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Behold the Lamb of God

Behold the Lamb of God

“But…isn’t that more of an Easter theme?”

Astute observers have noticed that this year’s Christmas theme calls to mind imagery of sacrifice and atonement; things we (rightly) focus on during the Easter season. So why have we chosen this theme, not just for our Christmas concert (which you should definitely attend!) but also for our upcoming Christmas sermon series? Allow me to explain…

But first, why are Easter and Christmas so important in the first place? Well, historically, Easter and Christmas have long been the two most celebrated days in the Church’s liturgical calendar. In some Christian traditions, this calendar is used year-round to highlight various themes from Scripture, ensuring that every part of the Christian life and the Gospel story is told each year. For instance, Trinity Sunday focuses on the triune nature of the Godhead; Pentecost celebrates the gift of the Holy Spirit; Lent is a season of fasting and repentance, and so forth.

The incarnation would not be worth remembering if Jesus had not fulfilled the purpose for which he came.

Even churches such as Faith, which are not rigorously tied to the Church calendar, tend to give special focus to Holy Week (which includes Good Friday and culminates in Easter) and Advent/Christmas, which often get lumped together (though technically the Christmas season is a 12-day celebration which begins on December 25, preceded by Advent, which is a month of hopeful longing for the Messiah). This is fitting, as it gives us opportunity each year to focus on the two greatest events in human history; the incarnation of Jesus Christ, and his death & resurrection. And, of course, these two events are closely connected; the cross would not have been possible if the Christ had not come, and the incarnation would not be worth remembering if Jesus had not fulfilled the purpose for which he came.

Our hope is that this year’s Christmas theme will help us all to draw these connections out of Scripture through our focus on the Lamb of God. The highlight of the season will be the Worship Ministry’s presentation of Andrew Peterson’s Behold the Lamb of God, which will take place next Sunday evening at 6:30. You may recognize Peterson’s name as the author of The Wingfeather Saga (an excellent and highly recommended book series for fans of fantasy fiction), or as the composer of the beautiful song Is He Worthy? which our choir has performed in the past.

Behold the Lamb of God is a 42-minute collection of music ... which essentially functions as a biblical theology of the incarnation.

Behold the Lamb of God is a 42-minute collection of music (online readers can listen to this album here) which essentially functions as a biblical theology of the incarnation. Biblical theology is a form of study which approaches the Bible as a story, and seeks to discover how that story or a particular theme (in this case, the incarnation) develops and unfolds throughout Scripture.

In both the concert and our next three Sunday sermons (after we wrap up Malachi this week), we’ll be looking from Genesis to Revelation to see how God’s plan to save a people for Himself has unfolded throughout history. We’ll see how Christ’s coming was both prophesied and prefigured in the Old Testament. We’ll see how the person and work of Jesus Christ clearly demonstrates that He is the promised Messiah, both Son of God and Son of Man. And we’ll see throughout Scripture the promise that Christ will come again to make all things new and to reign on the Earth as a triumphant King.

Through it all, we will behold and we will worship Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God. For a lamb is a fitting symbol for Advent and Christmas as well as Easter, and indeed for Christ in all his work. After all, under the Old Testament sacrificial system, the Passover lambs, which were born in Bethlehem, were prepared from their birth to be sacrificed for the sins of God’s people. This bloody system continued throughout the silence of God which followed the ministry and writings of Ezra, Nehemiah, and Malachi, a 400 year period marked by the destruction of the temple and by a deep, sorrowful longing for the Messiah—the same longing expressed during Advent.

When Christ humbled himself and came as a baby, He was prepared from his birth—and indeed from before the foundation of the world—to be the final, perfect sacrifice for sins. He fulfilled every Messianic prophecy (though not in the way the priests and Pharisees expected!), and provided the atoning work on the cross which accomplished our salvation. Then He rose, victorious over sin and death, and ascended to Heaven to reign at the Father’s side. There, the book of Revelation depicts Him as a Lamb who was slain (Revelation 5:12), by whose blood God’s people have victory over Satan (Revelation 12:11), and who will conquer every enemy of God (Revelation 17:14).

It is for that day that we watch and we wait, trusting that the mighty Lamb of God is faithful to do all that He has promised. For the Lamb has the victory, and He is coming again! 

John Gardner

John is the pastor over Music Ministry at Faith Bible Church. He is a coffee aficionado who loves most kinds of music, but has a particular fondness for big band (especially when he's playing trumpet in the band). He and his wife, Laurie, have 3 kids who enjoy reading, hiking, and the symphony.

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