Joseph was engaged to a young Jewish maiden named Mary. They were betrothed, which means they were legally married but not yet living together. During that time, word came to Joseph that Mary was pregnant. Joseph knew he wasn’t the father, but he knew that someone was! He believed that Mary had been unfaithful to him, and he decided to get a divorce (Matt. 18, 19). Yet, because he loved Mary, he wanted to divorce her quietly because the penalty for committing Mary’s crime was death by stoning.
However, before he could put his plan into action, God sent an angel to tell Joseph that things were not what he thought they were. He told this Jewish husband that Mary was carrying a child that was miraculously fathered by the Holy Spirit of God. Joseph learned that this child would be a special child with a special mission.
Joseph’s reaction was to take Mary into his home and wait with her until the day the baby is born. Neither of them realized that the baby growing in Mary’s body was the Lamb of God who would one day die for the sins of all men. Verse 25 tells us that Mary eventually delivered her child. When she did, the Lamb of God was born. Subsequently, the Bible says that John the Baptist saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29). Today, I would like to share with you three characteristics of the Lamb of God.
I. THE LAMB OF GOD WAS A SPECIAL LAMB (VERSE 20)
A. His conception was special. Jesus Christ had no human father! His Father was one of the three members of the Godhead—God Himself! What makes the conception of Jesus so wonderful is the fact that He was born to a virgin. We all know the traditional method by which babies are conceived and brought into this world; however, the Jesus’ conception was different! His mother was a virgin (Isa. 7:14; Matt. 1:23; Luke 1:34, 35).
B. His conduct was special. From the day Jesus came into this world until the day He returned to heaven, He was a person of very special characteristics.
- Miracles. Jesus could feed multitudes, open blind eyes, heal the sick, and even raise the dead. Everything He did marked Him as special. However, these activities were merely proof that He was indeed who He claimed to be (Luke 4:18; Isa. 61:1).
- Messages. When Jesus opened His mouth, people marveled at the things He said. When He was only 12, He astonished the doctors of the Law (Luke 2:47). When He began His ministry, He continued to amaze the crowds that heard Him speak (John 7:46; Luke 4:22).
C. His claim was special. Jesus was never shy about telling people who He was. In fact, His claims were what caused the Jews to seek His death. What claim did Jesus make that was so offensive to people? The answer to that question is two-fold.
- Jesus claimed to be the Son of God (John 10:36). Jesus claimed that He was the Son of God in heaven. People supposed Him to be the son of Joseph (Mark 6:3); however, Jesus claimed a special relationship with the Father in heaven.
- Jesus claimed to be God (John 14:9; 8:58; 10:30). This claim was even more offensive to the Jews than the other one! By making this claim, Jesus was telling them that He was eternal, that He was their God, and that they needed to bow before Him and acknowledge Him as one of the three members of the Godhead.
II. THE LAMB OF GOD WAS A SACRIFICIAL LAMB (VERSE 21)
Jesus came to earth to be the sacrificial Lamb (John 18:37). He came to die for the sins of humanity. Luke tells us that Jesus’ mission in this world was “to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10).
A. He was a spotless Lamb. Before any lamb could be offered as a sacrifice, it had to be examined thoroughly and be declared spotless (Num. 28:9). An animal that was impure or deformed could not be offered. For Jesus to be the sacrifice for our sins demanded that He be a human without spot or blemish. Jesus filled this bill perfectly. Not only was He the Son of God, He was also the sinless Son of God (2 Cor. 5:21; 1 Peter 2:22).
B. He was a submissive Lamb. Jesus wasn’t forced into His role as a sacrifice. He willingly submitted to all that He endured. He did it all out of a heart of love for you and me. He submitted to the Father’s will and paid the price for our sins. He was a submissive Lamb (Isa. 53:7).
C. He was a sacrificed lamb. All the rest meant nothing unless the sacrifice was fulfilled. It wasn’t enough for Jesus to be sinless and surrendered; He had to suffer and die before sin could ever be destroyed (Heb. 9:22).
III. THE LAMB OF GOD IS A SAVING LAMB (VERSE 21)
If the story ended here, with Jesus dead on a cross, this would be a sad story to tell. There would be no reason to celebrate Christmas and no need to come to church. There would be no salvation and no hope for our souls. But—thank God—the story doesn’t end there! Three days after Jesus died on the Cross, He came forth— alive!—from the tomb (Matt. 28:1-6). He is still alive today (Heb. 7:25). Since this is true, I want to show you what the Lamb of God can do today.
A. He has the power to save sinners. Those who are lost in sin have hope today! They can turn to the Lord Jesus, and He will save their souls! There are three basic things that He will do in the heart and life of every sinner who comes to Him by faith.
- He can cleanse sin. His blood has the power to wash away sins forever (Ps. 103:12; 1 John 1:7).
- He can convert souls. The human soul is a wicked thing (Jer. 17:9). It is lost and undone and cannot have fellowship with God. However, when a sinner trusts Jesus for salvation, Jesus takes that life that was so far away from God and brings it near to Him (Eph. 2:12, 13).
- He can change sinners. When Jesus saves someone, He also changes that person (2 Cor. 5:17).
When you think about Christmas this year, try to keep things in perspective. Today is the appropriate time to remember the special day when God sent His Son into the world to be the sacrifice for our sins. I invite you to come to Jesus right now. He can fix what is broken in your life. How many of you would like to accept the Lord Jesus and His eternal salvation? Would you like to reconsecrate your life to honor and serve Him?
Jesus is the Lamb of God! Let’s honor Him by saying with John the Baptist: “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!”
General Conference Ministerial Association