Who Is Jesus?
1 Peter 1:17-21
Who is Jesus? Jesus is the Great I Am. Jesus is the Name Above All Names. Today we want to look at a name given to Jesus that conjures up all kinds of images. Jesus is the Lamb. When you think of a lamb, your mind naturally goes to a cute little face, a helpless cry of its bleating, the fragileness of it frame, and even the softness of its wool. Lambs are cute, cuddly, and certainly helpless looking animals. Lambs are not fierce or frightening, lambs are innocent and vulnerable. For some people it is hard to imagine a lamb being sacrificed, killed for food, or in some way harmed. But lambs were very much a part of what it meant for people in Old Testament times to have a right relationship with God.
Now, today is Palm Sunday. If you are familiar with what we call the Holy Week, today is the day Jesus enters Jerusalem. Jesus enters riding on a colt. He entered with great fanfare from a crowd of people outside of Jerusalem because they saw Him as their King, their deliverer, the One who would rid them of the Roman rule they were living under. All four gospels record this event for us (Matthew 21:1-11, Mark 11:1-10, Luke 19:29-38, and John 12:12-19).
The interesting thing is that the throngs of people that celebrated Jesus, did not celebrate Him as “a lamb that is led to the slaughter” as prophesied by Isaiah 53:7, rather they saw Jesus as their conquering King. Because this is Palm Sunday, we want to begin our singing this morning with “Hosanna, Loud Hosanna” as the people chanted, laying down their palm branches and coats to pave the way of the conquering King as He entered Jerusalem. But Jesus was not coming to be the conquering King, at least not yet. That will happen in the future.
Jesus was coming as the sacrificial Lamb. The Lamb who takes away the sin of the world. So, the second song we will sing is “Lamb of God.” Jesus is the Lamb of God, sent from the Father in glory to live among us and be crucified on the cross of Calvary, like a lamb being slaughtered for sacrifice. Then the choir will be singing “The Passover Lamb” which illustrates the saving power of the blood of Jesus, the Lamb of God. Similar to the lamb sacrificed in Egypt to save God’s people, Jesus is the Lamb that was sacrificed to save us. Thus, He is our Passover Lamb. Won’t you stand with us as we celebrate and worship the Lamb?
~ Hosanna, Loud Hosanna # 297
~ Lamb of God # 302
~ Like a Lamb - Nodie Shepard
~ The Passover Lamb – Choir
A Sacrificial Lamb (Exodus 7-12)
We are covered by the blood of the Lamb. What a powerful statement and certainly Hallelujahs are to be proclaimed. However, when we refer to Jesus as the Passover Lamb, what exactly are we talking about? Well, we need to go back to the time when Israel was in bondage to Egypt. Moses went to Pharaoh and told him that God said he must let the people of Israel go free. Pharaoh refused and Exodus chapters 7-10 record for us the first nine plagues on Egypt and how after each plague the Pharaoh refused to let the nation of Israel go free.
When we come to the 10th and final plague upon the land of Egypt as recorded for us in Exodus 11 and 12, God had special instructions for His people. God said that He will send an angel of death angel that will strike dead the firstborn of every family in Egypt. But in order for the firstborn of Israel to be protected from the angel of death, God instructed the people to act in faith and offer a one-year old male lamb as a sacrifice for their family. The blood from this lamb was to be spread upon the doorposts and lintels of the home and that evening they were to roast the lamb over a fire and consume it completely.
God told Moses that if the people of Israel act in faith according to His instructions, believing what God has promised, the angel of death will pass over their home and their firstborn will not die. When the angel of death came at the specified time, every firstborn from every family and every animal died unless they had the sacrificial blood covering on the doorposts of their homes. Exodus 12:30 tells us that there was a great cry in the land of Egypt because of the death of so many. For each home, this lamb that was sacrificed was known as the Passover Lamb. The blood of the sacrificial lamb caused the angel of death to pass over their home. Thus, the life of a innocent lamb, without spot or blemish, was taken to save the lives of the firstborn in the home.
There was further instruction from God concerning this event. In Exodus 12:14, God told His people that they are to celebrate this day every year so that future generations will remember God’s great deliverance of His people from Egypt.
This day shall be for you a memorial day, and you shall keep it as a feast to the LORD; throughout your generations, as a statute forever, you shall keep it as a feast.
Thus, Passover was established, along with the Feast of Unleavened Bread, and God wants His people to celebrate each year in remembrance of God’s great deliverance of His people from the hand of Pharaoh in Egypt. Thus, the lamb for Passover is very significant.
There are many other sacrifices established by God that involved not just lambs, but even bulls and goats. The daily Burnt Offering was made every morning and evening where a spotless lamb was sacrificed on the altar. The Sin Offering that was to be brought to the Tabernacle was a bull, goat, or lamb. Daily, innocent lambs lost their lives for atonement or a right standing with God. These sacrifices did not take away sin but provided a covering for sin. This is almost unimaginable for us today, but every time a lamb was sacrificed, it pointed to the need of a perfect sacrifice, a permanent once for all sacrifice.
If you read the book of Hebrews, you will find that it often describes the sacrifices, the priestly work, and the need for a Temple as shadows or copies of what must take place in the future. In other words, these sacrifices point to the perfect sacrifice that would take place for sin. When Jesus began His ministry, He was identified as the Lamb of God!
The Lamb of God (John 1:29-31, 35-36)
John the Baptist was the forerunner of Jesus Christ. His ministry was to announce or point people to the coming of Jesus Christ. He is the first person we hear using the terms “Lamb of God.” Look at what he says when he sees Jesus in John 1:29-31.
The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, "Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! This is he of whom I said, 'After me comes a man who ranks before me, because he was before me.' I myself did not know him, but for this purpose I came baptizing with water, that he might be revealed to Israel."
Then again on the next day in John 1:35-36.
The next day again John was standing with two of his disciples, and he looked at Jesus as he walked by and said, "Behold, the Lamb of God!"
These words “Lamb of God,” which John connected to the concept of taking away sin, would have been instantly recognized by any Jewish person as something that is identified with the sacrifices that were brought to God at the Temple. Understanding Jesus Christ and what He did, is rooted in understanding the sacrifices of the Old Testament. The Old Testament sacrifices set the stage for Jesus Christ who is the perfect sacrifice. The book of Hebrews repeatedly tells us that the work of sacrifice was never done until the perfect sacrifice was made for sin.
And every priest stands daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God.
The point is simply this, the sacrifices of the Old Testament were only a temporary covering until the once-for-all sacrifice was made by the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. Praise God for the perfect Lamb that was slain for us. All the sacrificial lambs of the Old Testament clearly point to the perfect sacrifice of the Lamb of God.
Why is that so important to know and understand? Because we know that all of us are sinners and come far short of who we should be in Him (Romans 3:23). It is because of the sin that we are separated from God, as Romans 6:23 says, “the wages of sin is death.” Eternal separation from God. The only way we have any hope is if God makes a way of salvation from sin with the perfect sacrifice.
It is through our faith in the perfect and complete sacrifice of the Lamb of God that we can be restored to God. Jesus is the Lamb that was slain for the sins of the world! But why is a sacrifice necessary? Why was it required that the blood of the Passover lamb be put on the doorposts of the home? Why is Jesus’ bloodshed so important? Over and over Scripture talks about the importance of the blood of Jesus. Why? Let’s look at 1 Peter 1:17-21 where it talks about Jesus’ blood.
The Blood of the Lamb (1 Peter 1:17-21)
In 1 Peter 1, Christians are encouraged to prepare their minds, set their hope, and be holy in their conduct because He is holy (vv. 13-16). How do we do that? He tells us to call on the Father and live our lives according to who we are in Christ. Look at verses 17-21.
And if you call on him as Father who judges impartially according to each one's deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile, knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.
He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times for the sake of you who through him are believers in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.
If we have put our faith and trust in Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, we need to live as though we are ransomed from our sin, because that is who we are. We are a ransomed people. The word “ransom” in verse 18 is λυτρόω (lutroo) which means to make a payment to release someone who is enslaved. Much like the word “redeem,” it has the idea of slaves being purchased in the market place and then set free. We are ransomed not with gold or silver, but with the “precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without spot or blemish” (v. 19). So, it is the blood that ransoms or pays the price of redemption for sin.
But what makes blood so valuable, in particular, innocent blood when it comes to a sin payment? Sin requires death (wages of sin is death, Romans 6:23), both physically and spiritually. There is a price that has to be paid for sin. God instructed the people of Israel not to eat the blood of animals because the life of the animal is in the blood. Thus, the life of the lamb is given by the shedding of its blood.
For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it for you on the altar to make atonement for your souls, for it is the blood that makes atonement by the life.
You see, we are captives to our sin. We are eternally condemned to death physically and spiritually. That is the price that must be paid. Thus, when the blood of an innocent lamb is poured out, its life has been given as atonement for sin, or simply a down payment covering for the sin. Thus, the lamb became a substitute for the sinner in payment for sin. We read in Hebrews 10 a moment ago, that these sacrifices cannot take away sin, but only provide a temporary covering for sin. But these sacrifices all pointed to the true, once for all blood sacrifice of Jesus Christ which was more than a covering for sin. Because He died as a perfect human being, without sin, His blood grants complete forgiveness of sin. The shedding of blood is a substitutionary act, He takes our place, standing before the Father for us as our payment for sin. That is why He had to become human.
Hebrews 9 tells us that when Jesus shed His blood, He secured for us eternal redemption (v. 12). The payment is once for all for eternity. It also tells us that it is because of His shed blood that He becomes our Mediator (v. 15). As a Mediator he stands before God for us. This is powerful, Jesus is the only way for complete forgiveness of sin. When Jesus said “It is finished” on the cross, never again would there be a blood sacrifice needed for sin.
Praise the Lord. The blood of the Lamb has ransomed us from our sin. The song the choir sang, refers to Jesus as our Passover Lamb. At the beginning of the message I talked about the blood of the lamb sacrificed and poured out on the doorposts of the home to save the first born. The imagery and concept that Jesus is our Passover Lamb in salvation is not something we made up. Look with me at one more passage this morning in 1 Corinthians 5.
Our Passover Lamb (1 Corinthians 5:7)
In this passage, the Apostle Paul is dealing with the sin of sexual immorality in the church of Corinth. Paul uses the word leaven as a symbol for sin the church was dealing with. Like leaven in bread dough effects the whole lump, so sin in the church affects the whole body. Thus, sin needs to be dealt with, or purged from among believers. Why? Because that is not who we are. We are bought with the price of the blood of Jesus Christ and our lives should reflect our redemption. Let’s read 1 Corinthians 5:7.
Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed.
Is that powerful or what? Jesus Christ is our Passover Lamb. Think about that for a moment. Just as the blood of the lamb was put on the doorposts of the home caused the angel of death to pass over that home, the blood of Jesus Christ, our sacrifice causes God’s judgment to pass over sinners who put their faith and trust in Jesus Christ. Not only that, but believers are restored to a right standing with God and will be resurrected to eternal life after life on this earth is over. As the song the choir sang says, “Hallelujah! We are covered by the blood of the Lamb, Hallelujah! We are covered by the Passover Lamb.”
Who is Jesus? Jesus is the Great I Am, so Jesus is God eternal. Jesus is the Name Above All Names, so Jesus gave up glory to become a human so He could die a human death. Jesus is the Lamb, so His blood sacrifice ransomed or redeemed man from the captivity of sin.
Have you placed your faith and trust in the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world? Much like the Israelite in Egypt had to by faith, trust what God told them, and sacrifice a lamb, and put its blood on the doorposts of their home, we too, act in faith in believing that Jesus died for us to free us from the bondage to sin.
Is that the Jesus you say you believe in? If that is who you are, does that reflect in how you live your life? We are to cleanse out the old leaven (sin) because we are unleavened (forgiven) by the blood of the Passover Lamb.