But the other association of the word is to do with Passover (Pesach) in the Jewish tradition. This of course makes sense as Jesus’ death occurred during the season of Passover; Jesus and his disciples were celebrating the passover meal when Jesus instituted the Eucharist in what is now known as The Last Supper. Many of the themes of the Passover resonate in the Easter festival: Being saved by God, being marked out as a special people and the theme of water in the crossing of the Reed sea and in the waters of Baptism.
This image of a Paschal Lamb was seized upon by the early Church to help them understand and put Jesus’ death into context. In his Gospel, John the Evangelist had John the Baptist describe Jesus as “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world”. Jesus is seen as the sacrifice who takes away the sins of the world according to St Paul in his letter to the Corinthians. Christians use this image in every Mass when they say or sing the Agnus Dei with the words “Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, have mercy on us”.
Jews today no longer offer a Lamb at Passover, and have not done since the Temple in Jerusalem was destroyed. Nevertheless, in both Faiths the image of the the lamb (or scapegoat) remains a potent symbol of redemption and salvation.