Behold The Lamb
A Sermon Delivered On Sunday Morning, July 14, 1872, By C. H. Spurgeon, At The Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington *10/1/2011
Behold the Lamb of God! (Joh 1:36)
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1. It is the preacher’s principal business, I think I might say, his only business, to cry, “Behold the Lamb of God!” For this reason John was born and sent into the world, and such were the prophecies which went before concerning him. If he had been the most eloquent preacher of repentance, if he had been the most earnest declaimer against the sins of the times, he would, nevertheless, have missed his lifework, if he had forgotten to say, “Behold the Lamb of God.” He did well when he baptized the repenting crowd, he spoke nobly when he faced the Pharisees, and was a true hero when he rebuked Herod, but after all his chief errand was to herald the Messiah, to bear witness to the Son of God. What we have said of John we may say of every God sent minister: he is sent to bear witness to the Christ of God, and whatever else he may do, if he does not do this continually, habitually, earnestly, he is not fulfilling the errand for which his Master sent him, but has turned aside to baser ends. When any one of us who are called ministers shall die, and come before the Lord to turn in our account, it will be a sorry thing for us if we can only say, “Lord, I have preached the dogmas of the church to which I belonged,” unless we can also add that we have directed men to the living Saviour. It will be vain to have argued with accurate logic, and persuaded with lofty rhetoric, unless we have uplifted Christ among the people. It will be idle to say, “I have preached against the scepticism of the times, I have rebuked the sins which raged around me, and have proclaimed what I knew concerning the glory of God in nature and in providence,” for our chief and distinguishing work is to declare the name of the Lord Jesus and the power of his precious blood. As the stars called “the Pointers” always point to the Pole star, so must we always point to the Redeemer. I think the minister who has failed to cry, “Behold the Lamb of God,” may expect at the last to be cut in pieces, and to have his portion with the tormentors. I can scarcely conceive a doom too terrible for the man who dazzled his hearers with oratorical fireworks, when he ought to have lifted up the cross, and mocked immortal souls with the carved stone of his elocution when they were starving for the bread of heaven. Sermons without Christ condemn the preacher and delude the hearer. Sermons which do not point to Christ in them will be as hard to answer for as blasphemy or murder when the Judge is on his great white throne. It is cruel to amuse with trifles those whose souls are in jeopardy of eternal fire. Playing with men’s souls is murderous work, and truly if the Lamb of God is not preached, the ministry is playing with souls, if not worse. John, however, most thoroughly discharged his lifework, for he was always saying, “Behold the Lamb of God.”
2. Notice in the text the attitude of the preacher, for it is very instructive. “Looking upon Jesus as he walked,” John said, “Behold the Lamb of God!” The preacher’s eye should be upon his Master while he points to his Master. They preach Christ best who see him best. John had his own eyes fastened upon Jesus, and therefore he did by his own example as well as by his word say, “Behold the Lamb of God.” If you will take your place in a crowded street, and stand for a few minutes looking at a certain object in the heavens, or gaze upward as if something were to be seen there, you will soon find that without asking others to do the same a crowd will gather around you and begin to look in the same direction. Indeed, a vast crowd might be collected, by no other action than by you yourself gazing intently into the air. So John, in addition to his saying, “Behold the Lamb of God,” was doing the best thing to attract others to behold him — when he fixed his own eyes on Jesus, with fixed wondering, admiring, adoring gaze. John had no eye for anyone except “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world,” and therefore his words had point and power in them. And notice that John’s eye was upon Christ, not only when Christ was coming to him, but as he walked by him. Well may the preacher have his Master before him when his Master is cheering him with his fellowship and honouring him with his presence; but, on this occasion, Jesus was walking alone, as though in meditation, with his eyes probably looking toward the ground. It was not fitting that he should always be coming to John; he had done that once, and so had put an honour upon his servant, but this time he did not come to him lest men should think that he had any dependence upon John, but he walked in quiet musing as though his thoughts were otherwise occupied. Nevertheless, the Baptist had not forgotten his Lord, but again pointed him out. If the Lord denies to the preacher his comforting presence, if no light of fellowship shines out from the brow of the Crucified, it is still ours whenever and wherever we preach to let the eye of faith realise Christ as present, and still to cry to others with a heart that palpitates in union with our words, “Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.” Even when I preach in chains I would labour to honour Jesus, looking to him as the goal and object of every word I utter.
3. It is mine to preach a Saviour in whom I believe, whom having not seen I love. I am looking to him now for everything, even as I would have you do. I see in him superlative beauties which I wish you to see, and I worship a divinity in him which I desire that you worship. I do not preach to you an unknown God, or an untried Saviour.
4. There is something notable in our text concerning the hearers. This was a brief but weighty sermon, worthy to be preached a thousand times. No one needs a new sermon when “Behold the Lamb of God” is the old one. John had delivered this same discourse before an assembled crowd; but now he had only two hearers, and those two were not unconverted people; they were disciples of his own, and they were at least very near to the kingdom if not already in it. Yet to the solitary two and those already disciplined he had only the same message to deliver, “Behold the Lamb of God.” He was a man of rich mind and ready utterance, yet he kept to his one point in all gatherings. It is thought that if we go into the theatre to preach to the crowd, we must be sure to preach Christ: let me ask you what subject would be more fit for an assembly of saints? Please tell me. It has been said that he who preaches in the street ought to confine himself to the simple gospel: my brethren, in what place would that subject be inappropriate or unprofitable? Paul knew nothing among the Corinthians except Jesus Christ and him crucified, the resolve is a safe one for all gatherings. In this respect some preachers know too much, and the sooner they join the holy know-nothings the better. Christ is appropriate as a subject for two disciples as well as for a thousand scoffers, for while he is the resurrection to those who are dead, he is also the life of those who have been already quickened. No subject is more sweet, more refreshing, more inspiring, more sanctifying to the saint than the Cross of our dying Lord: the sinner needs it if he would be saved, but the saint requires it so that he may persevere, advance, conquer, and attain perfection. Give me that harp and let my fingers never leave its strings, the harp whose strings resound the love of Christ alone. To harp upon the name of Jesus is the blessed monotony of a true ministry, a monotony more full of variety than all other subjects besides. When Jesus is the first, the midst, and the last, yes, all in all, then we make full proof of our ministry. We do well when we are able to say, “of the things which we have spoken this is the sum, we have such a high priest who is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens.” May Christ be “all in all” in all our ministries, for so shall we prove that God has called us to testify concerning his son Jesus.
5. This may serve as an introduction to our subject. Now let us take the text itself: John says, “Behold Lamb of God.”
6. And first let us behold Jesus, and know him to be the Lamb of God. It will be well to be fully assured upon that point, and heartily to accept the witness of God concerning his Son. When we have done so let us secondly behold him, that is contemplate him, and humbly and attentively view him as the great propitiation, the true sacrifice for sin; then thirdly, beholding him again, let us gather instruction from the Redeemer’s appearance as the Lamb of God; and fourthly, let us behold him, that is, reverently adore him in his blessed capacity as the Lamb slain.
7. I. First then, let us behold our Lord, and LEARN THAT HE IS THE LAMB OF GOD.
8. What does the term mean, “the Lamb of God?” The Hebrews are accustomed to use the expression that a thing is “of God” when they mean that it is the greatest, the noblest, the chief of the kind. For example, they call the cedars “trees of God,” and the thunder is the “voice of God.” So that we may understand in the first place by the expression “the Lamb of God” that Jesus is the chief of all sacrifices, the first of all offerings by which atonement is made to God for sin. And truly he is so. He stands above all others because he contains all others. All other sacrifices of God’s ordaining were only pictures, representations, symbols, and shadows of himself. There is only one sacrifice for sin, there never was another and there never can be. All those offerings under the Aaronic priesthood which were presented because of sin were only representations of the one sacrifice; they were that and nothing more. Jesus far excels them all. Beloved, if you want to see the lamb that Abel offered on the altar, the lamb because of which God accepted his faith, and had respect for him, you must see Jesus Christ, for we are accepted in the Beloved. God has respect for any man who brings this sacrifice; but to any who bring a bloodless sacrifice, such as the Cainites of Rome foolishly do when they offer the bloodless sacrifice of the mass, God has no respect for them, and never can have. The blood of Jesus once presented has put away sin for ever, and no further sin offering can be brought. Whoever rests in Jesus as the true and only sacrifice is accepted in his faith. If you desire to see the lamb which Noah offered when he came out of the ark, together with other sacrifices of which it is said that “The Lord smelled a sweet savour of rest,” you must look to Jesus Christ; for the young bulls, and rams, and lambs of Noah all pointed to the one sweet savour offering of Christ Jesus offered upon the cross, where God and the souls of all believers meet in blessed union and find sweetest rest. This, beloved, is the Lamb of which Abraham spoke when he said to Isaac, “My son, God will provide a lamb for himself.” And today if you would understand the paschal supper first of all spread on that dread night when the destroying angel went through Egypt and struck the firstborn of all her land, if you would know who it is whose blood is the true Passover when it is sprinkled upon the conscience, and whose flesh is food indeed when it is fed upon by the children of God, you must look to Jesus, for he is the Lamb of God’s Passover. And if, pursuing your studies, your thoughts should take into the tabernacle of old, or into Solomon’s Temple, and you should see each morning a lamb slaughtered and its blood poured out, and each evening the same sacrifice repeated, if you desire to know what was intended by the morning and evening lambs you will find that they were only lambs of men, lambs presented by men, but they pointed to the Lamb of God, in whom their teaching is all summed up. He is the substance and they were only the shadow. Jesus is the Lamb of the morning slain from before the foundation of the world, and the Lamb of the evening offered up in these last days for his people. Thus we might speak of all other sacrifices, and show that they are all fulfilled in Jesus. Atonement for sin is truly and in very deed to be found in the Son of God. There is remission in him alone, for there is efficacy to satisfy the law in his blood alone.
9. Stern as the truth is, we ought never to flinch from repeating it, that sin cannot be put away under the moral government of God without punishment. This is a rule from which there is no variation, and there should be none, for if justice is left unsatisfied the foundations of society are out of kilter. Infinite wisdom has found for us a door of escape by the way of vicarious sacrifice, but that way does not violate justice. Seeing that we originally fell by the sin of another, namely, our representative Adam, God has seen fit that we should rise through the righteousness and sufferings of another, namely, Jesus, the second Adam. Because Jesus was one with his people, and their federal head, it was just to allow him to suffer in their place, and he has done so. Apart from this, every man must bear his own burden of sin and punishment. The only possible way by which a man can be forgiven his sin is by that sin being punished in his legal representative — the Lord Jesus. Jesus has borne what every believing sinner ought to have borne in his own person, or an equivalent for it, sufficient to compensate for the injury done to eternal justice. No other person could be a substitute for our sin, for no one else is our head and representative before God, and yet himself innocent. There is no other name given under heaven by which we may be saved. The Lord Jesus is appointed by God, and provided to be the one vicarious sufferer, the true bearer away of the sin of the world by enduring its penalty in his own person, so that whoever believes in him is redeemed from the punishment of sin. That is the gospel. I would sooner state it in the most simple language than have the power to deliver an impromptu poem, though it should excel the productions of Homer or Milton. There is more of precious truth and priceless learning in that faithful saying that “Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners” than in the most profound discourse, or the most stately epic. Be thankful that you have heard it, that there is forgiveness with God because Jesus Christ has become the Saviour of men. Oh fellow sinner, you may approach your God without being plunged into suffering yourself, or needing to bring a victim with you, for Jesus Christ has been brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and his soul has been made an offering for sin. Do not tremble, but receive the reconciliation accomplished by the Lamb of God. Come boldly, for the way is open, and man is invited to approach his God.
10. Moreover, our Saviour is called the Lamb of God, not only, par excellence, because he is, beyond all others such; but, secondly, because he is the Lamb of God’s appointing. God from all eternity appointed the Lord Jesus. He was chosen and ordained to be the great Sacrifice for Sin. So it was decreed and written of him in the volume of the Book, that oldest of books, “I delight to do your will, oh God.” In the fulness of time Jesus came to do the Father’s will, and therefore it is plain that there was such a will to do, such a decree to fulfil. Jesus is elect, precious. Peter tells us that the Lord Jesus is “a lamb without blemish and without spot, who truly was foreordained from before the foundation of the world.” Jesus is the choice of the Father. Our hearts rejoice that it is so, for when we rely upon Jesus Christ to save us we trust in one whom God has appointed to save his people. If as a poor guilty sinner I leave my sin upon Christ the Lamb of God, I leave it where God has asked me to leave it, namely, on the appointed scapegoat; I rest in a sacrifice which God himself ordained of old to be the sacrifice for sin. Oh soul, there can be no question that if you come to the Father in the way in which he himself appoints you come acceptably; for if you were not accepted you might well say, “Oh God, you have presented Christ as a Saviour, and yet you do not save men through him. You have asked him to say, ‘Him who comes to me I will in no wise cast out,’ yet I have come and you have cast me out. May this be far from you, Lord.” Such an event shall never happen. No human lips shall utter such a complaint. God’s appointment is the guarantee of the acceptance of everyone who believes in Jesus.
11. Thirdly, Christ is called the “Lamb of God” because he is of God’s providing. The Father not only appointed his Son to be the sacrifice for sin, but he gave him freely to be such. Out of the bosom of God came Jesus Christ as love’s richest blessing. He is the Father’s only begotten, God’s dear Son, and to us “his unspeakable gift.” “He did not spare his own Son, but freely delivered him up for us all.” “Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” Men were asked to provide the sacrifice under the law, but the one sacrifice of the Gospel is the gift of God. “This is the record that God has given to us, eternal life, and that life is in his Son.” It endears Jesus to us to know that he is the dearest pledge of Jehovah’s love to his chosen.
12. And then, fourthly. He is not only of God’s appointing and God’s giving, but he is of God’s offering. Let us never forget that Jesus Christ was not presented to God by a human priest; there might then have been some mistake in the sacrifice. It was not left to the sons of Aaron to offer up this true sacrifice to God; so that we may be quite sure that the offering was presented correctly and in an acceptable way, it is written, “It pleased the Father to bruise him, he has put him to grief. The Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.” God himself had a hand in the sufferings of his Son. What does that cry mean, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” But that God himself had turned away from him, and so had brought his soul into the extremity of woe. What do the Scriptures say? Is it not the Father’s voice which says, “Wake up, oh sword, against my Shepherd, and against the man who is my companion.” Oh, beloved, when I think of this, that God chose his Son to be the atonement, that he gave his Son, and then himself did, as it were like another Abraham, offer up his own Isaac, I feel that the sacrifice must be acceptable and all sufficient, so that he who rests in it, need not have a shadow of a doubt that his soul is saved.
13. One other reflection here: this sacrifice is also of God’s presentation to the sons of men. Remember the text, “Whom God has presented to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God.” When we, as God’s ambassadors, tell you about Jesus Christ, we do not do so in our name but we do our Lord’s bidding, and God himself by us is presenting Christ, showing him, revealing him, exhibiting him, and inviting you to come to him. “Behold,” says God “I have given him for a covenant to the people, a leader and commander to the people.” This is God’s will, that Christ should be made known to the ends of the earth. Everywhere Jesus is to be preached, whether men will bow before him or not. We are quite sure we are doing God’s will when we are presenting Christ, for we are asked to go into all the world and preach him to every creature. Assuredly, what the Lord presents like this he intends to give to those who seek it. There are no mockeries with God. He does not display bread and refuse it to the hungry, or put clothing before the naked and refuse it to them. Happy are the men who see Jesus presented obviously crucified among them, for they have good reason to hope in him.
14. Now then, sinner, look at this. You want to be rid of your sin; you are conscious of it this morning, and you confess it with shame. Well then, God’s way of pardoning you is that your sin is laid on Jesus. As far as you are concerned, you can obtain all the merit of the great atonement of Calvary by a simple act of faith. As of old the Jew laid his hand upon the victim, and then the victim was his substitute, so if you only lay your trembling hand upon Christ, he suffered for you; he was an atonement for you, and what a blessed atonement! Let us rehearse that point again, he is the chief of all sacrifices, the sacrifice of God’s ordaining, of God’s bestowing, of God’s presenting, and now of God’s revealing to you. What more would you have? In order that all things might be by God in this matter, from first to last, Jesus is the Lamb of God; is this not well? Jesus is God’s own chosen Saviour, what can be better? On what surer ground would you wish to rest? Oh that you were led to receive him now to be yours for ever. Jesus is my all, and I am a man as you are; why should he not be yours also?
I feel as if I could tarry here just a minute and pass around among
all this audience, this one solemn question for each one to
answer — will you accept Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of God, to be for
your soul the Lamb of God who takes away your sin? Come, what do you
say? It is ours to point to him and to bear our witness, will you
accept our testimony? Truly he is a great God and a Saviour. We have
trusted in him and we are not confounded. Oh, if the Spirit of God
sweetly leads you now to say from your heart —
My faith doth lay her hand
On that dear head of thine,
While like a penitent I stand,
And there confess my sin —
it is indeed well with you both for time and eternity. Be of good cheer, your sins, which are many, are forgiven you! Go your way, you are accepted in the Beloved! Your iniquities are blotted out like a cloud: not one of them shall be mentioned against you any more for ever. Oh blessed Spirit of God out of your great mercy grant that many, many hearts may lay hold upon the Lord Jesus to this at this hour.
16. II. But now we must pass on to a second point. “Behold the Lamb of God,” that is, let us CONTEMPLATE JESUS UNDER THAT CHARACTER. Let us meditate upon him for a few minutes and then let us constantly fix our thoughts upon him.
17. Jesus Christ, as the atoning sacrifice, ought to be the principal object of every believer’s thoughts. There are other subjects in the world which we must think of, for we are still in the body; but this one subject ought to engross our souls, and, as the birds fly to their nests so ought we, whenever our minds are let loose, to fly back to Jesus Christ. He should be the main topic of each day’s consideration and of each night’s reflection. We might, with truthfulness, transfer the words of the first psalm, and say, “Blessed is the man whose delight is in the Christ of God and who meditates in him both day and night; for he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that produces its fruit in its season; also its leaf shall not wither, and whatever he does shall prosper.”
To meditate much upon the Lamb of God, is to occupy your minds with
the grandest subject of thought in the universe. All others are
flat compared with it! What are the sciences but human ignorance
arranged in order? What are the classics but the choicest of Babel’s
jargon when compared with his teachings? What are the poets but
dreamers, and philosophers but fools in his presence? Jesus alone is
wisdom, beauty, eloquence and power. No theme for contemplation can
at all equal this most noble of all topics, — God allied to human
nature, God the Infinite, incarnate among sons of men, God in union
with humanity taking human sin, out of stupendous and condescending
love to be numbered with the transgressors, and to suffer for sin
that was not his own? Oh wonder and romance, if men desire you, they
may find you here! Oh love, if men seek you, here alone, they may
behold you! Oh wisdom, if men dig for you, here shall they discover
your purest ore! Oh happiness, if men pine for you, you dwell with
the Christ of God, and they enjoy you who live in him. Oh Lord Jesus,
you are all we need!
Such as find thee find such sweetness
Deep, mysterious and unknown;
Far above all worldly pleasures,
If they were to meet in one.
You may search the heavens above and the earth beneath; you may penetrate the secret mysteries to find out the fundamental principles and the beginnings of things, but you shall find more in the man of Nazareth, the equal with God, than in all else besides. He is the sum and substance of all truth, the essence of all creation, the soul of life; the light of light, the heaven of heavens, and yet he is far greater than all this, or all else that I could utter. There is no subject in the world so vast, so sublime, so pure, so elevating, so divine; only allow me to see the Lord Jesus, and my eye sees every precious thing.
Brethren, no subject so well balances the soul as Jesus, the Lamb
of God. Other themes disturb the mental equilibrium, and overload one
faculty at the expense of others. I have noticed in theology that
certain brethren meditate almost exclusively upon doctrine, and I
think it is not severely critical to say that they have a tendency to
become hard, rigid, and far too militant. It is to be feared that
some doctrinalists miss the spirit of Christ in fighting for the
words of Christ. God forbid I should speak against earnestly
contending for the true faith, but still without fellowship with the
living Saviour we may through controversy become poorly developed and
one sided. I think I have noticed that brethren who give all their
thoughts to experience are also somewhat unbalanced. Some of them
dwell upon the experience of human corruption until they acquire a
melancholy temperament, and are at the same time apt to censure those
who enjoy the liberty of the children of God. Other brethren turn all
their attention to the brighter side of experience, and these are not
always free from the spirit of carnal security which leads them to
look down upon trembling and anxious hearts as though they could not
possess true faith in God. I think also that I have noticed that
those who pay all their homage at the shrine of practical theology
have a tendency to become legal, and to exchange the privileges of
believers for the bondage of servants. This also is a grievous fault.
But when a man takes Christ Jesus crucified to be his mind’s main
thought he has all things in one; doctrine, experience, and practice
combined. Just as Canaan contained Carmel, and Sharon, and Eshcol,
and Hermon, so Jesus comprehends all good things. If “the Lamb of God
who takes away the sin of the world” is the object of our thoughts we
have wine and milk, butter and honey, the fat of the kidneys, of
wheat and oil out of the rock, all in one. “A bundle of myrrh is my
beloved to me,” “a cluster of camphire in the vineyards of Engedi.”
All human beauties, all divine
In my beloved meet and shine.
20. Beloved, this indeed is the most necessary subject for contemplation that can be brought before you. You may forget many other things without serious damage, and even upon important matters you may somewhat err yet be safe; but you must live upon Christ, your souls must meditate on him, or else you have left the food from the feast and missed the water from the well. The crucified Saviour is as necessary for our meditation as the air is for our breathing. The blood of Jesus is the lifeblood of true religion; a bloodless faith is a lifeless faith. I stood yesterday by the little open grave of one of our orphans, and it said far more to me than I could say to those who mourned around it, for it reminded me that there is nothing worth living for beneath the sky, since all things are as a dream. Then I thought within myself as I looked on the poor orphan lads around me — yes, there is something to live for, to help the poor and train the young, and to make men holier and happier; but then I remembered that they too, like myself, were dying creatures and therefore even the benefit received by them would also pass away. To live, then, for men is, as far as eternity is concerned, an unsatisfactory thing, unless there is some higher light in which to view it. But when the heart lives for Jesus it is not less philanthropic, for it loves men for his sake, but its object melts into the divine, for we love God when we love Jesus, since he is very God of very God. Beloved, this leads me to the very marrow of the matter; to believe in Jesus as divine is essential to real Christianity, and one of the distinguishing subjects of faith which separate Christians from other men. Individuals are to be found who possess great admiration for the prophet of Nazareth, but they do not know him as the Son of God, or as the Lamb of God; they deny his divinity, and reject his atonement. With fair words and oily speeches they compliment his character, and abuse his name with their worthless praises. Yet they are not Christians, and the name is dishonoured when they wear it. Recently we have heard deniers of our Lord’s divinity spoken of as Christian brethren; now, my common sense does not enable me to see how a man can be called a Christian who rejects Christ. Charity by all manner of means but not falsehood. Union certainly, but not union in deadly error. Confederacy with those who do not believe Jesus Christ to be God, and deny his atoning sacrifice, is treason to the Lord of glory. Such people may be excellent Mohammedans, or Jews, or pure Theists, but they are not Christians; and if they wrongly assume that title we ought not to concede it to them. In this matter he who is not with our Lord is against him, and he who does not gather with him scatters abroad. Without a distinct and hearty recognition of our Lord’s deity and atonement, how can a man be a partaker of Christ at all? True Christians have no question about these truths; to them Jesus is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world, and the Son of God, whom the world shall yet adore.
21. III. Now, let us pass on to a third line of thought, but indulge in it very briefly. Let us behold the Lamb of God, that is, GATHER INSTRUCTION FROM JESUS FROM THAT VANTAGE POINT.
22. I ask you to gather some doctrinal instruction. If the sacrifice provided by God for human sin must be none other than the Son of God himself, then sin is a gigantic evil, and then necessarily the punishment of sin is stupendous too. I observe with pain the attempt that is made to lower the meaning of Scripture upon the subject of the penalty due to sin. It has been usually believed to be everlasting, but this is now denied, denied in the teeth of express Scriptures. Now, the moment we begin to mitigate our thought concerning hell’s terrors we also lower our idea of sin’s evil, and with it we also decrease our estimate of the Saviour. All things in the temple of truth are to scale. If you take the inch scale which now seems to be getting popular you diminish the dimensions throughout! A little hell involves a little atonement. But, to be consistent, grant a divine Saviour, an infinite sacrifice, and you grant the infinite demerit of sin and then the eternity of future punishment is seen to be consistent. All these truths in Scripture lean one upon another, and your judgment upon every other will be affected by your opinion of any one. Do not err I urge you. Lift up the Christ of God and believe in the Lamb of God as none other than “very God of very God” and have him in high reverence whatever that reverence may involve. Even though your innermost soul is awed with the deepest dread and made to tremble at the fate of those who reject the Saviour and perish in their sins, still do not seek to save your feelings at your Saviour’s cost.
23. Moreover, what a conception it gives us of the love of God, the gift of the Lord Jesus for our salvation. Despite the terrible wrath of God against sin he loved the sinner so much that he gave his only Son to die for his redemption! Herein is love. Let us infer from that gift his willingness to answer prayer. “He who did not spare his own Son but freely delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?” Let us also see in this a sure proof of the security of the saints, for if Christ is the Lamb of God and no less than divine, how shall they perish for whom such a sacrifice was offered? If it is the blood of the Son of God which has bought us, we must be most effectually redeemed beyond all fear of perishing. So far you get doctrinal truth from beholding the Lamb of God.
24. Now, if you desire practical help look to the Lamb of God also. Is there a heart here troubled with sin? Do not meditate upon your sin hoping to find comfort from any consideration connected with it: you may as well look for heaven in hell. Do not look to your own resources for consolation, — you may as well search the Arctic ocean for tropical heat. “Behold the Lamb of God!” Sin vanishes when the Saviour appears. Are you tormented with the power of sin? Beloved, if you long to conquer sin within you, behold the Lamb of God! Crucified, your sin shall be upon that cross where Jesus died. Contemplations of the Saviour are the death of sin, but no other weapon will destroy them. If you suffer today from personal affliction and need fresh strength to bear it, “Behold the Lamb of God!” His way was much rougher and darker than yours, — pluck up courage, he will bear you through. He is familiar with all your griefs, his compassionate eye sees your sorrows; and oh, if you are getting weary in the battle of life and tired of serving God, “Behold the Lamb of God!” wrestling to blood, and your courage will return. Reaper in the summer’s heat, see him as he grasps the sickle with that pierced hand! What strides he makes, how untiringly he labours until his bloody sweat falls on the ground. Up and do your reaping too, working at his side. Builder in the house of God, if you do not see the temple rising as you could desire, do not lay down your trowel or the mallet, but see the Master Builder standing there with indefatigable perseverance pursuing his glorious design. Do not let self-denial or self-sacrifice be hard when the Lamb of God is before you. Do not let perseverance be difficult, or shame, or scorn be hard to endure, or defeat, or death itself, be impossible to triumph in, when the Lamb of God is before them. He conquered upon Golgotha, perhaps only there you will conquer. Only keep your eye upon the Lamb of God and this will make you strong to do and to endure.
25. I might so continue urging children of God to their profit to look to the Lamb of God, but I shall only add this, that if at any time we grow discouraged about God’s work, and are afraid that it will not succeed and so on, the very best encouragement for us is to “Behold the Lamb of God.” You become afraid that sin will conquer in your soul, — how can it, when Jesus died for you? Sin seemed to win the day when Christ was dead, but he rose again, and so you shall rise, and you shall be more than a conqueror. And in this world, is it not a very weary business to be a minister of Christ today? If I might have my choice I would sooner follow any other vocation, so far as its comfort is concerned, than this of ministering to the sons of men, for we beat the air, this deaf generation will not hear us. What is this perverse generation the better for years and years and years of preaching? Here is this land going back to the foul doctrines which its ancestors would not bear: while those who know better act in concert and continue in fellowship with the priests of Rome. The world is not worth the preaching to — we have piped to it, and it has not danced; we have mourned to it, but it has not lamented. It needs an Elijah, a man of fire and thunder, to deal with such an age as this. But for all that, there is no room for discouragement, for the truth will win the day; it is in the hand of one who cannot fail or falter. He shall not fail or be discouraged until he has set judgment in the earth, and the isles wait for his law. The fight may seem to hang in the balance today, but the conquest is sure to come to him whose right it is. He shall gather all the sceptres of kings beneath his arm in one mighty sheaf, and take their diadems from off their brows, and he himself crowned with many crowns, for God has said it, and heaven and earth shall pass away, but every promise of his must and shall be fulfilled. Push on, then, through hosts of enemies you warriors of the Cross. Fight up the hill, you soldiers of Christ, through the smoke and through the dust. You may not see your banner just now, neither do you hear the trumpet that rings out the note of victory, but the mist shall clear away, and you shall gain the summit of the hill, and your foes shall flee before you, and the King himself shall come, and you shall be rewarded who have continued steadfast in his service.
26. IV. Now the last thought was to be this. Behold the Lamb of God WITH REVERENCE. I will not dwell upon it for I do not have time.
Lift up your eyes and worship him now. He exists, he is as truly
there in heaven as he was here on earth. Behold him, worship him,
trust him, love him, for remember this, he will come before long, and
what we shall have to dread if we are unbelievers will be the wrath
of the Lamb. Read through the book of Revelation and you shall find
there, I think, more than twenty times, the Lord described as a Lamb.
The song is the “song of Moses and of the Lamb.” Worship is given “to
the Lamb, for he is worthy.” It is he who takes the book and releases
its seven seals, and it is the Lamb who shall come “to judge the
quick and the dead.” “Therefore kiss the Son lest he is angry, and
you perish from the way while his wrath is kindled only a little.”
Worship him at this hour for he comes before long. As the Lord lives
before whom I stand, he will summon everyone of you to his judgment
bar. Take heed that he is not an object of terror for you as he will
be if you continue in unbelief, but turn to him so that he may be
your joy and gladness in the day of his appearing. Amen.
[Portion of Scripture Read Before Sermon — Joh 1:19-51]