Jesus: Lamb and Priest of God


The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! This is He of whom I said, ‘After me comes a Man who is preferred before me, for He was before me.’ I did not know Him; but that He should be revealed to Israel, therefore I came baptizing with water.” And John bore witness, saying, “I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and He remained upon Him. I did not know Him, but He who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘Upon whom you see the Spirit descending, and remaining on Him, this is He who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ And I have seen and testified that this is the Son of God.” (John 1:29-34) 


St John the Forerunner identifies Jesus as “The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” The suffering Messiah portrayed as a lamb for the slaughter comes from the Prophecy of Isaiah, chapter 53. Roman Catholic biblical scholar Jean Danielou offers some insight into understanding Jesus as the Lamb of God which is organically connected to the image of Jesus being our High Priest whose sacrificial offering makes us aright with God: 

“… the theme of the High Priest is linked with that of the paschal lamb… the main ideas are those of expiation and the wiping away of sin, that is to say, concepts fundamentally associated with the theme of priesthood; finally, the perfect priest is the one who does the Father’s will. This introduces the most profound of all the aspects of the theology of sacrifice: sacrifice glorifies the Father, because it is the recognition of the sovereign holiness of his will, and is thus directly opposed to sin, which is strictly speaking contempt for the holiness of that will.”  (GOSPEL MESSAGE AND HELLENISTIC CULTURE, p 188) 


Now the point in what we are saying is this: we have such a high priest, one who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven, a minister in the sanctuary and the true tent which is set up not by man but by the Lord. For every high priest is appointed to offer gifts and sacrifices; hence it is necessary for this priest also to have something to offer. (Hebrews 8:1-3)