The Lamb of Moses and Christ, the True Lamb

Epiphany 2 Sunday

John 1:29

“The next day, John saw Jesus coming toward him and said: Look, this is the Lamb of God who bears the sin of the world.”

This is a beautiful, glorious testimony of John concerning the new government and kingdom of Christ, how it shall begin. And these are plain, clear words where John clearly expresses what people are to think of Christ. It is a powerful word. In John 1:17, it says that “the law is given through Moses.” Moses is not praised much there. But here Moses is assaulted quite forcefully, as if he wanted to say: “You Jews kill an Easter lamb every year, as Moses commanded you to do. Additionally, you daily kill two little lambs, sacrificing and burning one in the morning and one in the evening. To be sure, they are lambs. But you Jews make such a big to-do about them, lauding and praising these sacrifices to the point that our Lord God is nothing compared to their holiness and is eclipsed and dishonored by them.” This is why they should compare the true Lamb and Moses’s lamb, the one that the law of Moses commanded the Jews to kill and eat, which is a lamb men take from a shepherd. But this is God’s Lamb, a much different Lamb. For it is to be ordained to carry on its back the sins of the whole world. “By comparison, all your lambs you cook and eat and kill in the temple on an annual basis are nothing. To be sure, the Easter lamb in the law was a fine child’s play and a discipline, ordained for the purpose of reminding you of this true Lamb of God. But you interpret it as if it should take away your sins when it is killed and sacrificed. But you must not think this: Your lambs will not accomplish this. Only this Lamb of God will.” Those lambs in the law were only to be toys for the people to remind them of the true Easter Lamb that was to be sacrificed one day. But they despised all this and thought that it was enough for them to kill a lamb on Easter, Exodus 12. This is why John juxtaposed, so to speak, the lamb of Moses and Christ, the true Lamb. For the law also was not to go any further than to Christ. He wanted to say: “Your lamb was taken from men, as Moses commanded it to do in God’s law. But this is God’s Lamb, and the Easter Lamb is our Lord God’s Lamb, not a human lamb taken from the wethers, as Moses’s lamb was the lamb of the shepherds or men.” As if he should say: “This is the true Lamb that takes away the sin of the people. To be sure, you looked for the forgiveness of sins with the other lambs on Easter, but you did not find it. You find the forgiveness with this Lamb born of a virgin. It is not a natural lamb or wether, like those in the law, but it is a Lamb nonetheless. For God ordained it so that he should be a Lamb that would be killed and cooked on the cross for our sins. Otherwise he was a man like any other man, but God made him into a Lamb that was to bear the sin of the whole world.” This is a fine and comforting sermon concerning Christ, our Savior. We cannot reach it with our words or even our thoughts. But in the future life we will forever rejoice and delight in the fact that the Son of God stoops so low and takes my sin on his back–in fact, not just my sin, but also the sin of the whole world, committed from Adam until the very last man–this sin he willingly claims as his own and also wants to suffer and die for it so that I would be without sin
and obtain eternal life and salvation.
St. Louis ed., 7:1716-1718.
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