The Story of Scripture, Part 12 – The Lion and the Lamb

John the Baptist was the one prophesied to come just before the Messiah, and to carry out a forerunning ministry in order to prepare the people. This he did, calling the people to turn from their sins, and then pointing them to their long awaited Messiah.

John 1:29;

[John]… saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! 

In reading through the Gospel accounts, it is revealed that Jesus was the fulfillment of all the types and shadows in the Old Testament. Indeed he was the very hope of Israel; the hope of Adam and Eve themselves; and the very fulfillment of the promise given to all who looked forward to it from that time of the garden onward. 

This fulfillment motif carries right through the New Testament. He came as none other than the second Adam and the true Israel. Indeed, many moments in the life and ministry of Jesus are recorded precisely so as to make this parallel clear. Like Adam, Christ was tempted by Satan directly. Like Israel, Christ was called to faithfulness during a wilderness trial period. Of course, where Adam had failed (along with Israel after him), it is shown through these events that only Christ was able to succeed in being perfectly obedient to God’s covenant requirements. Thus it is Christ, and Christ alone, who is deserving of the great eschatological Sabbath blessing. Yet, as the spotless sacrificial Lamb he had also come to receive the covenant sanction of death on behalf of his people.  

In this regard, when Jesus’ enemies asked Him to prove Himself, he simply said; 

John 2:19;

“Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.”

In this prediction, Jesus made reference to his own body as the true fulfillment of all that the temple had ever foreshadowed. Now it would be Jesus himself, and no longer a mere building, that would be the meeting place between God and men. The temple was always a vital reminder to the people of their need for a substitutionary sacrifice,  but now the ultimate sacrifice had come. He would be a substitute for his people in death, and so make a way to return to the fellowship that man had once enjoyed with God. To make this possible, Christ would have to die. However, in so doing he would defeat all of his enemies, and at the end be victorious over death itself.

Jesus was resurrected three days after the crucifixion, just as prophesied. Not only did this stand as a vital vindication of his ministry, but also a sign of his total triumph over evil. The Saviour had indeed come. All the promises had been fulfilled. Jesus of Nazareth had shown himself to be not only the sacrificial lamb promised to Israel, but also the very Lion of Judah; the mighty serpent-crushing Saviour first promised to Adam and Even in the garden. Added to this, Jesus had not merely made a way back to the garden, but rather to the final Sabbath glory first then offered to man.

Eve and Mary, Incarnation and Promise

I’m convinced that the best way to fight over-familiarity, is by going as deeply as possible into the study of theology; viz., engaging the Scriptures with all of our minds in sacred meditation. And when it comes to Christmas, any effort to truly appreciate the majesty and grandeur of what took place at the birth of the Saviour, must begin in seeking to understand the promise that forever connected Eve to Mary (cf. picture above). Only then will we start to understand the glory of his birth. Only then will we start to understand the coming of Christ as the apex of all redemptive history, and even of history itself.

So as we set out to meditate on the glory of Christ’s incarnation, it is essential that we start here, with the story of Scripture. In the next few posts then, I’ll do my best to summarize the greater biblical narrative, highlighting some of the central themes along the way. And let me say this; it is truly is my favourite story in the whole world: it always overwhelms my otherwise calloused, over-familiar-heart; it always sets my eyes–anew–upon the majesty and glory of God’s great plan; and it always leaves my soul in a state of doxological overflow. So, as the hymn goes, I love to tell “the old, old story’. I love to tell it at Christmas time, and I love to tell it to all who will listen. And if you plan on following along for the next few posts, my prayer is that it would have this same great effect on you.