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What’s in a Name?

Written by | March, 2011
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“Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.” John 1:29

Of all the names ascribed to Jesus in the Bible, which is your favorite?

That is a tough question, I suppose, because every name given to Jesus shines forth with special beauty: Good Shepherd, Redeemer, Light of the World,the Lord our Righteousness (and dozens more).How can one pick a favorite from such a list? Each tells something special about our Savior—who He is, what He has done for us, what wonderful reasons we have to love and serve Him.Yet there is a name we might be encouraged to rejoice in especially at this season of the year (Lent). I’m thinking of the name given to Jesus by John the Baptist: Lamb of God.

Consider the gospel comfort contained in this gorgeous name!

In Old Testament times lambs played an important role in the worship lives of God’s people. Each morning and evening, at God’s direction, the priest took a lamb, slaughtered it, and offered it as a sacrifice.Through this worship ritual God was picturing for them what the promised Messiah would do. He would offer His sinless life as the atoning sacrifice for the sins of the world.

And do you remember the account of the Passover recorded in Exodus chapter 12? God instructed the Israelites to choose a lamb from their flock (a one-year old male and a perfect specimen), bring it home and take care of it for two weeks.

The Passover Lamb

Then they were to slaughter the lamb, roast its meat, and eat it as part of the Passover meal. They were also to take some blood of that lamb and smear it on the top and sides of the doorframes of their homes. This would serve as a sign for God to pass over their homes when He came that night to execute judgment on the idolatrous Egyptians. “When I see the blood, I will pass over you. This plague of death will not touch you when I strike the land of Egypt” (Exodus 12:13).

The meaning of the Passover ritual isn’t a mystery to us. It was another way God was portraying the great redemptive work of His holy Son who would allow His enemies to take Him captive, place Him on trial, condemn Him, and cut Him down in the prime of life by nailing Him to a cross.

Because of the blood that flowed from Jesus’ nail wounds and the gash in His side inflicted by a spear, God would pass over the sins of the world; Jesus’ sacrificial death rescued all from the eternal death they deserve, obtaining for all the gift of a life that never ends.

Here we have a firm foundation;
Here the refuge of the lost;
Christ’s the Rock of our salvation,
His the name of which we boast.
Lamb of God, for sinners wounded,
Sacrifice to cancel guilt!
None shall ever be confounded
Who on Him their hope have built.

•  TLH #153:4  •

Moreover, we know from Holy Scripture that the blood of God’s Lamb was the only “item” valuable enough to accomplish this ransom. As Peter wrote: “It was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect” (1 Peter 1:18-19).

So what is your favorite name of Jesus? It’s hard to pick just one. “Lamb of God” would be a good choice. Just as with every other name ascribed to our Savior in Holy Scripture—to name a few more: Friend of Sinners, Prince of Peace, the Resurrection and the Life, our merciful High Priest—the name “Lamb of God” is loaded with gospel comfort for all.