The Lamb of God in Scripture
"Again the next day after John stood, and two of his disciples; and looking upon Jesus as he walked, he saith, Behold the Lamb of God."—John 1:35-36.
YOU ALL KNOW the old, old story. The world was lost; God must punish sin; He sent His son to take our sin upon Him that He might honor the law of God, and establish God's government by being obedient to the law, and yielding Himself up to the death-penalty. He whom Jehovah loves beyond all else came to earth, became a man, and, as a man, was obedient unto death of the cross. It is He who is called in our text "the Lamb of God," the one Sacrifice for man's sin. There is no putting away of sin without sacrifice; there is only one Sacrifice that can put away sin, and that is, Jesus Christ the righteous. He is divine, yet human; Son of God, yet son of Mary. He yielded up His life, "the Just for the unjust," the Sinless for the sinful, "that He might bring us to God," and reconcile us to the great Father. That is the story, and whosoever believeth in Him shall live. Any man, the world over, who will trust himself to Christ, God's great Sacrifice, shall be saved, for this is our continual witness, "He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life." "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only-begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish but have everlasting life."
Tonight I do not intend so much to preach a sermon as to urge those who have seen the Lamb of God to look at him more intently, to study Him more, and especially to please for the power of the Holy Ghost to reveal Him to them. I want to entreat men, who have looked elsewhere, now to turn their eyes away from the fruitless search after peace and life, and to come and "Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world." May the Spirit of God open their eyes, and incline their hearts, that tonight, even tonight, they may look unto Him and live!
When John saw Jesus on that memorable day, he, first of all, beheld Him himself and then he said to others, "Behold the Lamb of God." "Looking upon Jesus as He walked," steadfastly beholding Him, watching Him, gazing with humble admiration at Him, he said, "behold the Lamb of God!" Brethren, we cannot preach what we have not practiced. If these eyes have never looked to Jesus, how can I bid your eyes look at Him? Beholding Him, I found peace to my soul; I, who was disposed even to despair, rose from the depths of anguish to the heights of joy by looking unto Him; and I therefore dare to say to you, "Behold the Lamb of God?" Oh, that each one of you might believe our testimony concerning Jesus and look to Him and live!
What did John mean by saying, "Behold, in the Latin, ecce, is a note of admiration, of wonderment, of exclamation. "Behold the Lamb of God!" There was nothing of greater wonder ever seen than that God Himself should provide the Lamb for the burnt offering, that He should provide His only Son out of His very bosom, that He should give e the delight of His heart to die for us. Well may we behold this great wonder. Angels admire and marvel at this mystery of godliness, God manifest in the flesh; they have never left off wondering and adoring the grace of god that gave Jesus to be the Sacrifice for guilty men. Behold and wonder, never leave off wondering; tell it as a wonder, think of it as a wonder, think of it as a wonder, sing of it as a wonder at this glorious Lamb of God.
I think that John also meant his disciples to consider when he said to them, "Behold the Lamb of God!" So we say to you, "Think of Him, study Him, know all that you about Him, look Him up and down. He is God; do you understand that He stood the sinner' stead? He is man; do you know how near akin He is to you, how sympathetic He is, a brother born for your adversity?" The person of Christ is a great marvel; how God and man can be in one person, it is impossible for us to tell. We believe what we cannot comprehend; and we rejoice in what we cannot understand. He whom God has provided to be your Saviour is both God and man; He can lay His hand upon both parties, He can touch your manhood in its weakness, and touch the Godhead in its all-sufficiency. Study Christ; the most excellent of all the sciences in the knowledged of a crucified Saviour. He is most learned in the university of heaven who knows most of Christ. He who hath known most of Him still says that His love surpasseth knowledge. Behold Him, then, with wonder, and behold Him with thankfulness.
But when John says, "Behold the Lamb of God!" he means more that wondering or considering. "Looking" is used in Scripture for faith: "Look unto me, and be ye saved." Therefore we sing—
There is life for a look at the crucified One,
There is life at this moment for thee!
Beholding is a steady kind of looking. Believe then, in Christ with a solid, abiding confidence. Come, ye sinners, come, and trust your Saviour, not for tonight only, but forever. Believe that he is able and willing to save you, and trust Him to do so.
Venture on him, venture wholly,
Let no other trust intrude.
Take your eyes off everything else, and behold the Lamb of God! You need not see anything else, nothing else is worth seeing; but behold Him. See how He takes your guilt, see how he bears it, see how He sinks under it, and yet rises from it, crying, "It is finished." He gives up the ghost, He is buried, He rises again from the dead because He is accepted of God, and His redeeming work is done. Trust Him, trust Him, trust Him. "Look and live," is now our nosegay; not "do and live," but "live and do." If you ask how you are to live, our answer is look, trust, believe, confide, rest in Christ, and the moment you do so, you are saved.
But once more, when John said to his disciples, "Behold the Lamb of God!" It was a hint that they should leave off at John, and turn their attention wholly to Jesus, and follow Him. Hence we find that John's two disciples left him, and became the disciples of Christ. Beloved, we who preached long to have your attention, but when you give your attention to us, our longing then is to pass it on to Christ our Lord. Look on Him, not us. What can we do, poor creatures that we are? Look unto Him, mark His footsteps, tread in them. Do as He bids you, take Him for your Lord, become His disciples, His servants. Behold the Lamb of God, and always behold Him. Look to Him, look up to Him, and follow where He leads the way.
Thus I have put the text before you pretty simply. Now, I want to talk to you a little about beholding this Lamb of God, taking a hasty run through various Scripture references to the Lamb; and I will ask you, first, to Behold the Lamb of God in His connections which men, and secondly, to Behold the Lamb of God in His benedictions to men.
I. Let us, first, BEHOLD THE LAMB OF GOD IN HIS CONNECTION WITH MEN.
How was the Lamb of God first seen in the world? It was the case of the lamb for one man, brought be one man for himself, and on his own behalf. You all know that I refer to Abel, who was a shepherd, and brought of the firstlings, of his flock, that is, a lamb, and he brought this lamb for himself, and on his own account, that he might be accepted by God, and that he might present to God an offering well-pleasing in His sight. Cain brought of the fruit of the ground as an offering to God. I think that there was a difference in the sacrifice, as well as in the man bringing it, for the Holy Ghost says little about the difference of the man, but He says, "By faith Abel offered unto to God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain," and he was accepted because he brought a more excellent sacrifice. The one sacrifice was bloodless, the fruit of the ground, the other was typical of Christ, the Lamb of God, and was therefore accepted: "and the Lord had respect unto Abel, and to his offering."
Now, beloved, our first view of Christ usually is here, to know Him ourselves. I am a sinner, and I want to have communion with my God; how shall I obtain it? I am guilty, I am sinful; how shall I draw near to the holy God? Here is the answer. Take the Lord Jesus Christ to be yours by faith, and bring Him to God; you must be accepted if you bring Christ with you. The Father never repelled the Son, nor one who was clothed with the Son's righteousness, or who pleaded the Son's merit. Come you, as Abel came, not with fruits of your own growing, but with the sacrifice of blood, with Christ the holy Victim, the spotless Lamb of God, and so coming, whoever you may be, you shall be acceptable before God by faith. Now, behold Him, each one of you for yourself!
I know what someone will say, "I hope to do that by-and-by." I hope you do not so deceive yourself. I have heard that there was once a great meeting in the den of the arch-enemy, and he was stirring up his myrmidons to seek the destruction of men. One of the them said, "I have gone forth, and I have told men that there is no God, and no hereafter, and no difference between sin and righteousness, and that they may live as they like"; and there was considerable approbation among the evil spirits. But Satan himself said, "Thou hast done small service, for man has a conscience, and his conscience teaches him better; he knows that there is a God, he knows that there is a difference between sin and righteousness, he knows that there must be future punishment; you have done but little." Then another stood up, and said, "I have done better, I think, most mighty chieftain, for I have told them that the Bible is a worn-out book, that it was a fable at the first, and that they need not believe it." There was a round of cheers, for they said that he had done splendid service for the cause of darkness; but Satan said, "It is in vain that you meddle with the old Book, it has taken care of itself, and it can still do so. There is no shaking, it is like a rock. Thou hast done service for a time, but it will soon pass away." And scarcely did anyone of the fallen spirits venture to bring forward his boasting in the presence of the terrible master who sat it the midst of them; but, at last, one said, "I have told men that they have souls, and there is a God, and that the Bible is true. I have left them to believe as they will, but I have whispered in their ear that there is plenty of time to consider all this." Then there was a hush, and the great master of demons said, "Thou hast done best of all. This is my great net in which I take more souls that with any other, this net of procrastination or delay." Therefore say I to you, my hearers, disappoint the fiend. Fly to Jesus at once, Behold, not tomorrow, but tonight, behold the Lamb of God, each man for himself.
Now turn over the pages of the grand old Book, and you will find the Lamb in another connection. Israel was in Egypt, and there they had the lamb for the family, "In the tenth day of this month they shall take to them every man a lamb, according to the house of their fathers, a lamb for an house." Oh, I wish that you would all go on to behold the Lamb of God for your households! "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved." Why do you stop before you finish this verse? What said the apostle to the trembling jailer? Not merely all that I have quoted, but more; "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house." Are there not many believers who do not believe for their house. Come, now, and believe in his provision of the Lamb for the house. Trust the grace of God for that little girl, the last born, and for that boy who is still at school, who does not think much of these things as yet; and for that son of yours who has left home, and gone out as an apprentice. Oh, that the Lamb of God might be for him! Pray for him, tonight; and you older parents, pray for your sons who are married, and your daughters who have taken to themselves husbands, and are away from you. The Lamb is for the house, pray for the whole household tonight; take in your grandchildren, all you old folks, all of them who are in your house. Pray that the Lamb may be for the house. I do bless God that I can look upon all my household, and rejoice that they are converted to Christ. My father has this joy, too; and my grandfather also had that joy. Oh, it is a great bliss to have families, generation after generation, all brought to Christ without exception! Why should it no be so? Let us cry for it; surely we may expect the same blessing that God gave to His chosen people under the law, and expect it more largely. Grace does not run in the blood, but grace often runs side by side with it, so that Abraham is loved, and Isaac, and Jacob, and Joseph, and Ephraim, and Manasseh. Thus the covenant blessing goes from one to another. Please with God, tonight, that all in your house may be beneath the sprinkled blood of the lamb, and be saved from the destroying angel, and that all with you may go out of Egypt to have a possession in the land of the promised.
A little further on, following the Scripture, and asking you still to behold the Lamb, in the twenty-ninth chapter of that famous Book of Exodus, at the thirty-eighth and thirty-ninth verses, we come across God's command for the lamb for the people. "Now this is that which thou shalt offer upon the altar; two lambs of the first year day by day continually. The one lamb thou shalt offer in the morning; and the other lamb thou shall offer at even." Here is the lamb for all the chosen people, the lamb for Israel. It began with the unit, it went on to the family; and here the Lord, who "loveth the gates of Zion more than all the dwelling of Jacob," makes His tabernacle to be the central place where a lamb shall be offered for the whole nation. Think of it with delight, tonight, that Christ died for all His chosen people. He hath redeemed them from among men. Though they be as many as the stars for number, or as the sand on the sea-shore innumerable, yet that one Sacrifice has redeemed them all. Glory be to God for the blood of the Lamb, by which the whole of Christ's people are redeemed!
Then let your mind take wing right out of the Old Testament into the New, for I have not time to trace all the successive steps. Come now to John, saying, in the twenty-ninth verse of this chapter, "Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world." Now you have gone beyond the bounds of Israel, and have come to the Lamb for the world. You have come to the Lamb of God, who dies for Gentiles as well as Jews, for men in the isles of the sea, for men in the wilds of Africa, for men of every color, and every race, and every time, and every clime. Oh, glory be to God, wherever there are men, we may go and tell them of Christ! Wherever there are men born of Adam's race, we may tell them of the second Adam, to whom looking, they who shall live, and in Him they shall find eternal life. I love to think of the breaking down of the bounds that shut in the flow of grace to one nation. Behold, it flows over all Asia Minor, at first, and then over all Greece, and then to Rome, and Paul talks of going to Spain, and the gospel is borne across the sea to England, and from this country it has gone out unto the utmost of the earth.
Well, now, take your flight, if you can get beyond that, away to heaven itself, and there you will see the Lamb for all heaven. Look at Revelation, the seventh chapter, and the fourteenth verse; no, you need not look it out, you know it. All the saints in heaven are standing in the glittering ranks, white-robed, pure as the driven snow. They sing and praise one glorious name; when one of the elders first asked the question, "What are these which are arrayed in white robes, and whence came they?" he himself gave the answer, "These are they which came out of the great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb."
'Round the altar priests confess,
If their robes are white as snow,
'Twas the Saviour's righteousness,
And his blood that made them so.
The blood of the lamb has whitened all the saints who are in heaven; they sing of Him who loved them, and saved them from their own sins in His own blood. I have often wondered why that second word was not brought into our translation, for it so beautifully fits the language of the beloved Apostle John: "Unto him that loved us and saved us from our sins in his own blood, and hath made us king and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen." There is no whiteness in heaven but what the Lamb has wrought, no brightness there but what the Lamb has bought; everything there shows the wondrous power and surpassing merit of the Lamb of God.
If it be possible to think of something more glorious than I have already described, I think you will find it in the fifth chapter of Revelation, at the thirteenth verse: "And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing, and honor, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb forever and ever." The day shall come when, from every place that God has made, there shall be heard the voice of praise unto the Lamb; there shall be found everywhere men and women redeemed by blood, angels and glorious spirits, rejoicing to adore Him who was, and is, and is to come, the Almighty Lamb of God.
I think I have given you something to consider if you turn over the pages of Scripture, and follow the track of the bleeding Lamb. (Please click here to continue reading, "The Lamb of God in Scripture"