Come And See (3)

As we continue through the study of John’s Gospel, I want to focus on just one phrase.  Too often, I think, we read our English translations and glance over important words, phrases, or concepts that the original readers/hearers would have appreciated.  The text again is from John 1.

The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!  This is he of whom I said, ‘After me comes a man who ranks before me, because he was before me.’  I myself did not know him, but for this purpose I came baptizing with water, that he might be revealed to Israel.”  And John bore witness: “I saw the Spirit descend from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him.  I myself did not know him, but he who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain, this is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.  And I have seen and borne witness that this is the Son of God.” (vs 29-34 ESV)

Let’s talk about what “Lamb of God” would mean to those in the Ancient Near East.  As a good Jew, you would quickly be reminded of the lamb of the Passover.  In Exodus, God delivered His people.  It’s with a the lamb (particularly the blood) that God reminded His people of His deliverance.  The Jews had celebrated this particular feast for thousands of years.

But this isn’t the only thing that John must have meant.  A Passover lamb would never be able to take away sin.  And John’s description of Jesus included, “who takes away the sin of the world.”  This lamb was to be different.  Whereas the first lamb had limitations ie. remembrance, the second Lamb had no limitations.  The second Lamb would prompt one to remember the past but look forward to the future.  In regards to the future, the Jews had a particular interest.  They had long-awaited the coming of the Messiah – one they believed that would overthrow the Romans, do away with their enemies, promote them within the “food chain.”

But there’s something else we must see regarding the Old Testament.  The Jews of John’s day would have also have been reminded of a prophecy from Isaiah.

All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned – every one – to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.  He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth. (Is 53:6-7 ESV)

Can you imagine?  Seven hundred years prior to Christ Jesus’ birth, Isaiah prophesied about the crucifixion of Jesus.  Not only that, but he used the picture of a lamb being led to the slaughter.  Could it be that John the Baptist also had this Old Testament text in mind?  I think so.

John was from a family of priests.  He would have known what sacrifice was all about.  He would have known that the temple sacrifice – being performed at the temple on a daily basis – was limited.  The temple sacrifice was to remind one of his/her sin.  But it wasn’t the ultimate sacrifice.  The Lamb of God – the ultimate sacrifice – the one who would destroy the power of sin completely had now arrived!  Remember Abraham speaking to Isaac?  God will provide for himself the lamb for a burnt offering, my son.  (Gen 22:8 ESV)  Jesus brought old and new together.  Everything found fulfillment in Jesus.  And John recognized that fact.

We’ve just celebrated the birth of Christ.  And without a birth, there could be no sacrifice.  There would be no atonement for sin.  Hope would be impossible.  But as it stands, Christ Jesus willingly came and became the Sacrificial Lamb.  And notice John says, “…for the whole world.”  Wow!

Behold , the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!

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One Response to “Come And See (3)”

  1. Please don’t misunderstand. I don’t believe John was offering universal salvation – nor am I. God offers a relationship will all people. He reaches out to us. However, we must respond.

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