Sunday – December 8
Sunday Sermon – Second Sunday in Advent
Kamal Saleem is an author who wrote a book called, “The Blood of Lambs” in 2009. In it he describes his life as a terrorist and how he hated Israel and America. He also couldn’t stand Christians–that is, until God brought some Christian men into his life after he had a serious car accident. He saw how the Christian God answered prayer and so he cried out in desperation: “Allah, I want to hear that you love me. If you are real, speak to me.” He writes: “I poured all my hope and faith into my prayer. But there was only silence. Stillness…A deep sadness engulfed me. My whole life had been a vain masquerade…Empty and void.” In despair he thought about using one of his many weapons to kill himself but then decided to call on the true God with these words: “If you are real, I want to know you!”
Kamal had a vision and heard these words, “I am the Alpha and the Omega. I have known you since before the foundation of the world.” Kamal answered, “My Lord, I will live and die for you!” And then he heard something that forever changed him: “Do not die for me. I died for you that you may live.” He writes: “At that moment I knew I met the Christian God. I knew I had met my Creator. There was no turning back.”
“Do not die for me. I died for you that you may live.” This Advent season we are looking at a few of the many names of Jesus found throughout the Old and New Testaments. Names are important and each name given for Jesus offers something vital God wants to communicate to us about Him. Today’s name comes from John 1:29. It says, “29 The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” Jesus is the Lamb of God.
I want to take us back a ways to help us understand the importance of this name. In Genesis 22 we have the story of Abraham and Isaac. You remember Isaac? The child of promise? Of course you remember this story as well. God calls upon Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac to Him. God was testing Abraham and Abraham trusted in God, despite this unusual demand. It probably wasn’t too uncommon with other religions at the time but we really don’t see this kind of desire from the real and only true God. We don’t really know all that crossed through Abraham’s mind during this event. In fact, the retelling of the event has a wonderfully direct and simplistic form to it. God told Abraham to go to such and such a mountain and, there, sacrifice his son Isaac to Him. Abraham doesn’t doddle. He gets up first thing in the morning and they all head to the mountain. It takes three days to get there. Did you catch that? 3 days.
On the third day they arrive at the mountain and Isaac asks a very poignant question. Here’s what it says in Genesis 22:6-8: “6 So Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering and laid it on Isaac his son; and he took the fire in his hand, and a knife, and the two of them went together. 7 But Isaac spoke to Abraham his father and said, “My father!” And he said, “Here I am, my son.” Then he said, “Look, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?” 8 And Abraham said, “My son, God will provide for Himself the lamb for a burnt offering.” So the two of them went together.”
“Where is the lamb?” He says. “My son, God will provide the lamb,” says Abraham. Isaac was the child of promise because he was promised by God to Abraham and Sarah. He promised in order to fulfill the promise God had made to make Abraham’s offspring into a nation. Isaac, then, represents not just the continuation of the line of Abraham but also the coming of the Messiah, who was to come through his line. So God stays the knife of Abraham. Isaac, a human, and therefore blemished sacrifice, was set free and another sacrifice was provided in his stead.
I know the questions on your mind. Why would God do this? Why put Abraham through this if he never had the intention of carrying it through? In reality, God knows everything. He’s omniscient. He knows what Abraham’s going to do before he does it. He knows Abraham will follow his command all the way up that mountain and through the plunging of the knife that would end the life of his son. So why did this story happen? Well, first, because Abraham needed it. This was, first, a spiritual experience for him that would prepare him for everything to come. It was a step of obedience and you shouldn’t be surprised when God places opportunities for obedience in your path, either.
Secondly, Abraham’s act of obedience is to help everyone understand there was a real sacrifice needed for our sin but sacrificing Isaac would never have fulfilled that need. Embedded within this story is a prophecy of the coming Messiah and the reality of what He was here to do. Abraham’s son could never do it; only the Son of God could be the spotless Lamb offered as the sacrifice for the sins of the world. Jesus is the Lamb of God.
1 Peter 1:17-21 says, “17 And if you call on the Father, who without partiality judges according to each one’s work, conduct yourselves throughout the time of your stay here in fear; 18 knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot. 20 He indeed was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you 21 who through Him believe in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.”
We need Jesus. We need the Lamb of God. He is the sacrifice for our sins. His blood is what washes our sins away. Romans 5:6-11 says, “6 For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. 8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. 10 For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. 11 And not only that, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation.” “Father, where is the lamb for the sacrifice?” Isaac could never do that but Jesus could. “Son, God will provide the lamb.” Jesus is the Lamb of God.
So when John sees Jesus coming he points at him and calls him the “Lamb of God.” It was the lamb’s blood, smeared on the door posts, that kept the Angel of Death from stopping at their homes as the Egyptian households lost their firstborn sons. It was a lamb that was offered as a daily sacrifice in the temple each morning and evening. It was a lamb, silently led to the slaughter, that was used as a prophecy of the Messiah to come in Isaiah 53:7. It was the sacrificial Lamb of God that now turns away the wrath of God and saves sinners, like you and me, from the eternal death we deserve.
In his book “Eternity in their Hearts” Don Richardson, a Missionary, writes of cultural compasses in other cultures and their languages that point to one and only one person, Jesus, preparing the way for the Gospel to be heard.
He tells the story of Robert Morrison who landed in China in 1807 and began to translate the Scriptures into the Chinese language with the help of a Chinese man with a limited English vocabulary. Chinese uses more than 200 pictures to combine in different ways to make Chinese words. When they got to the word righteous, he asked how to translate it and when his Chinese helper wrote the word in Chinese, Robert Morrison saw him use two symbols. On top was a picture of a lamb and on the bottom was the symbol for I, first person singular. So when the Chinese were writing the word righteous, they were writing the symbols which mean the lamb over me. Jesus, the Lamb of God, spoke through the Chinese language and that became the cornerstone for Robert Morrison introducing them to Jesus, the lamb under whom you and I are found to be righteous.
This led him to study the language even more intently to discover other signs within their language and he found more than 120 other spiritually significant messages of the Gospel within the Chinese language. So Robert Morrison discovered these symbols within their own Chinese language and used them to proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ.
He’s your Lamb. He’s my Lamb. He’s our righteousness. Jesus is the Lamb of God. He died for you that you may live.