Progressive Revelation in the Bible – Part 4

 In Earl McClure, Preaching & Teaching

We have followed J. Sidlow Baxter through the first six of the 10 passages that he uses to demonstrate the progressive revelation of Jesus as the Lamb of God in the Bible (Baxter, The Main Theme of the Bible, Tyndale House Publishers, © 1973). The Scriptures give us an increase in and expansion of the disclosure of the nature of the Lamb from the necessity, provision, slaying, and character of the Lamb to the fact that the lamb is a person, and indeed is the person of Jesus. In this post we examine the next two passages to which Baxter refers, a text from Acts and a text from Peter’s First Letter.

From Acts 8 we read this:
And he [Phillip] rose and went. And there was an Ethiopian, a eunuch, a court official of Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, who was in charge of all her treasure. He had come to Jerusalem to worship and was returning, seated in his chariot, and he was reading the prophet Isaiah. And the Spirit said to Philip, “Go over and join this chariot.” So Philip ran to him and heard him reading Isaiah the prophet and asked, “Do you understand what you are reading?” And he said, “How can I, unless someone guides me?” And he invited Philip to come up and sit with him. Now the passage of the Scripture that he was reading was this: “Like a sheep he was led to the slaughter and like a lamb before its shearer is silent, so he opens not his mouth. In his humiliation justice was denied him. Who can describe his generation? For his life is taken away from the earth.” And the eunuch said to Philip, “About whom, I ask you, does the prophet say this, about himself or about someone else?” Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning with this Scripture he told him the good news about Jesus. And as they were going along the road they came to some water, and the eunuch said, “See, here is water! What prevents me from being baptized?” And Phillip said, “If you believe with all your heart, you may.” And he replied, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.” (Acts 8:27-37 ESV)

This passage brings us to the next revelation. Phillip the Evangelist, through the work of the Holy Spirit, meets an Ethiopian along the road. The Ethiopian is on his way home after worshipping in Jerusalem so he is at least a God-fearer if not a convert to Judaism. He is reading from the prophet Isaiah, chapter 53, the same chapter from which our fifth revelation came, that the lamb is a person. The man doesn’t understand the Scripture and Phillip starts to explain, beginning from the very verse that perplexed the Ethiopian, that Jesus is the Lamb of God. If you are looking in your Bible for the final exchange between Phillip and the Ethiopian you may not find it; not all versions of the Bible include it. (The ESV doesn’t include verse 37 in the main text of the book but does include it in the footnotes. Apparently some ancient texts of Acts have it and some do not, and Bible publishers decide on their own whether to include it.) However, verse 37 has the seventh revelation about the Lamb and that is crucial for our study; that the Lamb of God, Jesus, is the promised Christ. We may think of Jesus Christ as His name, Jesus the first name and Christ the last name. But Christ is really a title meaning that Jesus is God’s Anointed One or in Hebrew God’s Messiah. This Anointed One is a deliverer who would free Israel from all oppression and rule the people in justice.

Our next text in the revelation of the Lamb of God is from Peter’s First Letter.
Knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot. He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times for the sake of you who through him are believers in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God. (1 Peter 1:18-21 ESV)

Peter takes another large step forward in the revelation of the Lamb of God. Previously we have learned that the Lamb is a person, specifically Jesus, and that the Lamb must be slain. During His ministry Jesus told us Himself that He would die but rise from the dead (e.g. Mark 9:31, John 2:19). Now Peter ties all previous revelation together with the phrases “the precious blood of Christ” and “a lamb without blemish or spot” and “God, who raised him from the dead”, revealing to us that Jesus Christ the Lamb of God will be resurrected after He has been slain.

In the next and final post in this series on the progressive revelation of the Lamb of God we turn to two passages from the book of Revelation to reveal more about the nature of the Lamb of God.

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