The Chinese character for “righteousness” is most interesting. It is composed of two separate characters one standing for a lamb, the other for me. When “lamb” is placed directly above “me,” a new character “righteousness” is formed. This is a helpful picture of the grace of God. Between me, the sinner, and God, the Holy One, there is interposed by faith the Lamb of God. By virtue of his sacrifice, he has received me on the ground of faith, and I have become righteous in his sight. (An illustration from SermonCentral.com).
If we were to pick an animal to represent us, I wonder how many of us would pick a lamb. A lamb is helpless and weak. It can’t defend itself very well. It’s cute, but beyond that it’s of little use beyond its protein value.
Yet, in cultures not even Christian, the lamb is seen to have a special value beyond its earthliness. In China, it is the lamb that towers over me to bring about righteousness. In other cultures it is the symbol for fertility, innocence or Spring.
In Christianity, the lamb has a very special place indeed. It is the lamb that symbolizes Jesus Christ, our Savior. It was the first born lamb in each flock that was required for the sacrifice, unblemished and unbroken. On Good Friday, it was God the Father’s only Son, unblemished and unbroken who was led to the sacrifice to pay the price for the sins of all of mankind.
When Jesus was calling His first disciples, John the Baptist saw Him and yelled out, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world!” (John 1:29). John knew the fate of the Messiah and by yelling this out he was declaring that the promised Savior had come to save His people from sin and death by His sacrifice.
Isaiah foretold it hundreds of years before in Isaiah 53:7, “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.” These beautiful words speak of a future Messiah who would know His calling and fulfill it without argument, even as He is being led away to the slaughter. That was fulfilled in the man Jesus Christ, the lamb of the world who would save His people from their sins.
It was the blood of a lamb, without blemish, that was put on the doorposts in Egypt to save the firstborn sons of Israel as God passed through and it was the blood of the lamb killed on Calvary that saved all believers from a similar fate. “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned – every one – to his own way; and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all” (Isaiah 53:6).
Because of this most unselfish sacrifice, we, as God’s children, have been renewed and restored, seen as blameless through the prism of Christ. We have been given a new opportunity to lay down the past and look forward to something much better to come.
1 Corinthians 5:7 advises us to, “Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened. For Christ, our Passover Lamb, has been sacrificed.” Because Christ was willing to do what only He could accomplish, we have been given a new opportunity to shed our old Adam for the new. We have been gifted with endless possibilities as new lumps ready to be molded into something useful.
Jesus is symbolized by the Lamb because he was to be the final sacrifice, the final lamb led to the slaughter. By His death we have found new life and by His resurrection we have the promise of life everlasting. This promise is for all who believe in the Lamb.
This promise is yours if you have placed your hope and trust in Jesus Christ. If you haven’t, His invitation is waiting for you. No longer do you have to rely on the law or the world to save you because Christ came to fulfill the law and overcome the world.
“No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and His servants will worship Him” (Revelation 22:3). Put your trust in the Lamb of God who took away the sins of the world. His invitation is open to all. Please pray with me:
Heavenly Father, thank you for sacrificing Your only Son so that we might be free from sin and death. Help us to learn from His example to be selfless in our own lives when we are given the opportunity to serve others. Amen.