The Lamb of God
But God demonstrates his own love for us in this:While we were still sinners Christ died for us. Romans 5:8
The Bible uses many symbolic names for Jesus. One that we associate closely with His redemptive work on the cross is “Lamb of God.” John the Baptist first identified Jesus publicly with that name. As Jesus approached John one day, he called out, “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world” (John 1:29).
“Lamb of God” would have immediately signified “substitution” and “sacrifice” for Jews in Jesus’ time. As they prepared for Passover, they selected an unblemished lamb from their flock or purchased one in the marketplace to be used for their paschal celebration. They used the lamb’s blood and its meat to commemorate the night the Angel of the Lord passed over their ancestors’ homes in Egypt and spared their firstborn sons (Exodus 11:1-8; 12:12)
But the symbolic meaning of the lamb predates the first Passover by about 500 years. Climbing Mt. Moriah towards the place of sacrifice, Isaac said to Abraham, “The wood and the fire are here, but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?” (Genesis 22:7). The eternal significance of Abraham’s response always makes me pause: “God will provide himself a lamb” (v. 8).
We don’t know if any of the Jews who stood by the Jordan River that day made the connection between Genesis 22 and John’s words. The idea that God would deliberately choose to sacrifice His own Son when He had spared both Isaac and the firstborn sons in Egypt would have been difficult for any Jew to imagine, much less comprehend. It is difficult for us to comprehend even when we know verses like Romans 5:8.
The unknown lyricist of “What Wondrous Love Is This” tried to communicate his gratitude for God’s unbelievable provision when he gave us these words:
What wondrous love is this, O my soul, O my soul,
What wondrous love is this, O my soul!
What wondrous love is this that caused the Lord of bliss
To bear the dreadful curse for my soul, for my soul,
To bear the dreadful curse for my soul.
What wondrous love indeed. God provided Himself as the Lamb. Hallelujah, what a Savior!
The Hebrew word translated “provide” is ra’ah. It is usually translated “see” as in the English expression “see to it.” It refers to the duties of a caretaker or overseer. Why do you think Abraham used this particular word in Genesis 22:8 and 22:14?
Read the account of the first Passover in Exodus 12:1-13. What pictures of Christ do you see in the instructions God gives the Israelites?
Read Romans 5:1-11. What should be our response to God’s great sacrifice for us?
To read all the lyrics to “What Wondrous Love Is This” go to http://www.lutheran-hymnal.com/lyrics/hs860.htm
Denise K. Loock
*Note: This devotion appears in a slightly different form in Open Your Hymnal Again: Devotions That Harmonize Scripture With Song. Order a copy at http://tinyurl.com/cnf699n