Note: This blog post is part of an ongoing series on the final 24 hours of the life of the Savior.
We often refer to Jesus Christ as “The Lamb of God.” This is a true title for the Savior, and it’s interesting that in the Bible, we only see Jesus Christ given this title in The Gospel of John and the book of Revelation. Within the Gospel of John, there are four key ways that Jesus Christ is shown to be “The Lamb of God.”
First, John the Baptist twice refers to Jesus as “The Lamb of God.” That one is pretty straightforward! 😊
Second, and this is subtle but important, John places the Passover on a different day than Matthew, Mark, and Luke. In Matthew 26:19, Mark 14:14, Luke 22:13, the Last Supper is a Passover meal. But in John this is not the case. In John, on the morning that Christ would be crucified, the Jewish authorities, “led they Jesus from Caiaphas unto the hall of judgment… they themselves went not into the judgment hall, lest they should be defiled; but that they might eat the Passover” (John 18:28). In other words, the Passover was to happen that evening, so they didn’t want to enter the Pilate’s residence. Similarly, later that day, at 12:00 PM, Pilate says to the crowd, “Behold your king,” and it’s explicit that “It was the preparation of the passover” (John 19:14). The Passover meal would begin in just a few hours. Why is the timing of the Passover different in John? Likely, it’s to help us see that Jesus is “The Lamb of God.”
BYU Professor Eric Huntsman writes, “According to Josephus, on the preparation day leading up to Passover, lambs were slaughtered in the temple beginning at the ninth hour and continuing until the eleventh hour, so the sacrifices would be completed before the festival began at sundown. While John does not give an actual time for Jesus’s death on the cross, the synoptics indicate that He died at or near the ninth hour (see Matthew 27:46–50; Mark 15:34–37; Luke 23:44–46). In other words, Jesus, the Lamb of God, died as a sacrifice on the cross at the moment that the priests of the temple began slaughtering the Paschal Lambs.”
A third way that Christ is portrayed as the Lamb of God is that John is very specific that the Roman soldiers “they brake not [Christ’s] legs…For these things were done, that the scripture should be fulfilled, A bone of him shall not be broken” (John 19:33, 36), clearly sending us back to the Passover lamb: “neither shall ye break a bone thereof” (Exodus 12:46).
A fourth and very subtle way that Christ is portrayed as the Lamb of God comes while he is on the cross. In response to the Savior’s statement that he was thirsty, somebody nearby “filled a sponge with vinegar, and put it upon hyssop, and put it to his mouth” (John 19:29). Note that it was a hyssop branch that was used to lift the liquid to the Savior. This provides another connection to the Passover lamb. On the night of the first Passover, Moses instructed, “Draw out and take you a lamb according to your families, and kill the Passover [lamb]. And ye shall take a bunch of hyssop, and dip it in the blood that is in the basin, and strike the lintel and the two side posts with the blood that is in the basin” (Exodus 12:21–22). It was the hyssop branch that was used to take the blood of the Passover lamb and save the Israelites, just as a hyssop branch was used as Christ’s blood was being shed for the sins of the world.
John the Baptist’s declaration, Christ dying at the same time as the Passover lambs, no broken bones, hyssop. Four testimonies in the Gospel of John that Jesus Christ is “The Lamb of God.” This Lamb was slain so that we could be forgiven and have “peace through the blood of his cross” (Colossians 1:20).
Read more about the final 24 hours of the life of the Savior.