There is a very beautiful tradition among our people, on holidays, to organize a wrestling match for the prize of a ram. The Russian prince Dolgorukii, when visiting Chisinau, saw this competition and wrote a beautiful testimony:
I did not notice any conflict or beating during the wrestling or at the end… The spectators were delighted and could not break their eyes from the fighters.
Tomorrow this beautiful competition will take place in my home village and I am invited to preach a message from the Gospel. I thought that it would be best to use the image of the trophy of this competition, that is, the ram, to communicate deep and essential truths from God’s Word. The Gospel of John tells us that when John the Baptist saw Jesus coming to him, he said to all:
“Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! (John 1:29 NASB)
If we heard this statement about someone, it would seem strange in our context. This is not the case for the Jewish people, who were in this case the audience of the sermon of John the Baptist. To understand this statement of John the Baptist, we need to know a few essential things about sin, forgiveness, and God’s system of worship for the Jewish people.
All people are sinners and doomed to death
John the Baptist here speaks of the sin of the world, that is, of all men, because all men are sinners. The apostle Paul wrote:
“…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23 NASB)
To be deprived of the glory of God means not to inherit the Kingdom of Heaven, which is full of His glory, not to come to see the glory of God. No sinner will see the glory of God. Moreover, “the wages of sin is death.” (Romans 6:23)
Without bloodshed there is no forgiveness of sins
In the Epistle to the Hebrews, the Word of God says:
And according to the Law, one may almost say, all things are cleansed with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no forgiveness. (Hebrews 9:22 NASB)
God did not accept human sacrifices because they did not make sense, once all people were sinners, no one could die for the sins of others, but only for their own sins, as a punishment and not for redemption. However, God has prepared a solution for the atonement of mankind’s sins, and this is a perfect sacrifice, a sinless sacrifice, the Only Begotten Son of God – the Lamb of God. Until the coming of the Lord Jesus, however, God instituted a system of animal sacrifice to keep people aware of their sinful condition and the need for a Savior.
The blood of animals cannot deliver people from sin
God gave the people of Israel this commandment regarding their worship:
You shall say to them, ‘This is the offering by fire which you shall offer to the Lord: two male lambs one year old without defect as a continual burnt offering every day. You shall offer the one lamb in the morning and the other lamb you shall offer at twilight; (Numbers 28:3-4 NASB)
All these sacrifices were the shadow of future goods, but not the true appearance of things, and they could never, even if continually brought, free from sin those who tried to draw near to God through them. Thus, Scripture says:
For the Law, since it has only a shadow of the good things to come and not the very form of things, can never, by the same sacrifices which they offer continually year by year, make perfect those who draw near. Otherwise, would they not have ceased to be offered, because the worshipers, having once been cleansed, would no longer have had consciousness of sins? But in those sacrifices there is a reminder of sins year by year. For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins. (Hebrews 10:1-4 NASB)
We have forgiveness of sins only through Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God
God’s Word goes on to say that we are all forgiven and sanctified “by the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all” (Hebrews 10:10). There is no need for another sacrifice. Jesus Christ is the perfect sacrifice, because He is the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world. Forgiveness of sins can take place only in the life of that man who believes from the heart in the Lord Jesus Christ and surrenders His life. This is not about a specific church, a group of people or anything else. Jesus wants you to believe in Him and His Word and surrender your life to live according to His commandments, which are written in the Bible. Make this choice in your life and then all your sins will be taken away, atoned for and forgiven by Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.
Translated by Ina Croitoru