Significance of the “Lamb of God”
John the Baptist welcomes Jesus, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world!” When Abraham was about to sacrifice his son Isaac, God provided a lamb which represents innocence and purity. Thus, the lamb is the perfect metaphor for Christ. (Gen. 22:9; John 1:29)
Lamb is a young sheep that is under one year of age. Sheep are followers of Christ, while goats are not (Matthew 25:33). Jesus is also called the “Good Shepherd” who lays down His life for the sheep, God’s children. (John 10:11)
It is not possible for the blood of bulls, goats (or literal lamb) to take away sins. (Only the Lamb of God)
Paschal or Passover lamb
John the Baptist did not use bulls, sheep, goats, or pigeons to describe Jesus. All these types of animals used for “animal sacrifice” to atone sin. The lamb is sacrificed in the evening of the Passover, hence “Passover lamb.” It was first offered on the night of the Exodus from Egypt.
“But to all who did receive Him, He gave them the right to be children of God, to those who believe in His name, who were born, not of blood, or of the will of the flesh, or of the will of man, but of God.“
Why we don’t need animal sacrifice today
Animal sacrifice is a Jewish custom. Today, Christians don’t need animal sacrifice because Jesus was the ultimate “lamb sacrificed.” Jesus’ blood is the only sacrifice God can accept to remove the sins of men, once and for all time.
“…we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.”
Animal sacrifice does not remove sin
Without the shedding of the blood, there is no forgiveness of sin. These animals were mere “guilt offering” (atonement or partial). It does not remove man’s sins altogether. Only the blood of Jesus can. (Hebrews 10:4-11)
“…their sins and lawless acts God will remember no more, and where these have been forgiven, sacrifice for sin is no longer necessary.“
The High Priest of God
Only Aaron and his descendants, the Levites High Priests, allowed inside the Holy of Holies. Only a particular family of Levites, the Kohathites, could become priests.
The High Priest offers the blood of the “animal sacrifice.” He sprinkles it seven times on the “mercy seat” of the Ark of Covenant located inside the Kodesh Hakodashim or “Holy of Holy” of the temple.
It symbolized the atonement of sins. If the priest has an unconfessed sin, he dies immediately in the presence of God in the ark. (Leviticus 16:14)
The curtain that divides the Holy Temple
The Holy temple divided into three areas: the Most Holy Place, the Holy Place, and the outer courtyard. Only the High Priest can enter the Most Holy Place or “Holy of Holy.”
After Jesus died on the cross, the curtain that divides the people outside, and God’s Holy place inside, tore from top to bottom. (Matthew 27:51)
1 John 1:7
“But if we walk in the light as He Himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.”
Jesus is both the Lamb and the High Priest
The High Priest mediates between God and man. Jesus offered a sacrifice to satisfy the Law of God when He offered Himself for our sins. In short, Jesus was both High Priest and the sacrifice.
One of Jesus’ names is High Priest. At the cross, Jesus became the lamb that was slain, his death was the propitiation (avoiding divine retribution) for our sins (Hebrews 2:17; 4:14). His resurrection means Christ defeated death, and we too shall be resurrected. (Romans 6:9)
I John 2:2
“He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not only for ours but also for those of the whole world“
“He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.”