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Our Sacrificial Lamb

March 28, 2024

-Dr. J. Vernon McGee, from "The Radical Cost of the Cross"

He was oppressed and He was afflicted, yet He opened not His mouth; He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so He opened not His mouth. –Isaiah 53:7

All the way from Abel to John the Baptist, Scripture uses the figure of the lamb. This verse from Isaiah was what the Ethiopian eunuch was reading when Philip climbed up into his chariot. The Ethiopian asked Philip, “Who is the prophet talking about, himself or another?” Philip said it was Another who was yet to come, and he told him about Jesus who had come as the Lamb led to the slaughter. (See Acts 8:32, 33.)

When Abel brought his sacrifice to the Lord, it was a lamb. If you’d asked Abel why he was sacrificing a little lamb if he knew it wasn’t going to take away his sin, I imagine he would have responded, “God has asked us to do it. He promised my mother that One is coming who will be our Savior. This little lamb is depicting Him, and I offer it as a substitute. But there is coming One who will give Himself in voluntary, vicarious death. I don’t know much about it yet, but I trust God that He is coming.”

Centuries passed, and at last one day John the Baptist marked out Jesus and said, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). This is God’s Lamb—the One to pay the penalty for the sins of the world, including yours and mine. Then the apostle Paul could look back at that cross and say, “He loved me, and gave Himself for me” (see Galatians 2:20). Jesus didn’t die to win your sympathy. When He was on His way to the cross and the women of Jerusalem were weeping for Him, He said, “… Do not weep for Me, but weep for yourselves and for your children …. For if they do these things in the green wood, what will be done in the dry?” (Luke 23:28, 31). He did not want their sympathy, and He does not want ours. Oh, we would be cold-blooded indeed to read the story of the crucifixion of Christ and not be moved.

When Clovis, leader of the Franks, first heard about the crucifixion of Christ, he was so moved that he leaped to his feet, drew his sword, and exclaimed, “If I had only been there with my Franks!” But our Lord didn’t want Clovis and his army. He told His own disciple to put up his sword. He could have the protection of legions of angels, but He was not here to be delivered—except to death for you and me. He did not die as the martyrs did, singing praises and conscious of God’s presence with them. Rather, Jesus cried out in that awful moment, “My God, my God, why have You forsaken Me?”

He was forsaken of God! He died because “all we like sheep have gone astray … and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.” He had to do it to save you, my friend. Isaiah 53 opens with suffering, but it closes with satisfaction: “He shall see the labor of His soul, and be satisfied. By His knowledge My righteous Servant shall justify many, for He shall bear their iniquities” (Isaiah 53:11).

Don’t feel sorry for Him. If you think He was caught between the upper millstone of Roman power and the nether millstone of religious greed, forget it. He was not. He says, “No one takes [My life] from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This command I have received from My Father” (John 10:18). The book of Hebrews says, “Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:2).

Jesus made adequate provision for the sin of the world. He is satisfied. The cross is not an ambulance sent to a wreck. It is not first aid. It is not a temporary arrangement. The Lord Jesus is “the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world” (Revelation 13:8). And when you look into eternity you see what John describes: “… behold, in the midst of the throne … stood a Lamb as though it had been slain …” (Revelation 5:6).

Scripture tells us He sat down at God’s right hand, and do you know why? For the same reason God rested on the seventh day after He had created the heavens and the earth. He wasn’t tired—He sat down because He had finished the job. When Jesus went back to heaven, He had finished everything that was necessary for your salvation and mine. Everything.

How shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation? Do you have the answer to that? God has a remedy for every sin, except the sin of rejecting the Remedy: His Son. God is satisfied with what Jesus did for you on the cross. Are you satisfied? “He shall see the labor of his soul, and be satisfied.” Oh, the restlessness of men and women today! My friend, rest in Him. He paid a tremendous price for you.

This excerpt is from "The Radical Cost of the Cross." Download yours for free.

My Turn

  1. In the Spring season, especially around the Easter holiday, we will see many images of lambs—in stores, online, in every kind of marketing. This year when you see a lamb, let it prompt you to remember the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29). Right there, wherever you are, have a private worship service and praise God for the gift of His Son. 
  2. Dr. McGee shares in this article, “Don’t feel sorry for [Jesus]. If you think He was caught between the upper millstone of Roman power and the nether millstone of religious greed, forget it. He was not.” In preparation for remembering Jesus’ death, read these passages and consider Jesus’ intent and the source of His joy: 
    • John 10:1-30 (especially v. 18)
    • Hebrews 12:1-2
  1. If ever you’re tempted to believe the lie that you need to do something to earn God’s love and approval, review this truth: “Jesus made adequate provision for the sin of the world. He is satisfied …. God is satisfied with what Jesus did for you on the cross.” You can rest in the reality of your salvation, made possible because of God’s love for you in sending His Son to die in your place. Now, believing this, serve God out of love. What will you do for Him today to express your love for Him?