Worthy Is the Lamb
The Second Sunday after the Epiphany (Year A)
Old Testament: Isaiah 49:1-7
Psalter: Psalm 40:1-11
Epistle: 1 Corinthians 1:1-9
Gospel: John 1:29-42
Perfect Light of revelation, as you shone in the life of Jesus, whose epiphany we celebrate, so shine in us and through us, that we may become beacons of truth and compassion, enlightening all creation with deeds of justice and mercy. Amen.
The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him and declared, “Here is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29).
In the Bible, lambs were often used as sacrifices in the Jewish religious tradition as a way to atone for sins and make reconciliation with God. The practice of sacrificing animals as a means of atoning for sins is rooted in the belief that the death of the animal serves as a substitutionary sacrifice. The shedding of the animal’s blood takes the place of the shedding of human blood for sins.
The first mention of animal sacrifices in the Bible is in the book of Genesis, where God commands Abraham to sacrifice a lamb as a symbol of his covenant with God (Genesis 22:7-8). Throughout the Old Testament, lambs and other animals were regularly offered as sacrifices in the Tabernacle and later the Temple as part of the religious practices. The most important of these sacrifices was the Passover lamb, which was offered each year to commemorate the Israelites’ deliverance from Egypt (Exodus 12:3-7).
In Christian theology, the Lamb of God is a title for Jesus that emphasizes his role as the ultimate sacrifice for the sins of humanity. Its image is often used in the Bible to refer to innocence and sacrifice. In the Gospel of John, Jesus is referred to as the “Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.” It refers to the idea that Jesus’ death on the cross was a sacrifice that atoned for the sins of humanity, making it possible for people to be reconciled with God.
The death of Jesus is considered as the final and complete sacrifice, fulfilling the need for the practice of animal sacrifice and making it obsolete. John makes this point directly in recounting Jesus’ crucifixion while the Passover lambs are being slaughtered on the altar of the Temple. As the ultimate sacrifice that atoned for the sins of humanity, Jesus makes it possible for all people to be reconciled with God.
Salvation is God’s work completed in Jesus. Human beings need do nothing to earn it. It is a divine gift to be received.
PRAYER: Steadfast God, you have enriched and enlightened us by the revelation of your eternal Christ. Comfort us in our mortality and strengthen us to walk the path of your desire, so that by word and deed we may manifest the gracious news of your faithfulness and love. Amen.
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