Behold the Lamb
“Behold the Lamb of God!” — John i. 36.
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 was John 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 life-work, if he had forgotten to say, “Behold the Lamb of God.” He did well when he baptized the repenting crowd, he spake 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 do not 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 give 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. Vain will it be 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 of 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. Methinks 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 scarce conceive a doom too terrible for the man who dazzled his hearers with oratorical fire works, 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 be not preached, the ministry is playing with souls, if not worse. John, however, most thoroughly discharged his life-work, for he was ever saying, a Behold the Lamb of God.”
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 did he 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 there to be seen, you will soon find that without asking others to do the same a company will gather round you and begin to look in the same direction. Indeed, avast 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 any one but “the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world,” and therefore his words had point and power in them. And note 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 bent upon the ground. It was not meet 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 came not 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 deny to the preacher his comfortable presence, if no light cf fellowship shine forth 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, which taketh away the sin of the world.” Even when I preach in chains I would labour to honour Jesus, looking to him as the end and object of every word I utter.
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 you to worship. I preach not to you au unknown God, or an untried Saviour.
There is something notable in our text as to the hearers. This was a brief but weighty sermon, worthy to be preached a thousand times. Nobody 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 persons; 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 discipled 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 companies. It is thought that if we go into the theatre to preach to the mob, we must be sure to preach Christ: let me ask you what subject, would be fitter for an assembly of saints? I pray you 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 save Jesus Christ and him crucified, the resolve is a safe one for all companies. 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 inspiriting, 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 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, yea, all in all, then do 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 an 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 hath called us to testify concerning his son Jesus.
This may serve as an introduction to our subject. Now let us take the text itself: John saith, “Behold Lamb of God.”
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 so done 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.
I. First then, let us behold our Lord, and LEARN THAT HE IS THE LAMB OF GOD.
What means the term, “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 instance, 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 but 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 unto him, you must see Jesus Christ, for we are accepted in the Beloved. God hath respect unto any man who brings this sacrifice; but unto any who bring a bloodless sacrifice, such as the Cainites of Rome foolishly do when they offer the unbloody sacrifice of the mass, unto them God hath no respect, and never can have. The blood of Jesus once presented has for ever put away sin, and no further sin-offering can be brought. Whoever resteth 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 issaid that “The Lord smelled a sweet savour of rest,” you must look to Jesus Christ; for the bullocks, 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 spake when he said to Isaac, “My son, God will provide himself a lamb.” And to-day if you would understand the paschal supper first of all spread on that dread night when the destroying angel went through Egypt and smote the first born 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 meat 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 turn 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 but 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 of that of which they were but 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 might we speak of all other sacrifices, and show that in Jesus they are all fulfilled. Atonement for sin is truly and in very deed to be found in the Son of God. In him alone is there remission, for in his blood alone is there efficacy to satisfy the law.
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 be left unsatisfied the foundations of society are out of course. 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 stead, and he has so done. 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 recompense the injury done to eternal justice. No other person could be a substitute for our sin, for no other is our head and representative before God, and yet himself innocent. There is none other name given under heaven by which we may be saved. The Lord Jesus is of God appointed, and provided to be the one vicarious sufferer, the true bearer away of the sin of the world by enduring its penalty in is own person, so that whosoever believeth 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. O 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. Tremble not, but receive the reconciliation effected by the Lamb of God. Come boldly, for the way is open, and man is invited to approach his God.
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 was it decreed and written of him in the volume of the Book, that oldest of books, “I delight to do thy will O, 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 verily 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 bidden me cast, namely, on the appointed scapegoat; I rest in a sacrifice which God himself ordained of old to be the sacrifice for sin. O soul, there can be no question that if thou comest to the Father in the way in which he himself appoints thou comest acceptably; for if thou wert not accepted thou mightest well say, “O God, thou hast set forth Christ as a Saviour, and yet thou dost not save men through him. Thou hast bidden him say, ‘Him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out,' yet I have come and thou hast cast me out. This be far from thee, 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 that believeth in Jesus.
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 benison. He is the Father’s only begotten, God’s dear Son, and to us “his unspeakable gift.” “He spared not 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 of our sins.” Men were bidden 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 hath given to us, eternal life, and that life is in his Son.” It endears Jesus to us know that he is the dearest pledge of Jehovah’s love to his chosen.
And then, fourthly. He is not only of God’s appointing and God’s giving, but he is of Gods 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 ; that we may be quite sure that the offering was presented in fit order and in an acceptable way, it is written, “It pleased the Father to bruise him, he hath put him to grief. The Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.” God himself had a hand in the sufferings of his Son. What means that cry, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” But that God himself had turned away from him, and so had brought his soul into the extremity of woe. What saith the Scriptures? Is it not the Father’s voice which saith “Awake, O sword, against my Shepherd, and against the man that is my fellow.” 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 but that his soul is saved.
One other reflection here; this sacrifice is also of Gods setting forth to the sons of men. Remember the text, “Whom God hath set forth 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 of Jesus Christ, we do not so in our name but we do our Lord’s bidding, and God himself by us is setting Christ forth, showing him, revealing him, exhibiting him, and bidding you come to him. “Behold,” saith 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 no. We are quite sure we are doing God’s will when we are setting forth Christ, for we are bidden to go into all the world and preach him to every creature. Assuredly, what the Lord thus sets forth he intends to give to those who seek it. There are no mockeries with God. He does not exhibit bread and refuse it to the hungry, or set rainment before the naked and refuse it to them. Happy are the men who see Jesus set forth manifestly crucified among them, for they have good ground to hope in him.
Now then, sinner, look at this. Thou wantest to be rid of thy sin; thou art conscious of it this morning, and thou dost confess it with shame. Well then, God’s way of pardoning thee is that thy sin be laid on Jesus. As far as thou art concerned, thou canst 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 thou dost but lay thy trembling hand upon Christ, he suffered for thee; he was an atonement for thee, 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 setting forth to thee. What more wouldst thou have? In order that all things might be of God in this matter, from first to last Jesus is the Lamb of God; is not this well? Jesus is God’s own chosen Saviour, what can be better? On what surer ground wouldst thou wish to rest? O that thou wert led to receive him now to be thine for ever. Jesus is my all, and I am a man as thou art; why should he not be thine also?
I feel as if I could tarry here just a minute and pass round among all this audience, this one solemn question for each one to answer — wilt thou accept Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of God, to be unto thy soul the Lamb of God which taketh away thy sin? Come, what sayest thou? It is ours to point to him and to bear our witness, wilt thou 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 thee now to say from thy 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 thee both for time and eternity. Be of good cheer, thy sins, which are many, are forgiven thee! Go thy way, thou art accepted in the beloved! Thine iniquities are blotted out like a cloud: not one of them shall be mentioned against thee any more for ever. O blessed Spirit of God out of thy great mercy grant that many and many a heart may lay hold upon the Lord Jesus to this at this hour.
II. But now we must pass onto 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.
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 yet 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 as a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither, and whatsoever he doeth 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 set forth 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 noblest 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 love stupendous condescending to be numbered with the transgressors, and to suffer for sin that was not his own? O wonder and romance, if men desire ye, they may find you here! O love, if men seek thee, here alone, they may behold thee! O wisdom, if men dig for thee, here shall they discover thy purest ore! O happiness, if men pine for thee, thou dwellest with the Christ of God, and they enjoy thee who live in him. O Lord Jesus, thou art 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.”
Ye may search the heavens above and the earth beneath; ye may penetrate the secret mysteries to find out the callow principles and the beginnings of things, but ye 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 greater far 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; give me to behold the Lord Jesus, and my eye seeth 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 ill-developed and onesided. I think I have noticed that brethren who give all their thoughts to experience are also somewhat out of square. 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 why 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. As Canaan contained Carmel, and Sharon, and Eschol, and Hermon, so Jesus comprehends all good things. If “the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world” be 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 unto me,” “a cluster of camphire in the vineyards of En-gedi.”
All human beauties, all divine
In my beloved meet and shine.
Beloved, this indeed is the most needful subject of 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 and yet be safe ; but you must live upon Christ, your souls must meditate on him, else you have left the bread from the feast and missed the water from the well. The crucified Saviour is as needful for our meditation as the air is for our breathing. The blood of Jesus is the life-blood 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 recollected that they too, like myself, were dyingcreatures, 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 be 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 know him not 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 bedaub his name with their worthless praises. Yet they are not Christians, and the name is dishonoured when they wear it. Of late 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 persons may be excellent Mahometans, 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 that is not with our Lord is against him, and he that gathereth not with him scattereth 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 about these truths have no question; Jesus is to them the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world, and the Son of God, whom the world shall yet adore.
III. Now, let us pass on to a third run of thought, but indulge in it very briefly. Let us behold the Lamb of God, that is, GATHER INSTRUCTION FROM JESUS UNDER THAT ASPECT.
I beg 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 of 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 the one upon the other, and your judgment upon every other will be affected by your opinion of any one. Do not err I pray you. Uplift 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. What though your inmost soul be awed with the deepest dread and made to tremble at the fate of those who reject the Saviour and perish in their sins, yet seek not to save your feelings at your Saviour’s cost.
Moreover, what a conception of the love of God, the gift of the Lord Jesus for our salvation gives us. 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 that spared not 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 herein sure proof of the security of the saints, for if Christ be the Lamb of God and no less than divine, how shall they perish for whom such a sacrifice was offered? If it be 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.
Now, if you desire experimental aid 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: as well look for heaven in hell. Do not look to your own resources for consolation, — 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 to-day 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 pitying eye beholds 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 unto 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 till his bloody sweat falls on the ground. Up and do thy reaping too, working at his side. Builder in the house of God, if thou seest not the temple rising as thou couldst desire, lay not down thy trowel or thy mallet, but see the master-builder standing there with indefatigable perseverance following out his glorious design. Let not self-denial or self-sacrifice be hard when the Lamb of God is before thee. Let not 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 thou wilt only conquer there. Only keep thine eye upon the Lamb of God and this will make thee strong to do and to endure.
I might thus 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 get 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 shalt thou rise, and thou shalt be more than a conqueror. And in this world, is it not a very weary business to be a minister of Christ to-day? If I might have my choice I would sooner follow any avocation, so far as the comfort of it 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 fathers 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 unto it, and it has not danced; we have mourned unto it, but it has not lamented. It wants an Elias, 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 till he hath set judgment in the earth, and the isles wait for his law. The fight may seem to hang in the scales to-day, but the conquest is sure to come unto 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 be himself crowned with many crowns, for God hath 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 ye warriors of the Cross. Fight up the hill, ye soldiers of Christ, through the smoke and through the dust. Ye may not see your banner just now, neither do ye 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 fly before you, and the King himself shall come, and you shall be rewarded who have continued stedfast in his service.
IV. Now the last thought was to be this. Behold the Lamb of God WITH REVERENCE. I will not dwell upon it for I have not 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 be this remembered, he will come ere long, and that which we shall have to dread if we are unbelievers will be the wrath of the Lamb. Read through the book of Revelations 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 “unto the Lamb, for he is worthy.” He it is that takes the book and looses the seven seals thereof, and it is the Lamb that shall come “to judge the quick and the dead.” “Wherefore kiss the Son lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way while his wrath is kindled but a little.” Worship him at this hour for he cometh ere long. As the Lord liveth before whom I stand, he will summon every one of you to his bar. Take heed that he be not an object of terror to you as he will be if you continue in unbelief, but turn unto him that he may be your joy and gladness in the day of his appearing. Amen.