The Lamb Slain

Sacramental Meditation XV 

By John Willison, Practical Works (London: Blackie & Son, 1844), 262-3; minimally edited


“He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth” (Isa 53:7).

It becomes me to read and consider these words with great attention, seeing they were the occasion of the Ethiopian eunuch’s conversion; for it was while he read and thought on these words, that God sent Philip to join him (Acts 8:29). Oh that God would, in like manner, send his Holy Spirit to join me while I am meditating on them.

1. I observe that Christ is the great sacrifice provided by God to make atonement for our sins. He is the great antitype and substance of all the lambs and beasts that were offered up in sacrifice under the law, and therefore he is often in the New Testament called the Lamb, the Lamb of God, and the Lamb slain. The Spirit of God seems to have a peculiar delight in dwelling upon this type of the Lamb, more than on any other of the Old Testament types; and should not I delight in it too, and often with pleasure make mention of the Lamb, the worthy Lamb, that will be the object of the praises of saints and angels through all eternity?

2. Christ is represented by a lamb to point out the innocence of his person, the meekness of his nature, the usefulness of his benefits, and his patience under sufferings. How patient is the lamb under injuries! It is silent both before the shearer and butcher; it parts with its fleece in shearing time, and with its life in slaughter time, without any noise or resistance. Dogs and swine howl and cry when violence is offered to them, but the lamb is silent. So Christ, the Lamb of God, opened not his mouth, under the greatest revilings, mockings, buffetings, spittings, piercings, and the most cruel death, which he suffered from men (1 Pet 2:23), and hence it is said in the text, when he was led to the slaughter, “he opened not his mouth.”

He opened not his mouth, unless it was to bless, teach, or pray for those who injured him; yea, he not only did pray, but also plead an excuse for them, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” And after his resurrection, how ready was this meek Lamb to forgive all that wronged him! When giving orders to preach remission of sins to a lost world, he bids “begin at Jerusalem” (Lk 24:46), where they mocked and pierced him, because there they had greatest need of his blood to wash them from guilt. How meekly did our blessed Lamb carry to Peter, when he denied him in his own hearing! He did not turn and frown upon Peter, as he well deserved, though he might have frowned him to hell; it is said only, “He turned and looked on Peter” (Lk 22:61), not with an angry look, but with an affectionate, melting look, which recovered him to a penitent frame. Neither did he afterwards upbraid him with his carriage.

O meek Lamb of God! Can I remember thee at thy table, without being filled with remorse and grief for my impatience under injuries, and the proneness of my heart to resent them? Shall I not be ashamed of my unchristian temper, when I see my meek and loving Jesus willing to be the sport and derision of men and devils, that he might be the author of salvation to perishing souls! Oh, how astonishing is it to see the Creator affronted by the creature, the potter by his clay, the King of Glory by worms of the earth, and yet hold his peace! Now is the head so meek and patient, and should not the members be so too? Oh how unseemly is it to see a company of fierce lions following a meek lamb! Oh that I could learn more of him that is meek and lowly in heart!

3. Here I see the greatest instance of divine love that ever the world saw. Behold an offended God willing to spare wretched criminals, and take satisfaction from a surety in their room; and he himself finds out the lamb to be the sacrifice, even his eternal Son, who willingly undertook to assume a body for that end. How astonishing are the Lamb’s words, “Sacrifice and offering thou wouldst not, but a body hast thou prepared me!” (Heb 10:5) as if he had said, “Father, since all the legal sacrifices are insufficient to satisfy thy justice, atone for sin, and ransom precious souls; even take the body thou hast prepared for me, let that be the sacrifice to justice; it is more valuable than any other, being the tabernacle of my divine person; it will bring glory to thy offended justice, and satisfy it to the full. I yield myself willingly to be the prisoner of justice, and go quietly as a lamb to the slaughter; not dragged to it as an ox or bullock, but meekly and pleasantly like a lamb.” When, according to this agreement, justice required the Lamb to be sacrificed, Oh how patient and silent was he under all the accusations laid against him, though he was innocent; he would say nothing in his own defence, at which Pilate (not knowing the cause of his silence) marvelled greatly, having never seen the like before. But our Lamb considered that he stood not only at Pilate’s bar, but also at the bar of God’s justice as our surety, bearing our guilt; and though man had nothing to lay to his charge, yet he knew what divine justice had to charge upon him, and therefore he is silent, and answers nothing, that he might not hinder our redemption, nor stop the payment of our debt. When justice charged him with our sins, our “unbelief, pride, covetousness,” etc., he might have said, “O Father, these transgressions are not mine, I never offended thee;” but he will do nothing to rescue himself. Therefore, when the fearful charge of the whole sins of an elect world was exhibited against him, and the sword of justice drawn, ready to strike, he opened not his mouth, but takes with the charge, as if he had been guilty of all. Glory to the silent Lamb forever, that would not hinder our release from punishment, but meekly took the stroke for us!

4. Behold this meek Lamb before he was brought to the slaughter, led up and down from place to place; from the garden to the high-priest, from the high-priest to Pilate, from Pilate to Herod, from Herod back to Pilate, from Pilate to Calvary. Behold him mocked, abused, and disgraced by them, buffeted and spit upon, crowned, scourged, and pierced, and yet never resists nor complains. He willingly “gave his back to the smiters, and his cheeks to them that plucked off the hair,” and hid not his face from spitting. Now, the meek Lamb is content to be as the ram caught in the thicket, to be slaughtered and sacrificed in our room, who were lying bound like Isaac, to have been the sacrifice. Oh, it was our sins that plaited the thorns; they also were the reed that drove them into his temples, yet he opened not his mouth.

5. Now this slaughtered Lamb is set before my eyes in the sacrament, and God’s call to me is, “Behold the Lamb of God” (Jn 1:29). Now let me behold with an earnest and steady look, with faith and expectation, that I may get healing to all my diseases. As no stung Israelite got healing from the brazen serpent, unless they looked to it, so none can get benefit from Christ unless they behold him. May I never look away from this Lamb, to my tears, convictions, prayers, reformations, or any thing else; seeing the best duties will make bad saviours. If I expect salvation from other things, I am undone, for there is no other name given under heaven whereby men can be saved. But if I look to the Lamb of God, my salvation is secured by his promise (Isa 45:22).

6. There was no house in Egypt safe from the destroying angel, but those who had their doors sprinkled with the blood of the Paschal Lamb. So there is no soul safe from the sword of revenging justice, but those who by faith put themselves under the protection of the blood of this slain Lamb. Let me, therefore, take the bunch of hyssop, faith, and dip it in the basin of the New Covenant, and sprinkle this blood on my guilty soul, and so I shall be safe.

7. How blessed is their character who follow the Lamb (Rev 14:4). May I follow him as my physician to cure me, my righteousness to justify me, my life to quicken me, my husband to supply my wants, my guide to conduct me, my pattern to direct me in my steps. Let me learn from his example, to be patient without murmuring, when I am under affliction. Let me learn meekness towards men, when I meet with reproaches or injuries from them. Let me learn a readiness to obey God’s call to every duty. Oh did Christ go willingly to the slaughter for us, and shall I be backward to pray, communicate, part with sin, or do any thing he requires of me? Let me, in all duties and ordinances, seek after the Lamb’s presence, seeing my eternal happiness lies in being ever with the Lamb, and to be fed and led by him (Rev 7:16). Ω