees fought and died and concurred.
In those days, the lamb, especially the horned lamb, was the symbol af a great conqueror.
Judas Maccabeus, Samuel, David, and Soloman have been described like this.
So the lamb, as strange as it seems, stood for the conquering champion of God, a symbol of majesty and power.
In Jesus we have the champion of God who fought with sin and mastered it in a single contest, on the cross!
E. There is wonder in the name “ the Lamb of God.”
It appears twenty nine times in the book of Revelation.
To John, as he wrote down that apocalyptic vision, it became one of the most precious titles of Christ and sums up His love, sacrifice, and triumph. (Check out Revelation 5:6, 11-14)
3. The witness of the Spirit ( John 1:32).
- John, after baptising Jesus in the Jordan River, saw a dove descend from heaven and alight on Jesus’ head.
In a flash of divine revelation, John knew immediately that it was The Holy Spirit coming to reside in the Lord Jesus.
In Palestine the dove was a sacred bird.
In Genesis 1:2 we read that the Spirit of God moved ( the Hebrew word suggests brooded) upon the surface of the waters that covered the dark world.
It is s word used to describe a fowl brooding over its nest in order to bring forth life.
The rabbis used to say that the Spirit of God moved and fluttered like a dove over the ancient chaos, breathing order and beauty into it.
So the picture of the dove was one that all Jews knew and loved.
B. The Old Testament word for “spirit’ is Ruach, which means “wind”.
To the Jews, three basic ideas of the Spirit existed.
The Spirit was power, like that of a rushing, mighty wind
The Spirit was life, the very centre and essence of life.
And the Spirit was God Himself.
So, to John, this symbolic demonstration expressed to him, This man is God!
This man is the unlimited possessor of God’s power!
This mans is the source of all true life!
C. After His baptism by John, Jesus went into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.
There, with perfect timing and impeccable expertise, He fielded every one of satan’s temptations with the Word of God.
Then He embarked on His mission among humanity.
He chose twelve disciples who He would teach His way of life.
At the same time, He would be preparing them to accept Him as the Lamb of God who would die to provide atonement for the sins of the world.
In the very first week of Jesus’ public ministry the cross was implicit.
Jesus was presented to the world by His forerunner, John the Baptist, as “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world”
I want you to think about why when we have bushfires it is important for back burning to take place.
Fire cannot come where the fire has already been.
That is why I am calling everyone to the cross.
Judgement has already fallen there and can never come again.
He who takes his stand at the cross is forever safe.
He can never come into condemnation, he is passed from death to life.
He is at perfect peace in God’s safety zone.
Eternal safety can only be found in the cross of our Lord Jesus, nowhere else can we experience the cleansing redemption that makes us God’s children.
Until next time
Stay in the Blessings
I really want to encourage you to be diligent with your Bible study time, because God has so much more for us than we can get from just going to church once or twice a week and hearing someone else talk about the Word.
When you spend time with God, your life will change in amazing ways, because God is a Redeemer.
Theres nothing thats too hard for Him, and He can make you whole, spirit, soul and body!
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2020 IS A YEAR OF CLARITY
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