Behold the Lamb of GodQUESTION: Behold the Lamb of God - Why did John say this?ANSWER:
Phrases connecting the lamb to Christ refer back to the Old Testament. The Children of Israel were cruelly oppressed slaves in Egypt. God commissioned Moses to bring them out of Egypt to Canaan. God told Moses to ask Pharaoh to release the slaves, which Pharaoh was reluctant to do. So God sent seven plagues upon Egypt, each one more devastating than the previous. The last of the plagues was the death of the firstborn of all of the children and animals in Egypt. But God spared the Israelites from the plagues. In order for them to be spared the final plague, the children of Israel were commanded by God to take a one year old male lamb without any defect and sacrifice it. The blood of the lamb was to be spread over the doorframes of the house where they then ate the lamb. That night the Lord passed over Egypt and killed the firstborn of every household except those homes that had blood over their doorframes. An innocent lamb was sacrificed and its blood was shed to spare them from death.
Later according to Old Testament law, animals were used as a blood sacrifice for sins. This ritual was used to demonstrate to the Israelites the seriousness of their sins. The blood was shed to pardon the sin. But the blood from animal sacrifices could not actually remove the sin. A lamb without defect was one of the acceptable animals that was used for this purpose (Leviticus 4:32). It was necessary for the Israelites to go to the priest time after time to sacrifice animals to pardon their sins. God sent Jesus into the world to be a one-time sacrifice for all sins. Hebrews 9:24 says, "For Christ did not enter a man-made sanctuary that was only a copy of the true one; he entered heaven itself, now to appear for us in God's presence."
When John the Baptist baptized Jesus, John witnessed the Holy spirit descending on Jesus declaring Him to be the Son of God. John knew that Jesus was the Messiah that had been prophesied in the book of Isaiah 53:7, "He was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth." There are over 100 prophecies
in the Old Testament predicting the coming Messiah. The Jews were awaiting His arrival. John recognized Jesus as the Messiah, the Son of God, and the person that would fulfill the role as the lamb sent by God to be both the Passover Lamb and provide the blood sacrifice for sin.
During Jesus' 33 years of life on earth, living and experiencing everything that man experiences, He lived without sin. This made Him the pure and spotless lamb that was without defect - a perfect sacrifice. Hebrews 2:17 says, "For this reason he had to be made like his brothers in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people." Jesus Christ, by dying on the cross, nailed all of our sins to the cross (Colossians 2:14), cleansed us from a guilty conscience (Hebrews 10:22), freed us from condemnation and from the grip of sin over our lives (Romans 8:1-2), and assured those of us who believe in Him to have everlasting life with Him in heaven (John 3:16).