The Lamb of God! — John 1:29-34
By Pastor Lee Hemen
October 5, 2014
I remember some of the names my mother had for me. Some were rather embarrassing, and no I am not going to share those with you! We all have nicknames or pet names others have given us that we would rather not share with anyone. Yet there are some names we are proud to let others know we have. Names like father, mother, grandfather or grandmother, aunt or uncle, brother or sister, son or daughter. These names are ones we often carry with pride and enjoy when we are called by them.
John the Baptist not only testified about the Messiah to come, but he also gave him one of the most endearing and fascinating names ever. It is a name that people have used, found comfort in, and wondered at for thousands of years. Here in John’s gospel we see him writing about John the Baptist and his ministry down by the Jordan River and it was there while he was doing his baptizing that John the Baptist shares with others the wonderful name of the Messiah to come: The Lamb of God! Let’s discover what this means for our lives this morning…
I have to laugh when I hear folks argue about who Jesus was or is because there is so much historical evidence pointing to exactly who he is. John writes that…
I. The Lamb of God is Jesus! (Vv. 29-31)
The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! This is the one I meant when I said, ‘A man who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’ I myself did not know him, but the reason I came baptizing with water was that he might be revealed to Israel.” (John 1:29-31 NIV)
1. While John was baptizing down on the Jordan River near a small town named Bethany, Jesus, his cousin comes down to the river. We discover that the very “next day John saw Jesus coming toward him.” Perhaps they had grown up together and had seen one another, after all Mary did journey to her Aunt’s house to share her pregnancy predicament with Aunt Elizabeth. We know that after Mary discovers her pregnancy that “At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea, where she entered Zachariah’s home and greeted Elizabeth. (Luke 1:39 NIV)” So, it does not seem too farfetched to think that these young men had known one another, after all they were cousins! But now John sees Jesus not as his pesky cousin he grew up with but in an entirely new light. (I know cousins can be pesky because when I was three years old, I met my cousin Steven for the first time, and I bit him on the arm! He was five and had been bugging me.) But whatever the case, we discover Jesus is seen by John differently. John now looks towards Jesus and proclaims, “Look (behold), the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” Some think this was probably after Jesus had been baptized by John, spent time in the wilderness, and was tempted by Satan and so was changed and charged with his mission. John no longer saw Jesus as his cousin but rather as the one God-ordained, God-gifted sacrificial offering that took the place of the Pascal lamb and the sacrifice it represented! Jesus is the one who “takes away the sin of the world!” He could because he is the one John had already spoke about where he said, “A man comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.” Jesus can take the sins of the world away because he is God, and was before John, surpassed him, and everything else! But why did John say, I myself did not know Him? While they were cousins, sometimes family cannot see you for who you truly are! I believe John did not know that Jesus was the coming Messiah until he was revealed to John by the Father. John however knew Jesus was the “reason [John] came baptizing with water was that [Jesus] might be revealed to Israel” as the good news, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!
EXAMPLE: M. R. DeHaan writes for the Radio Bible Class, “A tourist who had visited a church in Norway said that he was surprised to see the carved figure of a lamb near the top of the church’s tower. He learned that when the church was being built, a workman fell from a high scaffold. His co-workers rushed down, expecting to find him dead. But to their surprise and joy, he was alive and only slightly injured. How did he survive? A flock of sheep was passing beneath the tower at the time, and he landed on top of a lamb. The lamb broke his fall and was crushed to death, but the man was saved. To remember that miraculous escape, someone carved a lamb on the tower at the exact height from which the workman fell. John the Baptist described Jesus as “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (Jn. 1:29). Peter said that the full weight of our sins fell upon Jesus (1 Pet. 2:24). And the apostle Paul explained, “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Cor. 5:21). We all have fallen in sin, but on the cross Jesus took the punishment for our sin upon Himself. He now offers eternal life to all who personally put their faith in Him (Jn. 3:1-16). Have you been saved by the Lamb?” The Lamb of God is Jesus!
Few of us have someone important go to the mat for us or give us a personal reference. Here in John’s gospel we discover that…
II. The Lamb of God was confirmed by the Holy Spirit! (Vv. 32-34)
Then John gave this testimony: “I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him. I would not have known him, except that the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, ‘The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is he who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’ I have seen and I testify that this is the Son of God.” (John 1:32-34 NIV)
I. What John the Baptist had to say about Jesus probably did not carry to much weight with the crowds in his day and age; we have the advantage of hindsight. But here we discover John “saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on” Jesus. John’s Gospel does not say the Spirit appeared like a dove at Jesus’ baptism, however it is inferred and we know from the other gospel accounts that it did indeed occur. However, the invisible Spirit came from heaven and manifested himself in the form of a dove and John saw the Spirit as a dove remain on Jesus. Isaiah foretold that with the Messiah to come that, “The Spirit of the LORD will rest on him– the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of power, the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD–and he will delight in the fear of the LORD. (Isaiah 11:2-3 NIV)” Interestingly, we see that John “would not have known him, except that the one who sent [him] to baptize with water told [him]” that “The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is he who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.” So in these few words of John the Baptist we discover that he indeed heard his calling directly from God and that he followed what God told him to do. And what John is telling us is the fact that he would not have recognized that Jesus was the Messiah without God’s direction! God would show John exactly who the Messiah was and do it with a pronouncement that only God could make, that of the Holy Spirit resting on him when he asks to be baptized! The other gospels relate that, “As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and lighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, ‘This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.’ (Matthew 3:16-17 NIV)” For John the Baptist this was proof enough and he would declare, “I have seen and I testify that this is the Son of God!” John teaches us that that the Lamb of God was confirmed by the Holy Spirit!
EXAMPLE: God proved his love for by sending his son Jesus and he testified to the fact by the display of his Spirit resting on him at his baptism. Randy Kilgore writes, “When Hans Egede went to Greenland as a missionary in 1721, he didn’t know the Inuit language. His temperament was often overbearing, and he struggled to be kind to the people. In 1733, a smallpox epidemic swept through Greenland, wiping out almost two-thirds of the Inuit people—and claiming Egede’s wife as well. This shared suffering melted Egede’s harsh demeanor, and he began to tirelessly labor to care for the people physically and spiritually. Because his life now better represented the stories he told them of God’s love, the Inuits could at last grasp His desire to love them too. Even in suffering, their hearts turned to God. Perhaps you are like the Inuits in this story, and you are unable to see God in the people around you. Or perhaps you are like Hans Egede, who struggled to express love in a way that taught people about God. Knowing we are weak and needy people, God showed us what love is like. He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to die for our sins (John 3:16). That’s how much God loves you and me.” John teaches us that that the Lamb of God was confirmed by the Holy Spirit!
The Lamb of God is Jesus! The Lamb of God was confirmed by the Holy Spirit!
This article is copyrighted © 2014 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.