Bible passage: Exodus 12:3-5
Written: As early as 1400 BC
In the Old Testament, just before the Exodus in which the Israelites left Egypt and returned to their homeland, they were instructed to use the blood of slain lambs and goats to protect themselves from God's wrath. The lambs and goats were to be flawless, without any blemish or defect:
3 Tell the whole community of Israel that on the tenth day of this month each man is to take a lamb for his family, one for each household. 4 If any household is too small for a whole lamb, they must share one with their nearest neighbor, having taken into account the number of people there are. You are to determine the amount of lamb needed in accordance with what each person will eat. 5 The animals you choose must be year-old males without defect, and you may take them from the sheep or the goats. (Exodus 12:3-5, NIV)
This event became the precedent for the yearly Passover holiday, celebrated by Jews.
A New Testament writer alludes to Jesus as being a flawless lamb, a sacrifice for believers:
18 For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. (1 Peter 1:18-19, NIV)
New Testament writers view Jesus as being without blemish because he lived a perfect and sinless life. They also view his atoning death as being the means by which believers are delivered from death and granted eternal life in heaven.