by Lawrence M. Nelson
Chapter Two – Christ The Lamb
A pastor was deeply troubled about his own personal battle with sin. Somehow, he seemed to lack the moral courage to gain a victory. The struggle became so severe that when he went to sleep one night, he had a nightmare in which he saw a man whipping Christ in Pilate’s judgment hall. Watching the lash as it buried itself in Christ’s bleeding back, he could not stand to think of anyone wounding the Lord Jesus. In his dream, he rushed forward, seized the man and began to struggle with him. Suddenly, this brute of a man turned his face and the pastor screamed in terror and awoke. For the face of the man whipping Jesus was none other than his own face. You see, in allowing sin to gain the mastery of his life, he was wounding the Lord Jesus Christ. It was an experience he would never forget.
This true story illustrates the following scripture: “They shall look upon me whom they have pierced.” Zechariah 12:10. How little do we realize the pain that we cause the Lord Jesus when we continue in our same sins. How little do we realize the disappointment that we heap upon our Lord when we do not gain a victory. How unworthy we are of His great love.
Isaiah also expressed how our sinful ways cause our Lord to suffer. “He (Jesus) is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him: the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter.” Isaiah 53:3-7.
What a description! Did you notice these words–rejected, despised, stricken, smitten, afflicted, wounded, bruised, oppressed, and then the statement–“The Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all. For he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter.”
As the apostle Paul meditated upon the tremendous sacrifice of Christ, he marveled in amazement. And if we would look at the cross, we, too, would join Paul in these words, “I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Roman 8:38.
Now when the Lord Jesus was baptized, John the Baptist declared, “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.” John 1:29. From that very moment, the eyes of men began to focus on Christ. Every word, every act performed in his three and one-half years of ministry leading Him to the cross, reveals Him to be the Lamb of God. But in one sense, the sacrifice of Jesus did not commence at Calvary. For in the book of Revelation, we read that Christ was “the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. Revelation 13:8. God in His great love knowing the future, before there was sin, provided a plan of salvation before the world was created.
The moment that sin entered the Garden of Eden, all heaven was filled with sorrow, for apparently the inhabitants of this world were doomed to death. But God’s plan was ready to redeem man. The moment the divine law had been broken by man, Christ was ready to make an atonement for man’s transgression. He would take upon Himself man’s sin, and redeem him.
Listen, how this mystery of redemption was unfolded.
“Christ then made known to the angelic host that a way of escape had been made for lost man. He told them that He had been pleading with His Father, and had offered to give His life a ransom. To take the sentence of death upon Himself that through Him man might find pardon, that through time merits of His blood, and obedience to the law of God, they could have the favor of God, and be brought into the beautiful garden and eat of the fruit of the tree of life.” The Story of Redemption, pg. 42.
Such a plan of love is almost impossible to fully explain; no wonder the redeemed in heaven will ever search to comprehend the mystery of such love. So, in this short study, we can only begin to understand the depth of this wonderful love, and to see why God has chosen the sanctuary system as a kindergarten display to help us in our learning process.
Let’s put on our “thinking caps” now. Why did Christ come to this earth to die? In the description of the heavenly sanctuary, which you find in the New Testament, there is no mention of an outer court. Only in the Old Testament do you find the outer court connected with the sanctuary. It was only in the earthly sanctuary that the outer court existed. There was a reason for this. The sacrifice of Christ was not to take place in heaven, for there can be no death in heaven. Therefore, Christ must come to the court of the earthly sanctuary, to be the lamb, to die for sin. Paul describes the experience of Christ in these words, “Who being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.” Philippians 2:6-8.
Can you grasp it? Imagine! Christ, who was equal with God, descended from heaven’s purity, lowered Himself below the level of an angel, became a man of our flesh and was born a helpless babe in a manger. Not to be a man like Adam was when he was formed in perfection. Oh, no! But a man after the consequences of four thousand years of sin. Born into a world filled with sorrow, misery, disease, death and every conceivable temptation. Then, when Christ’s mission was to come to an end, He would be subjected to every insult and torture that Satan could conceive of. For He must die as a guilty sinner. His last hour would be so terrible, that even the angels must veil their faces rather than look upon Him. And finally, because He bore our sins He must endure the anguish of the lost. He is separated from His Father’s love because the guilt of the entire world rests upon Him.
Ellen White paints a touching picture of what took place. Listen:
“The spotless son of God hung upon the cross. His flesh, lacerated with stripes. Those hands, so often reached out in blessing, nailed to wooden bars. Those fret, so tireless on ministries of love, spiked to a tree. That royal head, pierced by the crown of thorns. Those quivering lips, shaped in a cry of woe. And all that He endured; the blood drops that flowed from His head, His hands, His feet. The agony that wracked his frame, and the unutterable anguish that filled His soul at the hiding of His Father’s face speaks to each child of humanity, declaring, “it is for thee that the son of God consents to bear this burden of guilt. For thee, He spoils the domain of death and opens the gate of paradise. He, who stilled the angry waves and walked the foam-capped billows, who made devils tremble and disease to flee. Who opened blind eyes, and called forth the dead to life offers himself upon the cross as a sacrifice. And this, from love, to thee. He, the bearer, endures the wrath of divine justice, and for thy sake, becomes sin itself.” The Desire of Ages, pg. 755.
What words! If only we could fully comprehend.
Now the question: How is the precious blood of Christ, the Lamb, applied to you, and to me individually? Let us turn to Leviticus, the fourth chapter, beginning with verse twenty-seven. For only the sanctuary explains in detail how the blood of Christ can be applied to us as individuals. “If any one of the common people sin through ignorance, while he doeth somewhat against any of the commandments of the Lord concerning things which ought not to be done, and be guilty; he shall bring his offering, a kid of the goats, a female without blemish, for his sin which he hath sinned.” Leviticus 4:28. Now, in bringing the sacrifice, whether it was a kid of the goats, or of a lamb, or of any other animal, remember this, the sacrifice represented the Lord Jesus Christ. Secondly, the sinner must transfer his sin to the sacrifice. Verse twenty-nine, “He shall lay his hand upon the head of the sin offering. . .” You see, in his act of laying his hands on the head is implied the confession and transfer of the sin to the sinner’s substitute.
Then comes step number three: After the sin has been transferred to the sacrifice, the victim must be slain. Why? Because the wages of sin is death. The broken law of God demands the penalty of death. “He shall lay his hand upon the head of the sin offering.” And then the scripture adds, “and slay the sin offering. . .” Leviticus 4:29. It was by this method that God taught men that there was a way of escape from sin. That a substitute, the Lamb of God, could die for our sins. But, remember, it was the sinner’s hand that was always to slay the sacrifice. Every sinner must comprehend this great truth before he is ready to overcome sin in his life. Sin must be paid for in death! Since Christ is our substitute, we must understand that our sins took the life of Christ. When we realize the enormity of the cost of sin, we will determine to overcome sin with a hatred that is akin to God’s hatred of sin. And then, and only then, are we ready to live in a land where there will be no more sin! What a tragedy that so few of us seem to grasp this lesson.
So, the sacrificial offerings were ordained by God to teach each sinner, who earnestly desires forgiveness, that he must acknowledge his sin, repent of his sin, bring his sin to Christ, and ask Christ to take his sin. He must acknowledge his part in the crucifixion of Christ, and he must realize that sin causes death. He must accept Christ by faith and take hold of His divine power that will give him a hatred for sin and enable him to stop sinning; then he can rejoice in his redemption.
This sacrificial plan has a much broader and deeper purpose than the salvation of mankind. For Christ came to this earth to die, not only to save man and to ransom the world, but He came to vindicate the character of God before the universe. Why? Because the great conflict between good and evil began when God’s law was challenged in heaven and caused war in heaven. “And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.” Revelation 12:7, 8.
Every being, throughout the entire universe of God, was interested in the outcome of Christ’s sacrifice. For this would determine whether God or Satan would be victorious. This is why the Savior looked forward to His crucifixion when He said, “Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out. And I if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.” John 12:31. Thus it was, that Christ’s death on Calvary would not only make it possible for man to be forgiven and heaven to be accessible to him, but it would also justify God before the entire unfallen universe. It would establish the law of God forever, and testify to the fact that sin is death.
When Adam and Eve accepted Satan’s proposition, Satan declared this world to be his, because they had chosen him as their ruler. Satan did not believe that it was possible for God to forgive man. But God’s love had already provided a plan by giving His only begotten Son to pay the death penalty for our sins. Thus the Lamb of God became the way of escape for mankind.
This very earth which was claimed by Satan, became the theater in which God has chosen to redeem man, and to justify Himself before the whole universe. This is the meaning of Christ’s last words on the cross. “It is finished.” John 19:30. At the moment Christ died, there was a mighty shout of triumph that rang throughout every world in the universe. The contest had been decided, Jesus had gained the victory. Satan had revealed himself as a liar, and a murderer. Christ, in human flesh proved that man can keep the law of God. Little wonder that the greatest excitement the universe has ever known was the moment that Jesus Christ triumphed over Satan, when He died on Calvary’s cross. And someday, someday very soon, Jesus is coming back to this earth again, and the final act in this controversy between Christ and Satan will be over.
Are you ready for the greatest adventure of your life? Are you ready to live with Christ in heaven, where there will be no more sin; no more death, where every moment will be filled with joy, peace, and happiness? Are you ready to experience a sinless life for eternity? If so, you must overcome sin here and now, as taught in the sanctuary system instituted by God Himself.
Some time ago, the newspapers told a story of a little girl who had been playing in the garage where she found a pop bottle. It looked just like the one that contained the kind of drink that her mother occasionally gave her from the refrigerator. She took the bottle, and drained the fluid to the last drop. It didn’t taste quite like what she had expected, but in her childish thinking, she thought it was some new kind of drink. But soon she began to experience terrible pain in her stomach.. .She ran to mother and complained. Her mother rushed her to the hospital, but help was too late. The little girl paid with her life, for the substance in the bottle was not soda pop, it was deadly weed poison! Sin is just like a weed killer. It seems that many of us do not realize that we are already poisoned with sin, and that we will die from its deadly poison, but God has the antidote. “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” Acts 4:12.
Never forget, God has provided a way of escape. And that way, friend, is through Jesus Christ the Lamb. He is ready to help you this very moment. Jesus tells us, “I stand at the door, and knock, lf any man hear my voice and open the door I will come in to him, amid will sup with him, and he with me.” Revelation 3:20. Christ, the Lamb, is knocking at your heart’s door. He wants to come in. Will you let Him be your Lamb who is able to take all sin out of your life?