Most of us picture lambs as downy white animals frolicking in rolling
green meadows or carried tenderly in the arms of their shepherd. Lambs
represent gentleness, purity, and innocence. Though it is one of the
most tender images of Christ in the New Testament, the phrase “Lamb of
God” would have conjured far more disturbing pictures to those who
heard John the Baptist hail Jesus with these words. Hadn’t many of
them, at one time or another, carried one of their own lambs to the
altar to be slaughtered as a sacrifice for their sins? Hadn’t the
bloody sacrifice of an innocent animal provided a vivid image of the
consequences of transgressing the Mosaic law?
When we pray to Jesus as the Lamb of God, we are praying to
the One who voluntarily laid down his life to take in his own body the
punishment for our sins and for the sins of the entire world.
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