2. More stirring testimonies of the Baptist to Christ (John 1:29-34)
29 The next day, he saw Jesus coming to him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! 30 This is he of whom I said, ‘After me comes a man who is preferred before me, for he was before me.’
When the delegates returned to Jerusalem, they kept up their scorn of the Baptist. Up to that point the Baptist had believed that Christ was to be a reformer to cleanse his people, winnowing his wheat; Christ as an angry Lord, axe in hand cutting down every diseased tree. Thus the arrival of Christ would herald the Day of Wrath. When he said, "Messiah is among us", the disciples were vexed reliving their sins. They expected the Thunderbolt of judgment to fall without warning.
Christ the young thirty-year old came to the Baptist and calmly asked for baptism. This humility struck a cord in the Baptist, who held back asking that Jesus should baptize him and forgive his sins. Jesus, however, insisted on baptism to fulfill righteousness.
Thereupon, John realized that the Holy One had come not to destroy mankind, but to bear their sin. He accepted baptism as a representative of humanity. The Lord's coming was not to be fulfilled in wrath, but by reconciling and pardon. As he stood at the edge of the Old Covenant, the Baptist perceived the depths of the New in God's love. This radical change revolutionized his conceptions.
Next day when Jesus appeared, John pointed to Jesus saying, "See and realize, open your eyes, it is he!". There was no thunderbolt or legions of angels, rather the Word was being poured out for all to experience. This young man is the long expected One, the Lord himself, the Hope of the world.
No longer did John want the crowds around him to hold on to the older concept of Messiah, based on political triumphs and military strategy. This was the Lamb of God, not the expected Lion of Judah, mighty and victorious, but meek and tender.
Filled with the Spirit, John announced, "This Jesus bears the world's sin. He has chosen to be the Lamb of God, symbolic of ancient sacrificial rites. He is worthy of being the Substitute for all men. His love is powerful and effective. He is the Holy One and remains so while bearing everyone's sins." He who was sinless became sin for us, to become God's righteousness in Christ.
The Baptist's testimony is a peak in the gospel, the nucleus of the Bible. He became aware that Christ's glory was his suffering for us. Christ's salvation is global and all-inclusive, for all races, red, yellow, black and white, dark and fair. It takes in the bright and the dull, rich and poor, aged and young, it avails for past, present and future. His death atones for all sin. His substitutionary atonement is perfect.
From the first day of his coming as Lamb he suffered the effects of evil, but he did not cast out the vile or despise the proud, but loved them. He knew the extant of their bondage and was ready to die for us.
To his hearers the Baptist proclaimed that God's Lamb had lifted God's wrath from them. He is the victim, the lamb to die in their stead. Perhaps those present wondered how one man could bear the penalty for all. John's words opened their eyes, but the cross was not yet clear to them. A strange event was to fulfilling God's plan in Christ.
Again the Baptist repeated that Jesus was to perfect this salvation, because he was the eternal Lord, "He is greater than me, he was before me". Christ's glory was great, but his love on the cross revealed the core of this glory. The evangelist confesses, "We saw his glory; he hung on the cross in affliction and thus revealed the measure of love that frees us".
PRAYER: O Holy Lamb of God who bears the sin of the world, have mercy upon us. O eternal Son of God, incarnate, forgive our sins. O humble Nazarene who was not ashamed of our sins, we adore you, for you loved us and made us complete in you on the cross. We love and thank you, because you came not as judge, but as Lamb. We believe in you, for you took away the sins of all the people in our land. Grant us wisdom to tell others that you have redeemed them.
- What does "Lamb of God" mean?