Dear Brothers and Sisters,
In the Gospel we heard John introducing Jesus as the ‘Lamb of God’. Lamb of God is one of the names of Jesus that very close to my heart. This is a title that we use often in the Holy Mass. What does the Lamb of God mean? Why Jesus is called the Lamb of God? To understand, we need to go through the sacred scriptures.
The Lamb of God is the most meaningful title given to Jesus in the Bible. It is used 29 times in the book of Revelation. It sums up the love, the sacrifice and the triumph of Christ. We see in the Old Testament five different references to the Lamb of God. 1) The Lamb of Atonement (Lev. 16:20-22). A lamb was brought to the Temple on the Day of Atonement (“Yom Kippur”). Placing his hands over its head, the high priest transferred all the sins of his people to the lamb. It was then sent into the wilderness (as the lamb who takes away the sins of the Jews) to be killed by some wild animal. 2) The Lamb of Daily Atonement (Ex.29: 38-42; Numbers 28: 1-8). This was the lamb sacrificed on the “Black Altar” of the Temple every morning and evening to atone for the sins of the Jews. 3) The Paschal Lamb (Ex. 12: 11ss.). The Paschal Lamb’s blood saved the firstborn of the Jewish families in Egypt from the “Angel of destruction.” The event was memorialized yearly in the sacrifice of the Paschal Lamb at Passover. 4) The Lamb of the Prophets, an image portraying one who, by his sacrifice, would redeem his people: “The gentle lamb led to the slaughterhouse” (Jer. 11: 19), “like a lamb to the slaughter” (Is 53:7). Both, as we know, refer to the sufferings and sacrificial death of Christ. 5) The Lamb of the Conquerors. The picture of a horned lamb on the Jewish flag at the time of the Maccabeus Liberation War was used as a sign of conquering majesty and power. The great Jewish conquerors like Samuel, David and Solomon were described by the ancient Jewish historians as “horned lambs.”
Christ as the Lamb of God is a title familiar to us. In the Eucharist, we pray five times using this title of Jesus. 1) In the Gloria: Lord God, Lamb of God, Son of the Father you take away the sins of the world, have mercy on us. 2) Three times at “the breaking of the bread,” we proclaim what John the Baptist said, in word or song. Our traditional “fractional anthem” is the Agnus Dei – “Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world, have mercy on us/grant us peace.” 3) Finally as the priest elevates the Body and Blood of Christ: “Behold the Lamb of God, Behold Him who takes away the sins of the world. Blessed are those called to the supper of the Lamb.” In these prayers, we give expression to our deepest understanding of the identity and purpose of Jesus Christ as our Lamb and Lord. By His life of love and sacrifice, we believe and affirm that He is the one who came and continues to come into a broken world to take our sins upon Himself. So each time when we repeat this prayer at the Holy Mass pay attention and pray with your heart for He is the Lamb of Atonement, He is the Pascal Lamb, He is the Lamb who was foretold by the prophets and He is the Triumphant Lamb who conquered sin and death.
God Bless You,