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Behold the Lamb!


John the Baptist (3)

Text: John 1:29-34 Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.

In this study we want to look at the passage which contains an absolute gem of a verse. Let’s spend a little time exploring its brightness, and exploring its riches. Let’s see:-

1. Christ Coming to John. The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God Chronologically, this passage occurs after Jesus’ baptism, and after his temptation in the wilderness. Now, he comes to John, who openly declares his vicarious purpose… Jesus is the LAMB OF GOD.

* A lamb is helpless. I suppose that when people read this verse they think automatically of the helplessness of a lamb – the most gentle, and the meekest of creatures. Certainly, when Isaiah was describing the suffering servant in Chapter 53, he was describing a similar demeanour. V6-7  But that’s not the primary idea being conveyed here by John, not by John the Baptist, and not by the Apostle John, the author of this Gospel.

* A lamb is a sacrificial victim. John is addressing his own disciples and the crowds of Jewish listeners and candidates for baptism who were all around – people who would know exactly what he meant, and he wants them to pay attention, – to behold. A lamb is a sacrificial victim. It’s a concept that went right back to Genesis, when Abraham took his son Isaac up a mountain, to make a sacrifice. The conversation between the two is intriguing. Genesis 22:7-8 When Abraham was about to sacrifice his own son, God’s plan was revealed. An animal caught in a book. A lamb was a sacrifice. It was the underlying purpose of the the meek and helpless lamb in Isaiah 53 – being led, helplessly to the slaughter.

But this sacrificial victim is not just any lamb. There were many of those. Hebrews 10:11 This Lamb is GOD’S LAMB, the Lamb of God.

Let’s learn a simple lesson from this, for primarily, let us remember that Jesus is the Lamb of God, whose blood was shed for me at the cross. Galatians 6:14 And let us like John, point men to Him. Behold! The Lamb of God.

2. Christ Coming to Save. which taketh away the sin of the world. There’s two separate aspects of this verse that we need to explore…

* The EFFECTIVENESS of the Sacrifice. He takes away our sin. So his sacrifice is…

* Effective in its power to save. Jesus is not simply offering to take away our sin, or promising to take away our sin, his power over sin is so great that it is effective. He takes our sin away. He removes it from it, and he does so by taking it upon himself. He has taken our burden, and it is now far away! Buried in the depths of the sea, never to be remembered again.

* Effective in its endurance. Several commentators point out that the word ‘takes away’ αἴρω (airō) here is present tense. The easiest way to look at that would be to point out that Jesus is the Saviour for every age, that he is just as able to save now, as he was in NT times. But it is more than that. JC Ryle notes that Jesus is continually taking away our sin, – because we as believers, are – whether we like to believe it or not, – continually sinning. And continually repenting, and continually receiving his forgiveness for our our sins. He takes away our sin, right now.

* Effective in its target. Note the language again here. He is not talking about our sins, – you know the specific sins that we all commit, the long list of infringements of the moral law that stain our character, the actions and words and thought and intentions, – sins that would fill not just a book but a library. He’s talking about our SIN. The word is singular. It is the root cause of all our sinful actions, it is our sinful nature. The greek word is ἁμαρτία (hamartia) it is the principle or cause of sin, Rom. 7:7, our proneness to sin, our propensity to sin, Rom. 7:17-20; it is our guilt, the imputation of sin from our common parents, from Adam, Jn. 9:41. Jesus doesn’t just deal with the symptoms of our sin he destroys the very roots of our sin.

Can you see how effective, how potent the saving work of Christ is? John knew it. Both the Baptist and the inspired author, knew that Jesus has the power to remove our sin, to remove it for all time, to remove it at its root!

* The EXTENT of the Sacrifice. It’/s all very good so far, but we can’t neglect the inspired words of John, when he tells us that Jesus takes away the sIns of THE WORLD. κόσμος (kosmos) We cannot argue with that, but we need to understand it.

* John is NOT a universalist. Universalists believe that through the death of Christ, all people are saved. That is not what the Bible teaches and it is not what John meant. Let’s try to see what he did mean:-

* The “world” includes more than Jews. The Jews thought that Messiah would come to save them, but prophets like Isaiah had told them that the Messiah would come to save the Gentiles as well as the Jews. Isaiah 42:6. It is a perfectly valid use of the Greek κόσμος to refer to the human race apart from the Jewish nation, the heathen world. Romans 11:13  Jesus used the word in this sense in, Matthew 5:14. But there’s more than that for

* The word “world” is not a mystery. H/C LD15, Q 37, Deals with this in a way that we can understand: During all the time he lived on earth, but especially at the end, Christ bore in body and soul the wrath of God against the sin of the whole human race. The catechist is no universalist, he simply puts forward the rational explanation that Christ’s death is sufficient for the sin of the whole world, but is efficient only for those who will repent, those who have been convicted of their sin by the Holy Ghost and who are called to come to Christ.

Christ came to save! He is the saviour of the world. 1 John 2:1-2

3. Christ Coming to Us. V33 READ Matthew 3:11 Christ’s saving work is never theoretical, never a purely philosophical concept to be discussed and debated, never a perspective to be meditated upon. His saving work works! The Holy Spirit applies that saving work to our hearts, so that Christ indwells us, and we have a new heart, a new life and a new love. It is called baptism, – for John’s hearers and his disciples knew what that word pointed to, – the turning away from sin, the turning to God, a new life, and Jesus the mighty Saviour is the One who brings us into his church and his kingdom, through this different kind of baptism, this spiritual baptism. Baptism with water is very important. It points us to how our sins are washed away in the blood of Christ, and it is an outward sign that we are his. But you may well get to heaven without it. It’s not a saving ordinance, for salvation is by grace through faith alone. But you won’t be in heaven without this spiritual baptism. Salvation is accomplished and it is applied by our Lord Jesus.

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