29 The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! 30 This is the one I meant when I said, ‘A man who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’ 31 I myself did not know him, but the reason I came baptizing with water was that he might be revealed to Israel.”
32 Then John gave this testimony: “I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him. 33 And I myself did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, ‘The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’ 34 I have seen and I testify that this is God’s Chosen One.”
(John 1:29-34 NIV)
The Apostle John uses John the Baptizer to introduce Jesus to his Gospel account. The Apostle John used John the Baptizer’s words to announce the Messiah in our last section. The Apostle also used the Baptizer’s words to clearly state that he (the Baptizer) was not the Messiah and not Elijah, but the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy, the herald of the Messiah, who is Jesus.
Notice how John the Baptizer announces Jesus – not as a king or the Messiah, but as “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” The Apostle John skillfully weaves so much history and meaning into this story, causing us to look carefully at the details.
When we look back to Genesis chapter 22, we see God asking Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac, his only son as a burnt offering on the altar. When Isaac asked his dad where the lamb was (not knowing that God had asked Abraham to sacrifice Isaac), Abraham replied, “God will provide the lamb.” When Abraham prepares to sacrifice Isaac, God stops Abraham as He sees that Abraham is obedient to the Lord. Indeed, God provides a lamb for the sacrifice on that day. And God used Abraham’s story to foretell of the Lamb that would be sacrificed to take away the sin of the world, that is the Messiah, Jesus Christ.
When we look forward through John chapter 1 into John chapter 2 and follow the “next day” sequences, we quickly find ourselves at the Passover celebration in chapter 2 verse 13. John the Baptizer’s description of Jesus as the Passover Lamb foretold of Jesus’ reason for being on the earth – born to die for the sins of the world, the perfect Lamb, without spot or blemish, the sacrifice for our sins once and for all.
In verse 30, John the Baptizer acknowledges that Jesus is Messiah, the God of Creation who now comes to earth as a human, and whom he (John) was sent to announce.
In verses 32-34, John the Baptizer refers to Jesus’ baptism. The Apostle John does not explicitly recount Jesus’ baptism, as the other three Gospels had already provided that part of Jesus’ story. Instead, John decided to cover John the Baptizer’s eyewitness account of the Holy Spirit descending on Jesus like a dove, which signified God’s testimony that Jesus is the Messiah, plus John the Baptizer’s testimony that Jesus is indeed the Messiah, the Son of God.
So what is the faith lesson from today’s passage? How do we take these verses and allow God to use them for more than just a historical narrative?
First, note that Jesus never corrected John the Baptizer when he announced Jesus as the sacrificial Lamb that would take away the sins of the world. Jesus’ eventual death was not a tragedy, it was the plan, and His resurrection the victory.
Second, the Apostle John repeats John the Baptizer’s eyewitness testimony that Jesus is Messiah. When life gets hard, and we doubt, John makes sure we have the assurance that Jesus is the Chosen One, the Messiah, God with us.
May our worship be sweet as we consider Jesus as the Lamb of God sent to take away our sins forever. And may our faith be strong as we read John’s testimony. May we say with full heart conviction along with Paul, “… I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until that day.” (2 Timothy 1:12b NIV).