LOOK, THE LAMB OF GOD
Key Verse: 1:29
“The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, ‘Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!’”
Jesus is God. Jesus is the eternal Word of God, through which all things were made. We have received abundant blessings of grace and truth through Jesus who became flesh and made his dwelling among us. In today’s passage, we start to study the actual events of Jesus’ life, of which Apostle John was an eyewitness. We begin with the testimony of John the Baptist, the remarkable preacher. In this passage, we may learn two things through the testimony of John. First, His attitude as a witness. We may freely testify about Jesus in any situation. Second, the content of his testimony. We may testify that Jesus is the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world; Jesus is the Son of God who baptize with the Holy Spirit. In this way, we may prepare the way for the Lord.
First, the attitude of a witness (19-28).
Look at verse 19. “Now this was John’s testimony when the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem sent priests and Levites to ask him who he was.” Why did the religious leaders want to know who John was? Nowadays people talk about KimJungun because of Nuclear and missile test. In those days, all the people of Jerusalem talk about John’s simple lifestyle in the wilderness – eating grasshoppers and wild honey and wearing animal skins - and his fearless message of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. He rebuked the hypocritical religious leaders and even the king Herod. “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near! You brood of vipers. Produce fruit in keeping with repentance!” At first they came out by dozens and then by hundreds. Finally thousands came out from the cities of Jordan and Galilee to hear this remarkable preacher out in the desert. Being rebuked and moved by his message, they confessed their sins and received the baptism of water in the Jordan River. The response was so tremendous, and this man became so popular. They wondered if he might be the Messiah, Elijah, or a prophet.
When the Jewish leader heard this, they did not see it as the great work of God, but as a threat to them. So they sent priests and Levites to ask him who he was. For John the Baptist, this might be a big moment. This could have been the beginning of something big for him. Then how did John respond to them? Look at verse 20. “He did not fail to confess, but confessed freely, ‘I am not the Messiah’” What would have happened if John had simply kept quiet? Many people would have assumed he was the Messiah. He could have been a very powerful leader. What a temptation for a young man! Yet, he did not fail to confess, but confessed freely, “I am not the Messiah.” He was making one thing perfectly clear – He is not the Messiah – Leaving no doubt. Then, they asked, “Then who are you? Are you Elijah?” It was because many people were expecting that Elijah was going to come back to store Israel in glory based on the prophecy of Malachi (Mal4:5). Though John had gone before Jesus in the spirit and power of Elijah, he was not that Elijah. John’s reply is very clear; “I am not.” Then they asked John again, “Are you the prophet?” The prophet refers to the one who was coming and would become like Moses according Dt 18:15. John answered, “No.”
Notice the increasing bluntness of his answers. “I am not the Messiah” “I am not.” “No.” John spoke about himself less and less each time he was asked a question. People love to talk about themselves more and more because they want to be recognized, appreciated, and validated.
All we have a desire to be recognized and praised by others. If we are not recognized by people, we feel very sorry about ourselves and demonstrate in many ways. However, John was free from the desire for human recognition. How could he be so free? It was because he knew who he was. He was nothing but a sinner before God. Apostle Paul also kept his humility in the midst of the great work of God. He said, ‘Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners – of whom I am the worst.”(1Ti1:15)
John was not the Messiah, nor Elijah, nor the prophet. Then who is John? They also said, “Who are you? What do you say about yourself?” How did he define himself? Look at verse 23. “John replied in the words of Isaiah the prophet, ‘I am the voice of one calling in the wilderness, “Make straight the way for the Lord.”’” John defined himself according to the word of God, Isaiah 40. John referred to himself as “the voice of one calling in the wilderness.” He had a clear identity and mission from God. How could John have such a clear identity? Undoubtedly his parents told him the wonderful story of his birth and the predictions of the angel. He knew from his childhood that he was a chosen one. However when he asked himself, as he must have as a young boy, “What does God want me to do?” he found answer in the word of God. By reading and studying the word of God, Isaiah, John had found who he was and what he was to do. This was his source of courage, confidence and strength that enabled him to go through hardships, such as misunderstanding, rejection, temptation, persecutions, prison and even martyrdom. He could be free from the desire for human recognition because he found his absolute purpose and meaning of life in God as the voice.
Who are you? What do you say about yourself? There are many young people who are confused about their gender identities when they define themselves based on their emotion or feeling. There are many who lost their spiritual identity, pursuing pleasures and success of the world. They really need to study the word of God to find who they are. God blessed RURP with the word of God, 1Peter 2:9 “You are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” They are royal priesthood by the word of God, not by their grade. Regardless their failures, mistakes, or shortcomings, they are Holy Nation, God’s special possession. Even if they become hopeless, homeless, or jobless, still they are a holy nation. Many people change their identity according to their social status. By the word of God, they are a chosen people after graduation, after marriage, or even after having 3 children. In this campus, many of our missionaries are Nobody – not students, not staff, not professor. Who are we? We are witnesses of Christ Jesus based on Act 1:8 “You will be my witnesses… to the ends of the earth.” Even though most of students reject our invitation, we are the shepherds for God’s flock in this campus based on John 21 ‘Feed my sheep.” You are truly blessed when you find your identity in the word of God.
In verse 25 they questioned him, “Why then do you baptize if you are not the Christ, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet?” They want to accuse John of baptizing without a license from the religious authorities. They might really want to say “You are nobody!” They wanted to despise the baptism of water as nothing. John did not argue with them. He downplayed his own work in order to magnify Jesus. Look at verses 26-27. “‘I baptize with water, but among you stands one you do not know. He is the one who comes after me, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie.’”
John explained that his water baptism was not the most important thing. Instead, John turned their attention to Jesus. He helped them to have spiritual desires to know the one who comes after him.
Though he helped thousands people to repent of their sins, he said that he was not worthy to untie the straps of Jesus’ sandals. In this way, he exalted Jesus as the Lord and he told that it was great privilege to serve Jesus for he was unworthy to the least servant of the Lord. We really need to know who Jesus is. When we find God in Jesus, we can realize that we are unworthy servants and How much we have been privilege to serve the God almighty as shepherd and bible teacher thought we are even not worthy to unite the straps of his sandals. It is possible because Jesus is full of grace and truth. John made every effort to reveal Christ. He turned every conversation to Christ. In this way he made straight the way for the Lord.
Second, Look, the Lamb of God (29 -34).
In verses 29-34, we learn what John really wanted to say and the main point of his testimony. As the forerunner of Christ, he introduced Christ to his people Israel and to the world. How did John introduce Jesus? Look at verse 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!’” As soon as John saw Jesus, he cried out, “Look, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” What does “the Lamb of God” means?
“The Lamb of God” had deep roots in the Old Testament. Do you know the first time the word “lamb” appears in the Bible? It is when Abraham was about to sacrifice his son Isaac on Mount Moriah. As we know, to test Abraham, God commanded him to offer his one and only son Isaac, whom he loved, as a burnt offering. As they walk up the mountain, Isaac noticed that the sacrifice was missing. So he asked Abraham, “Father, the fire and wood are here, but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?” Abraham did not say, “You are the sacrifice this time.” What did he say? “God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son” (Gen 22:8). As Abraham trusted God absolutely, God provided the lamb so that Isaac would not have to die. This tells us what God was going to do when he sent his one and only son. God would provide the lamb for us so that we would not have to die for our sins. “Where is the lamb?” If God did not provide the lamb, there was no hope for sinners. Thank God that God provide the perfect lamb for the sin of the world! God so loved the world that he would offer his one and only Son as a ransom sacrifice for the sin of the world.
In Exodus chapter 12, we can see another important sacrifice of lambs. It was at the first Passover. At that time, Israel were groaning in slavery to the Egyptian king, Pharaoh. They were powerless to escape even though they were treated mercilessly. In their desperate situation, they cried out to God. He heard their prayers and remembered his covenant with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. God sent Moses as a deliverer. Through Moses, God sent plagues against the Egyptians, but Pharaoh resisted God with all his stubborn will. Finally, God announced a plague of death against all the firstborn of Egypt. In the midst of this judgment, God provide a way for the Israel to be saved. It was to slaughter a year-old lamb without defect and spread the blood of the lamb on the doorframes of their houses. God said, “The blood will be a sign for you on the houses where you are; and when I see the blood, I will pass over you. No destructive plague will touch you when I strike Egypt.” (Ex 12:13) On that night, nothing else could save them – only the blood of the lamb. The blood of the lamb foreshadowed the blood of Jesus, the Lamb of God. The power of sin is so strong that no one could escape from it. Since the wages of sin is death, all we must die because of our sins. But Jesus became the Passover Lamb which God provided. This Passover lamb was sacrificed to deliver us from the bondage of sin and death. The blood of lamb has power to save us from God’s judgment.
In the Old Testament, we can find lots of sacrifices of lambs. Lamb might be the poorest animal for it had been sacrificed endlessly since Israel sinned endlessly. There is no atoning for sin without shedding blood. Under the sacrificial system of Leviticus, every morning and evening animals, especially lambs were sacrificed for atonement of sins.
In fact, every sacrifice points forward to Jesus. Jesus is the lamb that took place of Isaac and takes our place. Jesus is the Passover lamb which set us free from sin. Jesus is the lamb that is led to the slaughter for our sins. What an incredible image for Jesus to take over. Jesus is not just a lamb, but the Lamb of God which God provided. Since he is the sinless Son of God, he could become the perfect lamb which was acceptable to God. Hebrew 9:14 says, “How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living god.”
Why is it so wonderful to know that Jesus is the Lamb of God? It is because Jesus, the Lamb of God, takes way the sin of the world; it is because Jesus set us free from sin. The real slavery is slavery to sin. Sin brings the true plague of death. All people alike are under bondage to sin. Jesus said, “Everyone who sins is a slave to sin.” (Jn 8:34) What we need is not a better job or better friends. We need freedom from bondage. Paul, the great servant of God, cried out. “What a wretched man I am. Who will rescue me form this body that is subject to death?” (Ro7:24) It is Jesus the lamb of God who will rescue us from sin and death. “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.” (Ro8:1-2)
How did Jesus set us free? Of course, it’s by dying on the cross. Jesus did not die for good and noble people who can help themselves, but for powerless sinners. We have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins.(Eph1:7) What was actually happening on the cross as Jesus was suffering? He was making full atonement for the guilt of our sin, giving his own holy life as a substitute for sinners. Jesus took away all our sins. That’s why we say that the blood of Jesus washes away sins. Since Jesus takes away our sins, we are a new creation. Our relationship with God is restored. We have assurance of eternal life. We can stand before God and serve him without fear. Jesus is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.
How can we personally receive this great benefit of the Lamb of God? Let’s read verse 29 again. “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” What do we have to do? We must look at Jesus the Lamb of God, by faith that Jesus took away all our sins. What are you looking at? Not ourselves, Not others, Not the situation, Not the trouble world. Look Jesus the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. When we see Jesus as the Lamb of God, we can be free from the power of sin and live New life.
Jesus is the Lamb of God who suffered and died for sin of the world! Poor Jesus! Please do not forget that this Lamb who was slain will come back with glory and power as the King of kings and Lord of Lords. God exalted this poor Jesus to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name. In the book of Revelation, the Lamb will destroy the devil and bring the saints who have been cleansed by his blood into a heavenly wedding banquet for eternal life with him. The Lamb reigns forever in the new heaven and the new earth. In heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Third, Jesus is the Son of God (30-34).
Look at verse 30. “This is the one I meant when I said, ‘A man who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’” John testifies that Jesus is the eternal God. Look at verse 31. “I myself did not know him, but the reason I came baptizing with water was that he might be revealed to Israel.” It is interesting to know that when he began his mission as the forerunner, John did not know who the Messiah was. John simply began preaching and baptizing by faith.
Look at verses 32-33. “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.”’” God didn’t tell John beforehand who the Messiah would be. But he told him that the Spirit would come down from heaven and remain on him. So John held this word from God in his heart and watched for the Christ day by day. Then one day, as he was baptizing, Jesus came to him. Jesus must have looked different from others who came to be baptized. All the others looked shameful and guilty as they came and confessed their sins. But Jesus did not look like that, because he had no sins to confess. Recognizing this, John hesitated to baptize Jesus. But Jesus insisted that it be done. And as Jesus was coming up out of the water, the Holy Spirit came down in the form of a dove and God’s promise to John was fulfilled. When John saw the Spirit come on Jesus, he was overjoyed. Now, before his disciples, John could point to Jesus and say, “I have seen and I testify that this is God’s chosen one.” (34).
Here John boldly testify who Jesus is. God’s chosen one means the Son of God. The Holy Spirit points to Jesus and testifies to Jesus. The Holy Spirit is helper who opens our eyes to know Jesus as God. “I have seen and I testify that this is God’s chosen one.” Jesus is the eternal God. Jesus is the Son of God who baptizes us with the Holy Spirit. The baptism of The Holy Spirit is not like the baptism of water. The Holy Spirit will open our eyes to see Jesus as the Lamb of God. It will gives us New-Fresh-Heart. It will give us the wisdom of salvation. We become the children of God, born of the Spirit.
John did not fail to confess, but freely confessed. “I am not the Messiah. I am just the voice calling out in the wilderness.” John boldly testified that Jesus is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world; Jesus is the eternal God; Jesus is the Son of God who baptize us with the Holy Spirit. We may freely and boldly testify this truth by faith, so that we may make the straight way for Jesus. Let us look at Jesus, the Lamb of God.
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