My reflection today is centered around the declaration made by John the Baptizer at the baptism of Jesus of Nazareth. This declaration was made prior to the temptations of Jesus in the wilderness. Prior to these recorded temptations, Jesus came to John the Baptizer to be baptized. John is recorded to have made a proclamation that this Jesus was “The Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world.” He is recorded to have made this proclamation by inviting all that were present to “behold” him. The word “behold” simply means to observe, to look at and to see.
To behold something is to perhaps become aware of a reality that has not been recognized or considered. For the Jewish people living in Jesus’ day, animal sacrifice was a normal occurrence. In the New Testament of the bible and in the book of Hebrews chapter nine and verse twenty-two, it indicates that without the shedding of blood, there is no remission of sin. The writer of Hebrews is offering an awareness of how animal sacrifice and particularly how blood played such an important role in the annual ritual of purification. When John the Baptizer makes this proclamation concerning Jesus, in essence he is directing mankind’s attention away from the status quo of animal sacrifice to behold God’s Lamb.
I invite you to consider what this proclamation entails. Since Moses, the development of animal sacrifices for the remission of sin has taken on a somewhat business like standard for those looking for purification and it continued to occur year after year. Jesus even cleared the Temple overturning tables because a business had developed selling animals to be sacrificed. Jesus indicated that they had turned his Father’s house of prayer into a den of thieves.
Consider The Lamb of God! Animal sacrifice was believed by the practicing Jews that somehow the sacrifice would appease an angry God due to mankind’s sin. Perhaps “The Lamb of God” was God’s way of providing His own Lamb due to mankind’s angry violent behavior. In other words, its not an angry God that is even possible to behold, accept in our minds. Rather, it is mankind’s anger that has brought about fear, mistrust and his violent behavior that ultimately causes murder. It is this hateful mindset that needed changing.
I am suggesting that The God of Love has never been angry with mankind. This may be new information for you, but consider what love includes. True love casts out fear meaning with the absence of fear trust becomes the only thing that matters. Trust builds relationship and relationship promotes peace. Even the birth announcement of Jesus recorded in the gospel of Luke the second chapter indicates in verse fourteen in the heavenly host’s praise, “peace on earth and goodwill toward mankind.”
When Jesus’ disciples made comments concerning the magnificence of the Temple, Jesus tells them that the day was coming when the Temple would be destroyed. Are you aware of what ceased when the Temple in Jerusalem was destroyed in seventy AD? The priesthood no longer exists meaning that animal sacrifice has become non-existent as well. When the resurrection occurs, the veil in the Temple that separated the Holy of Holies from the rest of the temple was torn into two pieces revealing the Holy of Holies. It was recorded that this renting of the veil occurred from top to bottom. In other words, mankind did not cause this tearing of the veil. Those managing the temple certainly would not have instigated such an occurrence.
The Holy of Holies was where God met with the High Priest annually for the purification of the Jews. Jesus indicated to the Samaritan women at the well, recorded in John chapter four, that the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seek such to worship him. God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth. This means that the Holy of Holies is within each of us for it was declared by the Apostle Paul that we are the temple of God, for the Spirit of God dwells within each of us (I Cor. 3:16). It is in Christ Jesus that we breathe and move and have our being.
This brings us back around to the idea of “beholding.” ”To behold the Lamb of God” simply means that we have awakened to this reality because we now can see it. It is very important to realize that God DID NOT sacrifice his only begotten son on our behalf. Mankind is the one that sacrificed God’s only begotten son. We are the guilty party and Jesus who knew no sin, became sin entering into our violent darkness. The awareness of the result of Jesus entering into our darkness bringing his Father and Holy Spirit with him was profoundly addressed from the Roman cross upon which he hung. “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do!” In other words, the retribution of God is not anger toward us but forgiveness. You are a daughter or son of the Most High God and God loves you very very much!