Do you remember the nursery rhyme, “Mary had a little lamb, and its fleece was white as snow”? In this lesson we will study about Mary’s Christmas Lamb, the virgin born Son of God, Jesus, our Savior!
In Luke chapter 2 we read that when the Roman decree went out for a census of the Roman world, Mary and Joseph traveled to Bethlehem. We know that it was not an accident that Jesus was born in Bethlehem. The event that took place that first Christmas was prophesied centuries earlier in Micah 5:2.“But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.”
It was fitting that Mary’s little Lamb would be born in Bethlehem because for centuries the Jewish priest had been raising Passover lambs there! In the shepherd’s hills outside of Bethlehem, a very special breed of sacrificial lamb was raised, that those lambs might be brought to Jerusalem. At Passover the lambs were sacrificed to cover the sins of the people. Mary’s little Lamb came to be the final Passover lamb, the one sacrifice for sin forever. So our destiny and the destiny of the world is wrapped up in Mary’s little Lamb.
Exodus chapter 12 relates some important facts about the Lamb of Christmas. The Israelites were in bondage in Egypt, groaning under the oppression of Pharaoh. They required redemption. God had a plan to redeem His people and set them free, a plan wrapped up in a little lamb.
Exodus 12 also gives the qualifications for the sacrificial lamb: It had to be “without blemish, a male of the first year”. This lamb had to be perfect. Why? Because it was going to die to redeem God’s people. What a wonderful picture of the Lord Jesus, the Lamb of Bethlehem!
One blemish would disqualify a lamb from being used for the Passover in Egypt. For generations after that night in Egypt, Israel’s priests would examine the Passover lambs very carefully, checking for the slightest flaw. Not only is Jesus a SPECIAL LAMB, but He was the SLAIN LAMB. 1 Peter 1:19 reads, “But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot”.
On the appointed day, the father of the Israelite family was to slay the Passover lamb and catch its blood in a basin – another prophetic picture of Mary’s little Lamb, who would be slain on a Roman cross. God had told the Israelites to take the Passover lamb’s blood and apply it on the doorpost and the lintel of the house. Whoever came into the house would be saved from death because they came in through and under the blood. If we know and serve the Christ of Christmas, we are safe and protected under the blood!
Salvation does not come from the life of Christ, but from the death of Christ. Salvation is not learning lessons from the life of Christ, but receiving life from His atoning death. The bible says,”And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood there is no remission of sin” (Hebrews 9:22). God promised the Israelites that, “When I see the blood, I will pass over you, and the plague shall not be upon you to destroy you, when I smite the land of Egypt”.(Exodus 12:13)
When Jesus was born in Bethlehem, the Lamb entered history. The wise men knew who He was. That is why they came to worship Mary’s little Lamb. John the Baptist also knew that the One born on that night was the SPECIAL LAMB. Hear his cry,“ Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). Jesus was a SPECIAL LAMB. He was the spotless, sinless, virgin-born Son of God! He had to be born of a virgin so He could be sinless. Why was He sinless? So that He could provide a blood atonement. The bible says that it is the blood that makes atonement for sin. A child’s bloodline is established by the father, not by the mother. Mary was Jesus’ earthly mother, but He had no earthly father. God was the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, so the blood that flowed through the veins on Mary’s little Lamb was the very blood of God. Acts 20:28 reads, “Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.”
Remember the Passover lambs that were being raised in Bethlehem at the time of Jesus’ birth? They were the lambs that the shepherds were keeping watch over when the angel appeared to them to announce the birth of the Savior.
Jesus came as He did, born of a virgin, to be what He was – sinless. He was what He was, sinless, to do what He did – die for our sins. And He died for our sins so that He, being what He was, might make us what we are but ought to be – children of God!
As the last week of Jesus’ earthly life closed we observe on Palm Sunday that Jesus came down from the Mount of Olives and ascended to the temple mount. At the very same time, the lambs for the Passover were being brought into that city through the sheep gate. The priests were examining those lambs to make certain they were perfect for sacrifice. At the same time, God’s Lamb was being examined by His enemies. But no matter the examiner, no charge whatsoever could be made against Jesus. Even Pilate had to confess, ”I find no fault in Him”(John 19:4). Jesus was the PERFECT LAMB.
Jesus went from that temple mount to the Last Supper and then to Gethsemane. By nine o’clock the next morning, He was on His way to the cross. Then at three o’clock that afternoon, as the priests were offering the Passover lambs in the temple, Mary’s little Lamb was hanging on the cross. Suddenly He cried out, “It is finished”. (John 19:30). Our debt had been paid in FULL!
In Revelation chapter 5, John was given a glimpse into glory. He saw the throne of God, and then he noticed, at the right hand of the One sitting on the throne, a book sealed with seven seals. The book is the title deed to the earth, the heavens, and the spirit world. It represents the right to rule. John saw that there was no one who could break the seals and open the book. He began to weep and one of the elders said to him, “John, do not weep. Behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah!”
When John looked, he saw not a lion but a Lamb. The word lamb here is a special word meaning “a little lamb,” that is, a pet lamb. This is Mary’s little Lamb! John also saw a SLAIN LAMB. Today this Lamb still bears the marks of the nails. He will bear those marks forever. When we get to heaven, we will see the nail prints in His hands. He lay down His life in death, was placed in a grave, but that grave could not hold Him. He stood up in resurrection, and He is standing in heaven today, making intercession for us.
In Revelation 5:8-14 we see the LAMB IN MAJESTY. The song of these heavenly beings is offered to Mary’s little Lamb.
“Saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing. 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 honour, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever.” (Revelation 5:12-13)
Join with the heavenly host this Christmas in saying, “Worthy is the Lamb – exclusively, exceedingly, eternally worthy!”