Updated: Aug 7, 2020
When we think of the book of Revelation, we often think of the Antichrist, the Mark of the Beast, or about God’s acts of judgment. But what we may miss is the beautiful portrait of salvation that we find in its message.
One of the ways that Revelation's prophecy highlights Christ's redeeming work is through the portrayal of Jesus as “the Lamb.” The apostle John refers to Christ as the Lamb twenty-eight times in Revelation’s message! But before we hear of Christ as the Lamb in Revelation, John records John the Baptist proclaiming Jesus as the Lamb of God (John 1:29, 36). At this event, as Christ approached the Jordan River to be baptized, John cried out, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!”
“Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!”
When John the Baptist identified Jesus as the Lamb, the Jews would have understood him as proclaiming Jesus as the prophet Isaiah's lamb. Seven hundred years earlier, Isaiah prophesied about Israel's future redemption. He spoke of a lamb who is "led to slaughter" and who will give himself "as a guilt offering," to "bear their iniquities." In this way, he will "justify the many" (Isa. 53:7b, 10-11). John the Baptist's declaration of Jesus as the lamb, the promised Messiah, would have rocked the Israelite's world.
At the Baptist's announcement of the Lamb of God, the Jewish listener likely also thought of the Passover lamb. Originally, the blood of this sacrificed lamb was shed to deliver Israel from slavery in Egypt into the Promised Land (Ex. 12:13-28). The Passover with its sacrificial lamb was then celebrated every year as a memorial for the Israelites. Additionally, a lamb sacrificed for sins would be familiar to the Israelite's everyday experience. They raised lambs to sacrifice for their sins in the temple. These sacrifices were a shadow of the Lamb who would come and take away the world’s sin once for all.
In Revelation, when the apostle John refers to Jesus as the Lamb, he is reminding us that Jesus gave His life for ours. He bore our sin so that we can have forgiveness and eternal life. Revelation tells us that saints overcome “by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony” (Rev. 12:11). In Revelation, we see beyond the slain lamb to the Lamb who God has exalted, "Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing" (Rev. 5:12). Lastly, Revelation contains the promise of salvation's future fulness, "The Lamb in the center of the throne will be their shepherd, and will guide them to springs of the water of life; and God will wipe every tear from their eyes” (Rev. 7:17). Selah.
"The Lamb in the center of the throne will be their shepherd, and will guide them to springs of the water of life."
Revelation's message of the Lamb crowns God’s story of redemption. As God’s message of Christ’s salvation fills our hearts, let’s sing grateful praises unto the Lamb of God!
Study the book of Revelation-A women's Bible study: Come Lord Jesus: A Woman's Walk—Spirit, Body & Soul—Through the Book of Revelation.