The Lamb of God,
Mosaics at Abbey of the Dormition, Jerusalem, established 5th century,
Mosaics 20th century
John said ‘Look, there is the Lamb of God'
Seeing Jesus coming towards him, John said, ‘Look, there is the lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world. This is the one I spoke of when I said: A man is coming after me who ranks before me because he existed before me. I did not know him myself, and yet it was to reveal him to Israel that I came baptising with water.’ John also declared, ‘I saw the Spirit coming down on him from heaven like a dove and resting on him. I did not know him myself, but he who sent me to baptise with water had said to me, “The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and rest is the one who is going to baptise with the Holy Spirit.” Yes, I have seen and I am the witness that he is the Chosen One of God.’
Reflection on the mosaics
In today’s Gospel reading John the Baptist describes Jesus as the Lamb of God. At every eucharist right before communion, the priest says the words “Behold the Lamb of God”. The background of the lamb is in the Old Testament. The first source is the Passover ritual. In order that the people of Israel wouldn’t be slain by the angel flying over the houses in Egypt, the Jewish people were to sprinkle the blood of a lamb on their doorposts. The lamb then became a symbol of deliverance in the Passover ritual (see Exodus 11-12).
The second main reference to the lamb in the Old Testament is in the Book of Isaiah. The mysterious servant is about to be put to death in expiation for the sins of his people (Isaiah 53). He goes to his death in a humble way, like a lamb led to the slaughter.
Hence John the Baptist describes Jesus as the Lamb of God, as just like the Jewish people in bondage in Egypt, we have been liberated from slavery and sin through the blood of the lamb-Christ.
Our mosaic depicts The Lamb of God among the saints in a side apse of the Dormition abbey, Jerusalem. The Abbey of the Dormition is a Catholic abbey belonging to the Benedictine Order in Jerusalem, on Mount Zion just outside the walls of the Old City. The Abbey is said to mark the spot where Our Lady died.
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