Last week I ugly cried on stage in front of hundreds of strangers. If you’re unfamiliar with my face-contorting, body-shaking ugly cry, suffice to say you missed quite the show. It all started normally, a few jokes, a few stories about my empty and broken life before Jesus and then wham! Stopped in my tracks by waves of tears as I shared how Jesus mercifully redeemed me from a life of destruction. Ladies, this emotion was not hormonal. Honestly, my heart burst with thankfulness as a fresh revelation of Jesus’ love and sacrificial death as the Lamb of God hit me.
You see, much of my story is about identity. As a little girl and even as a college woman, I saw myself as unwanted, unloveable and usable. I didn’t believe I was worth much, and this identity revealed itself time and again by how I lived. That night, I was reminded again of what Jesus saved me from, and that my redemption wasn’t cheap. A high price was paid for me—Jesus’ blood. And through Jesus’ death, He declared with outstretched arms that I was not only loveable, but worth dying for. This truth radically changed my life by transforming my identity.
So with tears streaming down my face and with hands high in praise, I told those girls…I am not the girl I used to be. Jesus redeemed me! I wanted nothing more than for those women to know Him too, to experience His incredible grace and to stand in awe of His love. Undone and unashamed, every ounce of my passion wanted them to behold the Lamb.
I don’t know about you, but when I first started following Jesus, I’d hear Jesus called the “Lamb of God” and casually mimic the words without truly understanding the meaning. Kind of like when one of my boys randomly throws “hashtag” in a sentence, without a clue what a # is. Thankfully, amazing Bible teachers taught me the richness behind these terms. Now the Bible teacher in me LOVES to unpack these truths for others so that we don’t just say the words, but we truly feel the weight of the substance in our souls. In light of this being Easter, I want us to stop and behold the Lamb and discover the richness in this beautiful name.
THE LAMB OF GOD
Scarlet threads of prophesy weave throughout scripture to reveal a glorious tapestry of redemption. One such prophetic symbol is the sacrificial lamb. Throughout the Old Testament, a lamb was sacrificed at an altar as an act of worship to God and the means of atoning for sin. The word atonement means to “cover over.” The sacrificial lamb was a substitute. Instead of a man or woman dying for his or her sins, God provided the lamb to take the place of that person, and the blood of the lamb paid the penalty for their sin.
The lamb plays another significant role in the Old Testament, and that is during the Passover. The Feast of Passover was the biggest event for the Israelites. It celebrated when God delivered them from slavery in Egypt with ten miraculous plagues against Pharaoh. The last and final plague was the death of the first-born son. God gave Moses instructions to give to the Hebrew people to save them from this plague. Each family was to take a spotless lamb, kill the lamb, take the blood and put it on the doorposts of their home. Next the entire family was to stay inside, under the covering of the blood and when the death angel “passed over” he would see the blood and that home would have life instead of death. That fateful night in Egypt, those under the blood of the lamb were saved, and those not under the blood of the lamb died. Why all the blood? What does the death of a lamb accomplish?
John McArthur writes:
There’s a simple principle; to be delivered from judgment requires death. Second, critical, that death can be the death of a substitute. God was saying, “I will spare you, I will deliver you from this judgment if there is the death of an innocent substitute.” The message of the Passover is that God delivers through the death of an innocent substitute.
Now, we open the New Testament and see how Jesus fulfills both of these prophetic symbols of deliverance.
The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! John 1:29
God is so in the details! Jesus, the Lamb of God, was not born in a palace, but in a stable. From the beginning, His birth in Bethlehem points to God’s glorious plan. So often, we hear the Christmas story and rush through it, missing the important details surrounding His arrival. Born in a stable and worshipped by shepherds. Coincidence? Not one bit!
And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.”… When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.” –Luke 2
Flocks of sheep covered the fields of Bethlehem. Historians teach us that these shepherds cared for the lambs destined for sacrifice in the temple, and only spotless ones could be offered. Don’t miss one incredible truth: the angels specifically told the shepherds that Jesus would be wrapped in “swaddling clothes.” Why does that matter? I’ll confess, I skimmed by that phrase for so long until last year when Redeemed Girl toured Bethlehem. Our guide shared with us the powerful meaning behind the “swaddling clothes.”
Shepherds kept watch over their sheep and when they gave birth they marked the spotless ones for temple sacrifice. Each spotless lamb was caught in the hands of the shepherd before touching the ground and carefully wrapped in swaddling clothes as a sign of purity. Therefore, when the angels declared that Jesus would be found wrapped in “swaddling clothes,” this was to designate Him as the sinless, Lamb of God. How fitting that the shepherds, who ran to Bethlehem that first Christmas morning, were among the first to worship the Lamb of God.
JESUS, OUR PASSOVER LAMB
Jesus fully understood His mission. Throughout scripture, He was pushed by followers and skeptics alike to prove Himself, to demonstrate that He was the Messiah. But time and again, Jesus responded with the simple statement, “My time has not yet come.” (John 2:4; 7:6) Time…what time? You see, Christ knew He came to die as the final sacrifice for sin and that the Lamb of God must die on Passover. Therefore, as we read through The Gospels, we see a dramatic shift. As the Feast of Passover draws near, Jesus finally declares that His time has come!
When Jesus had finished teaching, he told his disciples, “You know that two days from now will be Passover. That is when the Son of Man will be handed over to his enemies and nailed to a cross.” Matthew 26: 1-2
The night before He died, Jesus and His disciples gathered to eat the Passover meal. For centuries, Israelite families came together to remember the lamb that died and the blood that covered. Through a symbolic meal, they praised God for His mighty deliverance. In a moment ordained before the beginning of time, Jesus took the bread and wine and said, “This is my body, broken for you. This is my blood, poured out for the forgiveness of sin.” With these words, he declared himself the fulfillment of the Passover.
But just as significant as His words, the specific details of His crucifixion leave us without a doubt that He is our ultimate Deliver, our Passover Lamb. After celebrating the Passover meal, Jesus led His disciples to the Garden of Gethsemane where the Roman soldiers with the Jewish leaders would arrest Him and sentence Him to death.
THE DEATH OF THE LAMB
Falsely accused, but in full control, Jesus chose to lay down His life. Jewish tradition tells us that at the third hour (9:00 AM), Israel’s High Priest tied the Passover lamb to the altar for sacrifice. At that exact moment, the Gospels tell us that outside the city walls of Jerusalem, Jesus was nailed to the cross. (Matthew 27:32-56)
Then for six brutal hours both the Passover lamb and Jesus the Lamb of God, awaited death. While Jesus was tortured, mocked and forsaken, He endured the full penalty for sin. Finally, at the ninth hour (3:00 PM), the high priest ascended the altar in the temple and sacrificed the Passover lamb. The blood spilled out. The lamb slain. At that exact moment from the cross, Christ’s words thundered out over the city of Jerusalem, “It is finished!” Jesus finished His work. He lived a sinless, perfect life—proving that He alone was qualified to stand as the ultimate sacrifice. Then He died the death we should have died so that death and judgment would Passover us.
BEHOLD THE LAMB
Dear friend, I pray you Behold The Lamb. In his death, we find life. In His resurrection, we find hope. By His stripes, we are healed! Let Jesus’ sacrificial love declare your worth and your new identity. Today, I call myself a redeemed girl because everything about my life radically transformed when I comprehended this truth. After all, something is worth what someone is willing to pay for it, right? And Good Friday tells us that the God of the Universe declared you and me worth dying for!
Marian Jordan Ellis
RGM Founder & President