“If you go over to Scotland, or anywhere there are lots of sheep, sooner or later you're going to see a very unusual sight. You'll see a little lamb running around the field, and you'll notice this lamb has what looks like an extra fleece tied around its back. In fact, you'll see there are little holes in the fleece for its four legs and usually a hole for its head. If you see a little lamb running around like that, that usually means its mother has died.
And without the protection and nourishment of a mother, any orphaned lamb will die. If you take the orphaned lamb and try to introduce it to another mother, the new mother will butt it away. She won't recognize the lamb's scent and will know the new baby is not one of her own lambs.
But thankfully, most flocks are large enough that there is a ewe that has recently lost a lamb. The shepherd will skin the dead lamb and make its fleece into a covering for the orphaned lamb, then he'll take the orphaned lamb to the mother whose baby just died. Now, when she sniffs the orphaned lamb, she will smell the fleece of her own lamb. Instead of butting the lamb away, she will accept it as one of her own.
In a similar way, we have become acceptable to God by being clothed with Christ.”
From Peter Grant's sermon, "In What Way Is Jesus Christ Different?"; submitted by Van Morris, Mount Washington, Kentucky
We’ve had some recent changes to several financial things in our lives
Judy started teaching this past Fall, which affected Levi’s CHIP health insurance level that we qualified for (there was a significant increase in our monthly responsibility for his health insurance)
While we were looking at how we were going to cover this increase, we had some debt forgiven that nearly covered the monthly cost of the increase in the health insurance coverage
Who says that God doesn’t care about every detail of our lives
We saw this as God’s way of “saving” us financially
Perhaps every one of us has experienced some kind of debt forgiveness in our lives
It doesn’t have to be a financial debt – it could also be an emotional debt
We all probably carry around guilt for something that we did or didn’t do
Most of us probably experience this guilt with God
We don’t have to carry around that guilt debt
1 John 1:9, If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.
We may also experience guilt with another person
The same holds true with other people – we don’t have to carry around the guilt we are experiencing
We can and should go to that person, confess and seek their forgiveness
Too often we continue to carry the debt of guilt around, which affects our relationship with that person
We can be saved from the debt of guilt
The Israelites had been waiting for the Messiah to come, so they could be set free from Roman rule. They were looking for someone to save them. Unfortunately, they were looking for a political leader instead of a spiritual leader. As John the Baptist continues his testimony (the positive side of it) we see that he directs the people’s attention to someone he has been talking about in veiled terms. As Jesus enters the scene, John the Baptist wants us to know that . . .
BIG IDEA – Salvation is here.
This is not a financial or emotional salvation, but a spiritual salvation.
GOD (John 1:29-34)
Salvation revealed to Israel (vv. 29-31)
The next day
John the evangelist is probably referring to the day after John the Baptist had responded to the delegation from Jerusalem (priests and Levites)
We are not told if this delegation is still present the next day
Some believe they had begun their return trip to Jerusalem
Nothing is mentioned in this passage about whether or not they were there
What we do know is that John the Baptist saw Jesus coming towards him and takes the opportunity to testify about who Jesus is and what His purpose on earth was
John isn’t commanding people to look at Jesus, but rather making an exclamation to draw their attention to Jesus
He wants them to see who Jesus is, because he is going to explain Jesus’ purpose on earth
Jesus’ purpose on earth
Lamb of God
This imagery would have been very familiar to the Jews who were following John the Baptist
The sacrificial system had been in place for hundreds of years
We are all familiar with the final plague in Egypt that allowed the Israelites to be set free from slavery
Death of the firstborn, both human and animal
The Israelites avoided that plague by sacrificing a perfect lamb and smearing the blood on the doorposts of their houses
The Israelites remembered their release from slavery every year by celebrating Passover, which included the sacrifice of a perfect lamb
What is perhaps less familiar to us is that two lambs were sacrificed every day at the temple (one in the morning and one in the evening)
This was done as a way to cleanse the Israelites
Hebrews 9:22, In fact, the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness
We saw God shedding blood after the fall of Adam and Eve, when He made coverings for their nakedness out of animal skins
“The first biblical mention of the Lamb appears in Genesis 22 when Abraham went to the altar to sacrifice his son Isaac. Leviticus 14 talks about lambs as a guilt offering. John came back to it in Revelation as a triumphal title for the conquering Lord.” [Gangel, Holman New Testament Commentary, John, 16]
The sacrificial system was designed as a way to cover over the sins of the Israelites, but it was not designed to take away their sins
Take away the sin of the world
John the Baptist is announcing and proclaiming that Jesus’ purpose in coming to earth was to be the perfect sacrifice that takes away the sin of the world
His sacrifice would not merely cover over their sins, but take them away
“But this Lamb is a special kind of lamb – one that ‘takes away [airōn] the sin of the world.” The theme of taking away sin is directly related to the Hebrew kpr, which involves ‘wiping away’ or getting rid of sin. Such ‘getting rid’ is not merely done by ‘covering’ it over and acting as though it were gone. The getting rid of sin in the Bible is done by the smearing of blood, the symbol of God’s ‘pardoning’ of humanity through death and the consequent ‘reconciliation of humanity with God.’” [Borchert, The New American Commentary, John 1-11, 135-36]
Hebrews 7:27-28, Unlike the other high priests, he does not need to offer sacrifices day after day, first for his own sins, and then for the sins of the people. He sacrificed for their sins once for all when he offered himself. For the law appoints as high priests men who are weak; but the oath, which came after the law, appointed the Son, who has been made perfect forever.
PRINCIPLE – God provided Jesus as the final, perfect sacrifice for sin.
“In Genesis, as Abel brought a lamb for sacrifice we see a lamb offered for an individual. In Exodus, as each household sacrificed a lamb during Passover, we see a lamb offered for a family. In Leviticus, when the people of Israel were instructed to sacrifice a lamb, we see a lamb offered for a nation. In John, as the Baptist identifies Jesus as the Lamb who takes away the sin of the world, we see a Lamb who would be offered for the world.” [Courson, Jon Courson’s Application Commentary, New Testament, 440]
We are all born with a desire to go our own way as Isaiah tells us, We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way . . . (Isaiah 53:6a)
Just as God punished Adam and Eve when they sinned, by rebelling against Him, He has to punish us for our sin of rebellion against Him (Rom. 6:23)
God provided a substitute for us, someone to take our place when His punishment is poured out
Isaiah 53:4-7, Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed . . . and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth.
This whole passage is talking about Jesus and the reason why He came to earth
He is the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world
“Testing the acoustics in the vast Agricultural Hall, Spurgeon shouted, ‘Behold the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world.’ A worker high in the rafters of the building heard this and became converted to Christ as a result.”
"Charles Haddon Spurgeon," Christian History, no. 29.
John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
My Next Step Today Is To: Recognize that Jesus took my punishment for sin when He died on the cross and believe in Him so I can have eternal life.
After John the Baptist proclaims who Jesus is, he explains that Jesus is eternal
John is now explaining who he was talking about when he said in verse 15, ‘He who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’
He is revealing to the people, who the person is that was already among them that they did not know (John 1:26)
The people can now see Jesus, face-to-face
Salvation is here!
Through this description, John is letting them know that Jesus is eternal, He is deity
As we learned at the beginning of this book, Jesus is God – God and Jesus are one
Although Jesus’ ministry was starting after John’s, Jesus’ ministry would far exceed John’s
John was pointing people to Jesus
“If some of Jesus’ first disciples had earlier followed John the Baptist, we must suppose that something encouraged them to abandon their old master at the peak of his influence, in order to follow a still unknown preacher from Galilee. The best reason is the obvious one: they changed their allegiance precisely because it was the Baptist himself who pointed Jesus out as the one who was coming to fulfil the promise of Scripture.” [Carson, The Pillar New Testament Commentary, The Gospel According to John, 148]
John then answers the question about why he came baptizing
John’s reason for baptizing
When John says that he did not know him (Jesus), it doesn’t mean that he had never met Jesus
John and Jesus were relatives, so he obviously knew who Jesus was (son of Mary and Joseph, brother of James, etc.)
It was that he did not know him as the Coming One, the Messiah
This was revealed to him through a revelation of God that we will see in vv. 32-33
John then gives the reason why he was baptizing
We know from v. 23 that John explained who he was by stating that he was making straight the way for the Lord
He was preparing people to meet the Messiah
His baptizing was a way to prepare people to receive the Messiah
His entire role as the Baptist was to reveal Jesus to Israel
PRINCIPLE – God’s desire is for Jesus to be revealed to all humanity.
The Great Commission is Jesus’ final words to His disciples before He ascends to heaven
Read Matthew 28:16-20
The Great Commission is given to us as followers of Jesus Christ – these are our marching orders until Jesus returns
Just as John’s ministry of baptism was designed to reveal Jesus to the Israelites, our various ministries within the church and outside the church, should be designed to reveal Jesus to all of humanity
My Next Step Today Is To: Make sure that the ministry I’m involved with at church, or outside the church, helps to reveal Jesus to those I’m ministering to.
John was able to reveal Jesus to Israel, because He had already been revealed to him
Jesus revealed to John (vv. 32-34)
John’s baptism of Jesus
John’s Gospel does not have Jesus’ baptism recorded, except for this reference to it
It is recorded in the other three Gospels
John saw the Spirit of God descend from heaven in the form of a dove and remain on Jesus
The important word in this sentence is “remain”
“The appearance of the Spirit was common in the Old Testament, but it appeared mainly among designated leaders (such as a king, judge, or prophet) and remained only for the duration of their God-appointed work. John the Baptist’s comment is telling: The Spirit descended and remained on him. This is a permanent anointing; this is an anointing unlike anything witnessed before in Judaism; this is the messianic anointing.” [Burge, The NIV Application Commentary, John, 74]
So, the Spirit never left Jesus – they are together now in heaven
This anointing of Jesus was a fulfillment of a revelation given to John the Baptist
God’s revelation of Jesus
As John began his ministry of baptism, I’m certain he was probably watching and waiting for the fulfillment of the revelation God had given him
God had told him that the sign of the Messiah would be the Spirit coming down and remaining on a specific person
As John met certain individuals who appeared very godly, perhaps he wondered if the Spirit would descend and remain on them after he baptized them
When they came up out of the water, he probably said to himself, “Well, that’s not the Messiah.”
Then, finally one day, Jesus comes and John knows, even before he baptizes Jesus, that something is different about Him
He tries to deter Jesus, but Jesus reassures him that this baptism must be done to fulfill all righteousness (Matt. 3:15)
Finally, we see John’s testimony about who Jesus is
John’s testimony about Jesus
“I have seen” and “I testify” are in the perfect tense
It is a settled conviction for John
He believes it will all his heart and mind
Jesus is the Son of God
Most commentators mention that there is strong evidence through ancient manuscripts that John probably wrote “Chosen One of God” instead of “Son of God”
This would parallel Isaiah’s words
Isaiah 42:1, “Here is my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen one in whom I delight; I will put my Spirit on him and he will bring justice to the nations.”
Both of these names for Jesus are valid
We don’t have to guess what John the Baptist thinks about Jesus and who He is, he tells us directly – he testifies!
This ends the second day of John the Baptist’s ministry as explained by John the evangelist (next week we’ll see the third day)
Salvation is here and it is for everyone
You can have eternal life when you believe in Jesus
He is the Chosen One of God, the perfect Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world
The Gospel of Jesus Christ is a message of hope that is for the whole world
John was revealing Jesus to everyone he came in contact with, through his ministry of baptism
Each one of us is called and commissioned to the do same thing with everyone we come in contact with
“Why can't God just forgive the debt of sin? If our Creator was truly generous, couldn't he just move on without repayment? Live and let live? Here's the problem: someone always eats the cost of sin. As a simple example, let's say your neighbor crashes his car through your fence. When you discover the shambles, you forgive him: ‘Don't worry about the fence! All is forgiven.’ But forgiving your neighbor doesn't do away with the bill or dissolve the damage; it means you eat the cost.
Now consider a more complex example. During the U.S. housing crisis, shoddy banking practices, fat-cat executives, and corporate corruption threw a sledgehammer into the global economy. Now, imagine Jesus is installed in the aftermath as the new CEO of one of the massive corporations guilty for the crisis. The old CEO is out the door; a new boss is in town. Jesus is personally innocent: he wasn't behind the wheel when the ship got steered into the rocks. But there's still a huge debt. Bank of America alone owed people $17 billion.
Someone has to pay the costs. Here's what actually happened: in the aftermath of the housing crisis, the banks were deemed "too big to fail," and the government forgave the debt, covering the most expensive bailout of human history. Though the banking industry had caused massive damage, the debt was forgiven. But the debt didn't go away. Someone else covered it—in this case, the American people. Someone always eats the cost.
At the Cross, God was eating the cost of our sin. Why can't God just forgive the debt? This is what is happening at the Cross: God is just(ly) forgiving the debt—by personally covering the cost. I misspoke earlier when I said the White House gave Wall Street the most expensive bailout of human history. Actually, the most expensive bailout was when the Father established his incarnate Son as the new CEO of a corrupt corporation called Humanity Inc. and together, in the power of their Spirit, they took upon themselves the most outrageous debt-forgiveness plan the world has ever known.”
Joshua Ryan Butler, The Pursuing God (Thomas Nelson, 2016), page 100.