I remember one of my first church experiences as a teenager; the pastor was tossing around unusual sounding names related to God. A very passionate “Yeshua!” or “El Shaddai!” was laced all throughout the service and I was utterly confused. Finally, I started hearing some more familiar and intriguing names like Lamb of God. I jokingly leaned toward my host and, snickering, said, “I didn’t know Christians listened to metal!” Despite the joking, I was genuinely interested in this name and felt a shift when I spoke it.
The names of God tell us important information about who God is. So do the names of Jesus, and we hear about Jesus being the Lamb of God a lot, especially at Easter. Keep reading to learn more about why Jesus is called that and the incredible implications it has for us even today.
What Does Lamb of God Mean?
To connect the dots for this question, we will want to take a look back into history and context of the Old Testament. Animal sacrifices are found all throughout books in the Old Testament. These blood offerings acted as a temporary covering for sin. In Leviticus 4:35, you get a clear picture of the process and the purpose. “..Through this process, the priest will purify the people from their sin, making them right with the Lord, and they will be forgiven.” (NLT, emphasis mine)
So the purpose of animal sacrifice and offerings was sanctification, righteousness (or right standing with God), and forgiveness. Hebrews 9:22 also sheds some light on the importance of the blood offering, saying, “In fact, according to the law of Moses, nearly everything was purified with blood. For without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness.” In summary, this was life under the law: the people knew if sin was present, a sacrifice was necessary for redemption.
These various sacrificial practices in Jewish culture often involved lambs; this animal had a very important place in the religion. Lambs are known for their white coats, and white is a symbol of purity and cleanliness.
Can you begin to see how why Jesus was called the Lamb of God? He, too, was stainless, perfect and free of sin. He was perfectly pure. And just like the lambs were sacrificed for sin, so would Christ be sacrificed.
Photo Credit: ©Thinkstock/sedmak
Why is Jesus Called the Lamb of God?
Romans 8:3 does a wonderful job of summarizing the answer to this question. It states, “The law of Moses was unable to save us because of the weakness of our sinful nature. So God did what the law could not do. He sent his own Son in a body like the bodies we sinners have. And in that body, God declared an end to sin’s control over us by giving his Son as a sacrifice for our sins.”
The sacrifices of the Old Testament were a temporary covering of sin. Sin still ruled in people’s hearts. Israel would commit the same sins over and over. A better way was necessary.
Jesus, the Lamb of God, was our once and for all sacrifice that fulfilled God’s need for a blood offering. He was the perfect sacrifice of love that brought the possibility of perpetual change to the world. The reference to Christ being the “Lamb” of God is because Jesus was a perfect offering of purity and cleanliness. He did nothing outside of the Father and was sinless despite being a man.
Where Is the Name Lamb of God Found in the Bible?
John 1:29 is one of the more popular verses where this reference to Jesus is found. This was documentation of John the Baptist seeing Jesus and exclaims “Look! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” It is also used again in John 1:36 when John exclaims it again, which causes two disciples of John to follow Jesus. These verses are a direct indication of Jesus’ character and purpose. Revelation also references “the Lamb” several times in an end-time context. Revelation 12:11 states, “And they overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb..” Revelation 21:27 also references “the Lamb’s book of life.”
Why Does It Matter that Jesus is the Lamb of God?
We would most likely be in an uproar in American culture if we saw a story on the news about an animal sacrifice. While it may be looked down upon today, the reasoning behind it is not uncommon for us. That’s because, no matter what culture we come from, we understand the concept of payment and restitution. If we want something, it must be paid for. Likewise, if we break something or do something wrong, we should pay for it in some way with something precious to us, be it money or time.
The fact that Jesus is the Lamb of God, that He gave Himself up for us in one ultimate sacrifice, means everything in the Christian lifestyle. Prior to the sacrifice of the Lamb of God, our right standing with God depended on our completion of a sacrifice ourselves. We could not approach God unless we had done this other thing first. Now through Jesus, we have direct access to the Father. The moment we recognize our sin, we can immediately enter into prayer and we can communicate with God.
We Can Draw Near to God because of the Blood of the Lamb
Hebrews 10:19-22 explains the weight of Jesus’ act saying, “And so, dear brothers and sisters, we can boldly enter Heaven’s Most Holy Place because of the blood of Jesus. By His death, Jesus opened a new and life-giving way through the curtain into the Most Holy Place. And since we have a great High Priest who rules over God’s house, let us go right into the presence of God with sincere hearts fully trusting Him. For our guilty consciences have been sprinkled with Christ’s blood to make us clean, and our bodies have been washed with pure water.” (NLT, emphasis mine)
James 4:8 also begins by saying “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.” It is only because of the Lamb of God that we can draw near to God. The result of drawing near is the beginning of our faith and a way out of the cycle of sin.
What Does All of This Mean for Me Today?
It means you have a reason to worship. This is the sole reason we worship other than just to be in awe of God, but Jesus’ sacrifice is what makes that awe even greater. Have you ever been in a worship concert or even seen one on television and the crowds are going absolutely nuts? You see people dancing, singing, shouting, crying, running, and about any other emotion you can think of. As odd as it may seem, it is really a beautiful thing. When you see this, it is because people understand the magnitude of what Jesus did on the cross. It is a very personal, intimate connection. You can go there now. Enter in by looking at these declarations of worship and scriptures.
Photo Credit: ©Unplash
Declarations of Worship with Scriptures:
· Jesus, you took my place. (1 Peter 3:18)
· I can go straight to the father now in thought and prayer. (John 16:23)
· You have made me a victor over sin because you have laid the path for me. (1 John 3:6-7)
· You love me and now I can love others through you. (1 John 4:19)
· You made me into something new. (2 Corinthians 5:17)
· There is nothing I can do that would stop you from loving me. (Romans 8:38-39)
· You comfort me because you are my source. (1 John 5:11-12)
· Your ways are greater than my ways and you will show me new things now. (Isaiah 55:9)
Find whatever triggers your gratitude the most. Dig deep within yourself and find what wants to cry out. Through Jesus you can now break any chains. Nothing is stopping you from getting closer to God besides yourself because He made a way. Now, just close your eyes and connect with God through thanksgiving in whatever way you are led. Hold nothing back for the sake of truly moving forward and remember that nothing was held back for you. You are loved.
Photo Credit: ©Unplash
A Prayer to Our Lamb of God
Jesus, Our Precious Lamb of God:
Thank you, Lord, for taking my place, for dying the death my sins deserve. Thank you that because of you, I can go straight to God in prayer - you have torn the curtain in two and made a way for us. Because of your death, I can go before God in confidence, fully trusting Him. Your blood has made me clean. Thank you, Jesus!
Because you are our Lamb of God, you made a way for us to be transformed from sin. We know that the law could only reveal our sin, not save us from it. You, however, conquered sin and it no longer reigns in my life. Thank you, Jesus!
Because of your sacrifice, I can rest secure. I can love others freely. I pray I can live a life that is worthy of the calling you have set before us.
Thank you, Jesus, that there is nothing I can do to keep you from loving me. You have made me into something new. Help me, Lord, live in light of that love. Help me die to myself and live for you.
Thank you for your amazing, lavishing, transforming love for me. Help me live in light of that love.
In Your Name I pray,
Kyle Blevins is a family man who resides just outside of Chattanooga, TN with his wife and two sons. He is in leadership for a top Fortune 500 company and is known for his empowering encouragement and bright personality. His passion is in restoring hope for people and connecting them to Jesus through writing.
Photo Credit: ©Unplash
Debbie McDaniel is a writer, pastor's wife, mom to three amazing kids (and a lot of pets). Join her each morning on Fresh Day Ahead's Facebook page, for daily encouragement in living strong, free, hope-filled lives.
This article is part of our Names of God Series featuring the most used names and titles of God found in the Bible. We have compiled these articles to help you study all that God says He is and to help you understand His nature and character. Our hope is that you would focus on these truths and find hope as you rest in the promise of God’s presence, no matter the circumstances.
7 Meanings of Yahweh - God's Name in the Bible
Son of Man - Jesus’s Favorite Name for Himself
Meaning of Elohim in the Bible
Abba Father - What it Means and Why it’s Important
What Does it Mean that Jesus is the Lamb of God?
God is the Alpha and Omega - Meaning & Understanding
The Meaning of Hosanna - Powerful Name of Jesus from the Bible
Jehovah Jireh: “The Lord Will Provide” Name of God
Jehovah Nissi: "The Lord is My Banner" Name of God
What is the Meaning of the Name El Shaddai?
What Does Yeshua Mean? Biblical Name for Jesus