John 1:25-34Amplified Bible
25 They asked him, “Why then are you baptizing, if you are not the Christ, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet?” 26 John answered them, “I baptize [only] [a]in water, but among you there stands One whom you do not recognize and of whom you know nothing. 27 It is He [the preeminent One] who comes after me, the [b]strap of whose sandal I am not worthy to untie [even as His slave].” 28 These things occurred in Bethany across the Jordan [at the Jordan River crossing], where John was baptizing.
29 The next day he saw Jesus coming to him and said, “Look! The Lamb of God [c]who takes away the sin of the world! 30 This is He on behalf of whom I said, ‘After me comes a Man who has a higher rank than I and has priority over me, for He existed before me.’ 31 [d]I did not recognize Him [as the Messiah]; but I came baptizing [e]in water so that He would be [publicly] revealed to Israel.” 32 John gave [further] evidence [testifying officially for the record, with validity and relevance], saying, “I have seen the [f]Spirit descending as a dove out of heaven, and He remained upon Him. 33 I did not recognize Him [as the Messiah], but He who sent me to baptize [g]in water said to me, ‘He upon whom you see the Spirit descend and remain, this One is He who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ 34 I myself have [actually] seen [that happen], and my testimony is that this is the Son of God!”
The Word of God for the Children of God. Gloria! In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia! Amen.
John, the Baptizer was born miraculously to aged parents (Luke 1:11-18), had the mission of preparing the way for Christ, the Messiah.
As a Charismatic preacher, he drew great crowds. He denounced people’s sins, called for immediate repentance, and baptized many who turned back to God.
The high point in John’s life came when he was baptizing at the Jordan River and Jesus approached him. John called out, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” He also had exclaimed, “This is the Son of God.”
A low point came, however, when John was in prison and began to wonder if Jesus really was the Messiah (Matthew 11:1-5).
From deep within his prison cell John the Baptist sent friends to find out, and Jesus assured him by saying that the sick were being healed, the dead were being raised, and the good news of God’s kingdom was being preached.
The first time we read the word “lamb” in the Hebrew Testament, the speaker is Isaac, is asking his father Abraham, “Where is the lamb for the [sacrifice]?” (Genesis 22:7).
In the New Testament at the beginning of Jesus’ ministry, we see this word again as John announces, “Look, the Lamb of God …”
John pointed us to Jesus, the Son of God, instead of himself, as the Lamb who came to meet our very deepest need by becoming the sacrifice for all our sin.
What truly matters to us is that John identified Jesus not once but twice before others as the Lamb of God and that we understand the meaning. Only through Jesus do we receive salvation. Jesus, God’s son, died a sacrificial lamb for all.
Why Did John Say, ‘Behold the Lamb of God’?
For any devout Jew in the time of Jesus, a lamb would have evoked powerful religious meaning.
Far more than a typical food source in that day, a lamb was considered the most appropriate sin-substitute when it came to making ritual sacrifices, which were a huge part of the role of the Jewish Temple and community tradition back then.
Jesus himself was raised Jewish and came from a long line of Israelites dating back to Abraham, the first major patriarch in the Bible.
Abraham’s son was Isaac, and his grandson was Jacob, from whom the 12 tribes of Israel came. Jesus was descended from the tribe of Judah, a son of Jacob.
They all would have been very familiar with the need to regularly make animal sacrifices to the Lord as a way to atone for their sins, particularly the sacrifice of an unblemished lamb as a way of cleansing, purifying, and honoring the Lord (Exodus 12:3-13; Leviticus 14:10-25).
But when John the Baptist encounters the man Jesus walking towards him in the wilderness, as Jesus is walking toward him, John announces, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29, ESV).
Why would John refer to Jesus as a lamb, which was a typical religious sacrifice?
Why a lamb of God?
And what does he mean, who “takes away” sin?
Why did John say, “Behold the Lamb of God”?
What Does This Text Mean?
In the original Greek used by the Apostle John, who wrote the Book of John, he uses the Greek word ide for behold, meaning “look,” “see here,” or “consider.”
He uses amnos for lamb, meaning exactly that — a young sheep.
And he uses theos for God, referring to “the one true God.”
He also uses the word airō for takes away, which means “carries away” or “gets rid of.”
He uses hamartia for sin, meaning “wrongdoing.”
And he uses kosmos for the word world, referring to the entire world — that is, the universe, not just the local place in which he is situated.
Essentially, what John the Baptizer is communicating to everyone nearby:
Essentially, what John the Baptizer is communicating to generations to come:
“Look, it’s God’s lamb who gets rid of the wrongdoings of the entire universe.”
Who among us, right in this exact moment, do not long to hear these words?
Who among us, right in this exact moment, does not need to hear these words ringing and resounding through, into every last empty cell of their their souls?
We’re in constant state of need to hear someone exclaiming “Hope is Possible!”
Hope, indeed our Living Hope is Here – And he is Jesus Christ – The Son of God!
This would have been a powerful and revelatory statement to make about Jesus.
Why Were Sacrifices Important to Jewish Culture Then?
Sacrifices had been prioritized in the Bible since the very first days. Genesis 4:4 talks about how Abel gave the Lord the very best firstborn of his flock of sheep (that is, a lamb), which greatly pleased God.
We also know Jesus’ descendant Abraham was severely tested by God and asked to sacrifice his only son. heir, Isaac, with whom God had promised to establish His covenant and bring forth a multitude of offspring.
Isaac’s apparently innocent question to his father, “Where is the lamb for a burnt offering?” (Genesis 22:7) is a poignant moment between them, for only Abraham knew he was supposed to be sacrificing Isaac upon the mountain.
Father Abraham insisted to Isaac that God would provide, and God did indeed, providing a ram at the last moment for him to sacrifice instead of his own son.
Exodus, Leviticus, and Deuteronomy further prescribe animal sacrifices, usually a lamb but also other animals, as a way for the Jewish people to make up for their wrongdoings, providing forgiveness and the removal of sin.
But these were temporary sacrifices.
They had to be done repeatedly — yearly or whenever a person was in need of cleansing from unrighteousness — to ensure good standing with the Lord.
What Was the Context of This Verse, ‘Behold, the Lamb of God’?
In this first chapter of John, we are introduced to John the Baptist, whom the Bible here calls “a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him” (John 1:6-7).
But Scripture is extraordinarily careful to note that John himself admitted he was not the light but rather the precursor to that light, the one who introduced, the one who announced, who pointed us to the light or bore witness in advance.
Like the person, the Master of Ceremonies, asked to introduce the main speaker onstage, John was the introducer; and Jesus was the “keynote,” the main event.
Later in this first chapter of John’s narrative, we are told priests and Levites from Jerusalem asked John who he was, for he’d been baptizing people in the wilderness and urging them to turn from sin.
They asked if he was a prophet or even if he was the great prophet of old Elijah.
No, John said, adding, “I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way of the Lord,’ as the prophet Isaiah said” (John 1:23).
He further added that he was baptizing with water as a way of forging the path to Jesus, so he could bear witness and point Jesus out when the time came.
And indeed, John emphatically added, “I have seen and have borne witness that this is the Son of God” (John 1:34).
Does John Actually Say Jesus Is the Lamb of God?
John reiterates twice that Jesus is the Lamb of God, first here, when he’s with the priests and Levites and sees Jesus walking toward him, and then the next day, when he’s standing with two disciples and sees Jesus, he points this out again: “Behold, the Lamb of God” (John 1:36).
Those two disciples included Andrew, who immediately followed Jesus and then went to fetch his brother, Simon Peter.
The two were Jesus’ first disciples and among the 12 apostles.
Make no mistake, John is saying: Jesus is the Lamb of God.
The Apostle Paul describes him later as “Christ, our Passover lamb, (who) has been sacrificed” (1 Corinthians 5:7).
What Does ‘Lamb of God’ Mean?
There are two key inferences here. One is that Jesus, as the “lamb” of God, is God’s perfect sacrifice.
Sacrificial lambs were required by Levitical Code to be unblemished, typically the best of the best, pure, and perfect.
They also were innocent — blood, and lives, were exchanged as debt payment.
In His willing sacrifice on the cross, Jesus paid our sin debt penalty “once for all” (Colossians 2:14).
It’s a substitute for sin, the way the people could enter the presence of God, to atone for wrongdoing, and what God was willing to accept to make things right.
John was perhaps referring to Scripture foretold in Isaiah 53:7, where the prophet described the savior of the world as one oppressed and inflicted, a “lamb that is led to the slaughter.”
The other meaning is the lamb being described in the Book of Revelation, the triumphant “Lamb standing, as though it had been slain, with seven horns and with seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth” (Revelation 5:6).
Did John Know What He Meant Here?
We aren’t told whether John knew what he was alluding to by calling Jesus the “Lamb of God,” especially as later he seemed doubtful and sent word asking if Jesus really was the one who was to come (Matthew 11:3).
That doesn’t really matter, though, for sometimes people speak words of the Lord without understanding what they fully mean, such as in prophecy.
What matters is that John the Baptizer clearly identified Jesus not once but twice before others as the Lamb of God and that we understand the meaning.
John the Baptizer’s intent and meaning are very clear! Only through Jesus do we receive salvation. Jesus, God’s son, died a sacrificial lamb for all (John 3:16), but only those who genuinely repent, believe and follow Him receive that salvation.
We must understand that Jesus is the only way — indeed, as the Apostle John later notes Jesus as stating, “The way and the truth and the life” (John 14:6).
So, behold, all reading this piece — Jesus is Lord, Word become flesh, the Living God, our living Hope whose innocence, purity and perfect, divine nature paid the price of our sins forevermore so we who believe may live forever with Him.
He did this for you, for me, and for us all.
He is the Lamb of God, and we are His.
John the Baptizer repeatedly proclaimed him ….
Can any of us here claim that we repeatedly proclaim the exact same sentiment?
In the name of God, the Father and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit,
Let us Pray,
Most Holy and Gracious God,
You have enriched and enlightened us by the revelation of your eternal Christ.
Comfort us in our mortality
and strengthen us to walk the path of your desire,
so that by word and deed we may manifest the gracious news
of your faithfulness and love.
Most Holy God, Giver of every Good and Perfect Gift,
Divine Father of the man Jesus who asked the disciples,
“What are you looking for,”
and who offered the invitation to “Come and See,”
open our hearts to what you reveal and give us the courage to follow.
By Your Spirit aid us in our journey,
so that like John the Baptizer, our words and deeds point to the Lamb of God.
For those who are suffering, let us likewise point to Christ through comfort.
For those who are hungry, let us point to Christ through the giving of bread.
For those in the grip of despair, let us point to Christ through our example of hope.
whose Son our Savior Jesus Christ is the light of the world:
Grant that your people, illumined by your Word,
may shine with the radiance of Christ’s glory,
that he may be known, worshiped, and obeyed to the ends of the earth.
We pray this in the name of Jesus Christ,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
One God in Three – now and forever, Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Amen.