CHRIST THE LAMB OF GOD.
John i. 29. Behold the Lamb of God, which takes away the sin of the world.
IN the general estimation of the world, they are reputed great who bear sway over their fellow-creatures, and are surrounded with pomp and splendor. But, with God, men are accounted great according as they possess a knowledge of his ways, and advance the ends of his government. Hence we are told by our Lord himself that John the Baptist, a plain rustic man, clothed with coarse raiment of camel’s hair, and a leathern girdle, and subsisting on the spontaneous produce of the wilderness, was the greatest of all men that had ever been born. And what was it that so exalted him, not only above all the monarchs of the mightiest empires, but above Abraham, or Moses, or David, or any other of the prophets? It was this:
they had seen Christ only at a distance, and spoken of him only in dark prophecies; but he beheld him personally; and, having discovered him by an infallible sign from heaven, pointed him out to others as that very Lamb of God, who should take away the sin of the world. Through the goodness of God, we may be as much exalted above him, as he was above others, if we behold Jesus in the character which is here assigned him; because the completion of his sacrificial work, together with the more perfect revelation of it, which we have in the New Testament, enables us to enter far more deeply into the mystery of redemption, and more fully to comply with the ends and designs of God in it.1 To forward therefore your truest advancement, we shall,
I. Illustrate the character of our Lord as it is here described–
[Under the law there were lambs offered every morning and evening in sacrifice to God; and it is to these, and not to the Paschal Lamb, that St. John refers. They were to be of the first year, and without blemish:2 and by the continual offering up of them God was pacified, as it were, so that his wrath did not break forth to destroy his people on account of their daily transgressions. Such a lamb was Christ: he was the Lamb, whom all the others typified. He was truly without spot or blemish;3 and was offered on the altar of his cross, not merely for the good, but in the stead, of sinners.4 He was really a propitiatory sacrifice, inasmuch as he bore in his own body the curse due to sin,5 and expiated all its guilt. As there was no variation of the daily sacrifices, but only a repetition of the same, so his one offering of himself is the sole cause of our acceptance with God: nor need that to be repeated, because the virtue of it extends from the beginning to the end of time;”he is the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.”6 Nor is it the sin of one nation only that he takes away, but the sin of the whole world.7 He was eminently the Lamb of God, having been chosen to that office by God, and being accepted by him on our behalf in the discharge of it: He was “an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet smelling savor.”8]
II. Call more particularly your attention to him–