With Dale Ratzlaff
The next day he saw Jesus coming to him and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! “This is He on behalf of whom I said, ‘After me comes a Man who has a higher rank than I, for He existed before me.’ “I did not recognize Him, but so that He might be manifested to Israel, I came baptizing in water.” John testified saying, “I have seen the Spirit descending as a dove out of heaven, and He remained upon Him. “I did not recognize Him, but He who sent me to baptize in water said to me, ‘He upon whom you see the Spirit descending and remaining upon Him, this is the One who baptizes in the Holy Spirit.’ “I myself have seen, and have testified that this is the Son of God.”
The first verse in this section carries a plethora of meaning behind the words.
The next day.
Many commentators have speculated about the day numbers in the first two chapters of John. (Compare with Mt. 3:16, Mk. 1:10, Lk. 3:22.) Some find evidence of seven days and see this as additional evidence that the writer wanted the readers to compare John to Genesis and see Christ’s work as a “new creation”. We touched on that in a previous lesson, noting the words, “in the beginning”, created, light, darkness, etc. Here we have seven days.
- Day 1, when the Jews came to ask questions of the Baptist (Jn. 1:14-28).
- Day 2, the “next day” (Jn. 1:29).
- Day 3, “and again the next day? (Jn. 1:35).
- Day 4, the “next day” (Jn. 1:43).
- Day 5, 6, and 7, “the third day” (Jn. 2:1).
If this numbering scheme is correct, then it was on the seventh day that Jesus performed his first miracle turning water into wine.
The next day he saw Jesus coming to him and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!
The day that John refers to in this section must come after the baptism of Jesus, which is not recorded in this Gospel but is in the Synoptics.
The designation, “Lamb of God” is used only twice in Scripture: here and again in John 1:36. Most of us read over this phrase knowing it is a designation for Jesus without stopping and asking ourselves, what does John mean by this title? The “of God” may mean either the Lamb belonging to God, or the Lamb provided by God. The Gospel of John often uses terms with dual meaning. We will see this over and over again as we work our way through this Gospel, and such is the case here. Following are some passages that shed light on the deeper truths carried by the phrase, “the Lamb of God”.
Isaac spoke to Abraham his father and said, “My father!” And he said, “Here I am, my son.” And he said, “Behold, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?” Abraham said, “God will provide for Himself the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.” So the two of them walked on together. Then they came to the place of which God had told him; and Abraham built the altar there and arranged the wood, and bound his son Isaac and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. Abraham stretched out his hand and took the knife to slay his son. But the angel of the LORD called to him from heaven and said, “Abraham, Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” He said, “Do not stretch out your hand against the lad, and do nothing to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me.” Then Abraham raised his eyes and looked, and behold, behind him a ram caught in the thicket by his horns; and Abraham went and took the ram and offered him up for a burnt offering in the place of his son. Abraham called the name of that place The LORD Will Provide, as it is said to this day, “In the mount of the LORD it will be provided” (Gen. 22:7-14).
We are quite certain that this mountain is “Mt Calvary” where Jesus was crucified. This event describing how God would provide a sacrifice in the place of the beloved son (Isaac), and how the Beloved Son (Jesus) would be sacrificed on our behalf about 2000 years before Christ is a prophetic event of monumental proportions.
Next we consider the Passover.
Then Moses called for all the elders of Israel and said to them, “Go and take for yourselves lambs according to your families, and slay the Passover lamb. “You shall take a bunch of hyssop and dip it in the blood which is in the basin, and apply some of the blood that is in the basin to the lintel and the two doorposts; and none of you shall go outside the door of his house until morning. “For the LORD will pass through to smite the Egyptians; and when He sees the blood on the lintel and on the two doorposts, the LORD will pass over the door and will not allow the destroyer to come in to your houses to smite you (Ex. 12:21-23).
The value of the “blood of the Lamb” is not based upon what we may think of the blood, but upon the assessment God places on it.
If you address as Father the One who impartially judges according to each one’s work, conduct yourselves in fear during the time of your stay on earth; knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, ‘but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ (1 Pet. 1:17-19).
John also wrote Revelation, and near the end of the book we have a description of a celestial city which will be our eternal dwelling.
I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. And the city has no need of the sun or of the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God has illumined it, and its lamp is the Lamb (Rev. 21:22-23).
We have only touched a few Scriptures regarding the Lamb of God, but we can see the multitude of truths associated with this term.
…which takes away the sin of the world.
This little phrase reminds us of the Day of Atonement recorded in Leviticus 16. We should recognize that for Israel a lamb or a goat were often interchangeable. (See Lev. 5:6; 17:3.)
When he finishes atoning for the holy place and the tent of meeting and the altar, he shall offer the live goat. Then Aaron shall lay both of his hands on the head of the live goat, and confess over it all the iniquities of the sons of Israel and all their transgressions in regard to all their sins; and he shall lay them on the head of the goat and send it away into the wilderness by the hand of a man who stands in readiness. The goat shall bear on itself all their iniquities to a solitary land; and he shall release the goat in the wilderness (Lev. 16:20-22).
David described God’s complete forgiveness like this:
For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His lovingkindness toward those who fear Him. As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us (Ps. 103:11-12).
What a wonderful thing to know for sure that “the Lamb of God” takes away our sin and carries it into the “wilderness” as far as the east is from the west. He not only takes away our sin, but has made full provision to take away the sin of the world! Once again we see in John there is no narrowing of the scope of the atonement. I am writing this early Christmas morning. I can visualize our Lord with a gift-wrapped package of eternal life in His hand ready to give it to anyone who will accept it by believing the good news of the gospel.
This is He on behalf of whom I said, “After me comes a Man who has a higher rank than I, for He existed before me.”
This is now the third time John the Baptist has indicated that Jesus has a higher rank than he had. The Apostle John sensed this was an important point needed for the church at the time of writing. It teaches us that Jesus is much more than just an ordinary man, He is God in the flesh.
“I did not recognize Him, but so that He might be manifested to Israel, I came baptizing in water.” John testified saying, “I have seen the Spirit descending as a dove out of heaven, and He remained upon Him. “I did not recognize Him, but He who sent me to baptize in water said to me, ‘He upon whom you see the Spirit descending and remaining upon Him, this is the One who baptizes in the Holy Spirit.’”
While the Synoptic Gospels mention that the Baptist called people to repentance, the Apostle John focusing in on why this Gospel was written identifies the Baptist’s mission as, “so that He might be manifested to Israel, I came baptizing in water.”
In this short paragraph the Baptist mentions twice “I did not recognize Him”. Unlike the artist’s conception where Jesus is usually dressed in long, white robes and clean flowing hair, apparently Jesus’ person looked much like others of his day and culture. The point of identification that God gave to John the Baptist was,
He upon whom you see the Spirit descending and remaining upon Him, this is the One who baptizes in the Holy Spirit.
The other Gospels indicate that the Spirit came in the form of a dove. The word “see”used here is always used for seeing with the eyes, not some mystical experience of the mind. We may speculate just how or why the Holy Spirit took the form of a dove, but we are left with a number of eyewitness accounts that confirm this event. The important point of this section is again the contrast between John the Baptist and Jesus. John baptizes with water, Jesus baptizes with the Holy Spirit.
I myself have seen, and have testified that this is the Son of God.
Both “have seen” and “have testified” are in the perfect tense indicating that there is a certainty here, no walking back, no doubting. It stands as legal testimony to the truth, testimony that would hold up in court.
This is a section full of the good news of the gospel.
- By “Lamb of God” we are to include all that this term entails in all of Scripture: continual forgiveness—more grace than we will ever use; substitution—He took our sin and suffered the wrath of God on our behalf and credits us with His righteousness; redemption—paid in full by His blood.
- He carried away all our sin. Too often many of us ask for forgiveness and then later take back the guilt of that sin. The natural consequences of sin often remain, but the guilt before God is gone—long gone. His sacrifice was a once for all event. There is no repeating it. All sins have been forgiven: past, present, and future.
- We have evidence, eyewitness testimony that will stand up in court, that Jesus is indeed “the Son of God”.
- Will you believe and receive of this testimony? Remember what we learned earlier in John 1:3.
But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name.
Father, I believe that Jesus is the Son of God, and I believe that He accomplished all that is represented by “the Lamb of God”. Thank you for taking my sin and carrying it away as far as the east is from the west. I not only believe, I receive your gift of forgiveness and eternal life. Thank you that I can be assured that the guilt of my sin is forever gone and I can know for certain that I am your child. In Jesus name.