He was led as a lamb to the slaughter… For the transgression of My people He was stricken… Because He had done no violence, nor was any deceit in His mouth… You make His soul an offering for sin” (Isaiah 53:7-10)
It appears not only in Isaiah’s precise prophecy, but all over the Old Testament, in so many offerings for sin, transgression, atonement, peace, and free-will giving: the lamb.
In the New Testament, John the Baptist reveals what all these examples foreshadowed–Jesus, “the lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29)–and Peter reminds believers that it’s by “the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb…” that we are redeemed, rescued, saved (1 Pt 1:18-20)–a “lamb without blemish or spot.”
Without blemish or spot: a critically important requirement of the lamb in every case (Lev 22:20). Over and over the requirements for the various sacrifices and offerings repeat the phrase “without blemish” (e.g., Ex 12:5; Lev 1:10;3:6;4:32;5:15,18, etc.).
So important was this requirement that when God’s Old Testament people began to fudge on it, God stormed against them (as in Mal 1:8,14).
What about Christ, Who is supposed to be our offering? Was He without fault?
The Bible says every question like that should be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses. The gospels cite way more than that–and it’s interesting to see who they are!
Witnesses for the Prosecution… er, Defense!
First to fail in finding anything wrong in Him were the very religious leaders who were trying so hard to fault Him, the chief priests and Pharisees (Mt 26:59-61). What they finally settled on as His terrible sin was His claim to be the Son of God (Mt 26:64; Lk 22:70-71)–no sin at all if it’s the truth!
Yet on this basis, they hauled Him off to Pilate, to get him to do the dirty work the Roman law forbade them: putting Him to death. But Pilate, after examining Him, could only say, “I find no fault in this Man” (Lk 23:4,14).
Herod, also, when Pilate tried to pass the buck (or rather, Lamb) to him, also failed to find any fault (Lk 23:15), and passed Him back to Pilate.
As for the crowd demanding Christ’s crucifixion, when Pilate cried out to them, “Why? What evil has He done?” they gave no answer, only louder demand for Jesus’ death (Lk 23:21-23).
Judas lamented, “I have betrayed innocent blood!” (Mt 27:4).
The centurion overseeing His crucifixion said, “Certainly this was a righteous man!” (Lk 23:47).
And finally, the thief on the cross, who earlier had evidently joined the mob’s reviling (Mt 27:44), repented before he died, and declared, “We are punished justly, …getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong” (Lk 23:41 NIV).
This cloud of witnesses is nothing short of amazing. It includes all the high officials, and the lowest of the low, even those who tried hardest to find sin in Him.
Faultless, He was. Faultless, we aren’t! We need that “Lamb of God,” to “take away the sin of the world.” Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!