The idea of a “lamb that takes away the sins of the world” is a difficult concept for some people to understand. “How can an animal remove the wrong that I have done during my life?” This is a reasonable response considering the mechanics of an animal sacrifice. Many of the pagan religions of the world make use of animal sacrifices in their rituals to appease their god or gain his favor.
In order to help a person understand a difficult principle, sometimes it is helpful to use an illustration of something that is familiar to us. Jesus often used this teaching technique when He was seeking to explain something important about heaven. During this time, everyone was familiar with a lamb. They had seen thousands of lambs that were brought to the Temple at Jerusalem for a sacrifice, during their life. The people understood that the lamb was not guilty of any wrong; he was simply acting as an intermediary to help the one who had sinned. In order to remove the guilt of the sinner, God allowed a person to bring an innocent lamb and offer his life in exchange for the one who was guilty. The point of this exercise was to prepare the heart and mind of a person for the time when God would send His Son into the world, to offer His life for all of us as the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.
The difference between animal or human sacrifices by pagan religions and the sacrifices for sins at the Temple in Jerusalem was the intent. The pagan religions of the world did not know the God of Israel, nor were they familiar with the concept of a future Redeemer who would free the world of sin. Their idea was to kill an animal or a person to placate the anger of their god or to gain his favor. The sacrifices at the Temple were for the purpose of illustrating the one perfect sacrifice that the Son of God would make of His own life for the entire world.
But Jesus, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God…For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified. Hebrews 10:14
Whatever God uses to illustrate a principle of His salvation, satan counterfeits.
We should understand that satan is a very religious creature. In his description from Isaiah Chapter 14 and Ezekiel Chapter 28, before his fall, satan existed as the Angel Lucifer—a principal leader in the worship of God.
As we see satan throughout the Bible, his mission is to disrupt and corrupt the plans of God to save the descendants of Adam.
The method that satan has chosen to counterfeit the truth of Jesus’ sacrifice is to create as many false religions as possible. By the thousands of churches and organizations that claim to be the right way to God, the masses of people on the earth become confused over which one is correct. Throughout history, faced with so many religions, people have developed the idea that all religions must lead to God. One common thread that exists amongst all religions of the world, except Biblical Christianity, is the idea that salvation can be earned.
The Bible is unique in that it proclaims that Salvation is a free gift given by God to any person who simply believes what He has said.
The entire purpose of the Bible is to illustrate for us that salvation is not possible for any person, apart from the work that God has already accomplished for us. All other religions declare that a person can find salvation if they perform certain rites, rituals, or religious ceremonies. The Bible is clear; none of these methods are acceptable to God.
knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law; for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified. Galatians 2:16
For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God… Ephesians 2:8
God sent His Son into the world to die for us, paying the penalty for all of our sins. When we believe this and accept Jesus’ sacrifice for our sins, we are accounted as righteous before God and perfectly ready for heaven.
For God made Jesus who knew no sin to become sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. 2 Corinthians 5:21 (RCR)
For information on why there is only One Way that God has chosen to save all people, see the next chapter, Sin Bearer.
The second part of this chapter details Isaiah’s prophecy that our salvation will take place because of a Lamb who is led to the slaughter.
Isaiah 53:7c He was oppressed and He was afflicted, Yet He opened not His mouth; He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, And as a sheep before its shearers is silent, So He opened not His mouth.
New Testament Fulfillment:
John 1:29 The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!”
Revelation 5:6 And I looked, and behold, in the midst of the throne and of the four living creatures, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as though it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent out into all the earth.
Revelation 13:8 All who dwell on the earth will worship him, whose names have not been written in the Book of Life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.
Jesus, The Lamb
From the first sin of Adam, in the Book of Genesis, God was anticipating the time when His Son would become the Lamb who would take away the sins of the world. It should be remembered that the offering of Jesus’ life as the Lamb was not an afterthought for God.
The Bible speaks of Jesus as The Lamb slain from the foundation of the world (Revelation 13:8). Jesus made Himself the object of God’s wrath for our sins, even before He created the first man. The Lord is always in the business of anticipating the needs of human beings. Knowing beforehand that we would require a Savior, Jesus offered His life in exchange for ours, before anything else was made.
According to the Book of Exodus, on the 10th day of the first month (Nisan/April), a lamb was chosen that was free of defect and presented on this day to be examined. If he was found to be perfect, he would be offered on the 14th day of Nisan as the Passover lamb.
Exodus 12:3,6 Speak to all the congregation of Israel, saying: “On the tenth of this month every man shall take for himself a lamb, according to the house of his father, a lamb for a household. 6 Now you shall keep it until the fourteenth day of the same month. Then the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it at twilight.
According to the New Testament, Jesus rode into Jerusalem on the 10th day of Nisan, known to us today as Palm Sunday. He was presented to Israel as their Lamb for inspection, and no defect was found in Him. Four days later, on the 14th of Nisan, Jesus was offered as the Lamb who takes away the sins of the world in fulfillment of the feast of Passover, on the precise day the Lamb should be offered.
Note: Nisan is the Hebrew calendar month for our month of April.
As Jesus rides into Jerusalem on the 10th of Nisan, He is proclaimed, “Hosanna to the Son of David,” a title ascribed only to the coming of the Messiah.
Matthew 21:9 Then the multitudes who went before and those who followed cried out, saying: “Hosanna to the Son of David! ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD!’ Hosanna in the highest!”
According to Psalm 118, these words could only be spoken on “the day” when the Messiah arrived.
Psalms 118:24-26 This is the day the LORD has made; We will rejoice and be glad in it. Save now, I pray, O LORD; O LORD, I pray, send now prosperity. Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD!
We often quote this verse from Psalm 118 whenever there is a particularly beautiful day. The day that Psalm 118 was written for is a day chosen out of eternity—the specific day that the Messiah would come and be recognized. Psalm 118 contains the language, Save now and Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD, because this is what those who were present when the Messiah arrived would proclaim with their shouts of praise. The people who had gathered to greet Jesus as the Messiah were well aware of Psalm 118, and that is why they were reciting this verse as Jesus made His entrance into the city.
On April 6th, 32 A.D. (10th of Nisan), Jesus rides into Jerusalem and is proclaimed the Son of David, the Messiah. This fulfilled Daniel’s prophecy of the coming of the Messiah in Chapter 9, verse 25.
The prophet Zechariah Also Spoke Of This Very Special Day When He Wrote:
Zechariah 9:9 Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion. Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your King is coming to you; He is just and having salvation, Lowly and riding on a donkey, A colt, the foal of a donkey.
See also Arriving at Jerusalem.
Zechariah predicted that the Messiah would come to Jerusalem on a donkey, about 600 years before Jesus was born. Daniel’s prophecy of the precise day the Messiah would come to Jerusalem was written almost 700 years before Jesus was born.
When Jesus allowed the authorities to arrest Him and accuse Him of crimes He did not commit, only to put Him to death, He was fulfilling the Old Testament prophecies of the Passover Lamb who would take away the sins of the world. Jesus was crucified, and died on the exact day the Passover lamb of the Old Testament was appointed to die. Jesus knew that He was fulfilling all the Old Testament prophecies concerning the coming of the Messiah and that He was dying on the day when the Passover Lamb should be killed.
Exodus Chapter 12 contains the specific details for The seven Feasts.
The Feast of Passover
The lamb is examined on the 10th (Exodus 12:3), the day when Jesus rides into Jerusalem, on Palm Sunday—the fulfillment of Daniel’s prophecy of 483 years, from Artaxerxes’ decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem. For more on the details of this important prophecy, see Arrival of the Messiah. For specific details of the Passover Lamb, see Passover Lamb.
- The Passover Lamb must be a male (Exodus 12:5).
- He must be spotless (Exodus 12:5) or perfect. Jesus is described as without sin (Hebrews 4:15). For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.
- He must be killed at twilight (Exodus 12:6). This was early evening, the time when Jesus was crucified. And about the ninth hour (3 p.m.), Jesus cried out with a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, Lama Sabachthani” (Matthew 27:46).
- The whole assembly of the congregation shall kill it (Exodus 12:6). The Jews said of Jesus: “Let His Blood be upon us and our children” (Matthew 27:25).
- The Blood shall be for a sign (Exodus 12:13) …the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin (1 John 1:7).
When I see the blood, I will pass over you (Exodus 12:13). …by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed. (Romans 3:25).
The plague shall not be on you to destroy you (Exodus 12:13). There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus… (Romans 8:1).
This day shall be to you a memorial (Exodus 12:14). …And He took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, ‘This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me” (Luke 22:19).
Jesus fulfilled the feast of Passover as the perfect Passover Lamb, on the right day, at the right time of the day.
A Perfect Sacrifice
Peter speaks of the sacrifice Jesus made as the fulfillment of the Passover Lamb.
1 Peter 1:18-19 “…knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.”
The principle established by the sacrifice of a perfect lamb describes an innocent party who can take the place of the guilty at the place of judgement.
The prophecy of Exodus 12 works closely with this prophecy from Isaiah 53:7. The Messiah will be like the lamb of Exodus: a male, perfect, and offered as one innocent for those who are guilty. If any future candidate should arrive who would claim to be the Messiah, an evaluation could easily be made of his qualifications. If he is not without sin, a male, and willing to die for the guilty, he cannot be the Messiah.
This is why it is illogical to think that any normal man, a religious organization, or even our own attempts at being sufficient to merit God’s acceptance through our good works could meet the strict qualifications that God set. The standard is “perfection”; anything less is not acceptable by God. All men are born imperfect, and they demonstrate their continued imperfection throughout their entire life; therefore, no man is good enough to meet the standards God requires to save all of mankind.
When a church or an individual claims that they are the way to God and makes statements claiming that by following their doctrine or methods a person can receive eternal life, they are misinformed. We know this because of the strict requirements for the Passover Lamb of Exodus 12. Only Jesus met these high standards by His sinless life and the fact that He is the eternal Son of God.
No man can save any other man unless he has been able to live a perfect and holy life himself. Since all men are sinners, no man can be saved without a Savior who is perfect. The testimony of Jesus’ life is that He was perfect and without sin.
The Blood of the Lamb
It is significant that the blood of the Passover lamb had to be placed on the doorpost of each household of Israel in order to cause the judgment of God to “pass over” that household.
When the angel who brought the judgment of death saw the blood of the lamb on the door, those persons who took refuge in that house were spared. When God’s judgment arrived, as He saw the blood of the lamb, His wrath and judgment were precluded from hurting anyone in that house. All those who hide behind the covering of the Lamb’s blood are “covered” under the provisions of God.
The Passover feast was an advanced look at the arrival of the Messiah, whom Isaiah describes as a lamb (brought) to the slaughter (Isaiah 53:7c). Jesus fulfilled this prophecy, in its entirety, by dying on the specific day the Passover Lamb should be killed and by the specific laws established for the Lamb. When any person today rests their salvation under the blood of Jesus Christ, death cannot encompass them. Judgement from God for their sins is no more, and eternal life is their present possession.
It is the Blood of Jesus Christ, our Passover Lamb, that justifies us before God and saves us from the coming wrath of God for all sin.
The New Testament Record Testifies That Jesus is the Passover Lamb.
1 Corinthians 5:7 Therefore purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, since you truly are unleavened. For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us.
In the prophecy of the Passover Lamb, there is a requirement to take action personally. Each person must partake of the Lamb themselves. When we get to the New Testament, we find that in the fulfillment of Jesus as the Passover Lamb who removes our sin, we must personally partake of Him freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion, but with heartfelt forethought.
Jesus said that we must abide in Him until the end, if we truly want to be saved:
Matthew 24:13 But he who endures to the end shall be saved.
John 15:5 “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.”
Jesus came to earth for the sole purpose of fulfilling Isaiah’s prophecy of the Messiah, as He was led as a lamb to the slaughter. We should never forget that Jesus was slaughtered for us. The punishment He endured, the agony and pain that He felt, was intended for us. Jesus threw Himself in front of the approaching judgment and bore the full force of God’s wrath.
He did this as our precious Lamb of God who takes away all the sins of the world…