A Substitute Sacrifice

Verlyn Verbrugge

READ : John 1:29-35

[John] saw Jesus coming toward him and declared, “Here is the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (v. 29)

“You must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die” (Genesis 2:17). “The wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). Both Old and New Testaments state it clearly: sin leads to death.

How can we escape that penalty? In one sense, we cannot, because God’s Word is God’s Word. He says what he means. But in his grace, God in the Old Testament set up the notion of a substitute death. The Israelites could bring a bull, a goat, or a sheep and kill it, and God would accept its blood as a substitute death to pay for human sin.

These animals were pictures of God’s ultimate substitute death, the death of his own Son.

The blood of Christ . . . [will] cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God. (Hebrews 9:14)

Thus, when John the Baptist called Jesus “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world,” he was using a picture of the substitute sacrifice that God had created centuries before. Jesus is our atoning sacrifice, our substitute.

PRAYER

Thank you, God, for sending your Son as the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.