The Story of Sin: Part XIII God’s Slaughtered Lamb Takes Away Man’s Imperfection…

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© 2014
Fellowship at Cross Creek
The Story of Sin…
Part XIII: God’s Slaughtered Lamb Takes Away Man’s Imperfection…
By Joseph M. Cross

Last time… It was clear from the synoptic gospels–Matthew, Mark, Luke–that Isaiah 40’s Crying Voice or Malachi 4’s figurative Elijah was indeed the priest Zacharias’ son, John the Baptist. His role or purpose…to cut a path or road through the world’s harshest, hottest, most desolate, brutal desert wilderness…the wilderness of man’s imperfection–misunderstanding, ignorance, foolishness, thoughtlessness, immaturity, hurt, crime, poverty, injustice, immorality, fear, worry and rebellion…just to name a few… or everything that is less than perfect, which is… EVERYTHINGSIN and the effects of man’s deadly fall from the Creator’s supernatural protective grace, love, mercy, kindness, peace and presence …IMPERFECTION!

And how is Isaiah’s Crying Voice doing this? 1) By preparing the people to NOT miss out on the LORD’s appearing and his deliverance from their imperfection or sin, as well as, 2) identifying the LORD’s actual appearing. In other words, the Voice, much as a mediator attempts to reconcile two unreconciled parties, is cutting a path both ways through the wilderness of  man’s sins or imperfection…one way, which leads from man to God via man’s repentance from, confession of and symbolic cleansing of sin, and the other, leading from God to man, via John’s divinely-inspired identifying of Yah-Saves as God’s Son (as one who is the Son of God, or a the very least, represents the Father).

So now…what does the son of Zebedee, Yah-Saves’ beloved disciple and gospel writer, John, now add to the Voice’s song? Everything–the gospel in a nutshell…the good news in one sentence…one dramatic metaphor that says it all. Will John’s audience fully get it? Probably not, but with this one profound declaration by the Voice, the reader gains a huge, curious insight as to just how Yah-Saves will save or deliver the people from their sins.

Finally, the Fourth Gospel declares…

John 1:19 This is the testimony of John (the Baptist),

when the Jews sent to him priests and Levites (priestly helpers from one of the original tribes of Israel—Levi) from Jerusalem to ask him, “Who are you?”

20 And he (John) confessed and did not deny, but CONFESSED: “I am NOT the Christ (the Messiah [Hebrew]; the Anointed One or Christ [Greek] Dan. 9).”

21 They asked him, “What then? Are you Elijah?” (Mal. 4:5-6).

And he *said, “I am NOT.”

“Are you the Prophet?” (Deut. 18).

And he answered, “NO.”

(*As explained previously, though answering truthfully, John was NOT the 9TH century prophet Elijah, but he was a type of Elijah…as 1) validated by the angel Gabriel [Luke 1:5ff, particularly v. 17… It is he who {Zacharias’ son—John} will go as a forerunner before Him {the Lord} in the spirit and power of Elijah {citing Mal. 4:5-6} to turn the hearts of the fathers back to the children, and the disobedient to the attitude of the righteous, so as to make ready a people prepared for the Lord {citing Mal. 3:1; Is. 40:3]]…

…as well as 2) by the other gospel writers [Mark 1:1ff; Matt. 3:1ff; Luke 3:1ff] and

3) by Jesus himself (Matt. 11:2ff; 17:9ff).

But while John was not the literal Elijah, in the very next verses, John does admit to being Isaiah 40’s Voice Crying in the wilderness, “Make straight the way of the LORD.”)

22 Then they said to him, “Who are you, so that we may give an answer to those who sent us? What do you say about yourself?

23 He said, “I am a voice of one crying in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way of the Lord,’ as Isaiah the prophet said” (citing Is. 40:3).

24 Now they had been sent from the Pharisees (a religious party affiliated with the OT scribes and rabbis or teachers). 25 They asked him, and said to him, “Why then are you baptizing, if you are not the Christ, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet?

(In other words, they are suggesting... if you are NOT Daniel 9’s Messiah or Anointed One who has come to rescue us from Roman dominion or Malachi 4’s Elijah who will turns the hearts of fathers back to their children in preparation of the LORD’s coming, nor Moses’ Prophet (Deut 18), then by what authority, right or justification do you baptize?...almost as if to imply that only these three individuals could ritually or Spiritually purify or prepare the people for the LORD’s coming? I wonder if this was the case–that only these three offices could baptize? I find it very doubtful that only these three special offices could have baptized anyone. Rather I imagine many had baptized many before. So what is so different about John’s baptism that has the religious leaders so seemingly disturbed and questioning his right or authority to baptize, immerse or symbolically cleanse?

Also note: a millennium and half earlier, Moses, in restating the Law or God’s Covenant with Israel, had very sternly warned Israel to avoid any tolerance of false prophecy, including sorcery or witchcraft. Instead what he may have been promising was (as some have interpreted) a succession of divinely-inspired and attested-to prophets, which is exactly what we have with the OT prophets. Another option is that Moses is referring to the Messiah’s prophetic office or function:

Deut. 18:15The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your countrymen, you shall listen to him. 16 This is according to all that you asked of the Lord your God in Horeb on the day of the assembly, saying, ‘Let me not hear again the voice of the Lord my God, let me not see this great fire anymore, or I will die.’ 17 The Lord said to me, ‘They have spoken well. 18 I will raise up a prophet from among their countrymen like you, and I will put My words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him. 19 It shall come about that whoever will not listen to My words which he shall speak in My name, I Myself will require it of him. 20 But the prophet who speaks a word presumptuously in My name which I have not commanded him to speak, or which he speaks in the name of other gods, that prophet shall die.’ 21 You may say in your heart, ‘How will we know the word which the Lord has not spoken?’ 22 When a prophet speaks in the name of the Lord, if the thing does not come about or come true, that is the thing which the Lord has not spoken. The prophet has spoken it presumptuously; you shall not be afraid of him.

Continuing in John…)

John 1:26 John answered them saying, “I baptize in water, but among you stands One whom you do not know. 27 It is He who comes after me, the thong of whose sandal I am not worthy to untie.”

28 These things took place in Bethany beyond the Jordan, where John was baptizing.

(Now this is where things become theologically interesting…)

29 The next day he (John) *saw Jesus coming to him and *said, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! 30 This is He on behalf of whom I said, ‘After me comes a Man who has a higher rank than I, for He existed before me.’ 31 I did not recognize Him, but so that He might be manifested to Israel, I came baptizing in water.” 32 John testified saying, “I have seen the Spirit descending as a dove out of heaven, and He remained upon Him. 33 I did not recognize Him, but He who sent me to baptize in water said to me, ‘He upon whom you see the Spirit descending and remaining upon Him, this is the One who baptizes in the Holy Spirit.’ 34 I myself have seen, and have testified that this is the Son of God.

Giotto's The Baptism of Christ

Giotto’s The Baptism of Christ

35 Again the next day John was standing with two of his disciples, 36 and he looked at Jesus as He walked, and *said, “Behold, the Lamb of God!” 37 The two disciples heard him speak, and they followed Jesus. 38 And Jesus turned and saw them following, and *said to them, “What do you seek?” They said to Him, “Rabbi (which translated means Teacher), where are You staying?” 39 He *said to them, “Come, and you will see.” So they came and saw where He was staying; and they stayed with Him that day, for it was about the tenth hour. 40 One of the two who heard John speak and followed Him, was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. 41 He *found first his own brother Simon and *said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which translated means Christ). 42 He brought him to Jesus (Yah-Saves). Jesus looked at him and said, “You are Simon the son of John; you shall be called Cephas” (which is translated Peter).

So twice, on two different days, John refers to Yah-Saves (Jesus) as the Lamb of God, while the first time adding a divinely-inspired explanation of what it means to be God’s eternal lamb–who takes away the sins of the world.

Now we are back to our original theme or questions: 1) What did the angel mean or what did Joseph understand, when the angel of the Lord commanded Joseph to name the divinely-conceived child about to be born to Mary—Yah-Saves…because he will save or deliver the people from their sins (Matt. 1:21), and 2) what John’s father, the inspired Zacharias, mean when he prophesied concerning the birth of his son that You child will be called the prophet of the Most High for you will go on before the LORD (Yah) to prepare his ways…to give his people understanding of salvation (or deliverance) through (or by) the forgiveness (or release) of sins (Luke 1:76-77)?

In essence, when John the Baptist–

our figurative Elijah
Malachi’s Messenger and
Isaiah’s Crying Voice– 
whose job, function and divine task it is to prepare or clear the way before the LORD…

(or, as we have developed earlier within this series, to clear a two-way path or road through wilderness of sin by 1) on the one hand, preparing the people Spiritually, via…

a) their repentance or change from having lived a life away from God and his purposes back towards living a life embracing God and his purposes;
b) the confession [or acknowledgment] of their sins [Spiritual offenses] and
c) their symbolic baptismal cleansing

to recognize their LORD’s imminent appearing and deliverance…

…as well as, 2) on the other hand, or in the other direction, announcing to the world that THE ONE to whom John has been referring to…

a) the who comes after me, but existed before me,
b) the who is significantly greater than me…whose sandal I am not even worthy to untie,
c) the one will baptize with more than just water, as I have done, but with fire of judgment and the Holy Spirit, and
d) the one upon whom witnessed the Spirit of God falling upon as a dove and
e) the one the voice from heaven said this is MY SON in whom I take great delight in [Mark 1; Matt. 3; Luke 3; John 1])

…sees Jesus (Yah-Saves) coming towards him and declares, “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world (1:29),” he is prophetically announcing to the world the good news…the gospel…the euangellion (literally, good-news or announcement)–that is…the means by which God will give to the people the knowledge or understanding of his ordained plan for their deliverance via the forgiveness or release from their sin or imperfection…that is, a sacrificial lamb, the Son of God, the Messiah, is going to take it away! And how will he take it away? Well, to most familiar with the sacrificial system, the image is clear. The sacrifice dies as an atonement for the sinner’s guilt. The guilt is transferred from the sinner or lawbreaker to the sacrifice and the sacrifices dies or is slaughtered. What the Voice is prophesying here is that Yah-Saves will be the sacrifice…the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world!

While conceding that the OT sacrifices in general may be what is in view here, Edwin Blum [Bible Knowledge Commentary, NT ed. p. 276.] suggests that an inspired Voice may have something ever more specific in mind–the combining of two very specific ideas or passages…

a) the Passover Lamb from the Passover plague and annual Passover feast, beginning in Exodus 12, as well as…

b) Isaiah 53’s suffering lamb.

And surely, several years after John the Baptist’s initial Lamb of God confession, Andrew’s “Messiah” (v. 41) will be crucified or sacrificed, along with all the other many annual Passover lambs that were being sacrificed in preparation for the Jews’ annual Passover feast…

John 19:13 Therefore when Pilate heard these words (“If you release this man, you are no friend of Caesar…,)

…he brought Jesus out, and sat down on the judgment seat at a place called The Pavement, but in Hebrew, Gabbatha.

14 Now it was the day of preparation for the Passover; it was about the sixth hour. And he *said to the Jews, “Behold, your King!”

15 So they cried out, “Away with Him, away with Him, crucify Him!”

Pilate *said to them, “Shall I crucify your King?”

The chief priests answered, “We have no king but Caesar.”

16 So he then handed Him (Yah-Saves…the Lamb of God) over to them to be crucified.

(Also see 1 Cor. 5:7 where Paul calls “Christ our Passover which also has been sacrificed.”)

So while indeed John may have had the Passover Lamb in mind here, there seems to be little doubt that Isaiah 40’s self-confessed Crying Voice (vv. 22-23) does have Isaiah 53’s Slaughtered Lamb in mind.

Towering like a colossus lighthouse over or a massive bridge between the two Testaments or Covenants, and penned over seven centuries before John’s Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world appears, Isaiah almost mournfully sings of a lamb led to slaughter. Why? To atone or pay for the sins of the many…

Isaiah 53:1 Who has believed (trusted) our message (report)?
And to whom has the arm (might) of the Lord been revealed?
2 For He grew up before Him (God) like a tender shoot,
And like a root out of parched ground;
He has no stately form or majesty
That we should look upon Him,
Nor appearance that we should be attracted to Him.

(His appearances were deceiving. Now here is where the song becomes painful…)

3 He was despised and forsaken of men,
A man of sorrows and acquainted with grief;
And like one from whom men hide their face
He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.
4 Surely our griefs (sickness) He Himself bore (lifted up),
And our sorrows (pain; anguish) He carried;
Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken (punished),
Smitten of God, and afflicted.

5 But (rather, what was really taking place was that…)
He was pierced through (profaned) for our transgressions (punishment),
He was crushed for our iniquities (perversity);
The chastening (discipline)
for our well-being (our peace; shalom)
fell upon Him,
And by His scourging (bruises, blows)
we are healed (rapha; safe).

(What was our illness or sickness that needing healing?)

6 All of us like sheep have gone astray,
Each of us has turned to his own way;
But the Lord has caused the iniquity (the perversity; the sin…the error) of us all
To fall on (encounter; attack) Him.

7 He was oppressed and He was afflicted (or humbled himself),
Yet He did not open His mouth;
Like a lamb that is led to slaughter,
And like a sheep that is silent before its shearers,
So He did not open His mouth.
8 By oppressive injustice He was taken (led) away;

Agnus Dei (Lamb of God) , Francisco de Zurbaran, c. 1636-1640

Agnus Dei (Lamb of God) , Francisco de Zurbaran, c. 1636-1640

And as for His generation, who considered (pondered)
that He was severed from the land of the living,
(it was) for the transgression (rebellion) of my people,
he was infected (or plagued).

9 His grave was assigned with wicked men,
Yet He was with a rich man in His death
(See Joseph of Arimathea; Matt. 27:57)
even though He had done no violence,
Nor was there any deceit in His mouth.

10 But the Lord was delighted
To break Him, making him weak;
If… He would render Himself as a guilt (reparation) offering,
He will see His offspring (descendants),
He will prolong His days (enjoy long life),
And the delight of the Lord will prosper in His hand.

11 As a result of the anguish (travail) of His soul,
He will understand it and be satisfied;
By His knowledge the Righteous One,
My Servant, will justify (legally acquit) the many,
As He will bear their iniquities (perversities; depravities).

12 Therefore, I will allot Him a portion with the great,
And He will divide the booty (spoils) with the strong;
Because He laid bare Himself unto death,
And was reckoned (counted) with the transgressors (rebels);
Yet He Himself bore the sin (Spiritual offenses) of many,
And interceded on behalf of the transgressors (rebels).

Not only does Isaiah compare the LORD’s servant (52:13) to a lamb led to slaughter (53:7), note how many times Isaiah’s song reveals the purpose of “the lamb’s slaughter” or “death” (vv 9, 12):

1) Surely our griefs He Himself bore;
2) And our sorrows He carried (v. 4);
3) But He was pierced through for our transgressions (punishment);
4) He was crushed for our iniquities (perversity);
5) The chastening for our well-being (our peace; shalom)
fell upon Him;
6) And by His scourging (bruises, blows) we are healed (v. 5);
7) But the Lord has caused the iniquity (the perversity) of us all to fall on (encounter; attack) Him (v. 6b);
8) For the transgression (rebellion) of my people,
he was plagued (v. 8c);
9) If He would render Himself as a guilt (reparation) offering (v. 10b);
10) My Servant, will justify (legally acquit) the many;
11) As He will bear their iniquities (perversities; depravities; v.11b).
12) Yet He Himself bore the sin (Spiritual offenses) of many;
13) And interceded on behalf of the transgressors (rebels) (v. 12d).

How could anyone miss the point here? Something, someone…God’s servant, God’s slaughtered lamb, God’s Righteous One will die, and in doing so, he will bear… carry, be pierced, crushed, chastened, scourged, oppressed, afflicted, plagued (infected with), will render himself, justify (acquit), intercede on behalf of the griefs, sorrows, transgressions, well-being, healing, perversity, depravity, sins of the many…God’s people, us, rebels, God’s straying lambs. And because of his lamb-led-to-the-slaughter-like-death, he will be rewarded…

He will see His offspring (descendants),
He will prolong His days (enjoy long life),
And the delight of the Lord will prosper in His hand…
He will be allotted a portion with the great,
And divide the booty (spoils) with the strong (vv. 10, 12)…

Resurrection no doubt…

Now add to this: 1) the marring of his appearance more than any other man (52:14) and 2) the reassigning of his burial from that with the wicked to a rich man…

His grave was assigned with wicked men,
Yet He was with a rich man in His death
even though He had done no violence,
Nor was there any deceit in His mouth (v.9),

…and how could anyone NOT get it?

This Righteous person: a) will die; b) like a lamb c) as a guilt or reparation offering d) for the Spiritual offenses…wrongs, errors, misjudgments, disobedience, rebellion, mistakes, foolishness, naivete, ignorance, perversity, depravity…of the many.

It’s as clear as day. Though written over 700 years before the emergence, preaching, healing, suffering, death and resurrection of God’s Lamb, the Anointed One or Yah-Saves, it could have very well been written immediately AFTER Jesus did or experience what he experienced. Jesus’ life, death and resurrection fits Isaiah’s mournful, triumphant song of God’s Slaughtered Lamb to a tee! And not only is Jesus or Yah-Saves Isaiah’s Slaughtered Lamb, but 700 years later, he is the Voice or John the Baptist’s Lamb of God who sacrificially atones for, and thus takes away, the world’s sins. Amazing!

your servant,

Next time… Part XIV: Who has the power or authority to forgive sins, but God alone? And why or how will the religious leaders in Yah-Saves’ day so miss the mark with respect to the LORD’s appearing and deliverance?

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