The Lamb of God
Throughout Hebraic history the most outstanding foreshadowing of Jesus is in the Passover Lamb. Early mention of animal sacrifices shows the understanding of substitution. Abel the second born human understood this and offered an animal sacrificed; perhaps a lamb before the Lord and it pleased Him.
His brother brought the produce of the land from the work of his hands and was rejected.
The sacrificial ritual was known by Noah and then later by Abraham. All the ones that followed after God understood the need for a substitute, a sacrificial lamb to cleanse and remove the barrier of sinfulness between them and a Holy God. It was clear that without the shedding of blood there was no remission of sins.
All of these were foreshadows of the ultimate Lamb who would come, even Jesus our Lord.
The prophet John the Baptist-or said of Him when He came to the Jordon River, “Behold, the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world!”
Passover officially begins this evening (Friday April 22nd) this year and I have been compelled to share this portion at this time as it is upon us.
As the title of this work implies, this is my attempt to share the deeper heart of God as He has revealed to me in certain ways as I have meditated upon His Word and grown in my knowledge and experience of Him personally. Also as I have received teaching and revelation from others that I will be sharing and quoting at times.
One that I am going to share a passage from is actually from something I wrote a number of years ago; a short story called “Seven Days to Glory”. It is written as a journal entry by my name sake; the Apostle James. I think it captures best what I would like to share that reveals an insight into the deeper heart of God as revealed in the Passover.
To set this up, let me remind you that the Lord chose to be represented not by a full grown ram at Passover even though He was in the case of Abraham and Isaac but as a young and vulnerable baby lamb.
“Too many questions raced through my mind for this time of day. Breakfast would be light this morning as we prepared for the evening Passover meal and my thoughts began to awaken to the significance of this day. Today was the day for the Passover Lamb to be slain. The tender, tame, family lamb that by now had become the family pet.
For days before Passover, the tradition required the lamb to be chosen and placed in the care of the homemaker. She would bring the lamb inside the home and he would have free run of the house. The children loved this time of year when an animal would run through the house jumping, bumping, playing, baaing, tumbling with the children in continuous scurrying fun.
At evening, the lamb would be tied to the leg of the table drinking milk from a bowl lovingly placed by one of the children who always jostled for who would be closest to the lamb that night. They often named them sweet, pet names and sometime made garlands for their necks from flowers in the fields. The trick was to get it on them without them eating it first. And so it was in the home where we stayed but today the lamb would serve the purpose for which it had been chosen. Perfect, without blemish, pure white, soft, woolly, with distinct dark feet and muzzle, washed and ready for the moment of truth.
The father would take the lamb and gently lead it with the children following.
They would give it one last hug and kiss and often with tears speak soft words of comfort and sweet tender good-byes and then it was over. Blood soaked wool, crimson fleece, lifeless form, blood splattered ground.
The mother would receive the portions of fresh mutton prepared for the fire as the father painted the doorposts, across the top and both sides with the hyssop dipped in the blood of the freshly slain lamb.
A tender sacrifice of love lost and life given. Protection from the darkness of death, passing over the powerless, depending solely on the sacrificial substitute whose life was given that they might live.
Glorious mystery of salvation transmitted through time wrapped in the sublime message of hope through a splattered blood covering, from a sacrificed innocent lamb.” From Seven Days to Glory © 2004.
I love to celebrate the Jewish tradition of Passover with the Seder dinner. It is full of hidden mysteries that all point to Jesus our Messiah.
One thing you will not see at a modern Passover is a slain lamb. Since AD 70 and the destruction of the temple this practice is not observed. Prayer is offered instead.
The ultimate reason that the practice no longer exists is that the Lamb of God who took away the sin of the world came. Jesus the Messiah who Isaiah prophesied five hundred years earlier would come as it says in Isaiah 53:5-7 “5 But He was pierced because of our transgressions, crushed because of our iniquities; punishment for our peace was on Him, and we are healed by His wounds.
6 We all went astray like sheep; we all have turned to our own way; and the Lord has punished Him
for the iniquity of us all. 7 He was oppressed and afflicted, yet He did not open His mouth.
Like a lamb led to the slaughter and like a sheep silent before her shearers, He did not open His mouth.”
Like a lamb led to the slaughter is a grim yet revealing statement that gives a glimpse into the deeper heart of God.
The willingness of Jesus to endure His passion in a state of complete vulnerable innocence is the greatest mystery of all time. We will marvel at this for all eternity and I believe we will grow in our appreciation and depth of understanding of this remarkable event where time and eternity converge.
It’s hard to think of something as gentle, innocent and vulnerable as a baby lamb. This is what Jesus longed to become for us. In fact, He was overwhelmed with emotion of anticipation looking forward to the last Passover He would celebrate with His disciples.
Listen to what He said that night before His betrayal in the Young’s literal translation in Luke 22:15:
“and he said unto them, `With desire I did desire to eat this Passover with you before my suffering,”
There’s the double words again that give great emphasis to what is being said. I studied the Greek for the word “desire’ in this passage and here is what it said:
Desire- epithumia: desire, passionate longing, lust. Eagerness for, inordinate desire. It comes from two words, epi “focused on” (like epi-center) and thymos “passionate desire” properly built on strong feelings (urges).
The second time the word is slightly different. It is epithymeo. To show focused passion as it aptly builds upon what a person truly yearns for; to greatly desire to do or have something- to long for, to desire very much.
So what I see is a strong overwhelming desire that has evolved and intensified from having a focused passion a truly great yearning to do or have something. Something that has been longed for and desired very much.
Jesus is passionate about this final Passover before His passion; His suffering. What is it about this Passover meal that has caused Him to have these strong, overwhelming desires?
I think it is the fact that this is the culmination of all time and eternity converging in this one moment that will completely satisfy the passionate longing and desire of God that we previously discussed.
To put this moment in perspective, all that the Father and Jesus before He was born and before time began agreed to do was about to be accomplished and was being demonstrated in the very meal they were about to eat. This meal was representing His body and His blood about to be sacrificed and poured out as the sacrificial Lamb of God; once for all time and eternity removing all barriers and distance between God and us once and for all.
This was the deep mystery hidden in the recesses of eternity with clues and glimpses scattered throughout the Old Testament of the plan, culminating in this one single event that would mark and divide time forever.
The fall was not a surprise to an All knowing Omniscient God. The plan for our redemption was determined way before the fall and even before the creation of the world. It was a complete plan that included creating man in God’s likeness with total autonomy in our ability to choose or reject God. Yet because of the depth of the Love of God for us and His creation, He planned in advance for our redemption in the most amazing mysterious manner imaginable; to become one of us.
It was what Jesus was born to do and that He and His Father had planned from eternity past. To reconcile fallen humanity back to Himself and to destroy the works of the devil once and for all; stripping him of all power and reclaiming the authority stolen from mankind in the garden. Reversing the curse and reclaiming all that was lost in the fall. Destroying in the process all the works of the devil and his hold over humanity.
Jesus was the second Adam, the one who would take the full penalty for the rebellion of the first Adam and all his children who had or who would ever inhabit this planet and restore us back to our Creator; the one who loved us with an eternal everlasting passionate love that couldn’t be extinguished even with mankind rejecting Him fully. Not even recognizing the One Who made us when He came as one of us.
John said it this way: “There it was–the true Light [was then] coming into the world [the genuine, perfect, steadfast Light] that illumines every person.
10 He came into the world, and though the world was made through Him, the world did not recognize Him [did not know Him].
11 He came to that which belonged to Him [to His own–His domain, creation, things, world], and they who were His own did not receive Him and did not welcome Him.
12 But to as many as did receive and welcome Him, He gave the authority (power, privilege, right) to become the children of God, that is, to those who believe in (adhere to, trust in, and rely on) His name.” John 1: 9-12 Amplified Version.
BUT TO AS MANY… Here’s another BUT that displays the amazing grace of God. As many as received and welcomed Him. The whosoever will… of John 3:16. The open invitation which still exists to this very hour for anyone who will come to Him believing and willing to receive Him. There it is again. God Almighty respecting our autonomy and freedom to choose. This is not difficult though theologians would attempt to make it so over the years since Jesus came.
Those who call upon Him as Lord will be saved; set free from themselves and given new life in Jesus. His very life coming to dwell “in the midst of us” by His Holy Spirit. Awakening dead souls and breathing the breath of life into them but now for eternity; Eternal Life breathed in; the very life of God into our beings forming new creations in His likeness who will live forever. Death defeated. We will live forever.
This is the deeper heart of God revealed in the passionate desire of Jesus to not only eat the last Passover meal but to become the Passover Lamb; once and for all and to take away the barrier of sin from the world in the greatest demonstration of pure, undefiled, sacrificial love; expressing the heart and longing of God. This and only this could satisfy that deep longing, desire of God. That great, wonderful, intense love for us that had to be satisfied. This was the only way it could be done.
Here stands the God of the Universe who created all having become a man and willingly, like a lamb being led to the slaughter to take our place and receive the judgment of God for us to bring us back to Himself where He could share His deeper heart of love with us; the objects of His greatest affection and love.
Behold, the Lamb of God.