Sermon: Proclaiming Christ as the Lamb of God.
“The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him and saith, ‘Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.’” [John 1:29]
It is my belief that no one, or at least very few people, come to Christ these days based on the fact that He truly fulfills prophesy. Although this may NOT have been true in the early church where many of the first converts were Jewish, most people now come from the perspective of believing in Christ and THEN discovering the prophesy. However, when we do look at prophesy, it truly is astounding how Jesus fulfilled much of what was prophesied.
Yet isn’t it amazing that modern non-believers seem to have less problems accepting a fictitious character in a book or a movie that fulfills prophesy, rather than accepting that Christ truly DOES fulfill real prophecies. It speaks volumes that we have grown to the point where fiction is more acceptable than the truth.
But, our lessons for today deal with the fulfillment of prophesy. In our Old Testament Lesson, we have the prophet Isaiah presenting an accurate image of Christ. This chapter in fact starts the section that is referred to as the section on the Suffering Servant. And we start with this Chapter which seems to be a dialogue between God the Father and God the Son:
The LORD hath called me from the womb, from the bowels of my mother hath he made mention of my name.
We know that God named His Son before He was even born:
But while he thought on these things, behold , the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.”
Clearly, this part of the prophesy was fulfilled. But there is more than prophesy in this passage; there is a look into the heart of God:
Then I said, “I have laboured in vain, I have spent my strength for nought, and in vain: yet surely my judgment is with the LORD, and my work with my God.”
Jesus, who is speaking to God the Father is saying that His work will appear to be in vain, but in His work is the fulfillment of God’s work and the furthering of God’s judgment. But then there is a further statement which proved also to be true:
“And now,” saith the LORD that formed me from the womb to be his servant, to bring Jacob again to him, “though Israel be not gathered, yet shall I be glorious in the eyes of the LORD, and my God shall be my strength.”
It is true that Jesus did not gather the tribe of Israel together. In fact, it ended up shattered and spread throughout the world. But Jesus IS glorious in the “eyes of the Lord.” He has been glorified, and Christianity HAS been spread throughout the world. Christ HAS become a light to the gentile!
In so many ways the prophesy of the Old Testament has been fulfilled in the New. But Christ has also fulfilled the foreshadowing images presented in the Old Testament. And no where is that made more apparent than in our New Testament lesson for today:
“The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him and saith, ‘Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.’”
Throughout the Old Testament, there have been references to sacrificial lambs. In Genesis, we have Abraham preparing to sacrifice his only son, Isaac:
And Isaac spake unto Abraham his father, and said, “My father,” and he said, “Here am I, my son.” And he said, “Behold the fire and the wood: but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?” And Abraham said, “My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering.” So they went both of them together.
Yes, God DID provide Himself with a lamb. He provided HIMSELF WITH AND FOR a Lamb. Jesus became that Lamb of God, sacrificed not only for Isaac, but for ALL of us.
We also have the lambs sacrificed during the first Passover so that the Israelite’s first-born sons will not be killed. And, finally, we have the lambs sacrificed in the Temple for the sins of the people. All these sacrificial lambs foreshadow Christ as the ultimate Lamb of God.
But there is more:
And John bare record, saying, “I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it abode upon him. And I knew him not: but he that sent me to baptize with water, the same said unto me, ‘Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and remaining on him, the same is he which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost.’ And I saw, and bare record that this is the Son of God.”
Here is an interesting testimony. God, speaking to John the Baptist, said that there would be a sign that would tell John if the person he is baptizing is the Messiah or not. This sign was that the Holy Ghost would descend and remain with the person who is the Messiah. Then John announces that this very sign happened when he baptized Jesus. This was a sure sign for John the Baptist and some of his disciples that his cousin, Jesus, was in fact the Messiah. And, in turn, it is because of Saint John’s testimony as to this sign that Andrew, Peter, and we believe, John switched from being disciples of John the Baptist to being disciples of Jesus.
Let us now turn to our Psalm for today. The Eastern Orthodox will tell you that all the psalms are really written to reveal the thoughts of Christ. They believe they are all written from Christ’s point of view. I do not know if all the psalms fit this belief, in fact there are some that I do not believe fit. But our Psalm for today truly does support their belief:
10 In the volume of the book it is written of me, that I should fulfil thy will, O my God: * I am content to do it; yea, thy law is within my heart.
Jesus fulfilled the will of His Father. He is the ultimate, obedient Son. And the book of the New Testament supports our position that Christ fulfills the Old Testament.
All of these passages plus many more support the belief that Jesus is the Christ, but do they support OUR belief? Do we accept these statements as true, or do we think that things were made to fit along the way? These are critical questions because they challenge our faith.
If we do not truly accept Christ as fulfillment of prophesy than maybe we are not truly Christians. But if we believe these accounts, then they serve to strengthen our belief that Jesus is the Christ, the First-born of God, and the true Lamb of God. Only we can answer these questions ourselves, but I implore you all to do so.
With questioning and understanding, our faith deepens and grows in incredible ways. And with this type of growth comes the type of spiritual maturity that will make our faith rich, powerful, and enduring. And in the end we may find ourselves, like Saint John, proclaiming that Jesus is Christ and that He is truly the Lamb of God.