Yesterday I preached from the Gospel of John. The passage included John the Baptist’s profound statement about Jesus: “Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29). There is much to ponder and say about such a statement, but here are just a few personal reflections from a pastor on a Monday morning.
First, I desperately need a substitutionary lamb. When I think about the holiness of God (how impeccably pure, morally honorable, and perfectly uncontaminated He is), I am immediately thrown into a deep awareness of my own sin.
I am impure, dishonorable, and utterly contaminated. Not a day of my life has come and gone without numerous expressions of various sin. If God comes near to me, then I have nothing to expect but my own demise. I desperately need a substitutionary lamb.
Second, I am amazed at God’s wisdom in supplying a Lamb. What a display of justice and grace, of integrity and mercy! When my worldly mind conceives of grace, it cannot help but imagine an obstacle to true justice; when I think of justice, I picture the guilty one receiving his due penalty.
But God delivers true justice and dispenses gracious grace simultaneously! God proves Himself perfectly just, for He punishes every sin exactly as His justice demands; and God demonstrates His incomparable grace by setting the guilty sinner free. God is both just and the justifier of the one who trusts in the Lamb He has provided.
Third, I plead for greater faithfulness in my own thoughts, words, and deeds. As the old hymn says, “Oh, to grace how great a debtor, daily I’m constrained to be…” My thoughts of Christ (who gave Himself graciously for me – this One who is my substitutionary Lamb) are almost too much for my heart and mind to bear.
Why would Christ do what He did for me? For me?! There is nothing in me worth such a gift! On my best day, I am completely deficient in personal goodness. I am horribly guilt-ridden, I am a deeply flawed follower, and I am humiliated by my own negligence.
These realities plague my soul, not because I hope to earn a better standing before God… No! I have no illusions that I could ever overcome such things. Instead, I am appalled that these things can still be said of me even though I have been given the marvelous gift of grace!
Oh, God, may Your Spirit renew my mind and change the affections of my heart!
May the thoughts of my mind, the words of my mouth, and the deeds of my hands be pleasing to You. And may Your substitutionary Lamb grow ever more beautiful to me.