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29 The next day he saw Jesus coming toward 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 ranks before me, because he was before me.’ 31 I myself did not know him, but for this purpose I came baptizing with water, that he might be revealed to Israel.” 32 And John bore witness: “I saw the Spirit descend from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him. 33 I myself did not know him, but he who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain, this is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ 34 And I have seen and have borne witness that this is the Son of God.”
So far in our studies here in John 1 we’ve seen four of the seven names for Jesus the Apostle John uses here in chapter one. We’ve seen, Jesus: The Word, Jesus: The Light, Jesus: Son of God, and Jesus: The Christ.
This morning we arrive at verse 29 and find the fifth name for Jesus here in John 1, Jesus: Lamb of God.
We’re going to center this and next week’s study around this name for Jesus, Lamb of God. We’ll look at verses 29-34 today and see John the Baptist’s testimony about the Lamb of God and Lord willing next Sunday we’ll see in verses 35-42, what happens when you believe that Jesus is the Lamb of God.
We’re looking at the testimony of John the Baptist and we begin with the remarkable statement in verse 29. Charles Spurgeon called this statement “the whole Gospel in very brief form” (from Spurgeon’s sermon no. 3222 PDF). It’s what John the Baptist said when he saw Jesus coming: “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!”
John the Baptist is still pointing to Christ, continuing his witness as to the identity of Christ. So we see in verse 29 that The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him…
This is apparently the day after the conversation John the Baptist had with the delegation that came to question him about his own identity. We saw it last week in verses 19-28. John was all about pointing people to Christ — he said hardly anything about himself and what was said about himself also pointed to Christ.
So it’s the next day and in verse 29 we note that John sees Jesus coming and what does he say?
…“Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!
Now remember that John the Apostle, who is writing this Gospel, is telling us about Jesus so that we will see him for who he is, God in human flesh, and believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name (John 20:31).
Now, is this the first time John and Jesus had met? No, remember that they are related and there’s an indicator back in verse 26 that we saw last week that John had been with Jesus before this. There’s also the clear statement in verses 32 and 33 that show they’d been together before now when John points back to the time he baptized Jesus. So when you see this statement from John, understand that he’s not just now learning who Jesus is, but he’s pointing out to others who Jesus is.
But having said that, John the Baptist, though related to Jesus and though he’d likely known Jesus all his life, did not know until it was revealed to him by God that Jesus is the Messiah. We’ll come back to that thought in a couple of verses.
But first this, John sees Jesus coming and once again, he faithfully points the attention of those around him to Christ. He says, behold, or look, the Lamb of God. What does this mean? This is something that would have been very familiar to the Jewish people, the idea of a sacrificial lamb.
They knew all about Abraham and Isaac and about the lamb that Abraham was sure God would provide for the sacrifice. There was also the Passover that was sacrificed and it’s blood would be shed and sprinkled on the door posts. The sacrifice of a lamb was also familiar to them because twice every day, morning and evening in the temple, for the burnt offering for sin, the lamb was slain. Jewish people would have also known about Isaiah’s prophesy in Isaiah 53:7 of a lamb that would be led to slaughter.
7 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted,
yet he opened not his mouth;
like a lamb that is led to the slaughter,
and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent,
so he opened not his mouth.
This is about Jesus. And John’s here, pointing to him and saying, “look, there’s the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” Listen — Jesus, the Lamb of God is the final sacrifice. Hebrews 7:27 says of Christ,
27 He has no need, like those high priests, to offer sacrifices daily, first for his own sins and then for those of the people, since he did this once for all when he offered up himself.
Throughout Israel’s history, God, over and over again made it clear that sin and separation from Him could be removed only by blood sacrifices and that the lamb used for sacrifice had to be spotless, it had to be perfect. Listen to this passage from Leviticus 4:32-35 that describes this.
32 “If he brings a lamb as his offering for a sin offering, he shall bring a female without blemish 33 and lay his hand on the head of the sin offering and kill it for a sin offering in the place where they kill the burnt offering. 34 Then the priest shall take some of the blood of the sin offering with his finger and put it on the horns of the altar of burnt offering and pour out all the rest of its blood at the base of the altar. 35 And all its fat he shall remove as the fat of the lamb is removed from the sacrifice of peace offerings, and the priest shall burn it on the altar, on top of the Lord’s food offerings. And the priest shall make atonement for him for the sin which he has committed, and he shall be forgiven.
So here’s John’s testimony, behold, look, the Lamb of God. And what does John say about the Lamb of God? He says that this is the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! And note this that he didn’t says “sins” he said “sin”. John MacArthur says, “He doesn’t take away only the symptoms, He takes away the disease.” Jesus Christ is the spotless lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. And when John says sin of the world, he’s pointing to the fact that forgiveness of sins isn’t only for the Jews. This isn’t for the Jewish race only, it’s for all human beings in general, but note that it’s not for all human beings without exception.
How is that true? It’s true because your sins are forgiven only if you believe in Jesus Christ.
Now, some would falsely teach that this verse is saying that everyone will be saved. That’s called universalism and that’s clearly not what the Bible teaches.
What the Bible does repeatedly teach is that many, many people will face eternal punishment in hell. And Matthew 7:13-14 tells us of Jesus’ teaching on this matter,
13 “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. 14 For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.
Here’s the point. Sin is a worldwide problem, all of mankind needs to be forgiven their sin, and for those who find the narrow gate, worldwide, without distinction between race or nationality or ethnicity, for those who believe in Jesus Christ, their sins are forgiven because of the sacrifice of the Lamb of God. That’s what John’s statement is about and that went counter to what the Jewish people were thinking because they were looking for their Messiah to be a king who would come and deliver them and set up his kingdom. But Jesus is the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!
You ought to give praise to God, that the sacrifice of Christ is completely sufficient to save all who believe in Him. This is the witness of Scripture.
John 3:15 & 16 tells us that whoever believes in Jesus has eternal life.
John 3:18 says that, Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.
John 3:36, Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life.
John 6:40, For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life.
Acts 10:43, To him [Jesus] all the prophets bear witness that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.”
Romans 1:16, For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes…
And I could keep going. The witness of Scripture is clear, believe in Jesus Christ and be forgiven your sin. There is no other way. And we all need our sins forgiven — or what? Or we die in our sins and suffer eternal punishment in hell. That too is the clear teaching of scripture and it’s what we can conclude from all those passages I just called out. If you don’t believe in Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Lamb of God you remain condemned in your sin.
But why believe that’s who Jesus is? Look at verse 30 where John the Baptist says,
30 This is he of whom I said, ‘After me comes a man who ranks before me, because he was before me.’
There were likely people there on this day that had been there on the previous day when John told the delegation questioning him, in verses 26 and 27, “among you stands one you do not know, 27 even he who comes after me, the strap of whose sandal I am not worthy to untie.”
John says, He ranks before me because He’s God in flesh, He was before me; I was created, He’s always existed. Again, this is John’s witness; “Here he is, this is the one I’ve been telling you about. It’s him you should follow. It’s him you should believe in.”
But how did John know Jesus was the Lamb of God? Look at verse 31,
31 I myself did not know him, but for this purpose I came baptizing with water, that he might be revealed to Israel.”
John knew Jesus personally before Jesus’ baptism, but before then he didn’t know Jesus as the one he was to reveal to Israel, which, he says in verse 31 is why he came baptizing. This is John’s testimony, “I came baptizing to make Christ known. I came baptizing so people would see their own sinfulness and their need of the Lamb of God who would be sacrificed for sin and take away their sin when they believe in Him.” And here’s how John new for certain that it was Jesus who was Messiah, 32 and 33 says,
32 And John bore witness: “I saw the Spirit descend from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him.
33 I myself did not know him, but he who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain, this is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’
God had told John this. By this supernatural sign from God it was clear to John that Jesus was Messiah; that Jesus was the Lamb of God; that Jesus was the Son of God; God in human flesh.
One more thing John mentions that points clearly to the deity of Christ.
It was when he said that his own baptizing was with water but Jesus would baptize His followers with the Holy Spirit. Believers in Jesus Christ receive not only forgiveness for sin and eternal life but also the indwelling presence of God the Spirit, the Holy Spirit. Forgiveness of sins and eternal life brings great hope as we look to eternity. But as we live in the here and now the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit guides the believer into truth, and that truth is specifically found in God’s Word, and the the Holy Spirit strengthens the believer to live with that truth guiding them. This is why John testifies of Christ. He says in verse 34,
34 And I have seen and have borne witness that this is the Son of God.”
This is why it’s so important to believe in Jesus. This is why John the Baptist is a beacon of truth, a shining light, a voice that calls out to people to believe in Christ. Those who believe have life, eternal life, and the life of the Holy Spirit at work in them and this because of the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! Look to the Lamb of God today and believe.
2 May 2010, AM
Pastor Kevin A. Pierpont