He was oppressed and treated harshly, yet he never said a word. He was led like a lamb to the slaughter. And as a sheep is silent before the shearers, he did not open his mouth. -Isaiah 53:7 NLT
“The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! He is the one I was talking about when I said, ‘A man is coming after me who is far greater than I am, for he existed long before me.’ I did not recognize him as the Messiah, but I have been baptising with water so that he might be revealed to Israel.” -John 1:29-31 NLT
Those who know me know how much I love sheep. I actually collect them in different forms- coasters, stuffed animals, ornaments, etc. Sheep are known for their wool, their simplicity, and lambs are known for frolicking in the fields. Lambs represent purity, simpleness, and innocence. The first lambs that were slain for their blood was in Exodus when the Israelites were to leave Egypt. They had to take a lamb, the first born without any defects, raise the lamb, then it had to be killed for the blood. The lamb became a part of the family, imagine the feelings of having to slaughter their prized pet. They then took the blood and smeared it on the doorposts of their homes so when the angel of death passed by the Israelites were saved.
Lambs were the main animals sacrificed – one in the morning and one in the evening (Numbers 28:1-8) and the offering was doubled on the Sabbath. Lambs were also sacrificed on the first day of the new month, Passover, Pentecost, Feast of Trumpets, Yom Kippur- Day of Atonement, and the Feast of Tabernacles. Lambs represented the purity of the person who offered it, it represented the desire to offer their own lives to God.
The phrase “Lamb of God” was only found in John’s Gospel. Jesus is often referred to as the Lamb in Revelation. In Revelation, He is known as the Lamb who was slain, rose again and will live victoriously. Because of His ultimate sacrifice, we are saved and cleansed. The New Testament also calls us lambs as we follow Him.
Jews no longer sacrifice lambs because the temple was destroyed. However, they still place a lamb shank bone on a Seder plate as a reminder of the sacrifice. Christians recognise the sacrifice of the perfect Lamb as a part of the Passover.
When we pray, we pray to the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. He was the first born, Son of God, perfect, without blemish, innocent, simple and pure. God sacrificed His only Son, the Lamb of God so we can be saved and live eternally. As you think of the nativity scenes and you see the lambs surrounding Jesus, remember Jesus as the Lamb of God who came to give His all for you and for me.
For further study:
Exodus 12:2-47; Numbers 28:1-8; Revelation 5:6, 9-10