Lesson 7


The Gospel of John

World English Bible translation

 Today's Scripture

1:29 On the next day, he saw Jesus coming to him, and said, "Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! 1:30 This is he of whom I said, 'After me comes a man who is preferred before me, for he was before me.' 1:31 I didn't know him, but for this reason I came baptizing in water: that he would be revealed to Israel." 1:32 John testified, saying, "I have seen the Spirit descending like a dove out of heaven, and it remained on him. 1:33 I didn't recognize him, but he who sent me to baptize in water, he said to me, 'On whoever you will see the Spirit descending, and remaining on him, the same is he who baptizes in the Holy Spirit.' 1:34 I have seen, and have testified that this is the Son of God."


 Today's Lesson

In this passage in the Gospel of John, something completely new is revealed in scripture. From the first moment that I read this passage as a young man I was struck with the idea that is expressed here, but I have never heard a sermon or speaker remark on it. I have read many commentaries on the Gospel and none seem to find this passage particularly interesting. Let's look at the testimony of John the Baptist here.

 

After the representatives of the Jerusalem leaders had questioned John, the next day the Baptist sees Jesus coming towards him. We will see later that this is not the first time that John the Baptist has seen Jesus. According to the narrative this incident happened after the baptism of Jesus. Here we have a testimony about the baptism, but after it has already taken place.

 

John's first words on this occasion are, "Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world!" That in itself is an important statement. In what way is Jesus of Nazareth the Lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world? He is the Lamb of God in the sense of a sacrifice that God has provided for sin. Under the old covenant, sin could be remedied by the sacrifice of a lamb that would die in the place of the sinner. The penalty for sin would be taken by the substitute. Jesus' death was a sacrifice for sin. He paid the penalty so that all that will believe in Him are forgiven based on His sacrificial death. He is the Lamb that is willing to die in our place that we might live redeemed, forgiven lives. He is also the Lamb of God in the sense of the purity of His life and sacrifice. The lambs that were sacrificed were to be "without blemish." They were to be the best lambs of the flock. Jesus is the Lamb that only God could provide because only God could furnish a Lamb that was truly "without blemish."

 

John repeats his message that we spoke about in the last lesson. Jesus is preferred (superior) because he came before me. It is the next part of John's testimony that fascinates me.

 

John the Baptist says that it was revealed to him that he would one day baptize someone very important. When he baptized this particular person, a dove would descend on that person. The dove was to be a symbol of the Holy Spirit remaining with Him. In this way, John would know the appointed one of God.

 

And, John says that this is why he came baptizing. That was the question those from Jerusalem asked him that he never answered. God had told him, "Baptize everyone who will listen to your message. The one on whom the dove descends is my chosen one." So, John waited and preached and baptized until the chosen one was revealed. Imagine all that time, baptizing each person and watching for the dove to descend. He would never know which person would be God's chosen. I wonder how many times he thought, this must be the one.

 

One thing more, John baptized in water. Jesus baptizes "in" the Holy Spirit. Jesus Christ baptizes every child of God in the Holy Spirit. It is an act of God. The least child of God and the greatest saint of God are each baptized by the Lord in the Holy Spirit. The gifts that the Lord gives each of us are different just as our role in His body differs. But, each of us enters the body through the baptism in the Holy Spirit. This event marks the end, the death, of our old life and the beginning of our new life in Christ.

 

"Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!"

 

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