A soft and fluffy, little white-faced animal standing unsteadily on gangly legs or resting close in a shepherds arms. These are the images that spring to mind when we hear the word lamb. A lamb is cute and sweet, often causing a big “aww” reaction. While such an image brings warmth to our heart, it falls short when we read John the Baptist’s call to “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29, 36). The call to “behold” dictates that this Lamb is something worth seeing. It is something different than you imagine. When we think of this Lamb, our images do not do Him justice. Perhaps the original audience fared better in rolling through their catalogue of memory and finding a different understanding of a lamb. For them a lamb could evoke memories of observing Passover, a festival centered on a lamb whose blood is spilled out and wiped across household doorways. This blood cries out to the angel of death, “Pass over this home. Those within rest under the blood of the lamb” (see Exodus 12:21-23). Others may have recalled a scene of provision on a mountainside, envisioning Abraham as he sacrificed a ram God provided to take Isaac’s place on the altar (Genesis 22). Original hearers may have recalled their trips to the Temple with hands full of offerings and hearts full of hope that their sacrifice would be enough to garner forgiveness at least until the next sacrifice was required. These images of a lamb touch on God’s provision, grace, and love. But, they only remind us of a lamb. John beseeches us to behold the lamb. This is not one among many lambs. This is the long awaited lamb who makes the need for all other lambs obsolete.
Behold – see and know – that this is the ultimate perfect Lamb. He is God’s Lamb who was in the beginning. He is God’s Lamb through whom all things were created. He is God’s Lamb in Triune fellowship with the Father and the Holy Spirit. He is God’s Lamb who has come in absolute perfection to do what no other lamb could do. He is God’s perfect Lamb, his one and only Son, who has come to take away the sin of the world. The blood of this Lamb will be shed not for Israel alone, but for all the world. Whoever believes in the Lamb of God will not perish but have everlasting life. In this season of Advent, may we come to the manger with expectation. As we peer in, search not for the little lamb resting in Mary’s arms, but seek to behold THE Lamb of God. As we behold Him, let us declare the praise that all of eternity will proclaim unto The Lamb be all blessing, and honor, and glory forever (Rev. 5:12-13).
Google’s online dictionary defines behold as “to see or observe a thing or person, especially a remarkable or impressive one.” When John calls out “behold,” it is a beckoning to see who Jesus is, to realize how remarkable he is, and to encounter him. When was the last time you asked God to help you really see Jesus for who he is? Perhaps it is time to pray and ask God to help you see beyond the images you have constructed of Jesus and behold him as God intends.
“Loving Father, bless us to truly behold your Lamb. Bless us to see Jesus as you would have us see him. Show us where we have had thoughts and built images that do not fit who Jesus truly is. Lead us to confess our false understandings of him. Lead us to behold him as you would have us to. Grant us a true understanding of Jesus. May our lives give Jesus all the praise he is so worthy of.”