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The Lamb of God: John's View
John the Baptist was preaching and teaching on the banks of the River Jordan, and there he baptized Jesus. The next day he was standing with some of his disciples and Jesus was there. John said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!" (John 1:29) There were other people there too. The Pharisees came out to see John, and they heard his proclamation. They were very well versed in the Law and they knew the scriptures concerning the Passover well. John did not know all the details, but he knew this one thing: Jesus was the one he came to proclaim as the Lamb of God.
The Pharisees and the teachers of the Law knew the lamb of the Passover to be the one who took away the sin of a year, but it had to be repeated every year. Was he saying Jesus was more than that? Moses had given them the Passover so that they could come before God sinless for one day, but the day after the sacrifice they began to rebuild the store of sins and trespasses. It only lasted for a day. A man as the Lamb of God--how could that be?
The Lamb of God: The Disciples' View
The Twelve came to believe in Jesus as the Son of God. After Peter's confession in John 6:68 and in Matthew 16:16 Jesus began to emphasize that he would go to Jerusalem and die. It disturbed them when he talked about his own death. In Matthew 16:22 Peter chastised him and counseled him not to say things like that. But Jesus returned the rebuke. He knew his destiny: He would go to Jerusalem. That meant pain, rejection, suffering, death. The Disciples could not look beyond the death or even understand resurrection. He spoke about his death to them more after this,but their understanding was still faulty. They could accept he was the Son of God, but being the Lamb took longer. The Son could be kind or gracious or majestic. The Lamb meant pain and suffering and crucifixion.
In John 6 and Matthew 16 Jesus went to great lengths to explain the meaning of feeding on his flesh. He had blessed bread and they sought more. Now he tells the crowds he was the bread of life. That was sort of hard to take, but when he said "eat my flesh and drink my blood," they couldn't take it. Many of them followed him no more. (John 6:66 ) These words bring the Lamb of God into sharp focus.
Revelations 8:13 says that Jesus was "the Lamb slain from the foundations of the earth." In the mind of God, if there was going to be a race of men, there must be a sacrifice for sin. This is a weighty concept: God knew before man was ever created that sin would be a reality. In the mind of God the sacrifice for sin was a fact before the creation ever began. He loved the world and created humans with the remedy for their sin already in place.