Saturday, December 1, 2012

The Lamb of God: Central to Christmas' mission

Numbers 28:2 “Command the sons of Israel and say to them, ‘You shall be careful to present My offering, My food for My offerings by fire, of a soothing aroma to Me, at their appointed time.’

Yesterday we began to look at how the Lamb of God is central to God's plan of salvation in regards to Christmas.  We traced the idea of the lamb from the Old Testament sacrifical system, noting how God had the lamb as the centerpiece of the timed cycles of sacrifice throughout the Jewish year.  Timing was everything in the Old Testament, which is why it is even moreso in the New Testament.  We closed yesterday noting how Jesus Christ came in the fulness of time as the Lamb of God. (Galatians 4:4).  Today we want to take this same idea and consider how the Lamb of God is central to the mission of Christmas. 

The centrality of the lamb in communicating the mission of salvation
In thinking on the centrality of the lamb, we know that the lamb is used to picture the Lord Jesus Christ in His first coming. John the Baptist for example spoke the following words about Jesus John 1:29 "The next day he saw Jesus coming to him and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!" As John states, Jesus, the Lamb of God came to do a mission: to take away the sin of the world. 

In Numbers 28, God prefaces his summary listing of the major sacrifices with the notion that they were all prescribed to provide a "sweet soothing aroma" in His sight.  This idea speaks to how when a sacrifice was offered in the place of a repentant sinful human being, satisfaction of God's wrath would be accomplished.  This is why the word "atonement" or "propitiation" is used through the Old and New Testament, since both terms describe how satisfaction of God's just wrath was made in the shedding of innocent blood. (Leviticus 17:10-11; 1 John 2:2)

The mission of that first Christmas was for Jesus to come as a virgin born baby, the Lamb of God.  The angel for instance tells us what the baby was to be named in Matthew 1:21  “She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.”

What Jesus came to do in His first coming is spelled out through His title as the Lamb of God.  The New Testament has over twenty five passages that describe Jesus' mission with this idea of Him being the Lamb of God:
1. John 1:29 "Behold the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world"
2. John 1:36 "Behold the Lamb of God"
3. Acts 8:32-34 Phillip explains a passage from Isaiah 53 of the prophecy about the Lamb, and then proceeds to tell the Ethiopian Eunuch about Jesus
4. 1 Corinthians 5:7  "Clean out the old leaven so that you may be a new lump, just as you are in fact unleavened. For Christ our Passover also has been sacrificed."
5. 1 Peter 1:18-19 redeemed by the blood of Jesus, likened unto a lamb without blemish
6. 1 Peter 2:22-24  we see the Lamb who was without sin and guile

In addition to these references, we find almost twenty references in the Book of Revelation concerning the Lamb of God and His mission.1  Interestingly, for a Book that is focused on the events surrounding Christ's second coming, it reminds us that without His first coming accomplishment, the second coming adoration would not be possible. 

Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God, is the center piece of Christmas.  Without Him, that first Christmas would have no mission nor purpose. 

End Notes____
1 For those interested, here are most of the references in Revelation pertaining to Jesus the Lamb of God. They are as listed from Nave's Topical Bible, an excellent reference tool:  Revelation 6:16; 7:9, 10, 14, 17; 12:11; 13:8; 14:1,4; 15:3; 17:14; 19:7; 21:9,14,22,23,27; 22:1,3

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