Entering Jerusalem that fateful pre-Passover day (so I’ve been taught), He approached amid a great bleating multitude of sacrificial lambs, coming to be slaughtered.
They didn’t know. He did. Did each pace forward throb with the foreknowledge?
And what about His Father?
If you’ve ever raised a handful of beloved sheep (as Husband and I have), the thought of killing one for sacrifice tears at your heart. If the lamb in question is the best of the flock, flawless, one who runs to you when you enter the pasture and follows at your knee with devotion, so much the harder.
It seems such waste, such loss, so unjust, and so personally painful.
What if it were your own little lamb in greater ways: what if it were your child? Your only child?
Yet God is the One Who prescribed this lamb sacrifice, knowing that’s what it would lead to…
Leviticus says that not just at Passover but various times through each year, multitudes of such sheep—and bulls, and goats—had to face slaughter as sacrifices for the people. At Passover their blood sprinkled doorposts to mark death’s passing over those who had put their trust in God via that blood (Ex 12:22-23). Other times it sprinkled the altar, and the animal’s head and limbs were laid “in order on the wood,” offered as a “sweet aroma to the LORD,” in atonement for those who had laid their hands on the animal’s head (Lev 1:2-9).
However, the Bible also says, the blood of any animals (no matter how innocent) cannot take away sin, and so the process had to repeat every year (Heb 10:4).
Then came that man, that mysterious man, whom John called both “Logos” (meaning “Word”—John 1:1-2,14), and “Lamb” (John 1:29). Born in flesh like any little lamb, He grew to perfect maturity, and emerged from Nazarene obscurity with John’s announcement, “Behold the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world.” Now, at this landmark Passover, the priests, searching Him diligently for flaw or evil defect, could find none—none at all (Mt 26:59-61). Nor could Pilate (John 18:38).
Then (how bitterly ironic!) the temple officials laid their hands on His head in the form of slaps and blows (Mt 26:67). They approved His horrible slaughter. His head and limbs were “laid in order on the wood.”
They had to be men of their priestly station. It had to be a flawless “lamb” they offered—and more than that. It had to be God Himself in bodily form, offering Himself for humanity. For no mere human since Eden’s Fall has lived without the taint of sin (Rom 3:23).
Yet the priests who offered that Perfect Sacrifice didn’t realize that’s what they were doing. (Or did one? What did Caiaphas, the high priest, mean about one man should die for the people (John 11:50)? Strange statement, that!)
And so, as Isaiah had prophesied, “He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers” (sheared of his clothes, Mt 27:28) “is silent, He opened not his mouth. He was taken… from judgment… cut off from the land of the living. For the transgression of My people He was stricken… And He bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors” (Isa 53:7-8,12).
The perfect sacrifice, once for all.