Where Is the Lamb?

William Cowper had a miserable childhood. His mother, his sole source of comfort, died when he was six, and he was hustled off to a boarding school where he was mercilessly bullied.

Cowper felt the guilt of sin more than most. By the time he reached his mid-twenties, he was so conscience-stricken that he twice attempted suicide. “My sin! My sin! Oh, for some fountain open for my cleansing!” he cried. He had heard of such a fountain, but couldn’t find it. He had heard of the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world, but couldn’t find him.

One morning he picked up a Bible from his table, randomly opened it and read: “Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins . . .” (Rom 3:24–25).

“If the love of God be so great as to provide the lamb in the person of his son,” Cowper reasoned, “how could he be eager for the condemnation of sinners?”

His long-sought fountain was found. The Word had led him to the Lamb. Thus he wrote:

There is a fountain filled with blood
Drawn from Immanuel’s veins;
And sinners plunged beneath that flood,
Lose all their guilty stains.

E’er since by faith I saw the stream
Thy flowing wounds supply,
Redeeming love has been my theme,
And shall be till I die.

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

Destination: Mount Moriah. Abraham carried the fire and the knife. Isaac carried the wood, but saw something was missing: “Father . . . The fire and wood are here, but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?”

“God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.”

“Abraham built an altar there and arranged the wood on it. He bound his son Isaac and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. Then he reached out his hand and took the knife to slay his son. But the angel of the Lord called out to him . . . ‘Do not lay a hand on the boy . . . Do not do anything to him’” (Gn 22:9–12).

For centuries, the question that must have bewildered believers was, “Where is the lamb?”

Multiplied thousands of animal sacrifices were offered, but worshipers knew they weren’t enough, for if they had been, there would have been a cessation of sacrifices. But there was no cessation; sacrifices had to be repeatedly offered, for the blood of animals could never permanently take away sin.

Then one day, a man sent from God appeared proclaiming the coming of Christ. When he saw Jesus he said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (Jn 1:29).

Three years after that, soldiers tramped the Via Dolorosa with spears and swords, mallets and nails, an altar . . . and the Lamb. On the very mountain of Abraham’s almost-sacrifice of his only son, God’s total-sacrifice of his only son was underway.

Where is the Lamb?

There! Stretched out on that cross-shaped altar.

No last-minute angelic intervention; no stay of execution.

We—you and I—are in the execution-chamber witness gallery. We see him as he looks at us and mouths the words, “This is how much I love you—I am doing this for you.” The Lamb is sacrificed for sin—our sin—once for all.

Redeeming love has been my theme,
And shall be till I die.

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