This past week churches throughout the world remembered and celebrated what is at the heart of the Christian faith: the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Songs, sermons, and liturgies reflected the fact that Jesus laid down his life as the Lamb of God, the perfect atoning sacrifice for the sins of all those who would trust in him, and three days later was raised from the dead.
It’s worth noting that in the post-resurrection scenes of Revelation, Jesus is still referred to as the Lamb. In fact, of the 34 times Jesus is called the Lamb in the New Testament, 29 are in the book of Revelation. It’s a striking and unusual choice. When an elder tells the apostle John that “the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered” (Rev. 5:5), John turns and sees a Lamb. In commenting on this passage, J.P. Love says:
None but an inspired composer of heavenly visions would ever have thought of it. When earth-bound men want symbols of power they conjure up mighty beasts and birds of prey. Russia elevates the bear, Britain the lion, France the tiger, the United States, the spread eagle–all of them ravenous. It is only the Kingdom of Heaven that would dare to use as its symbol of might, not the Lion for which John was looking but the helpless Lamb, and at that, a slain Lamb.”
Why continue to refer to Jesus as the Lamb, even after he has risen from the dead? Because it was as the sacrificial Lamb that Jesus is worthy of praise, satisfied God’s wrath against us, triumphed over Satan by removing his ability to accuse us, and secured our reconciliation with God (Rev. 5:9; Rom. 3:21-26; Col. 2:13-15; Rom. 5:10). Because Jesus became our substitute and received our punishment at the cross he fulfilled every sacrifice that had previously been offered in the Old Testament. His was the last and final sacrifice, the once and for all offering that will never have to be repeated. As the writer to the Hebrews puts it:
“For Christ has entered, not into holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true things, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf. Nor was it to offer himself repeatedly, as the high priest enters the holy places every year with blood not his own, for then he would have had to suffer repeatedly since the foundation of the world. But as it is, he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment, so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.” (Hebrews 9:24–28, ESV)
Last year Jason Hansen, David LaChance, Jr., and I tried to express some of these thoughts in a song we called “Lamb of God.” We wanted to capture a broader picture of Christ’s person and work as the Lamb who was slain.
The song first appeared on our album Sooner Count the Stars: Worshiping the Triune God, but we recently recorded a more reflective version in the video below. I posted the lyrics here, but you can download guitar charts, lead sheets, and piano scores at the Sovereign Grace Music website.
O Lamb of God, all worlds obeyed Your will
From dark and void their being came
O Lamb of God, Your glories echo still
Creation sings its Maker’s praise
Eternal God, One with the Father
Before all time You dwelt in love
Eternal God, unlike all others
Yet You descended unto us
O Lamb of God, in filthy manger lay
In humble dress You entered earth
O Lamb of God, Creator bows to save
The needy ones, helpless from birth
Incarnate Word, gift of the Father
To take our place and bear our sin
Incarnate Word led to the slaughter
You conquered death and rose again
O Lamb of God, now reigning on the throne
The Judge of all, faithful and true
O Lamb of God, You’ll make Your power known
When all Your foes receive their due
Victorious King, when history’s fading
You’ll call Your Bride to take her place
Victorious King, Creation’s waiting
For Your redeemed to see Your face
© 2015 Sovereign Grace Praise (BMI). Sovereign Grace Music, a division of Sovereign Grace Churches.
(Image courtesy of shutterstock.com)