Derek Thomas

The Lamb of God

by Jason Moore on April 22, 2011

“And Abraham went and took the ram and offered it up as a burnt offering instead of his son” (Gen. 22:13). Like an old-fashioned grammar text, the Bible is a book in which many of the answers to questions posed early on are to be found in the back of the book. Take the idea that Jesus died for me. We sing Cecil Frances Alexander’s words:

We may not know, we cannot tell
What pains he had to bear;
But we believe it was for us
He hung and suffered there.

And we sing these words because they reflect something we find to be deeply embedded within Scripture. Substitution is the word we have come to employ for this even though, like Trinity, it is not a biblical word. But it is a word that summarizes what we find in the Bible from the very start: that sin is atoned for by the sacrifice of another. Sinners in the Old Testament came and offered sacrifices, symbolically laying their hands on the victim’s head before killing it (see Lev. 1:4; 4:4). Plainly, what is in view is a symbolic transference of guilt from the sinner to the victim.