The first time John the Baptist sees Jesus in scripture, he says, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” A reference to an ancient Jewish practice of sacrificing a lamb to atone for one’s disobedience to God. A practice that was never sufficient enough, requiring it to be done over and over again.
The first time we see Jesus in scripture is in the context of what we now celebrate every year on December 25th; Christmas. At the time, the Jewish people were waiting for a mighty political king to be born who would fill the shoes of the great King David. Part of this was encouraged by a prophecy over 700 years before Christ’s birth given by a Hebrew prophet named Micah. He prophesied of a King with a Divine Nature to be born in Bethlehem, the birthplace of King David (Micah 5:2). Yes, Jesus was destined to be a a mighty king, but Bethlehem, His birthplace (Luke 2:4), was also nearby Jerusalem. Many of the sheep used in the temple sacrifices originated from the small town of Bethlehem.
Usually kings were born in palaces amidst luxury and comfort. Not so for this Mighty King. He was born in a manger (Luke 2:7). This was no more than a feeding trough for animals. Why would a Divine King be born in such harsh and crude conditions?
Typically, the first to hear of a future king’s birth were royalty and dignitaries. This King was a little different though. The first people to hear of Jesus’ birth were shepherds keeping watch over their flock by night (Luke 2:8-18). Not only were they the first to hear of Him, they were the first to see Him too.
So the Christmas story raises the question, “What is born in a manger, which shepherds know of first, located in the breeding grounds of temple sacrifices?” The answer is so simple a child could understand it, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” Yet, this sacrificial lamb would break the mold. For after He was sacrificed, once and for all to end all future sacrifices, He would rise from the dead to everlasting life as a symbol, a promise and a hope to all who need a Savior, a Redeemer, and Trustworthy King!
CC Image • Courtesy of Waiting For The Word on Flickr