BEHOLD, THE LAMB OF GOD!
A SERMON ORIGINALLY DELIVERED AT
THE FEDERATED CHURCH OF ATHENS
14 JANUARY 1996
Frank L. Hoffman, Pastor
Over the past few weeks we have looked at the life of Jesus and the prophecies that were told of Him: as he was conceived, forward until the time He was 12 years of age.
Today we are going to look at a few more prophecies; this time, however, they refer to His ministry, which began with Jesus' baptism when He was about 30 years of age.
Let's begin by looking at a type of prophecy that was written by David in Psalm 40 some 1000 years before Jesus was born.
David is primarily referring to himself as being sustained by his Savior.
As we read this Psalm, beginning at verse 1, listen carefully, for David isn't speaking so much of God as being a law-giving Judge as he is of the One who is loving and compassionate to His servant.
David is not speaking of a powerful Messiah, but of a compassionate Servant, just as he [David] is trying to be God's servant, even though at times he failed.
1. I waited patiently for the Lord;
And He inclined to me, and heard my cry.
2. He brought me up out of the pit of destruction, out of the miry clay;
And He set my feet upon a rock making my footsteps firm.
3. And He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God;
Many will see and fear,
And will trust in the Lord.
Do you hear David speaking of both the Father and the Son?
The Son, Jesus, the servant Messiah has put a new song in David's mouth, a song of praise to God, the Father.
4. How blessed is the man who has made the Lord his trust,
And has not turned to the proud, nor to those who lapse into falsehood.
5. Many, O Lord my God, are the wonders which Thou hast done,
And Thy thoughts toward us;
There is none to compare with Thee;
If I would declare and speak of them,
They would be too numerous to count.
Remember, according to the Law a sinner was to bring a sacrifice to the Lord to pay the price of their sin and, if that person was truly sorry, he or she would be forgiven, or more accurately, their sin would be covered by the blood of the innocent animal.
Now listen to what David says about God, and why he said in the previous verse that his reasons to praise God are too numerous to record.
6. Sacrifice and meal offering Thou hast not desired;
My ears Thou hast opened;
Burnt offering and sin offering Thou hast not required.
According to the Law, there was no forgiveness without the shedding of blood; but here we are being told there is another way, a better way, a way that God has always desired us to take.
And note carefully that God isn't saying that these sacrifices aren't desired, but that they are not required.
There's a big difference.
God wants us to be His humble repentant servants, and if we are, our true repentance and desire to go forth and sin no more is all the sacrifice God requires.
7. Then I said, "Behold, I come;
In the scroll of the book it is written of me;
8. I delight to do Thy will, O my God;
Thy Law is within my heart."
What God wants is obedience and not sacrifice.
Our obedience is what God has always wanted and desired.
But if we inadvertently sin, as we all do, then the Lord desires us to return to Him, not with a blood sacrifice, but with a repentant heart.
This is the gift of grace that comes with Jesus Christ; and we are reading about what was spoken of Him 1,000 years before His birth.
And God’s grace was always there with David and all those who came before him.
Remember that the Law was God’s concession to sinful humans, who were already sacrificing, as did the pagans, as a tutorial to guide people back to God and His grace.
This is what David is writing about.
9. I have proclaimed glad tidings of righteousness in the great congregation;
Behold, I will not restrain my lips,
O Lord, Thou knowest.
10. I have not hidden Thy righteousness within my heart;
I have spoken of Thy faithfulness and Thy salvation;
I have not concealed Thy lovingkindness and Thy truth from the great congregation.
The Lord has done the same for us.
Are we like David?
Do we, each of us, proclaim His lovingkindness and truth to the great congregation, not just in this small congregation we are in today, but way beyond?
11. Thou, O Lord, wilt not withhold Thy compassion from me; Thy lovingkindness and Thy truth will continually preserve me.
For all this to be true, our salvation must be through grace, and not the Law, for all have sinned.
Thus, David and we are speaking of the God of grace who Himself pays the price of our sin, for He has a better way for those who will receive it.
If this were not so, then we all would have to pay the price of our sin before God could preserve us.
And it would be too late, for the penalty of sin is death.
Once our ears are opened to the voice of God, we hear His guiding words that lead us away from temptation and sin, and we become a new person in the eyes of God.
Just as David sought the Lord to sustain him, so should we.
Behold the Lamb of God, who has accomplished this on our behalf.
Now let's take a look at what Isaiah says in 49:1-7, and as we read these words, listen to who is really speaking.
1. Listen to Me, O islands,
And pay attention, you peoples from afar.
The Lord called Me from the womb;
From the body of My mother He named Me.
This message is not just for the Jewish people, but for all the peoples of the world.
Who is it that is being called?
2. And He has made My mouth like a sharp sword;
In the shadow of His hand He has concealed Me,
And He has also made Me a select arrow;
He has hidden Me in His quiver.
3. And He said to Me, "You are My Servant, Israel,
In Whom I will show My glory."
This time He speaks directly to Israel, or of an individual clothed with the nation Israel; and we should also include the church of today, for it is His intent to show His glory to the rest of the world through both Israel and the church.
This is what He wants to do, but listen to what He says about all His efforts:
4. But I said, "I have toiled in vain,
I have spent My strength for nothing and vanity;
Yet surely the justice due to Me is with the Lord,
And My reward with My God."
Just like us, when we strive to do good and to be loving and compassionate, particularly when we extend this love and compassion to the whole of creation, we are not appreciated by most people.
Even our good efforts are thrown back in our faces, and we, too, get discouraged and say, “Why am I doing this?”
The majority of people simply don't want to change their lifestyle, nor give up their sinful lusts, so they reject the messenger.
This may be discouraging, but it is not an excuse to quit.
Have you come to recognize who is speaking in the passage of Scripture?
Let's go on.
5. And now says the Lord, who formed Me from the womb to be His Servant,
To bring Jacob back to Him, in order that Israel might be gathered to Him
(For I am honored in the sight of the Lord,
And My God is My strength),
6. He says, "It is too small a thing that You should be My Servant To raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved ones of Israel;
I will also make You a light of the nations
So that My salvation may reach to the end of the earth."
Who is it who carries God's salvation to the ends of the earth?
It's not Isaiah.
And if you care to accept it, it is also for each and every one of God's children.
It's a call to each of us!
7. Thus says the Lord, the Redeemer of Israel, and its Holy One, To the despised One,
To the One abhorred by the nation,
To the Servant of rulers,
"Kings shall see and arise,
Princes shall also bow down;
Because of the Lord who is faithful, the Holy One of Israel who has chosen You."
Now the Father speaks of the Son.
Do we also behold the Lamb of God?
Do we behold the Lamb of God, not only in this passage, but also in our own lives?
He's there, if we will just open our eyes and ears...
Now let's move up to New Testament times.
Israel was looking for a powerful Messiah who would deliver them from foreign rule.
On the day that Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist, John presents Him in a somewhat different light.
Listen to what we are told in John 1:29-36.
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!
The Lamb of God who takes away sin is a sacrificial lamb, like all of the lambs sacrificed upon the altar of the temple.
Those lambs died so that their blood, so that their innocent soul, might cover the soul of the guilty individuals who presented them to the priest, along with their repentance.
Put your finger here for a moment, and look at what we are told in Isaiah 53:7-8 about this particular Lamb of God:
7. He was oppressed and He was afflicted,
Yet He did not open His mouth;
Like a lamb that is led to slaughter,
And like a sheep that is silent before its shearers,
So He did not open His mouth.
8. By oppression and judgment He was taken away;
And as for His generation, who considered
That He was cut off out of the land of the living,
For the transgression of my people to whom the stroke was due?
This Lamb of God took upon Himself all the sins of His people.
He paid the ultimate price for them; all they had to do was to receive this great and loving gift.
Are we each beholding the Lamb of God, who took away our own sins?
As we consider this question, let's return to John 1:30.
30. "This is He on behalf of whom I said, 'After me comes a Man who has a higher rank than I, for He existed before me.'
Remember that we are speaking spiritually, for John is actually six months older than Jesus.
John is presenting Jesus as God, the one and only God, who has come to earth to save His children.
31. "And I did not recognize Him, but in order that He might be manifested to Israel, I came baptizing in water."
32. And John bore witness saying, “I have beheld the Spirit descending as a dove out of heaven, and He remained upon Him.
33. "And I did not recognize Him, but He who sent me to baptize in water said to me, 'He upon whom you see the Spirit descending and remaining upon Him, this is the one who baptizes in the Holy Spirit.'
Note that twice John says that he didn't recognize Him, and that's the trouble with the world today: they don't recognize Jesus for who He really is.
But God has given us many signs, even more than He gave John, by which to recognize Him.
Shouldn't we, likewise, all recognize Him?
34. "And I have seen, and have borne witness that this is the Son of God."
Do we, likewise, bear witness not just with our mouths, but with our very lives?
This is what it means to be a Christian, a servant and follower of Jesus Christ.
35. Again the next day John was standing with two of his disciples,
36. and he looked upon Jesus as He walked, and said, "Behold, the Lamb of God!"
And I say to you, "Behold, the Lamb of God!"
Your Comments are welcome
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