You have to wonder what John was thinking when he first pointed to Jesus, his then unknown cousin, and declared “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” Of course, John, as the last Old Covenant prophet, carried divine inspiration in those words like the rest of the Old Testament writers. But I can’t help but imagine his mind wandered back to the stories he was undoubtedly so familiar with …
The first trace of this Lamb came when Abraham obeyed God’s call to sacrifice his only son Isaac, despite God’s covenant of a future nation and purpose would be through Isaac the promised son (Genesis 22). But just as Abraham is about to slice the knife through his son’s throat, God stops him, pointing to a ram in the thicket, the lamb that would serve as the substitute for Abraham’s son.
Or perhaps John was thinking of the Passover, when every family in Israel killed a lamb and sprinkled its blood on their doorpost. That night, as an angel from God descended upon Egypt for the final judgment of slaying the firstborn sons, he “passed over” those households with the lamb’s blood. They were spared because of the substitute death of the lamb.
Regardless of John’s thoughts, he recognized what those Old Testament stories — indeed, the entire Old Testament — pointed to. Here was the Lamb of God himself, the one to finally serve as the substitute to atone for the sins of the whole world.
But the image of Christ as Lamb doesn’t stop in his early ministry or sacrificial death. Revelation promises that someday we will worship Christ as the Lamb.
“Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing” (Rev. 5:12, ESV).
“And between the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders I saw a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain” (Rev. 5:6, ESV).
Today, close your eyes and take a minute to thank God for providing us a Lamb to take our place. Then, imagine what it will be like standing before this Lamb for eternity, with perfect hearts and undistracted minds to give him our worship!