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Breakfast at Tiffany's: Behold the Lamb

For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many. Mark 10:45


            Redemption is a golden thread woven throughout the annals of biblical history. An image that arises many times in connection with redemption is a lamb. The book of John kicks off with the baptizer proclaiming the One who had come after him, declaring, “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world!” (1:29). These weren’t just arbitrary words from a crazy wilderness man who ate bugs and wore animal skins. They were prophetic words inspired by the Holy Spirit in fulfillment of a typological pattern that began in the days of Moses and was now being revealed before their very eyes.

            Biblical types are not intended to be allegorical, nor were they simply symbols made up in the minds of the authors. Instead, they are historic events that God ordained to “establish an analogy or pattern, which then organically develops and expands” into something greater beyond itself.[1]

John’s “Lamb” imagery originated with the first Passover, when God would set his people free from slavery in Egypt: “Say therefore to the people of Israel, ‘I am the Lord, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will deliver you from slavery to them, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great acts of judgment.’ (Exodus 6:6). Exodus 12 reveals three distinctive parts of the Passover ritual: the sacrifice of a young lamb or goat; its blood being smeared on the Israelites’ doorposts; then the eating of its meat (Exodus 12:6-11, 21-22). These elements are similar to the rites performed to consecrate the priests in Exodus 29: the sacrifice of a ram, the sprinkling of its blood, and the eating of its meat. In both instances, the sacrificial blood makes atonement, purifies, and sanctifies the people, making them a royal priesthood for God (Exodus 19:6).[2]

The New Testament writers made this “Passover Lamb” connection with the death of Jesus as well, which would take place during the Passover feast. Jesus was the embodiment of the perfect sacrifice for the sins of the entire world. The apostle Peter wrote, “you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot” (1 Peter 1:18-19). The progression did not end there, for we now look forward to the future time written about in Revelation when our redemption will be made complete in heaven:


And when he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb…. And they sang a new song, saying, ‘Worthy are you to take the scroll and open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God’ (Rev 5:8-10).


Redemption is one of the endless attributes of our loving Heavenly Father. He put in the blood, sweat and tears; we must now only believe and receive.

[1] Lawrence, Michael. 2010. Biblical Theology in the Life of the Church: A Guide for Ministry. 9Marks. Wheaton, IL: Crossway.

[2] Alexander, Desmond T. From Eden to the New Jerusalem. Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, 2013.

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