As of A Lamb,
Without Spot or Blemish
“Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot….” --I Peter 1:18,19
Imagination is a great gift from the Almighty God. In fact, you might argue that it is one of the greatest gifts of love that He has given to men. What a drab and dull place this world would be without imagination!
“He never heard a bird sing,” my uncle used to say about people who didn’t seem to have any imagination. We children knew what he meant and approved, and felt sorry for the person. A person without imagination led a pretty dull life. Although our lives were very poor, we had lively imaginations and survived.
In John 3, the trouble with Nicodemus was that he did not have any imagination. His mind plodded along, like a lot of very dull theologians throughout history. When Jesus said, “born again,” he thought in terms of physical phenomenon, and his mind rebelled against the words. The whole lot of the Pharisees were the same way, it seemed. “Destroy this temple…” Jesus said, “and I will build it in three days.” They threw the words back at him at his trial. Can you build in three days what it took Herod so many years to build? “Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man,” invoked the horrified response, “How can this man give us His flesh to eat?”
Music, Poetry, Literature, are powerful tools in communication simply because they invoke the use of the imagination. The imagination in itself is not bad. In fact, we could not communicate at all without it. When you hear a word, your imagination calls up an image in your mind, and you understand the word because of what you have in your mind. Written language began as pictures—some forms of languages still use pictographs in some form—but gradually the pictures became more and more abstract. In English, the symbols just stand for sounds, but still we do not have to say or hear the sound—we can imagine it in our minds. So memory and stored images are very important for communication to work between person and person.
There is a problem, though, when God has spoken to man. The problem is that we have no experience with God. There is nothing in all that He created that fully expresses who He is. He is a pure and holy Spirit. In fact, we have been forbidden to make an image of Him, for any image we made of Him would be wrong. “You saw no manner of similitude when I spoke to you from Sinai,” the Lord told Israel, “lest you corrupt yourself, and make a graven image.’ It is very important that what we have in our minds concerning God is correct, or else we corrupt ourselves, the Lord said.
There are three things that I want to emphasize this morning from this text.
First: The figure of speech. How is Christ the Lamb of God?
In the hundreds of years previous to Christ God was making preparations for His coming. God always intended that Christ would come. He did not neglect the people whom he had created, but provided a way for them. This way included four major ingredients:
B) A Physical sign of the Promise;
C) A clearly identified people, set apart in terms of the Promise and the Sign;
D) Faith: True worship was always spiritual worship, and always consisted of faith. It was inward, of the heart, not of the letter. David understood this, for he wrote: “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.” (Psalm 51:17) Isaiah also understood this and wrote: “To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices unto me? saith the Lord…. Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow….” (Isaiah 1:11, 18)
John the Baptist also evoked a powerful image when he cried: “Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.” The bloody sacrifice was a central part of the worship of the covenant people from the Garden of Eden. Abel’s worship was approved of God; Cain’s was rejected. The central image of the approved worship was the “first of the flock, with the fat thereof,” an image missing in Cain’s offering.
The sacrificial lamb figured centrally in the worship of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Later in Egypt the blood of a lamb was placed on the door post and lintel to warn the Angel of Death to pass over the houses of the Israelites there. As a result the sacrificial lamb was the central focus of the Passover Feast, the most important holy festival of the Jews.
So, when John the Baptist stood and cried out concerning Jesus Christ, the figure was very familiar to the Jews and would evoke the deepest religious response.
But the announcement of John was something jarring: not brand new, but a strange emphasis: the sins of the world. Was Messiah coming to Israel, or was He coming to the world? The answer is clear: to the world. There would be a breaking forth of forgiveness of sins to the whole world. This was an announcement that would have caused perplexity in the minds of God’s chosen race.
Second: The meaning. Taking away the sin of the world.
A curse had lain over the nations of the world. The curse of Adam’s transgressions: “In the day that you eat thereof ye shall surely die,” God had told Adam and Eve, and the curse came upon all their descendants. The curse was mitigated somewhat by the Promise of the Redeemer, and some found true salvation by faith in the Promise, but mostly the whole world lay under the curse of sin and death.
We are mistaken if we think of nothing more than physical death, although it included that. This was not even the most important part.
Adam was created a living soul: He was created to commune and fellowship with God forever. Adam walked and talked with God in the cool of the day. Adam was not just a body that could react with the sun, the moon, the good things that God had placed on the earth. Adam could respond to the physical things with the five senses of taste, touch, smell, feel and see. God loved Adam very much and filled the earth full of such things. But Adam was more than a body.
Adam was a soul: He could see invisible things, just as Moses could. “He saw him who was invisible.” Adam could do theology and philosophy. What did Adam and God (Jesus Christ) speak of in the cool of the day? Did they only talk about things? How Adam felt and what he could see and hear? We know that Adam was very bright: he named the animals and discerned their meaning. He also discerned his own meaning, for he discovered that there was none fit to be a helper to him. It was then that God created Eve.
This curse was the curse of death. Death is not a ceasing to exist, but a change of state. When the body dies, it does not cease to exist; in fact, many things are very active in the body after death. Decay and worms and many unpleasant changes take place, and the body becomes a very unpleasant thing. We perfume it, and dress it up, lay it out in state, and go by and say, “don’t he look natural?” but he doesn’t look natural. He looks very unnatural. Death is an affront; death is an insult; death is unnatural, and is the result of the curse.
But death is also the curse of the soul. When the soul is dead, it is no more inactive than the body is. There are many active things in the dead soul: Ephesians 2:1-3. There are lusts of the mind and body. There are vain imaginations: false god, made up religion, and made up worship with made up moral systems. Our imaginations bring forth many illegitimate babies, and we feed and take care of them, and nurture them and love them, even though they are an abomination to God.
If after three days Lazarus would stink up the place so that his loving sisters would not want to be near him; how much more must our souls stink up the earth before God, so that He would drive us from His presence\?. He could not let us into Heaven; we are unfit for it. Heaven is holy, and pure, and clean; we are dead in trespasses and in sins.
Jesus was appointed to take away our sin. He was chosen of God the Father to take away our guilt, so that we could be restored to union and fellowship with God.
Guilt, the Problem; the Cause of the Curse.
Our problem is the guilt, which has alienated us from God. It is not our own guilt, but Adam’s guilt, which has brought upon us the curse of sin and death. Death works in us, and is manifest in thousands of ways: our hatred and wrath; our false religions and doctrines; our self-centeredness; our love of earthly things; our petty wrangling.
The main manifestations of death working in us are two: hatred of others and lying. In this we show that we have been given over to the devil to do the things that the devil does, for he was a liar from the beginning and did not abide in the truth; He is a murderer, and hatred and lies are his chief works.
We get the cart before the horse, and think that we are guilty because we sin; that of course is true; but it is not the whole story.
Only Adam was innocent at one time and brought guilt upon himself because of his sin. The rest of us are born into sin, under the curse of sin, and guilty, because we are all cursed in Adam. We are the children of an apostate, the wretched seed of rebellion. This is the reason we need a Savior, because we cannot remove the curse ourselves. Shall we storm the gates of heaven, and thrust ourselves into the holy throne room of the omnipotent God, and turn away His wrath from us? No, we could not do that.
We get into a great of trouble theologically if we deny this great truth, the truth of Adam’s sin and its imputation to all his seed. Refusing to admit that man is under a curse, modern man cannot seem to find a reason for all the trouble and sin and misery that is in the world. In our clever and sinful imaginations, we may think that there is no God, for how could there be a good God who would allow all these things to happen?
There is a good God, and He brings to pass all these things to teach us that we are very dead indeed if we do not worship Him in spirit and in truth. Human beings are capable of very dreadful things if we try to live by the religions and the philosophies that we invent by our corrupt imaginations. In our sinfulness we blame Him for the evil things that we do in rebellion and alienation from Him.
“This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind, having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart: who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness.”
Humanistic, rebellious man, refuses to believe to trust in the way that God has provided for him, and then he blames God for the results.
Third: Meaning of the Lord’s Supper
The Lord’s Supper is a visible representation of these very things.
This reality is symbolized in the Lord’s Supper. We eat and drink, in a figure, the dead body of Jesus Christ, broken for us. In this participation of His death, we have life eternal, life without end. Amen and Amen. Return to Menu
Trinity Covenant Church
6050 Del Paz Drive
Colorado Springs, CO 80918