Saturday, January 15, 2011

Lamb of God


I pray and sing the "Lamb of God" at Mass and hardly ever think of its full significance. In John 1:29 John the Baptist points out Jesus by saying, "Here is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world." In John's Gospel, after the Crucifixion, the soldiers are breaking the legs of those crucified, a common Roman practice. The shock would kill them if the crucifixion didn't. But when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they didn't break his legs. John says this fulfilled the Scripture, "None of his bones shall be broken."
This is from the Old Testament book of Exodus where it refers to the lamb that the Israelites killed and ate the night before their deliverance from slavery in Egypt. On that night each Israelite family was told to smear some blood of that lamb on the outside of their door frame. The angel of death would come through the city killing the oldest son of each Egyptian family, but he would "pass over" the homes marked with the blood of the lamb.
Every year after that the Israelites celebrated a meal to remember their deliverance from Egypt. They called it the Passover. Jesus was crucified while the Jews were celebrating Passover. The early Christians came to see Jesus as the new Passover Lamb whose sacrifice saved the world from the death of sin. The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.
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