"Lamb of God, pure and holy, Who on the cross didst suffer, Ever patient and lowly, Thyself to scorn didst offer. All sins Thou borest for us, Else had despair reigned o'er us: Have mercy on us, O Jesus! O Jesus!"
In the first scriptural account of sacrifices, by faith Abel offered to God "of the firstborn of his flock" (Genesis 4:4b). Generations later, God tested Abraham by commanding him to sacrifice his son Isaac. As he sets out in obedience to God's command, Abraham told Isaac, "God will provide for Himself a lamb" (Genesis 22:8a). God provided a substitute sacrifice and Abraham's firstborn son was spared. When the time came for God to set His people free from slavery, He acted in mighty power to save them. Before God destroyed the firstborn of Egypt, the Israelites were to kill lambs and paint the blood on the doorposts and lintels of their homes. When God saw the lambs' blood, He would pass over those homes and spare the firstborn of Israel (see Exodus12:7).
Faith and the firstborn, lambs and sacrifices—all of these things pointed forward to the final perfect sacrifice, the day long foretold when God would once again act in mighty power to save. Jesus, the firstborn Son of Mary and the Son of God, began His public ministry and John the Baptist announced the arrival of the perfect sacrifice: "Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!" (John 1:29b). The Lamb of God, "ever patient and lowly," took our sins onto Himself and carried them in His body to the cross. Enduring the scorn of His enemies, Jesus offered Himself up as a sacrifice, "like a lamb that is led to the slaughter" (Isaiah 53:7b). He suffered and died for us as our Substitute, shedding His blood to save us from slavery to sin and death.
"Christ, our Passover Lamb, has been sacrificed" (1 Corinthians 5:7b). Jesus, the Lamb of God, offered Himself to save us. It is not the doors of our homes, but our lives, that are marked by His holy, precious blood. As Abel offered his sacrifice in faith, so now we look to Jesus in faith and His blood cleanses us from all sin. Celebrating the Passover with His disciples, the Lamb of God gave to them, and to us, His own body and blood to eat and drink. On the next day, Good Friday, He offered up His body and blood as a sacrifice for the forgiveness of our sins. We confess our sins, confident that the Lamb we love died and rose from death to heal and save us. With repentant humility, we pray, "Have mercy on us, O Jesus!"
WE PRAY: Jesus, Lamb of God, have mercy on me and forgive my sins. Amen.
This Daily Devotion was written by Dr. Carol Geisler. It is based on the hymn, "Lamb of God, Pure and Holy," which is number 434 in the Lutheran Service Book.
1. Are there things in your life you sacrifice or offer to God?
2. What role did sacrifices play in the Old Testament? Did that change in the New Testament? How so?
3. What is it about Jesus that makes Him the final, ultimate sacrifice before God?
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