Peter Misselbrook's Blog
May 1 2013 - John 1:29-51 – The Lamb of God

John the Baptiser was clear in his testimony that he had come to prepare the way for one far greater than he. So, when he saw Jesus, he pointed him out to his disciples with the words, "Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!" (John 1:29, 36). John was baptising those who repented of their sin, but he could not take away their sin. Rather, he pointed people to Jesus who could do that for them.

Why did John describe Jesus as "The Lamb of God", and what would his hearers have understood by this term? No doubt their thoughts would have turned to the many sacrifices of the Old Testament. In symbol, the animals would stand in place of the sinner and suffer death in the sinner's place. But they could not take away sin, for as the writer of the Hebrews reminds us, they had to be sacrificed again and again. Maybe they might even have thought of the ram caught in a thicket that was sacrificed by Abraham in place of his son, Isaac. Abraham had confidently responded to Isaac’s question saying, “God will provide for himself the lamb … my son” (Genesis 22:8). Here, says John, is the Lamb of God’s provision.

Or perhaps John and his hearers would have thought of the Passover lamb. They would have remembered how, on that first Passover night, each Israelite family took a lamb and, having killed it, painted the blood around the doorway of their house. That night when God came down in judgment on Egypt there was a death in every household: in the Egyptian households the death of the firstborn; in the Israelite households the death of a lamb. That lamb had saved Israel from the wrath of God. This Lamb of God would do the same for the world.

Whatever pictures may have sprung to mind, the description John gives of Jesus suggests that he will give his life to save those who are worthy of judgment.

But that is not all; John also testified, “The one who sent me to baptise with water told me, ‘The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is the one who will baptise with the Holy Spirit’.” (1:33). John is aware that he can only baptise with water, the symbol of cleansing. But Jesus has power not only to forgive sins but also to give new life. The Spirit descended upon him that he might be able to pour out the Spirit on all those who come to him. He is able to transform the human heart and to give all who come to him the power to live a new life.

John’s words speak prophetically both of Jesus’ death and of his resurrection.

There is a redeemer, Jesus, God's own Son
Precious Lamb of God, Messiah, Holy One
Jesus my redeemer name above all names
Precious Lamb of God, Messiah oh, for sinners slain

Thank you oh my Father for giving us your Son
And leaving Your Spirit 'til the work on earth is done

When I stand in glory I will see his face
And there I'll serve my King forever in that holy place

Thank you oh my Father for giving us your Son
And leaving Your Spirit 'til the work on earth is done

Father God, we thank you for the Lord Jesus, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. Thank you that through his death our sins are forgiven. Thank you that he who died for us is risen from the dead, ascended into heaven and has poured out his Spirit on people from every nation, background and language. Thank you that through the Spirit we share in the resurrection life of Christ. Fill us with your Spirit so that his life may flow from us to give life to those around us.

Peter Misselbrook