BEHOLD THE LAMB OF GOD
THE SINNER DIRECTED TO THE SAVIOUR
An Extract from John Flavel
“Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.”
These are the words of John the Baptist; and they were spoken in consequence of the question which was asked of him by the Jews, “Who art thou?” The humble prophet confessed, “I am not the Christ;” and on the next day, seeing Jesus coming to him, he exclaimed, “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.”
Since the Redeemer left the world, He is not to be seen with an eye of flesh; but believing on Him is seeing Him by the eye of faith; and everyone who thus seeth the Son, and believeth on Him, shall have everlasting life (John 6:40).
Jesus Christ Himself has pronounced a blessing on those who “have not seen and yet have believed” (John 20:29); and this blessedness is well described by the Apostle Peter, when he says, “Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see Him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory” (1 Peter 1:8). It is a disparagement to so glorious an Object as Christ to behold Him and not wonder – to see, and not love Him. Certainly, the admiration, love, delight, and joy of our hearts are all at the command of faith. Let us, therefore, consider what excellencies are in Christ for the eye of the believer to behold and admire.
- “God was in Christ” (2 Cor. 5:19). He was “God manifest in the flesh” (1 Tim 3:16). A God incarnate is the world’s wonder. Here is Infinite and finite joined in one; the Creator and creature united in one Person. It is an argument of weakness to admire little things, and of stupidity not to admire great things. Many miracles were wrought by Christ in the flesh, but the greatest of all miracles was, that He “was made flesh and dwelt among us (men)” (John 1:14).
- “Christ is the wisdom of God” (1 Cor. 1:24); yea, “in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Col. 2:3). Never did the divine wisdom display its glorious beams in the eyes of men and angels, in any work since the beginning of time, as it hath done in the appointment of Christ to be the Lamb of God, a sacrifice for sin. “Behold the Lamb of God!” and in Him behold the unsearchable wisdom of God, in recovering sinners who believe in Him from all the danger of sin; and yet making sin more dreadful to them, by the way of their recovery from it, than ever it could be made by any other consideration. Behold the depth of infinite wisdom in suiting the sinner’s remedy to the cause of his disease. The disease was the pride of man; the remedy was the humiliation of the Son of God. Man affected to be as God; that ruined him. God was manifested in the flesh, and found in fashion as a man; that saved him. Oh, profound wisdom, which, from the loss and ruin of our primitive glory (which was the undoing of us, soul and body), takes the occasion of raising us up to a far better state, and settles us in it, with a much better security than the former.
- The love of God is in Christ. “Behold the Lamb of God!” and in Him behold the love of God, in the highest and most triumphant discovery that ever was or can be made of it in this world. “Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us, and sent His Son to be the Propitiation for our sins” (1 John 4:10). Oh, here is the love of God to sinners! God manifests love to us in our daily provisions, protection, deliverances, and comforts; that we have health when others groan under pains – herein is love: that we have bread to eat when others are ready to perish – herein is love! Oh, but to have Christ to be a Propitiation for us, when the angels that fell were left in their fallen state, herein is love indeed! All the love that appears in the variety of providences for us in this world, in our health and estate, in our relations and comforts, is nothing compared with this love: herein is love indeed!
- The tender mercies of God over poor sinners are in Christ. As Christ is the mercy promised (Luke 1:72), the capital mercy, so He is the channel through which all the streams of God’s mercy flow freely to the sons of men (Jude 21). The mercy of God to eternal life, or His saving mercies, are only dispensed to us through Jesus Christ. “Behold the Lamb of God!” – a Lamb prepared by the astonishing mercy of God; a sacrifice for us, when no sacrifice was appointed for fallen angels! This is the Lamb of God, to which, under the Jewish dispensation, all legal sacrifices had respect, and from which they derived all their virtue and value. The paschal lamb and the lamb for daily sacrifice were but the types and shadows of this Lamb of God. Behold the Person appointed by God for a sacrifice to take away sin. Jesus Christ, the Son of God, was crucified for us. He shed His precious blood and offered up His life, a sacrifice to God of a sweet-smelling savour, “that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). As the sprinkling of the blood of the paschal lamb upon the door-posts of the Israelites was that which preserved them from the destroying angel, so the blood of Christ, the Lamb of God, typified by that blood, saves all who believe on Him from the wrath to come. Thus Christ, the Son of God, prevents the destroying angel executing the fierceness of His Father’s anger, and preserves them as His people, that they may enter into the land of Canaan, the everlasting rest. But who can open the unsearchable riches of Christ, or recount His wonderful excellencies? Angels, and the spirits of just men made perfect, behold and admire Him for evermore. Heaven would be no heaven for them if they could not behold Christ there, sitting as a King in His perfect beauty, on His holy hill of Zion.
But let us rather proceed to improve this subject than endeavour further to unfold it; for new wonders will appear in Christ, if we behold Him through the countless ages of eternity.
- Oh, sinner, if you are sensible of a stony, hard heart, which cannot relent and mourn for all the wrong done to Jesus Christ by sin – that your affections are benumbed and stupefied, so that no considerations you can urge upon your own hearts are able to cause a relenting pang – to you I would direct these encouraging words, as the most effectual means to melt your heart. Look hither. “Behold the Lamb of God!” Consider what is here represented, and thy heart is hard indeed if it relent not upon such a view of Christ. It is said (Zech. 12:10), “They shall look upon Me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for Him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for Him, as one that is in bitterness for his first-born.” Behold the Son of God, brought “as a Lamb to the slaughter” for thee, a vile, polluted sinner! Bring thy thoughts close to this subject – think who it is that was made a Lamb for sacrifice; for whom He endured all His unspeakable sufferings; how meekly and willingly He endured all the wrath of God and men, standing in His perfect innocency, to be slain for thee. Behold, He who had no sin was made sin for thee, that thou, who hadst no righteousness, mightest be made the righteousness of God in Him (2 Cor. 5:21). Oh, whoever loved thee at such a rate as Christ hath done? Who would endure the misery that Christ endured for thy sake? Would thy father, or the wife of thy bosom, or thy friend that is as thy own soul, be content to feel that for thee, though but for one hour, which Christ felt, when “His sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground?” (Luke 22:44).
Nay, thou wouldst thyself never taste such a cup for the saving of thy own child as Christ drank of to the very last dregs when He cried, “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?” Behold how He loved thee! Surely, if the rocks rent asunder at His sufferings, thy heart is harder than rock if it thaw not at such a sight as this. Fix thine eyes awhile here, and thine eye will affect thine heart.
- Oh, sinner [for whom Christ died], are you making light of sin, and easily overcome by every temptation to the commission of it? Oh, come hither: “Behold the Lamb of God,” and you cannot possibly have slight thoughts of sin after such a sight of Christ. See here the price of sin! Behold what cost the Son of God to atone for it! Did He come into the world as a Lamb, bound with the bands of an irreversible decree, to die for sin? Did he come from the bosom of His Father to be thy Ransomer, and that at the price of His own life? Did the hand of divine justice shed the heart-blood of this immaculate Lamb, to satisfy for the wrong thy sins have done to God, and yet canst thou look upon sin as a light matter? God forbid! Thy sin actually cost the blood of Christ, one drop whereof is more valuable than all human blood; and yet wilt thou not deny thy lusts, nor resist temptation for His sake: “Behold the Lamb of God” slain for thy sin, and thou canst never have slight thoughts of sin any more.
- Are you drooping and discouraged in your spirit because of your manifold and aggravated iniquities, and sinking into despair from being overwhelmed with the burden and weight of your sins? These words are a sovereign cordial to revive your heart and hopes – “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world!” If the blood of the Lamb can take away the sin of the world, it can take away thy sin, though there be a world of sin in thee; for do but consider Christ, as appointed from eternity to be our Propitiation: “Him hath God the Father sealed;” as sacrificed in our room in the fullness of time – “Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us” (1 Cor. 5:7); as accepted by the Father with the greatest content and pleasure, even “as a sweet-smelling savour” (Eph. 5:2); as publicly justified and discharged by God, the Creditor, at His resurrection (1 Tim. 3:16, and John 16:10); and, lastly, consider Him as now in heaven, where He “appears in the presence of God for us,” as “a Lamb that had been slain” (Rev; 5:6), bearing the very marks of His death, and presenting them before God as the most effectual and moving plea, to procure pardon and mercy for His people. Let these things, I say, be duly pondered, and nothing will be found more effectual to relieve your mind, under the desponding sense of your sins.
- Are you faint-hearted, and ready to shrink from any sufferings for Christ, as unable to bear and endure anything for His sake? “Behold the Lamb of God!” Did Christ suffer such grievous things for you, and cannot you suffer small matters for Him? Alas! What is the wrath of man to the wrath of the great and terrible God? Besides, Christ was an innocent Lamb, and deserved not to suffer the least degree of penal evil upon His own account; but you have deserved Hell, and yet shrink under the sufferings of a moment. Did He suffer so much for you, and can you suffer nothing for Him? Surely He, in suffering for you, has left you an example “that ye should follow His steps” (1 Pet. 2:21). Are our sufferings to be compared, in kind or degree, to the sufferings of Christ? Or what is our blood to the blood of Christ? Remember, “if we have been planted together in the likeness of His death, we shall be also in the likeness of His resurrection” (Rom. 6:5). Like Christ, you must endure the cross, and despise the shame, for the joy that is set before you.
- Are you impatient under your personal trials and troubles, apt to grieve under common afflictions, or to swell with revenge under injuries from the hands of men? “Behold the Lamb of God!” “As a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so He openeth not His mouth” (Is. 53:7). And can you bear nothing without complaining? How meek was Christ the Lamb when He suffered most vile things from the hands of sinners! And art thou a lion for fierceness? He suffered patiently, and deserved it not; you suffer impatiently, and have deserved what you suffer. Oh, that you would learn to be more like Christ in all your trials and afflictions!
- Lastly. Are you “staggering at the promises through unbelief”? Can you not rely upon the Word of promise, because your own unbelieving heart fills you with unworthy suspicions of the power, faithfulness, or willingness of God to perform it for you? “Behold the Lamb of God!” “For all the promises of God in Him are yea, and in Him Amen, unto the glory of God by us (2 Cor. 1:20). Or, is there anything put into any promise of greater value than the blood of the Lamb that was shed to purchase it? Or, is not the giving of Christ to die for us the accomplishment of the greatest promise that ever God made to us? And after the fulfilment thereof, what ground remains for you to doubt the fulfilling of lesser promises, for, “if God spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things? (Rom. 8:32)
“Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world!”
From The Sower 1882