Christian Churches of God
The Death of the Lamb
(Edition 4.0 19980314-20080119-20150510-20160305)
This is a shorter paper that may be read at the death of the Lamb service on 14 Abib.
The Death of the Lamb
We have examined the timing of the crucifixion and the resurrection in the paper Timing of the Crucifixion and the Resurrection (No. 159).
Every activity in the sequence on the Passover was in accordance with the perfect Plan of God, and His Laws and timing.
Christ was killed at exactly the moment the first Passover lamb was killed on the Temple Mount, and in accordance with the ordinance issued at the command of God.
The Passover Ordinance
From Leviticus 23:4-14 we see the Passover ordinance. The Passover sacrifice is ordered in Exodus 12:1-14.
From Deuteronomy 16:1-8 we see the ordinance was reversed from the original. In the first Passover it was done in the houses in Egypt and no one was permitted to leave.
When Israel came into their own inheritance they were ordered to keep the Passover outside their homes. Only on the morning of Unleavened Bread were they permitted to return to their proper accommodation. The Soncino quotes Abraham ibn Ezra who says they may return to their temporary accommodation but not their permanent domiciles.
Also, from this time it could be any clean animal of the herd that was killed. However the Passover was still symbolised by the lamb and it was the most common and accepted animal for the meal.
The Lamb of God
Messiah is identified as the Lamb of God in John 1:29-37 where John states Jesus’ pre-existence. John the Baptist was born before Christ, and yet he speaks of Christ being first before him because he was before him.
John states also that the world (i.e. aiõn (SGD 165) meaning an age) came into being through Christ (Jn. 1:10). As the word he became flesh and tabernacled with us. His status was as the Lamb of God taking away the sins of the world. The significance of the lamb appears again and again in the sacrifices as offerings for sin and peace and other matters.
The change in thrust of the lamb in prophecy comes from Isaiah 16:1-5:
Isaiah 16:1-5 Send ye the lamb to the ruler of the land from Sela to the wilderness, unto the mount of the daughter of Zion. 2 For it shall be, that, as a wandering bird cast out of the nest, so the daughters of Moab shall be at the fords of Arnon. 3 Take counsel, execute judgment; make thy shadow as the night in the midst of the noonday; hide the outcasts; bewray not him that wandereth. 4 Let mine outcasts dwell with thee, Moab; be thou a covert to them from the face of the spoiler: for the extortioner is at an end, the spoiler ceaseth, the oppressors are consumed out of the land. 5 And in mercy shall the throne be established: and he shall sit upon it in truth in the tabernacle of David, judging, and seeking judgment, and hasting righteousness. (KJV)
This text is speaking of the conversion of the Gentiles and the daughters of Moab being as those cast out of the nest or forsaken at the fords of Arnon. The task here was to hide the followers of Messiah among the Gentiles and to be judged because of this. This text forms a basis for the parable of the sheep and the goats given in Matthew 25:31-46.
Isaiah takes this further in chapter 53 where the “man of sorrows” (v. 3) was wounded for our transgressions. Like sheep we went astray and the Lord laid on him the iniquity of us all. This text shows us why some of the things happened as they did on the night of the trial of Messiah. He was brought as a lamb to the slaughter and as a sheep before the shearers is dumb he did not open his mouth. Thus he had to be taken into prison, judged and then executed in accordance with this prophecy as Scripture could not be broken (repeated in Acts 8:32-33; cf. Jn. 1:36).
The whole question of Isaiah 53:1-9 is dealt with by rabbinical Judaism as being of the exiled servant Israel, who is seen by the Babylonians or their representatives, having known the servant in his humiliation and martyrdom and now seeing his exaltation and new dignity, and who describe their impressions and feelings (cf. Soncino, quoting Ibn Kaspi).
This is actually the true explanation as Messiah is exiled Israel and Israel is the Body of Jesus Christ. This plain fact is not understood by rabbinical Judaism even though they can see that the servant was afflicted and suffered for the transgressions of others. They held that the servant suffered that it may be well with them (cf. Soncino, v. 5): that we may procure wellbeing, he having been punished for our guilt (Soncino; Rashi, Kimchi). They try to make out that Judah in the Babylonian captivity was the Israel which was the servant of God, when it is obviously referring to the servant of God in an expiatory role; whereas God had punished Judah for its transgressions using the Babylonians as His instrument. They were not guiltless.
Isaiah 53:4-6 is understood, rabbinically, as recognition that the servant’s sufferings were not due to his secret sins. It is now frankly acknowledged that he was the victim who bore the dire penalties, which the iniquities of others have incurred (cf. Soncino, n. 4-6).
Rashi and Kimchi hold that the term our diseases, (verse 4), are the diseases that should have been inflicted on us and that the term did bear means he was called upon to endure them (cf. Soncino).
They understood that the people had wandered like sheep and forsaken the leadership of God and had followed their own false religion (Soncino, fn. to v. 6; and Arbarbanel).
The understanding that the Gentiles of the Babylonian system are saved through the suffering of Messiah, who is in fact the Israel of God, is also the general theme of the Bible and especially the Book of Revelation.
The Trial of Messiah
Messiah was arrested at the contrivance of the priesthood, and the Sanhedrin was used in this trial as it was necessary to have a minimum of 23 members present for a capital charge.
Jesus was placed on trial before Annas for a preliminary hearing to establish prima facie grounds to summon the Sanhedrin. This of course had already been decided but it was necessary for their judicial process (Jn. 18:12-14).
The activities in John are on capital charges, and the procedures of the Sanhedrin are to be just by law. Thus the function of Annas appears to be as the Ab-beth-din or deputy president of the Sanhedrin acting as arraigning magistrate.
In fulfilment of Isaiah 53 we see the suffering and indignities begin to be inflicted from John. 18:19-24.
John 18:19-24 The high priest then asked Jesus of his disciples, and of his doctrine. 20 Jesus answered him, I spake openly to the world; I ever taught in the synagogue, and in the temple, whither the Jews always resort; and in secret have I said nothing. 21 Why askest thou me? ask them which heard me, what I have said unto them: behold, they know what I said. 22 And when he had thus spoken, one of the officers which stood by struck Jesus with the palm of his hand, saying, Answerest thou the high priest so? 23 Jesus answered him, If I have spoken evil, bear witness of the evil: but if well, why smitest thou me? 24 Now Annas had sent him bound unto Caiaphas the high priest. (KJV)
It is written: thou shalt not revile the elohim or curse (speak evil) of the ruler of your people (cf. Ex. 22:28; Eccl. 10:20; Acts 23:5; 2Pet. 2:10; Jude 8 and Jas. 4:3 – Gk: kakos, as amiss with evil intent) and thus the High Priest cannot be spoken evil of. However Christ was refuting the charge that he had broken the Law, as he was sinless.
He did not defend himself yet he clearly gave some answers which in effect negated the charges of breach of the Law, and were effective in providing example of behaviour before authority. Had he not answered at all the example for history would have effectively destroyed social order among Christian groups before judicial process. The Gospels had to set an example according to biblical Law.
Annas had gone through the motions of preparing a charge and arraigning him before the Sanhedrin, and sent him to the actual High Priest, Joseph Caiaphas.
During this time of trial we see the details are omitted in the Gospel of John between the action in John 18:27 and the continuance of the story in verse 28. The story of this interlude is in Matthew 26:58 to 27:2.
Matthew 26:58-75 But Peter followed him afar off unto the high priest's palace, and went in, and sat with the servants, to see the end. 59 Now the chief priests, and elders, and all the council, sought false witness against Jesus, to put him to death; 60 But found none: yea, though many false witnesses came, yet found they none. At the last came two false witnesses, 61 And said, This fellow said, I am able to destroy the temple of God, and to build it in three days. 62 And the high priest arose, and said unto him, Answerest thou nothing? what is it which these witness against thee? 63 But Jesus held his peace. And the high priest answered and said unto him, I adjure thee by the living God, that thou tell us whether thou be the Christ, the Son of God. 64 Jesus saith unto him, Thou hast said: nevertheless I say unto you, Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven. 65 Then the high priest rent his clothes, saying, He hath spoken blasphemy; what further need have we of witnesses? behold, now ye have heard his blasphemy. 66 What think ye? They answered and said, He is guilty of death. 67 Then did they spit in his face, and buffeted him; and others smote him with the palms of their hands, 68 Saying, Prophesy unto us, thou Christ, Who is he that smote thee? 69 Now Peter sat without in the palace: and a damsel came unto him, saying, Thou also wast with Jesus of Galilee. 70 But he denied before them all, saying, I know not what thou sayest. 71 And when he was gone out into the porch, another maid saw him, and said unto them that were there, This fellow was also with Jesus of Nazareth. 72 And again he denied with an oath, I do not know the man. 73 And after a while came unto him they that stood by, and said to Peter, Surely thou also art one of them; for thy speech bewrayeth thee. 74 Then began he to curse and to swear, saying, I know not the man. And immediately the cock crew. 75 And Peter remembered the word of Jesus, which said unto him, Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice. And he went out, and wept bitterly. (KJV)
Thus from this trial and the end of the test of Peter we see the events in Matthew 27:1-2 take up in John 18:28.
Matthew 27:1-2 When the morning was come, all the chief priests and elders of the people took counsel against Jesus to put him to death: 2 And when they had bound him, they led him away, and delivered him to Pontius Pilate the governor. (KJV)
John 18:28-40 shows us that they did not wish to be defiled by having contact with the Gentiles, for the Pharisees, even then, had allowed their traditions to destroy the understanding of the Law.
This section is one of the most powerful parables in the Bible. Here, in accordance with Scripture, we see Messiah as King being tried for the sins of the people, and tried by the head of the Gentiles, and being condemned unlawfully to be put to death by Judah. We see also the Sanhedrin acting at the behest of the Pharisees and the ruling class. Here they were judged.
It is written, “you shall not take a bribe and pervert judgment” (cf. Ex. 23:1-9).
The punishment for perverting justice was removal from judgment and that was the punishment of the Sanhedrin. Judgment was removed from them and given to the Church. It was also taken and given to the nation showing the fruits of it as Christ said later, and which nation appears to be Israel apart from Judah (Lev. 19:15-16).
Judgment is to be set up in the land in justice.
Deuteronomy 16:18-20 Judges and officers shalt thou make thee in all thy gates, which the LORD thy God giveth thee, throughout thy tribes: and they shall judge the people with just judgment. 19 Thou shalt not wrest judgment; thou shalt not respect persons, neither take a gift: for a gift doth blind the eyes of the wise, and pervert the words of the righteous. 20 That which is altogether just shalt thou follow, that thou mayest live, and inherit the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee. (KJV)
It was the prerogative of the Sanhedrin and the priesthood to judge Messiah. However it must be just judgment or captivity ensues.
Deuteronomy 17:8-13 If there arise a matter too hard for thee in judgment, between blood and blood, between plea and plea, and between stroke and stroke, being matters of controversy within thy gates: then shalt thou arise, and get thee up into the place which the LORD thy God shall choose; 9 And thou shalt come unto the priests the Levites, and unto the judge that shall be in those days, and enquire; and they shall shew thee the sentence of judgment: 10 And thou shalt do according to the sentence, which they of that place which the LORD shall choose shall shew thee; and thou shalt observe to do according to all that they inform thee: 11 According to the sentence of the law which they shall teach thee, and according to the judgment which they shall tell thee, thou shalt do: thou shalt not decline from the sentence which they shall shew thee, to the right hand, nor to the left. 12 And the man that will do presumptuously, and will not hearken unto the priest that standeth to minister there before the LORD thy God, or unto the judge, even that man shall die: and thou shalt put away the evil from Israel. 13 And all the people shall hear, and fear, and do no more presumptuously. (KJV)
They were ordered by God under the Law to show sentence of just judgment but they did not do so. They handed judgment to the Gentiles and to Pilate. They delivered him to Pilate at the Praetorium, the house of the praetor (cf. Mk. 15:16) or Hall of Judgment, which was not Herod’s palace as we see from Luke 23:7.
They told Pilate that if Christ were not a malefactor they would not have delivered him up to him (Jn. 18:30). When asked if he was a king he made this reply (Jn. 18:37):
To this end was I born and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Everyone that is of the truth heareth my voice.
Pilate, being educated and astute to rhetoric said: “What is truth?” He said this because he was not yet of the truth. One had to be called of God to understand. Pilate then went out to the Jews and said: “I find in him no fault at all”.
They were being given a chance to take back their dishonest judgment from the mouth of the Gentiles they despised and considered unfit to walk in their Temple. Pilate gave them a chance to have Christ released and offered them a choice, but here the major substitution of history took place.
They called out: “Not this man, but Barabbas”, who was a robber. Bar Abbas means son of the father. The symbolism here was that Christ died in order that we might be set free as sons of the Father.
Before the process got under way with all the efficiency for which Rome was famous, Pilate tried to persuade them again.
John 19:1-7 Then Pilate therefore took Jesus, and scourged him. 2 And the soldiers platted a crown of thorns, and put it on his head, and they put on him a purple robe, 3 And said, Hail, King of the Jews! and they smote him with their hands. 4 Pilate therefore went forth again, and saith unto them, Behold, I bring him forth to you, that ye may know that I find no fault in him. 5 Then came Jesus forth, wearing the crown of thorns, and the purple robe. And Pilate saith unto them, Behold the man! 6 When the chief priests therefore and officers saw him, they cried out, saying, Crucify him, crucify him. Pilate saith unto them, Take ye him, and crucify him: for I find no fault in him. 7 The Jews answered him, We have a law, and by our law he ought to die, because he made himself the Son of God. (KJV)
They would not listen, and said he made himself the Son of God. Pilate was then very aware that he was dealing with a religious dispute where this man was not only faultless but might also have been a god. The Romans and Greeks, like the Asiatics, believed that the elohim or theoi did have the power to inhabit men and did appear as men, being divine offspring. This was the charge on which the Sanhedrin had condemned him as we see from Matthew 26:65-66 (cf. Lev. 24:16).
This blasphemy was allegedly against the name of God, yet he claimed to be the Son of God and this was carried in Malachi as being a true statement: “Have we not all one Father? Had not one God created us all?” (cf. Mal. 2:10)
Christ defended himself before the charge was even laid.
John 10:33-38 The Jews answered him, saying, For a good work we stone thee not; but for blasphemy; and because that thou, being a man, makest thyself God. 34 Jesus answered them, Is it not written in your law, I said, Ye are gods? 35 If he called them gods, unto whom the word of God came, and the scripture cannot be broken; 36 Say ye of him, whom the Father hath sanctified, and sent into the world, Thou blasphemest; because I said, I am the Son of God? 37 If I do not the works of my Father, believe me not. 38 But if I do, though ye believe not me, believe the works: that ye may know, and believe, that the Father is in me, and I in him. (KJV)
This charge was baseless and stemmed from the Jewish ignorance of the Law and the Plan of God. In the same way, evil charges are brought against the elect today by mainstream Christianity, and they have conspired to kill the elect for centuries as they did Messiah before them.
Pilate tried to release him again with these words.
John 19:8-11 When Pilate therefore heard that saying, he was the more afraid; 9 And went again into the judgment hall, and saith unto Jesus, Whence art thou? But Jesus gave him no answer. 10 Then saith Pilate unto him, Speakest thou not unto me? knowest thou not that I have power to crucify thee, and have power to release thee? 11 Jesus answered, Thou couldest have no power at all against me, except it were given thee from above: therefore he that delivered me unto thee hath the greater sin. (KJV)
The power given to Pilate was of God. Thus all government over the elect is allowed of God. Whoever falsely accuses or delivers us for judgment under false accusation or unrighteous judgment is guilty of the greater sin.
Pilate sought to release Messiah but the Jews would not hear of it. If he was right they stood condemned by the Law, which they had perverted.
John 19:12-16 And from thenceforth Pilate sought to release him: but the Jews cried out, saying, If thou let this man go, thou art not Caesar's friend: whosoever maketh himself a king speaketh against Caesar. 13 When Pilate therefore heard that saying, he brought Jesus forth, and sat down in the judgment seat in a place that is called the Pavement, but in the Hebrew, Gabbatha. 14 And it was the preparation of the passover, and about the sixth hour: and he saith unto the Jews, Behold your King! 15 But they cried out, Away with him, away with him, crucify him. Pilate saith unto them, Shall I crucify your King? The chief priests answered, We have no king but Caesar. 16 Then delivered he him therefore unto them to be crucified. And they took Jesus, and led him away. (KJV)
The passage of the crucifixion in John is well known.
John 19:17-22 And he bearing his cross [stake] went forth into a place called the place of a skull, which is called in the Hebrew Golgotha: 18 Where they crucified him, and two other with him, on either side one, and Jesus in the midst. 19 And Pilate wrote a title, and put it on the cross. And the writing was, JESUS OF NAZARETH THE KING OF THE JEWS. 20 This title then read many of the Jews: for the place where Jesus was crucified was nigh to the city: and it was written in Hebrew, and Greek, and Latin. 21 Then said the chief priests of the Jews to Pilate, Write not, The King of the Jews; but that he said, I am King of the Jews. 22 Pilate answered, What I have written I have written. (KJV)
Pilate was moved to write this verse, not just by the Holy Spirit, but because he was convicted of the innocence of Messiah and that he was the best or most kingly of this unjust mob, who sought to kill a righteous man through their priests.
Prophecy continues to be fulfilled as the crucifixion continues.
John 19:23-24 Then the soldiers, when they had crucified Jesus, took his garments, and made four parts, to every soldier a part; and also his coat: now the coat was without seam, woven from the top throughout. 24 They said therefore among themselves, Let us not rend it, but cast lots for it, whose it shall be: that the scripture might be fulfilled, which saith, They parted my raiment among them, and for my vesture they did cast lots. These things therefore the soldiers did. (KJV)
This was to fulfil Psalm 22:18.
Psalm 22:1-8 To the chief Musician upon Aijeleth Shahar, A Psalm of David. My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? why art thou so far from helping me, and from the words of my roaring? 2 O my God, I cry in the daytime, but thou hearest not; and in the night season, and am not silent. 3 But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel. 4 Our fathers trusted in thee: they trusted, and thou didst deliver them. 5 They cried unto thee, and were delivered: they trusted in thee, and were not confounded. 6 But I am a worm, and no man; a reproach of men, and despised of the people. 7 All they that see me laugh me to scorn: they shoot out the lip, they shake the head, saying, 8 He trusted on the LORD that he would deliver him: let him deliver him, seeing he delighted in him. (KJV)
Here we see the statements of Christ listed in prophecy. From verse one we see his cry upon the stake. God did not turn His face from Messiah, and He did not forsake him, as is often thought because of the quote from Psalm 22:1; but God saved him.
Hebrews shows us the reason for the sacrifice.
Hebrews 2:10-18 For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings. 11 For both he that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one: for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren, 12 Saying, I will declare thy name unto my brethren, in the midst of the church will I sing praise unto thee. 13 And again, I will put my trust in him. And again, Behold I and the children which God hath given me. 14 Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; 15 And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage. 16 For things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people. 18 For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted. (KJV)
Thus the lamb was allowed to be killed because by his death many would be given salvation through their belief and faith (see Phil. 2:5-8, RSV).
Does God desire sacrifice, even that of His own son? No! He does not desire sacrifice.
Hosea 6:4-7 O Ephraim, what shall I do unto thee? O Judah, what shall I do unto thee? for your goodness is as a morning cloud, and as the early dew it goeth away. 5 Therefore have I hewed them by the prophets; I have slain them by the words of my mouth: and thy judgments are as the light that goeth forth. 6 For I desired mercy, and not sacrifice; and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings. 7 But they like men have transgressed the covenant: there have they dealt treacherously against me. (KJV)
1Samuel 15:22 says it is obedience God wants rather than sacrifice (cf. also Eccl. 5:1 and Micah 6:8). This obedience extended to Jesus Christ. In order for the creation to be reconciled Christ had to be willing to lay down his life and become flesh with us and be tempted as we are. To be fit to lead us Christ had to show he was obedient even unto death. Satan had no such obedience.
That is the function of the death of Messiah. He did not satisfy some perverse notion of God. Nor is the death of Messiah some non-biblical heathen notion put forward in corruption of Scripture as some bizarre groups have claimed. The death of Messiah by his own voluntary sacrifice was essential to a reconciliation of the creation to God, both heavenly and earthly creations. Christ had to put this age in place and then to be prepared to die for it. Only in that way would he be fit to lead it.
This same test is required of the elect and that is why we have been tested and killed outside of the camp as Christ himself was. For we look to the City of God and the functional government of Jesus Christ on his return to this Earth as conquering king.
He suffered outside of the camp that his blood might sanctify the people, not to satisfy any sacrificial fancy of the Father (cf. Heb. 13:5-16).
The entire sacrificial system was put in place to point towards the elect and Messiah as the leaders of the government of God. The numbers and placement throughout the year had specific meaning. God is not some sadist who wants people killed; rather, He wants obedience to His Laws. The result of disobedience is death in that eternal life will not be conferred on those who disobey. That is why there are two resurrections (cf. Rev. 20:4-15). The elect are given the First Resurrection and eternal life through their obedience and faith in Christ. Faith without works is dead (Jas. 2:20-26), and by our works we show our faith (Jas. 2:18). Our works are obedience to the Living God, as Messiah demonstrated in order to be the first-fruits and the first-born from the dead (Col. 1:18), becoming a son of God in power through the Holy Spirit by his resurrection from the dead (Rom. 1:4).
We can now see that the crucifixion and the death of the Lamb were the culmination of all history up to that point, and all prophecy. On that day the entire world and its fate rested on the shoulders of that one sinless sacrifice. He laid down his own life for us: “for greater love has no man than this that he lay down his life for his friend” (Jn. 15:13). For God is love (1Jn. 4:8).
John 19:25-42 shows the sequence of Christ’s last activities as a man. His brothers were obviously not present at the stake; only his mother and aunt were standing by the Apostle John. Therefore, Christ handed his mother to the care of John who would outlive the brothers and care for her into her old age (Jn. 19:25-27).
All things were accomplished except for a few prophecies. One of these prophecies required him to be pierced (cf. Jn. 19:28-37). Thus he was pierced and he gave up the Holy Spirit. It was at the ninth hour or 3 p.m. when the lambs were to be killed. Darkness covered the Earth at this time, from noon or the sixth hour to the ninth hour (Mat. 27:45; Mk. 15:43).
We see from the text that when the Holy Spirit was yielded up and Christ died, the Temple veil was torn in two (cf. Mat. 27:50-51). Here we see the true purpose of the crucifixion demonstrated physically. Until this time only the High Priest could enter the Holy of Holies and then only once a year and only with blood, which pointed towards Christ as Messiah and his death at this very point. When Messiah died he opened up the way into the Holy of Holies for us so that we may go boldly before the Throne of grace and make intercession for others, as Christ made intercession for us. We do this until we ourselves are poured out as a drink offering to the Lord.
After this he was taken down from the stake and buried, as the Holy Days were about to begin (Jn. 19:38-42). He was the Lamb and he was placed in the tomb where he would remain for three days and three nights from the beginning of 15 Nisan at 6 p.m. on Wednesday in that year of 30 CE until 6 p.m. on Saturday evening (being the end of 17 Nisan), in preparation to ascend into Heaven at 9 a.m. on Sunday morning as the Wave-Sheaf Offering.