Intended for Reading on Lord's-Day, October 8th, 1893,
C. H. SPURGEON,
At the Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington
On Lord's-day Evening, August 25th, 1889.
"Again the next day after John stood, and two of his disciples; and looking upon Jesus as he walked, he saith, Behold the Lamb of God."--John 1:35-36.
YOU ALL KNOW the old, old story. The world was lost; God must punish sin; He sent His son to take our sin upon Him that He might honor the law of God, and establish God's government by being obedient to the law, and yielding Himself up to the death-penalty. He whom Jehovah loves beyond all else came to earth, became a man, and, as a man, was obedient unto death of the cross. It is He who is called in our text "the Lamb of God," the one Sacrifice for man's sin. There is no putting away of sin without sacrifice; there is only one Sacrifice that can put away sin, and that is, Jesus Christ the righteous. He is divine, yet human; Son of God, yet son of Mary. He yielded up His life, "the Just for the unjust," the Sinless for the sinful, "that He might bring us to God," and reconcile us to the great Father. That is the story, and whosoever believeth in Him shall live. Any man, the world over, who will trust himself to Christ, God's great Sacrifice, shall be saved, for this is our continual witness, "He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life." "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only-begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish but have everlasting life."
Tonight I do not intend so much to preach a sermon as to urge those who have seen the Lamb of God to look at him more intently, to study Him more, and especially to please for the power of the Holy Ghost to reveal Him to them. I want to entreat men, who have looked elsewhere, now to turn their eyes away from the fruitless search after peace and life, and to come and "Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world." May the Spirit of God open their eyes, and incline their hearts, that tonight, even tonight, they may look unto Him and live!
When John saw Jesus on that memorable day, he, first of all, beheld Him himself and then he said to others, "Behold the Lamb of God." "Looking upon Jesus as He walked," steadfastly beholding Him, watching Him, gazing with humble admiration at Him, he said, "behold the Lamb of God!" Brethren, we cannot preach what we have not practiced. If these eyes have never looked to Jesus, how can I bid your eyes look at Him? Beholding Him, I found peace to my soul; I, who was disposed even to despair, rose from the depths of anguish to the heights of joy by looking unto Him; and I therefore dare to say to you, "Behold the Lamb of God?" Oh, that each one of you might believe our testimony concerning Jesus and look to Him and live!
What did John mean by saying, "Behold, in the Latin, ecce, is a note of admiration, of wonderment, of exclamation. "Behold the Lamb of God!" There was nothing of greater wonder ever seen than that God Himself should provide the Lamb for the burnt offering, that He should provide His only Son out of His very bosom, that He should give e the delight of His heart to die for us. Well may we behold this great wonder. Angels admire and marvel at this mystery of godliness, God manifest in the flesh; they have never left off wondering and adoring the grace of god that gave Jesus to be the Sacrifice for guilty men. Behold and wonder, never leave off wondering; tell it as a wonder, think of it as a wonder, think of it as a wonder, sing of it as a wonder at this glorious Lamb of God.
I think that John also meant his disciples to consider when he said to them, "Behold the Lamb of God!" So we say to you, "Think of Him, study Him, know all that you about Him, look Him up and down. He is God; do you understand that He stood the sinner' stead? He is man; do you know how near akin He is to you, how sympathetic He is, a brother born for your adversity?" The person of Christ is a great marvel; how God and man can be in one person, it is impossible for us to tell. We believe what we cannot comprehend; and we rejoice in what we cannot understand. He whom God has provided to be your Saviour is both God and man; He can lay His hand upon both parties, He can touch your manhood in its weakness, and touch the Godhead in its all-sufficiency. Study Christ; the most excellent of all the sciences in the knowledged of a crucified Saviour. He is most learned in the university of heaven who knows most of Christ. He who hath known most of Him still says that His love surpasseth knowledge. Behold Him, then, with wonder, and behold Him with thankfulness.
But when John says, "Behold the Lamb of God!" he means more that wondering or considering. "Looking" is used in Scripture for faith: "Look unto me, and be ye saved." Therefore we sing--
There is life for a look at the crucified One, There is life at this moment for thee!
Beholding is a steady kind of looking. Believe then, in Christ with a solid, abiding confidence. Come, ye sinners, come, and trust your Saviour, not for tonight only, but forever. Believe that he is able and willing to save you, and trust Him to do so.
Venture on him, venture wholly, Let no other trust intrude.
Take your eyes off everything else, and behold the Lamb of God! You need not see anything else, nothing else is worth seeing; but behold Him. See how He takes your guilt, see how he bears it, see how He sinks under it, and yet rises from it, crying, "It is finished." He gives up the ghost, He is buried, He rises again from the dead because He is accepted of God, and His redeeming work is done. Trust Him, trust Him, trust Him. "Look and live," is now our nosegay; not "do and live," but "live and do." If you ask how you are to live, our answer is look, trust, believe, confide, rest in Christ, and the moment you do so, you are saved.
But once more, when John said to his disciples, "Behold the Lamb of God!" It was a hint that they should leave off at John, and turn their attention wholly to Jesus, and follow Him. Hence we find that John's two disciples left him, and became the disciples of Christ. Beloved, we who preached long to have your attention, but when you give your attention to us, our longing then is to pass it on to Christ our Lord. Look on Him, not us. What can we do, poor creatures that we are? Look unto Him, mark His footsteps, tread in them. Do as He bids you, take Him for your Lord, become His disciples, His servants. Behold the Lamb of God, and always behold Him. Look to Him, look up to Him, and follow where He leads the way.
Thus I have put the text before you pretty simply. Now, I want to talk to you a little about beholding this Lamb of God, taking a hasty run through various Scripture references to the Lamb; and I will ask you, first, to Behold the Lamb of God in His connections which men, and secondly, to Behold the Lamb of God in His benedictions to men.
I. Let us, first, BEHOLD THE LAMB OF GOD IN HIS CONNECTION WITH MEN.
How was the Lamb of God first seen in the world? It was the case of the lamb for one man, brought be one man for himself, and on his own behalf. You all know that I refer to Abel, who was a shepherd, and brought of the firstlings, of his flock, that is, a lamb, and he brought this lamb for himself, and on his own account, that he might be accepted by God, and that he might present to God an offering well-pleasing in His sight. Cain brought of the fruit of the ground as an offering to God. I think that there was a difference in the sacrifice, as well as in the man bringing it, for the Holy Ghost says little about the difference of the man, but He says, "By faith Abel offered unto to God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain," and he was accepted because he brought a more excellent sacrifice. The one sacrifice was bloodless, the fruit of the ground, the other was typical of Christ, the Lamb of God, and was therefore accepted: "and the Lord had respect unto Abel, and to his offering."
Now, beloved, our first view of Christ usually is here, to know Him ourselves. I am a sinner, and I want to have communion with my God; how shall I obtain it? I am guilty, I am sinful; how shall I draw near to the holy God? Here is the answer. Take the Lord Jesus Christ to be yours by faith, and bring Him to God; you must be accepted if you bring Christ with you. The Father never repelled the Son, nor one who was clothed with the Son's righteousness, or who pleaded the Son's merit. Come you, as Abel came, not with fruits of your own growing, but with the sacrifice of blood, with Christ the holy Victim, the spotless Lamb of God, and so coming, whoever you may be, you shall be acceptable before God by faith. Now, behold Him, each one of you for yourself!
I know what someone will say, "I hope to do that by-and-by." I hope you do not so deceive yourself. I have heard that there was once a great meeting in the den of the arch-enemy, and he was stirring up his myrmidons to seek the destruction of men. One of the them said, "I have gone forth, and I have told men that there is no God, and no hereafter, and no difference between sin and righteousness, and that they may live as they like"; and there was considerable approbation among the evil spirits. But Satan himself said, "Thou hast done small service, for man has a conscience, and his conscience teaches him better; he knows that there is a God, he knows that there is a difference between sin and righteousness, he knows that there must be future punishment; you have done but little." Then another stood up, and said, "I have done better, I think, most mighty chieftain, for I have told them that the Bible is a worn-out book, that it was a fable at the first, and that they need not believe it." There was a round of cheers, for they said that he had done splendid service for the cause of darkness; but Satan said, "It is in vain that you meddle with the old Book, it has taken care of itself, and it can still do so. There is no shaking, it is like a rock. Thou hast done service for a time, but it will soon pass away." And scarcely did anyone of the fallen spirits venture to bring forward his boasting in the presence of the terrible master who sat it the midst of them; but, at last, one said, "I have told men that they have souls, and there is a God, and that the Bible is true. I have left them to believe as they will, but I have whispered in their ear that there is plenty of time to consider all this." Then there was a hush, and the great master of demons said, "Thou hast done best of all. This is my great net in which I take more souls that with any other, this net of procrastination or delay." Therefore say I to you, my hearers, disappoint the fiend. Fly to Jesus at once, Behold, not tomorrow, but tonight, behold the Lamb of God, each man for himself.
Now turn over the pages of the grand old Book, and you will find the Lamb in another connection. Israel was in Egypt, and there they had the lamb for the family, "In the tenth day of this month they shall take to them every man a lamb, according to the house of their fathers, a lamb for an house." Oh, I wish that you would all go on to behold the Lamb of God for your households! "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved." Why do you stop before you finish this verse? What said the apostle to the trembling jailer? Not merely all that I have quoted, but more; "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house." Are there not many believers who do not believe for their house. Come, now, and believe in his provision of the Lamb for the house. Trust the grace of God for that little girl, the last born, and for that boy who is still at school, who does not think much of these things as yet; and for that son of yours who has left home, and gone out as an apprentice. Oh, that the Lamb of God might be for him! Pray for him, tonight; and you older parents, pray for your sons who are married, and your daughters who have taken to themselves husbands, and are away from you. The Lamb is for the house, pray for the whole household tonight; take in your grandchildren, all you old folks, all of them who are in your house. Pray that the Lamb may be for the house. I do bless God that I can look upon all my household, and rejoice that they are converted to Christ. My father has this joy, too; and my grandfather also had that joy. Oh, it is a great bliss to have families, generation after generation, all brought to Christ without exception! Why should it no be so? Let us cry for it; surely we may expect the same blessing that God gave to His chosen people under the law, and expect it more largely. Grace does not run in the blood, but grace often runs side by side with it, so that Abraham is loved, and Isaac, and Jacob, and Joseph, and Ephraim, and Manasseh. Thus the covenant blessing goes from one to another. Please with God, tonight, that all in your house may be beneath the sprinkled blood of the lamb, and be saved from the destroying angel, and that all with you may go out of Egypt to have a possession in the land of the promised.
A little further on, following the Scripture, and asking you still to behold the Lamb, in the twenty-ninth chapter of that famous Book of Exodus, at the thirty-eighth and thirty-ninth verses, we come across God's command for the lamb for the people. "Now this is that which thou shalt offer upon the altar; two lambs of the first year day by day continually. The one lamb thou shalt offer in the morning; and the other lamb thou shall offer at even." Here is the lamb for all the chosen people, the lamb for Israel. It began with the unit, it went on to the family; and here the Lord, who "loveth the gates of Zion more than all the dwelling of Jacob," makes His tabernacle to be the central place where a lamb shall be offered for the whole nation. Think of it with delight, tonight, that Christ died for all His chosen people. He hath redeemed them from among men. Though they be as many as the stars for number, or as the sand on the sea-shore innumerable, yet that one Sacrifice has redeemed them all. Glory be to God for the blood of the Lamb, by which the whole of Christ's people are redeemed!
Then let your mind take wing right out of the Old Testament into the New, for I have not time to trace all the successive steps. Come now to John, saying, in the twenty-ninth verse of this chapter, "Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world." Now you have gone beyond the bounds of Israel, and have come to the Lamb for the world. You have come to the Lamb of God, who dies for Gentiles as well as Jews, for men in the isles of the sea, for men in the wilds of Africa, for men of every color, and every race, and every time, and every clime. Oh, glory be to God, wherever there are men, we may go and tell them of Christ! Wherever there are men born of Adam's race, we may tell them of the second Adam, to whom looking, they who shall live, and in Him they shall find eternal life. I love to think of the breaking down of the bounds that shut in the flow of grace to one nation. Behold, it flows over all Asia Minor, at first, and then over all Greece, and then to Rome, and Paul talks of going to Spain, and the gospel is borne across the sea to England, and from this country it has gone out unto the utmost of the earth.
Well, now, take your flight, if you can get beyond that, away to heaven itself, and there you will see the Lamb for all heaven. Look at Revelation, the seventh chapter, and the fourteenth verse; no, you need not look it out, you know it. All the saints in heaven are standing in the glittering ranks, white-robed, pure as the driven snow. They sing and praise one glorious name; when one of the elders first asked the question, "What are these which are arrayed in white robes, and whence came they?" he himself gave the answer, "These are they which came out of the great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb."
'Round the altar priests confess, If their robes are white as snow, 'Twas the Saviour's righteousness, And his blood that made them so.
The blood of the lamb has whitened all the saints who are in heaven; they sing of Him who loved them, and saved them from their own sins in His own blood. I have often wondered why that second word was not brought into our translation, for it so beautifully fits the language of the beloved Apostle John: "Unto him that loved us and saved us from our sins in his own blood, and hath made us king and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen." There is no whiteness in heaven but what the Lamb has wrought, no brightness there but what the Lamb has bought; everything there shows the wondrous power and surpassing merit of the Lamb of God.
If it be possible to think of something more glorious than I have already described, I think you will find it in the fifth chapter of Revelation, at the thirteenth verse: "And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing, and honor, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb forever and ever." The day shall come when, from every place that God has made, there shall be heard the voice of praise unto the Lamb; there shall be found everywhere men and women redeemed by blood, angels and glorious spirits, rejoicing to adore Him who was, and is, and is to come, the Almighty Lamb of God.
I think I have given you something to consider if you turn over the pages of Scripture, and follow the track of the bleeding Lamb.
II. But now, taking you again over the same road a little, I want you, in the second place, TO BEHOLD THE LAMB OF GOD IN HIS BENEDICTIONS TO MEN.
The first blessing of all is that of Abel. He was accepted of God; he offered a more acceptable sacrifice than Cain. Well now, let anybody here, who does not know it, try to learn this lesson tonight. You can only be "accepted in the Beloved." God loves His Son with such an overflowing love that He has love enough for you, love enough for me, if we are in Christ Jesus. He is the great conduit or channel of God's love, and that love flows through all the pipes to every soul that believes in Jesus. Hide behind your Lord, and you are safe. Trust His name, living and dying, and nothing can harm you. How many dear hearts, when passing through the valley of death-shade, when grim thoughts have clustered about them, have been cheered, and comforted by the thought of Christ! Remember the monk who, as he died, put away the priest, and the crucifix, and everything else, and cried, "Tua vulnera, Jesu! Tua vulnera, Jesu!" "Thy wounds, Jesus! Thy wounds, Jesus!" I am not saved by what I can do, but by what He has done; not by what I have suffered, but by what He has endured. There hangs our everlasting hope; we trust to Christ in life and in death, and we are accepted for His sake. Come, every sinner, bring the Lamb of God; put Him on the altar, and you shall be accepted at once, and you may at once begin to praise the name of the Lord.
But then, as we go on, we find this Lamb of God useful, not only for acceptance, but also for rescue and deliverance. It is a dark and dreadful night; Egypt shivers, and stands aghast; and just at twelve at night forth flies an angel, armed with the sword of death. In every house of Egypt there is heard a wail, for the firstborn is dead, from the firstborn of Pharoah to the firstborn of the woman who turns the mill to grind the daily corn. Death is in every house; nay, stay; there are houses wherein there is no death. What has secured those habitations? The father took a lamb, shed its blood, dipped the bunch of hyssop in it, and smeared the lintel and the two side posts; and then all sat down and feasted on the lamb undisturbed, and calm and happy. They rejoiced to have for food that lamb whose blood was the ensign of their safety. There was no crying there, no dying there; death could not touch the inhabitants of the house that was marked with the blood of the Paschal lamb. Beloved, you and I are perfectly safe if we are sheltered beneath the blood of the Lamb of God; nothing can harm us, everything must bless us; and we may go to our beds tonight singing--
Sprinkled afresh with pardoning blood, I lay me down to rest, As in the embraces of my God, Or on my Saviour's breast.
We may rise tomorrow morning, if we are spared, and go into this busy world without any fear. The broad arrow of the King is set upon us in the blood-mark of the atoning sacrifice, and we are safe, and safe forever. Glory be to the name of the Lord for this!
Nor was that all. As I have told you, the blood of the Paschal lamb was not only sprinkled for the protection of the house, but its fresh was the food of the inmates. Oh, brethren, we do no at first know what it is to feed of Christ! We are satisfied to be sprinkled with His blood; but the believer afterwards find that Christ is the food of his soul. His blood is drink, indeed, and His flesh is meat, indeed. Oh, what a festival have we kept over the person of our Lord! Sometimes, when faint and hungry, we have begun to think of the Incarnate God, the bleeding Lamb, the full atonement paid, and we have said, "My soul is full, satisfied with favor, full of the blessing of the Lord." I do not know what there is in the gospel if you take away the atoning sacrifice; it seems to me that there would be nothing left but chaff, which might suit asses and horses, but would not be fit for men. Look to Jesus dying in our stead, and here is something for the soul to feed upon, aye, and to be satisfied with, as with marrow and fatness!
I pointed you a little further on, to the lamb in the wilderness, the lamb offered up every day; that brings us to another point in our Lord's work. We have had Christ for acceptance, Christ for safety, and Christ for food, now we have Christ for perpetual resort. The Lamb of God in the morning! Oh, blessed be God for a Saviour in the morning! If the night has gathered aught evil, He doth then disperse it, as the sun dispels the darkness. But oh, what a precious thing also to have the Lamb of God in the evening! If in the day we have soiled our feet in traversing this busy world, here we come to the fountain, and we are made clean through the blood of the Lamb. Perpetual merit, perpetual intercession, perpetual life-giving, perpetual salvation, flow from Jesus Christ the Lamb of God. He is not slain twice; His one wonderful offering has finished transgression, and made an end of sin; but its efficacy continues as though He were sacrificed often, ever supplying us with merit, so that, in effect. His wounds continually do bleed. He is always a new Saviour for me every morning, always a new Saviour every night, and ; yet always the same Saviour, the same Christ. There is no getting weary of Him, there is nothing "stale" in Him. They may talk about "a new view of the atonement." I have no view of the atonement but this, "Who loved me, and gave himself for me"; "Who his own self bore our sins in his own body on the tree"; and that old view of the atonement is ever fresh and ever new to the heart and conscience.
Well now, beloved, when we come to John again, following our former run of thought, we find the Lamb of God useful for guidance, for when John said, "Behold the Lamb of God," the two disciples followed Jesus; and we read of some, "These are they which follow the Lamb withersoever he goeth." The Lamb if our Guide. The Lord is a Shepherd as well as a Lamb, and the flock following in His footsteps is safely led. My soul, when thou wantest to know which way to go, behold the Lamb of God! Ask, "What would Jesus do?" Then do thou what Jesus would have done in such a case, and thou canst not do amiss.
Further on we find a passage as this, telling us of victory through the Lamb of God: "They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb." The Lamb is a great Warrior, there is none like Him. Is He not the Lion of the tribe of Judah? Though He be gentle as a lamb, yet against sin and iniquity He is fiercer than a young lion when it roareth on its prey. If we follow Him, hold fast His truth, believe in His atonement, and perpetually proclaim His gospel, we shall overcome all error, and all sin, and all evil.
Well now, this blessed Lamb--it is not easy to leave off talking about Him when one once begins--is so blessed that you may well behold Him, for all happiness comes through Him. In heaven you will see nothing without Him. "Nothing?" say you. No, nothing; here is a proof of my words. "The city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it; for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof." All the light, the knowledge, the joy, the bliss of heaven, come through the atoning sacrifice of Christ. Not Jesus only, but Jesus slain, Jesus the Lamb of God, is the very light of heaven.
And what, think you, is the joy-day of heaven, the time for the highest exultation? Why, the joyous day when all the golden bells shall peal out their glorious melodies, and all the silver trumpets shall ring out their jubilant notes, will be the day of the marriage of the Lamb. It is the heaven of heave, the climax of ineffable delight; and the voice of the great multitude, as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunderings, sings, "Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth. Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honor to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready." So that, at the topmost round of the ladder of eternal bliss, there do you find the Lamb. You cannot get beyond Him. He gives you all He has, even Himself. Behold Him, then, and go on beholding Him throughout the countless ages of eternity.
I would to God that you had all beheld Him, and I pray you to behold Him tonight. It is but a little while, and the death-film will gather about your eyes; and if you have not seen the Lamb while yet you have mortal eyes, you will see Him, you will certainly see Him, but your vision will be like than of Balaam, "I shall see Him, but not now: I shall behold Him, but not nigh." If it is with you "not now," it may be "not nigh" It will be an awful thing to see the Lamb with a gulf between yourself and Him, for there is a great impassable gulf fixed in the next world; and when you see Him across that gulf, how will you feel? Then shall you cry to the mountains and rocks. "Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb!" Jesus will still be a Lamb, even to the lost; it is "the wrath of the Lamb" that they will dread. The Lamb is always conspicuous; He may be neglected, rejected, refused tonight, but He will be beheld in eternity, and beheld to your everlasting confusion and unutterable dismay if you refuse to behold Him now. Let it not be so with any of you.
Ye sinners, seek his face, Whose wrath ye cannot bear; Fly to the shelter of his cross, And find salvation there.