The Lamb and Love Of God

Randall Caselman
Bella Vista Church of Christ
3/30/97 am

The Lamb and Love Of God

Reading — Isaiah 53.3-7 &12


Four hundred years is a long time not to hear from someone. But that’s how long it had been since Israel had heard directly from God through a prophet. Even though there had been 400 years of silence, now out in the Judean wilderness, the voice of a new prophet could be heard.
• He looked like a prophet, He came acting different to other men, wearing camel skins, And eating locust and wild honey.
• He sounded like a prophet, he was preaching:
Faith,
Repentance,
Baptism,
Obedience,
And judgment to come.

Listen, as I read about this prophet John the Baptist, The next day John saw Jesus coming towards him and said, "Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! This is the one I meant when I said, `A man who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.' I myself did not know him, but the reason I came baptizing with water was that he might be revealed to Israel." I would not have known him, except that the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, `The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is he who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.' I have seen and I testify that this is the Son of God." The next day John was there again with two of his disciples. When he saw Jesus passing by, he said, "Behold, the Lamb of God!"

The symbol of the lamb had a rich history in Israel. The first time the world lamb, singular, appears in the Bible is in Genesis chapter 22.7. God comes talking to Abraham. Its interesting to note that God speaks to Abraham after many years of silence. Just taking what we know from the narrative in Genesis 21 and 22, we must conclude several years had past... Perhaps 15... Maybe 30. Well, God comes to Abraham and says, take your son, your one and only son (only begotten) Isaac, whom your love and sacrifices him as a burnt offering in the region of Moriah.

It took three days for Abraham and Isaac to get to Mt. Moriah. That’s another interesting point! Three days... The: Death, Burial and Resurrection of Jesus, God’s one and only Son was a three day event.

Audience, watch for the similarities in comparing Abraham and Isaac to God and Christ. In fact, did you know that Isaac is spoken of as the only begotten son of Abraham? He is in Hebrews 11.17, By faith Abraham was about to sacrifice his one and only (his only begotten) son. The word in the Greek is MONOGENES (MON-O-GACE) meaning:
• The one and only,
• The unique one,
• Only one of a kind.

Well, when they arrived and preparation was being made Isaac noticed something strange and ask the right question:
• He saw the wood.
• He saw the knife.
• He saw the fire.
But father where is the lamb? Suddenly it dawned on Isaac, since no lamb, he was to be the sacrifice. Isaac was no doubt familiar with the religious practices of their pagan neighbors who offered their children to their idol gods.

I can’t imagine the hurt. I can’t comprehend the feeling. I can’t relate to the emotions of either of these two. I can’t imagine the fears of Isaac or the pain of Abraham.
• The tears,
• The guttural sobbing,
• The nausea,
• The heartache,
• The lump in the throat.

I wonder how many times they must have grabbed one another. Held onto one another in a tight hug as they worked to prepare the alter, the fire and as Abraham tied down the sacrifice. I wonder, in these moments of preparation, how many times Abraham told his son he loved him? This reminds us of another such time:
• The pain,
• The heartache,
• The sweating drops of blood,
• The intense prayers,

In the garden as God and Jesus made their preparation for our sacrifice on almost the same spot... Mt. Moriah.  But like Jesus, Isaac seemed to be a willing sacrifice.
• He didn’t run off.
• He didn’t hide.
• He didn’t fight Abraham’s intentions.
It was not my will, but Thine be done.

WHERE IS THE LAMB?!!
• With aching wrist,
• With white knuckles,
• With bursting heart,
Abraham tightens his grip on the knife. It flashes in the afternoon sun... WHERE IS THE LAMB?!!

You see, God has always required a blood sacrifice for sin.  From the beginning of time, when God brought animal skins to cover Adam and Eve’s sin... An animal had to die... Shed his blood to cover sin.
• An animal sacrifice was demanded of Cain and Able.
• Of Noah.
• Of Abraham,
• Of Moses and Israel under the Law.

A blood sacrifice is still necessary for us here this morning. God has always... And still does require a blood sacrifice for sins.

Listen as I read from Hebrews 10, beginning with the verse numbered one. The law is only a shadow of the good things that are coming-- not the realities themselves. For this reason it can never, by the same sacrifices repeated endlessly year after year, make perfect those who draw near to worship. If it could, would they not have stopped being offered? For the worshippers would have been cleansed once for all, and would no longer have felt guilty for their sins. But those sacrifices are an annual reminder of sins, because it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins. Therefore, when Christ came into the world, he said: "Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but a body you prepared for me; with burnt offerings and sin offerings you were not pleased. Then I said, `Here I am--it is written about me in the scroll--I have come to do your will, O God.'" First he said, "Sacrifices and offerings, burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not desire, nor were you pleased with them" (although the law required them to be made). Then he said, "Here I am, I have come to do your will." He sets aside the first to establish the second. And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ (Listen now), once for all.

What does this Hebrew’s passage say to us this morning?

FIRST IT SAYS THAT WE ALL HAVE SINNED, WE ARE ALL GUILTY.
We must all admit that we are sinners in constant need of the blood of the lamb.
• Paul concluded in Romans that all have sinned and have fallen short of God’s glory... That there is none righteous, no not even one of us.
• John says, saying that we are not sinners makes us liars and forbids our salvation.
• James tells us that, we all have faults to confess, sins that need to be forgiven.

SECONDLY, THE HEBREW’S WRITER SAYS WITHOUT THE BLOOD OF JESUS THERE IS NO FORGIVENESS
The reason is, that the blood of bulls and goats:
• Could not forgive sins,
• Could never make us perfect,
• Could never cleanse our conscience
• And remove our guilt

He says, there was always an annual remembrance of sins. The animal sacrifices only pushed the remembrance of sin forward one year at a time. At the end of the year their sins were brought to mind again... And another sacrifice had to be made.

THIRDLY, THE HEBREW’S WRITER SAYS, CHRIST DIED ONCE FOR ALL MANKIND.
He actually became, the Lamb of God that forgives the sins of the world. That’s exactly what John the Baptist said when he saw Jesus. Folk, we can never know forgiveness without the blood of the Lamb You see, on the cross, He died where we should have died. Peter declared, there is no other name given among men whereby we can be saved.

• If there is no lamb — we must become the sacrifice.
• If there is no lamb — we must feel the plunge of the knife.
• Indeed, if there is no lamb — death is a fearful, tragic event
• If there is no lamb — we are destined to the fires of hell.

But listen to the prophet from our text this morning.
• He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows.
• He was wounded for our transgressions.
• He was bruised for our iniquities.
• He was led lake a lamb to the slaughter.
• He bore the sins of many.
This is the good news this Easter morning.

I want you to notice something else, another first in the Bible. The first time the word lamb in the singular is mentioned is in Genesis 22.7. The first time the word love is mentioned in the Bible is also found in Genesis 22, verse 2, speaking of Abraham’s love for his son Isaac. Go with me now to the New Testament. The Gospel narratives are filled with the concept of love. The Gospel of John uses some form of the word LOVE 54 times. That’s more that all the other Gospel writers combined.

The good news for us here this morning is that God loves us. John 3.16 and 17 tells us that, God so loved the world that he gave His one and only Son, (His only begotten Son) that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. Then John goes on to say, For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.

I like the way Twila Paris put it in her song.
“Your only Son no sin to hide
Now You have sent Him from Your side.
To walk upon this guilty sod
And to become the Lamb of God,
Your gift of love they crucified,
They laughed and scorned Him as He died.
The humble King they named a fraud,
And sacrificed the Lamb of God.
I was so lost I should have died,
But You have brought me to Your side
To be on high Your staff and rod
And to become a lamb of God.
O Lamb of God, sweet Lamb of God
I love the holy Lamb of God.
O wash me in His precious blood
My Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God.”

I think it is interesting to note that four times God shouted His love for His Son from heaven itself.
• This is My Son, Whom I love; with Him I am well pleased.
• You are My Son, Whom I love; with you I am well pleased.
• Your are My Son, Whom I love; with you I am well pleased.
• This is My Son, Whom I love... Hear you Him.

Let me be quick to point out, that three of these four love affirmations from God, come on the occasion of Jesus’ baptism. They came at His obedience to the Fathers will. The other came at the transfiguration, with directions for us to hear and obey Jesus. Indeed... Jesus is the one we must hear, obey and mimic.

YES, YES, God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son. But:
• He is pleased,
• He forgives,
• He comes to dwell only in those who are willing to HEAR and OBEY Him.

Remember the message of the prophet in the wilderness?  He came preaching. WHAT?  Faith, Repentance, and Baptism.

No, not as some form of ritual, but in genuine response to God’s Lamb and Love. Paul reiterates this in Galatians 3.26 and 27, We are all sons of God by faith in Christ Jesus, for as many of us as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ, have been clothed with Christ. Then in Romans 8.1 that amazing statement of God’s grace, Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Are we willing to:
• Listen to Jesus?...
• Obey Jesus?...
• Strive to live like Jesus?
I pray that we are.

It was this time of the year, March/April... Passover to the Jews... Easter to our religious world. All the roads to Jerusalem were filled with people. Everybody was making their way to the holy city and every family had their sacrificial lamb. Josephus says perhaps as many as 2 1/2 million people. A lamb for every ten people would have been 250,000 lambs.

• The air was filled with excitement.
• Family and Friends reunion.
• Long time acquaintances revisited.
• Voices of children playing in the streets.

This morning, right now, let’s go to Jerusalem... And join one of these families, Simon of Cyrene and his two small boys, Alexander and Rufus as approach the city from the South on the road leading toward Gaza. They had come a long way... Tiring trip... And yes like all the others they had their lamb.  The time had come to sacrifice again:

"My two small sons, they walked beside me on the road.
The reason they came was to watch the lamb.
“Daddy, Daddy, what will we see there?
There’s so much we don’t understand.”
So, I told them of Moses and father Abraham.
And I said, “boys, WATCH THE LAMB.”
For there will be so many in Jerusalem today.
We must be sure the lamb doesn’t run away
And I told them of Moses and father Abraham.
And I said, “boys, WATCH THE LAMB.”
We reached the city and I knew something must be wrong.
There were no joyful worshipers, no joyful worship songs.
I stood there with my children
In the midst of angry men.
And then I heard the crowd cry out again,
“CRUCIFY HIM! CRUCIFY HIM!”
We tried to leave the city, but we could not get away.
Forced to play in this drama a part I did not want to play.
Why upon this day were men condemned to die?
Why were we standing here where soon they would pass by?
I looked up and said, “Even now they come.”
The first one cried for mercy, the people gave him none.
The second one was violent, he was arrogant and loud.
I still can hear his angry voice screaming at the crowd.
Then someone said “there’s Jesus” and I could scarce believe my eyes.
A man so badly beaten, he barely looked alive.
Blood poured from his body, from the thorns upon his brow
Running down the cross and falling on the ground.
I watched Him as He struggled
Watched Him as He fell.
The cross came down heavy upon His back
The crowd began to yell.
In a moment I felt such agony
In a moment I felt such loss.
Until a Roman soldier grabbed my arm and said,
YOU THERE, YOU CARRY HIS CROSS!”
At first I tried to resist him.
Then his hand reached for his sword.
And so I knelt and took the cross—from the back of my Lord.
I placed it on my shoulder and started down the street.
The blood that He’d been shedding was NOW, running down my cheek.
They led Him to Golgotha.
They drove nails in His hands and feet.
And yet upon the cross I heard Him pray,
“FATHER, FORGIVE THEM!”
Oh, never have I seen such love in any other eyes.
“Into thy hands I commit my spirit”
And then He died.
I stood for what seemed like a year; I lost all sense of time.
Until I felt two tiny hands holding tight to mine.
My children stood there weeping.
I heard the oldest say,
“Father, please forgive us
“WE LET OUR LAMB GET AWAY!”
“Daddy, Daddy, what have we seen here today?
There’s so much we don’t understand.
So, I took them in my arms — and we turned and faced the cross
And I said, “Dear children—BEHOLD THE LAMB!”

God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son.
• Indeed He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows.
• Indeed He was wounded for our transgressions, bruised for our iniquities.
• Indeed He bore the sins of many.
• Indeed He is the Lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world.

What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning, so that grace may increase? By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? Don't you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. For if we have been united with him in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection.

Respond to The Lamb And Love Of God.

Written By

Bella Vista Church of Christ

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