The Lamb of God
January 3, 2018
Wednesday before Epiphany
1 Jn 2:29-3:6
Gospel: Jn 1:29-34
When John saw Jesus coming towards him, he said, “There is the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world. It is he of whom I said: A man comes after me who is already ahead of me, for he was before me. I myself did not know him, but I came baptizing to prepare for him, so that he might be revealed in Israel.”
And John also gave this testimony, “I saw the Spirit coming down on him like a dove from heaven and resting on him. I myself did not know him but God who sent me to baptize told me: ‘You will see the Spirit coming down and resting on the one who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ Yes, I have seen! and I declare that this is the Chosen One of God.”
(Daily Gospel in the Assimilated Life Experience)
John the Baptist’s description of Jesus as the Lamb of God pulled together significant scriptural references to the saving event the Jews experienced on their way out of Egypt. When Pharaoh refused to let them out of Egypt, Moses took instructions directly from God. Central to these instructions was the Passover meal at which they were to partake of a lamb. “Each man must take a lamb… without blemish… Some of the blood must then be taken and put on the two doorposts and the lintel of the houses where it is eaten…” (Exodus 12:3 ff.).
This blood drove away from their houses the angel of death that was going around to slay the firstborns of the Egyptians. The slaying was to force Pharaoh to lift his hold departure order against God’s people. When John the Baptist referred to Jesus as the Lamb of God, the people had in mind the Passover lamb that saved their firstborns from death. As the Lamb of God, Jesus was the awaited ransom for the lives of many.
St. Luke the Evangelist refers to the Last Supper as Passover meal. He wrote: “When the hour came he took his place at table, and the apostles with him, and he said to them, I have longed to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. (Luke 22:16).” This strengthens the identification of Jesus with the Passover lamb whose blood ransomed many.
J. Jeremias suggests that the title Lamb of God is a mistranslation of the Aramaic ‘talya’ which means both ‘lamb’ and ‘slave’. The translation should have been “The Servant of God” instead of “Lamb of God”. If so, then John the Baptist could have been making allusions to Isaiah 53 which describes the messiah as the suffering servant of Yahweh, with ‘no looks to attract our eyes.’ But howsoever “talya” is understood and translated, the term still points to Jesus’ supreme self sacrifice just to save humanity. (Atty.)— Rev. Fr. Dan Domingo P. delos Angeles, Jr., D.M.
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