Like many of the names of Jesus (Yeshua‘), “Lamb of God” presents Jesus as the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy. The lamb was one of the most common sacrificial animals. The priests offered lambs as part of the daily sacrifices and on many of the special festival days. The sacrifice of a lamb made atonement for sin.
Atonement was the emphasis of John the Baptist’s announcement of Jesus as the Lamb of God:
The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! (John 1:29, 36)
In these verses, the Message Bible calls Jesus God’s Passover lamb. Elsewhere, Paul called Jesus, our pascha, or Passover lamb.1 John’s Gospel clearly presents Jesus as the Passover lamb. In his gospel, the Last Supper happened on the evening before Passover and the crucifixion happened at the same time as the sacrifice of Passover lambs.
When Philip met the Ethiopian eunuch on the road to Gaza, the Ethiopian was reading from Isaiah 53 about a lamb.2 Philip explained that the prophecy spoke about Jesus as the Lamb of God. The passage in Isaiah tells about the sacrifice of a lamb as a sin offering.
Peter also commented on Jesus as the Lamb of God. He likened Jesus to the redemptive sacrifice of a lamb.
Some people like to connect this name of Jesus with the time when Abraham prepared to sacrifice his son Isaac. However, although the idea of substitution certainly applied, God provided a ram in a thicket, not a lamb.3
Lamb of God in Greek:
Ho amnos tou Theou
Strong’s Concordance number: 286, 2316
Bible references: John 1:29, 36; 1 Pet. 1:19