From the beginning of time, God had a plan for creation. For five and a half days, He labored for one purpose—to make the world fit for man. Man, the apex of creation, was created in the image of his Maker, an intelligent being with a will and emotions, and the very nature of God. He was the only creature capable of having a personal relationship with God. God put Adam in the garden and fashioned a helpmate for him. He gave them dominion over the rest of creation and the privilege of unfettered fellowship with Himself, for their created purpose was to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever.
But in an act of deliberate disobedience, Adam and Eve plunged themselves and their descendents into a series of consequences they never could have fathomed. In an instant, the crown of creation had fallen to the depths of depravity. The object created for God’s glory had now become the object of God’s wrath. Man, once free to walk with God, was now separated from Him. He was now a captive to sin. And sin not only contaminated the souls of Adam and Eve, but the souls of their descendents as well. They had unleashed a disease upon their race that had no human cure.
Scripture clearly tells us that God is holy, that sin demands judgement, and then defines that judgement: “For the wages of sin is death…” (Romans 6:23). God had every right to demand the lives of Adam and Eve in payment for their sin. Yet, God in His mercy saw His children in their destitute depravity and sought to cover their shame. He provided a covering for their physical nakedness and promised, through the Seed of the Woman, to do the same for their spiritual condition. Until that promise was fulfilled, however, the penalty still had to be paid. And so the system of animal sacrifice was instituted. The animal, which was most often a lamb, was to be spotless and without blemish. The lamb would die so that man could live. As God spoke through Moses in Leviticus 17:11, “…it is the [shedding of] blood that makes atonement for the soul.” And in Hebrews 9:22, “Without the shedding of blood, there is no remission (of sins).”
In truth, the lamb was only the symbol of the solution to sin. The only way the wrath of God could be mollified was for God to become man and sacrifice Himself. And in the fullness of time, He did come. John the Baptist testified to that fact when he said of Jesus, “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!”(John 1:29). But few recognized Him as that lamb. They wanted a king who would save them from the Roman state, not their sinful state. He had been sent to deliver them from a terminal disease, but they wanted deliverance from temporary domination. And when He failed to fulfil their purpose and plan, they rejected Him.
Jesus, the Lamb of God, became so hated, so despised that they put him on trial and made false accusations against Him. Though He was innocent, and though He had the power to destroy those who were demanding His death, He remained silent. “But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon Him… And the Lord laid on Him the iniquity of us all.” (Isaiah 53:5, 6) The Son of God was willing to be condemned and crucified on a cross so that He could fulfil the role of the sacrificial lamb, once and for all.
God’s plan was not defeated in the garden so many years ago, for God knew that Adam would fall. He would send Jesus, His Son, into the world for one purpose–to die. According to Revelation 13:8, the Lamb was “…slain from the foundation of the world.” Jesus, the sinless Son, bore the wrath of God, the Father, and paid the penalty for our sin. Paul tells us in his second letter to the Corinthians, verse 5:21, “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” And, not only does the blood of the blameless Lamb save our souls from the penalty and the power of sin, it clothes us with the spotless garments of His righteousness, and treats us as if we had never sinned at all. Now, when He looks upon those who belong to Him, He sees the Image of His Son.
It was Calvary’s Lamb who completed the work of redemption. It was His sacrifice that spanned the chasm between a holy God and sinful man. It was at Calvary where God’s judgement met His mercy, and God’s wrath met His grace.
From the pen of William Cowper:
There is a fountain filled with blood drawn from Emmanuel’s veins;
And sinners plunged beneath that flood lose all their guilty stains.
Dear dying Lamb, Thy precious blood shall never lose its power
Till all the ransomed church of God be saved, to sin no more.