John the Baptist is the only one who actually calls Jesus a Lamb to His Face. It seems a curious label to put on the Messiah expected to bring the Kingdom of God to His people with great power, might and fanfare.
A defenseless helpless lamb?
How could God send a mere lamb?
The label is particularly apt for this Messiah. This mere lamb is marked for slaughter, destined for sacrifice. The Jewish people well understood the age-old directive to find a “year old male lamb without defect”, the perfect lamb, as only that blood would demarcate their Passover rescue in Egypt. There would be no mistaking what “Lamb of God” implied to the Jews who knew their Passover history.
But John is even more revolutionary than simply calling Jesus a Lamb of God. He is not talking about a sacrifice meant only for his own people. He is talking about a sacrifice on behalf of the world. For the Jews, for the Gentiles, for the enemies of the Jews, for the millions of people as yet unborn. His words cannot be clearer, ringing through to the unsettled times and people of today.
The perfect lamb is sacrificed, his blood marking the hands of the slaughterers, and washing them clean.
No mere lamb would forgive the holder of the knife. Only so for the Lamb of God.