Day 4: The Lamb

If you do a quick search, you’ll find a lamb is mentioned in the Old Testament 96 times. Of those 96, the “lamb” is referred to as a sacrifice a vast majority of the time—in fact, 85 of the 96 times. For hundreds of years, Jews would bring lambs to the temple, and a priest would sacrifice the lamb as a payment for a person’s sin. However, the lamb was never viewed as a permanent payment for sin. The sacrificial lamb had a shelf life of one year. So at least once every 12 months, you’d need to bring another lamb to the temple to sacrifice.

The lamb—or, more specifically, the lamb’s blood—was seen as a sacrificial payment of death to cover the cost associated with sinning against God.

Perhaps you’ve heard the story of when God commanded Moses to appear before Pharaoh and ask Pharaoh to release the enslaved Israelites. God sent nine plagues as a sign of his power and wrath, but after each one, Pharaoh refused to let God’s people go. The tenth and final plague involved an angel of death taking the lives of all firstborn males in Egypt. But God provided a way of escape for his people—the blood of a lamb. Death would pass over any home that had lamb’s blood on the door. To this day, Jews all over the world celebrate Passover in remembrance of that.

For Jesus’ followers, we have a lamb that provides a permanent sacrifice for sin. Not only does Passover remind us of how God spared the firstborn Jewish boys during the exodus from Egypt, but Passover also symbolizes how God has caused the penalty of sin to pass over us, once and for all, because of the blood of a perfect, eternal lamb—the blood of Jesus.

In Jesus’s day, there was a prophet on the scene known as John the Baptizer (or John the Baptist). John would baptize people as a sign of their repentance, but similar to the lamb of the Old Testament, this baptism only symbolized the covering of sins from the past. It wouldn’t have been uncommon for people to come to John for baptism multiple times throughout their lives.

But John had insider information. His mother, Elizabeth, and Jesus’s mother, Mary, were related, which means John the Baptist and Jesus were related. So John had intel. Early on in Jesus’s ministry, as it says in the Gospel of John (written by a different John, one of Jesus’s disciples), we read this: “John [the Baptist] saw Jesus coming toward him and said, ‘Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!’” (John 1:29).

There’s our word: lamb. A few verses later, John the Baptist repeats it:

“The next day, John was there again with two of his disciples. When he saw Jesus passing by, he said, ‘Look, the Lamb of God!’”  (John 1:35–36)

John the Baptist knew Jesus was sent from God to cover the sins of the world. To what degree he knew Jesus would physically shed his blood is tough to say, but around three years after John recognized Jesus as the Lamb of God, Jesus, the perfect lamb, would be the permanent sacrifice who would pay for the sins of the world.


Heavenly Father,

Thank you for sending Jesus to be the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. We’re so grateful for the sacrifice he made to free us from the penalty of sin. In the name above all names, Jesus, we pray. Amen.

If you do a quick search, you’ll find a lamb is mentioned in the Old Testament 96 times. Of those 96, the “lamb” is referred to as a sacrifice a vast majority of the time...