Jesus: God's Sacrificial Lamb of Redemption

Sam Shamoun

Bassam Zawadi wrote an article where he tries to interpret John the Baptist's words that Jesus is the Lamb of God sent to take away the sin of the world in a manner which denies that Jesus did so by dying on the cross. He says:

Christians use the following verse...

John 1:29

The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, "Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!

to show that Jesus came to be a sacrifice for the sins of the world. They try to use this verse to show this doctrine in the Gospel. My contention is that there is no clear teaching of Christian doctrine regarding the crucifixion of Jesus for the sins of the world in this Gospel. Well the truth is that there is no clear teaching of Jesus in the entire four Gospels in which he states that he has come to die for the sins of the world. This is the teachings of Paul and Christians misinterpret and twist Jesus' statements in order to conform to Paul's teachings.

This verse is not clear as well and could mean something else.

As for Jesus being called the Lamb of God, well that does not automatically have to mean that Jesus was going to be sacrificed just like a lamb is. It could have other meanings...

he calls him a "lamb," either with respect to any lamb in common, for his harmlessness and innocence; for his meekness and humility; for his patience; and for his usefulness, both for food and clothing, in a spiritual sense;



Let us see what the rest of the commentary says in context:

... as well as for his being to be a sacrifice for the sins of his people: or else with respect to the lambs that were offered in sacrifice, under the legal dispensation; and that either to the passover lamb, or rather to the lambs of the daily sacrifice, that were offered morning and evening; since the account of them best agrees with what is said of this Lamb of God, who was slain in type, in the morning of the world, or from the foundation of the world; and actually in the evening of the world, or in the end of it; and who has a continued virtue to take away the sins of his people, from the beginning, to the end of the world; and their sins, both of the day and night, or which are committed every day: for as they are daily committed, there is need of the daily application of the blood and sacrifice of Christ, to remove them; or of continual looking unto him by faith, whose blood has a continual virtue, to cleanse from all sin: the Jewish doctors say {d}, that "the morning dailysacrifice made atonement for the iniquities done in the night; and the evening sacrifice made atonement for the iniquities that were by day:"

and in various things they were typical of Christ, as that they were lambs of the first year, which may denote the weakness of the human nature of Christ, which had all the sinless infirmities of it; they, were also without spot, signifying the purity of Christ's human nature, who was holy and harmless, a lamb without spot and blemish; these were offered as a sacrifice, and for the children of Israel only, as Christ has given himself an offering and a sacrifice to God, both in soul and body, for the sins of the mystical Israel of God, the Israel whom God has chosen for himself, whether Jews or Gentiles; for Christ is the propitiation for the sins of both: and these were offered daily, morning and evening; and though Christ was but once offered, otherwise he must have often suffered; yet as he has by one offering put away sin for ever, so ther is a perpetual virtue in his sacrifice to take it away, and there is a constant application of it for that purpose; to which may be added, that these lambs were offered with fine flour, oil and wine, for a sweet savour to the Lord; denoting the acceptableness of the sacrifice of Christ to his Father, to whom it is for a sweet smelling savour, Ephesians 5:2.

And Christ is styled the Lamb "of God," in allusion to the same, whom the Cabalistic Jews {e} call the secret of the mystery, and anmxr yvbk, "the Lambs of God"; because God has a special property in him; he is his own Son; and because he is of his providing and appointing, as a sacrifice for sin, and is acceptable to him as such; and to distinguish him from all other lambs; and to give him the preference, since he does that which they could not do, "taketh away the sin of the world": by the "sin of the world," is not meant the sin, or sins of every individual person in the world; for some die in their sins, and their sins go before hand to judgment, and they go into everlasting punishment for them; which could not be, if Christ took them away: rather, the sin which is common to the whole world, namely: original sin; but then it must be observed, that this is not the only sin Christ takes away; for he also takes away actual sins; and the Arabic and Ethiopic versions read in the plural, "the sins of th world"; and also that this he takes away, only with respect the elect; wherefore they are the persons intended by the world, as in John 6:33, whose sin, or sins, Christ takes away: and a peculiar regard seems to be had to the elect among the Gentiles, who are called the world, in distinction from the Jews, as in John 3:16, and the rather, since the lambs of the daily sacrifice, to which the allusion is, were only offered for the sins of the Jews: but John here signifies, that the Lamb of God he pointed at, and which was the antitype of these lambs, not only took away the sins of God's people among the Jews, but the sins of such of them also as were among the Gentiles; and this seems to me to be the true sense of the passage.

The phrase "taking away sin," signifies a taking it up, as Christ did; he took it voluntarily upon himself, and became responsible to divine justice for it; and also a bearing and carrying it, for taking it upon himself, he bore it in his own body on the tree, and carried it away, as the scape goat did under the law; and so likewise a taking it quite away: Christ has removed it as far as the east is from the west, out of sight, so as never to be seen any more; he has destroyed, abolished, and made an utter end of it: and this is expressed in the present tense, "taketh away": to denote the continued virtue of Christ's sacrifice to take away sin, and the constant efficacy of his blood to cleanse from it, and the daily application of it to the consciences of his people; and which is owing to the dignity of his person, as the Son of God; and to his continual and powerful mediation and intercession: this must be a great relief to minds afflicted with the continual ebullitions of sin, which is taen away by the Lamb of God, as fast as it rises; and who, for that purpose, are called to "behold," and wonder at, the love and grace of Christ, in taking up, bearing, and taking away sin; and to look to him by faith continually, for everlasting salvation; and love him, and give him the honour of it, and glorify him for it.


F3 R. Abraham ben David in Misn. Ediot, c. 8. sect. 7.
F4 R. Menachem, fol. 115. apud Ainsworth, in Exod. xxix. 39.
F5 Raya Mehimna, in Zohar in Lev. fol. 33. 2.

(John Gill's Exposition of the Bible; online sources: 1; 2; bold and underline emphasis ours)

Gill's exposition is sufficient in and of itself to refute Zawadi's gross distortion of the text. Yet we will provide additional refutation of Zawadi's desperate distortions of biblical teaching as we move along.

Zawadi continues:

Jesus also refers to his disciples as lambs...

Luke 10:3

Go! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves.

The commentary...

2. They must set out with an expectation of trouble and persecution: "Behold, I send you forth as lambs among wolves; but go your ways, and resolve to make the best of it. Your enemies will be as wolves, bloody and cruel, and ready to pull you to pieces; in their threatenings and revilings, they will be as howling wolves to terrify you; in their persecutions of you, they will be as ravening wolves to tear you. But you must be as lambs, peaceable and patient, though made an easy prey of." It would have been very hard thus to be sent forth as sheep among wolves, if he had not endued them with his spirit and courage


So as we see, Jesus being called a lamb could be spiritual for having some of the characteristics and features of a lamb.


First, the context defines in what sense the disciples are called lambs, in contrast to wolves who will seek to devour them because of their testimony of Christ. The context in John 1:29 is quite different since Jesus is being pictured as God's provision for sin, as Gill himself adequately explained and as we shall see shortly.

Second, and more importantly, the texts are not even using the same Greek word, but two different words! The word for lambs in Luke 10:3 is aren (*) whereas in John 1:29 and 36 it is amnos. The Matthean parallel in Matthew 10:16 uses the word probata (from probation), i.e. sheep (*).

Thayer's Lexicon defines amnos as:

... In these passages Christ is likened to A SACRIFICIAL LAMB on account of his death, innocently and patiently endured, TO EXPIATE SIN. (Source; capital emphasis ours)

Notice how the word amnos is used in reference to Jesus throughout the NT:

"But an angel of the Lord said to Philip, 'Rise and go toward the south to the road that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.' This is a desert road. And he rose and went. And behold, an Ethiopian, a eunuch, a minister of the Can'dace, queen of the Ethiopians, in charge of all her treasure, had come to Jerusalem to worship and was returning; seated in his chariot, he was reading the prophet Isaiah. And the Spirit said to Philip, 'Go up and join this chariot.' So Philip ran to him, and heard him reading Isaiah the prophet, and asked, 'Do you understand what you are reading?' And he said, 'How can I, unless some one guides me?' And he invited Philip to come up and sit with him. Now the passage of the scripture which he was reading was this: 'As a sheep led to the slaughter or A LAMB (amnos) before its shearer is dumb, so he opens not his mouth. In his humiliation justice was denied him. Who can describe his generation? For his life is taken up fro the earth.' And the eunuch said to Philip, 'About whom, pray, does the prophet say this, about himself or about some one else?' Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning with this scripture he told him the good news of Jesus." Acts 8:26-35

Here is the entire text from which the eunuch was reading:

"Who has believed what we have heard? And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed? For he grew up before him like a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground; he had no form or comeliness that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that made us whole, and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; LIKE A LAMB that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is dumb, so he opened not his mouth. By oppression and judgment he was taken away; and as for his generation, who considered that he was cut off out of the land of the living, stricken for the transgression of my people? And they made his grave with the wicked and with a rich man in his death, although he had done no violence, and there was no deceit in his mouth. Yet it was the will of the LORD to bruise him; he has put him to grief; when he makes himself an offering for sin, he shall see his offspring, he shall prolong his days; the will of the LORD shall prosper in his hand; he shall see the fruit of the travail of his soul and be satisfied; by his knowledge shall THE RIGHTEOUS ONE, MY SERVANT, MAKE MANY TO BE ACCOUNTED RIGHTEOUS; AND HE SHALL BEAR THEIR INIQUITIES. Therefore I will divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he poured out his soul to death, and was numbered with the transgressors; YET HE BORE THE SIN OF MANY, and made intercession for the transgressors." Isaiah 53:1-12

Isaiah prophecied of a servant, whom the NT identifies as Jesus, that would die a vicarious death in order to make atonement for the people. Thus, Jesus is being pictured as a sacrificial lamb that is killed to effect the forgiveness of sins.

"You know that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your fathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb (amnou) without blemish or spot." 1 Peter 1:18-19

Jesus, according to Peter, is an unblemished lamb whose blood was the ransom for believers. Peter even cited Isaiah 53 in reference to Christ atoning for sinners:

"He committed no sin; no guile was found on his lips. When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten; but he trusted to him who judges justly. He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Guardian of your souls." 1 Peter 2:21-25

Compare Peter's words with what Isaiah had written:

"But his form was ignoble, and inferior to that of the children of men; he was a man in suffering, and acquainted with the bearing of sickness, for his face is turned from us: he was dishonoured, and not esteemed. He bears our sins, and is pained for us: yet we accounted him to be in trouble, and in suffering, and in affliction. But he was wounded on account of our sins, and was bruised because of our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and by his bruises we were healed. All we as sheep have gone astray; every one has gone astray in his way; and the Lord gave him up for our sins. And he, because of his affliction, opens not his mouth: he was led as a sheep to the slaughter, and as a lamb (amnos) before the shearer is dumb, so he opens not his mouth... And I will give the wicked for his burial, and the rich for his death; for he practised no iniquity, nor craft with his mouth." Isaiah 53:3-7, 9 Septuagint (LXX)

The foregoing shows in what sense Jesus is being portrayed as a lamb. Christ is God's sacrificial provision sent to procure the foregiveness of sins by the shedding of his precious and pure blood.

Zawadi resumes:

As for Jesus "taking away" the sin of the world...

'Taking away' is airo. (Source)

One of the meanings could be...

cause to cease


So it could mean that Jesus came to stop the sins of the world and not necessarily mean to take it upon himself. This is the task of Prophets, for them to come down and spread the message of God in order to make them aware of their faults and sins and to help them stop committing them.


Here is what this same lexicon also states regarding the word airo:

1) to raise up, elevate, lift up

a) to raise from the ground, take up: stones

b) to raise upwards, elevate, lift up: the hand

c) to draw up: a fish



a) to move from its place

b) to take off or away what is attached to anything

c) to remove

d) to carry off, carry away with one

e) to appropriate what is taken


g) to take and apply to any use

h) to take from among the living, either by a natural death, or by violence

i) cause to cease (Source)

Again, let us see how exactly Jesus took away sins according to the NT:

"In him you were also circumcised, in the putting off of the sinful nature, not with a circumcision done by the hands of men but with the circumcision done by Christ, having been buried with him in baptism and raised with him through your faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead. When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away (erken), nailing it to the cross. And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross." Colossians 2:11-15

The word erken is the 3rd person, singular, perfect, active, indicative form of airo. Jesus took away the charges raised against us due to our sins by naling them to his cross, thereby procuring forgiveness for sins. As the blessed Apostle Paul stated in the previous chapter:

"He is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning, the first-born from the dead, that in everything he might be pre-eminent. For in him all the fulness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross. And you, who once were estranged and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and irreproachable before him, provided that you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel which you heard, which has been preached to every creature under heaven, and of which I, Paul, became a minister." Colossians 1:18-23

The Apostle John wrote by inspiration:

"But you know that he appeared so that he might take away (are) our sins. And in him is no sin." 1 John 3:5

Are is the 3rd person, singular, aorist, active, subjunctive form of airo. And how did Jesus take away our sins according to John? By offering himself as an atoning sacrifice whereby he propitiated, or appeased, God's wrath:

"My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world." 1 John 2:1-2

"This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins." 1 John 4:9-10

Zawadi finishes with these words:


It is completely justifiable to say that it is possible that John 1:29 means that Jesus who is humble and patient like a lamb came to spread the message of God and be a warner to people in order to stop people from committing sins. It is possible. Therefore, Christians cannot use this verse as a clear and explicit teaching of the doctrine of the crucifixion of Jesus for the sins of the world.


The foregoing examination demonstrates that the manner in which Jesus took away sins is by offering his life as a ransom. Jesus isn't simply a lamb in the sense of being humble and patient, which he certainly was(is), but in the sense of being God's sacrificial provision for sins:

"For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many." Mark 10:45

"Then he took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them, saying, 'Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.'" Matthew 26:27-28

"Then he said to them, 'These are my words which I spoke to you, while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the law of Moses and the prophets and the psalms must be fulfilled.' Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures, and said to them, 'Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be preached in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things.'" Luke 24:44-48

"'I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.' Then the Jews began to argue sharply among themselves, 'How can this man give us his flesh to eat?' Jesus said to them, 'I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him. Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven. Your forefathers ate manna and died, but he who feeds on this bread will live forever.' He said this while teaching in the synagogue in Capernaum." John 6:50-59

"Jesus replied, 'The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me. Now my heart is troubled, and what shall I say? 'Father, save me from this hour'? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour.'" John 12:23-27

Jesus is also the passover (or paschal) lamb that was slain in order to set his people free from the bondage of Satan and sin:

"Get rid of the old yeast that you may be a new batch without yeast—as you really are. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed." 1 Corinthians 5:7

"Grace and peace to you from him who is, and who was, and who is to come, and from the seven spirits before his throne, and from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father—to him be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen." Revelation 1:5-6

"Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing in the center of the throne, encircled by the four living creatures and the elders. He had seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth. He came and took the scroll from the right hand of him who sat on the throne. And when he had taken it, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp and they were holding golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. And they sang a new song: 'You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because YOU WERE SLAIN, AND WITH YOUR BLOOD you purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation. You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth.'" Revelation 5:6-10

Therefore, Christians can indeed use John 1:29 and 36 to prove that the NT explicitly teaches that Jesus procured the forgiveness of sins and the redemption of God's people by his crucifixion and resurrection. So much for Zawadi's "exegesis."

Rebuttals to Answering-Christianity
Articles by Sam Shamoun
Answering Islam Home Page