Progressive Revelation in the Bible – Part 3
Previously we learned about the first four of 10 passages in the Bible that J. Sidlow Baxter used in his book, The Master Theme of the Bible (Tyndale House Publishers, © 1973) to demonstrate that the Bible, over time, releases more and more information on a topic, in this case how Jesus is the Lamb of God. From Genesis to Exodus to Leviticus Baxter chose verses that reveal more details about the Lamb of God. In this post we look at the next two passages that Baxter highlights – one from the prophet Isaiah and one from the Gospel of John.
From Isaiah 53 we read:
All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned – every one – to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth. By oppression and judgment, he was taken away; and as for his generation, who considered that he was cut off out of the land of the living, stricken for the transgression of my people? (Isaiah 53:6-8 ESV)
Up to now the lamb has been an animal, “of the flock” (Genesis 4), “a ram” (Genesis 22), “a lamb” (Exodus 12), “from the herd or from the flock” (Leviticus 22). Isaiah marks a huge step forward in the revelation of the lamb – the lamb is not an animal at all but a person! “He was oppressed”, “he was afflicted”, “he was taken away”. Isaiah makes this very clear when he distinguishes between the lamb and the person: “he was … like a lamb”, not “he was … a lamb”. Isaiah’s revelation tells us that the Lamb of God is a person.
Now we move from the seventh century B.C. (Old Testament era) to the first century A.D. (New Testament era). In the first chapter of the Gospel of John we see:
These things took place in Bethany across the Jordan, where John was baptizing. The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” … The next day again John was standing with two of his disciples, and he looked at Jesus as he walked by and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God!” (John 1:28-29, 35-36 ESV)
John the Apostle records that two different times on two different days John the Baptist identified Jesus as the Lamb of God. The Holy Spirit inspired John to write this twice because it is so important. How did John the Baptist know that Jesus was the Lamb of God? When John was called to baptize, he was told that he would baptize Someone on whom the Spirit would descend like a dove, and that Someone would baptize with the Holy Spirit (John 1:33). John witnessed the Holy Spirit descend on Jesus at His baptism and so could testify “Behold, the Lamb of God!” John the Baptist absolutely identifies Jesus as the Lamb of God.
These two Scriptural texts have made great progress in the revelation of the Lamb of God. From the necessity of the lamb, to God’s provision of the lamb, to the slaying of the lamb, to the character of the lamb, we now add that the lamb is not an animal but is actually a person, and not just any person but the person of Jesus! Surely this must be the end of the Bible’s revelation of the Lamb of God, but, no, we aren’t even close to the end. In the next post we will look at a passage from Acts and one from the First Letter of Peter to learn more about the Lamb of God.