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.

May 1 2019 - 1 Samuel 23:7-29 – David fleeing from Saul

Saul was intent on killing David whom he viewed as a threat to his kingship, so David had to flee from Saul. Accompanied by 600 men he fled from one city to another seeking to avoid capture. In the end he seems only to have been safe in desert regions.

Saul's son, Jonathan, was equally convinced that David will be king, but his attitude to David could hardly be more different from that of his father. Jonathan knew that David has been chosen by God and that he enjoyed God's favour and protection; what other explanation could there be for his victory over Goliath and his many other conquests? Jonathan was content to take second place to David in the kingdom. The two of them sealed their agreement and friendship in a solemn promise or covenant.

It has often been said that the hardest instrument to play in the orchestra is second violin. We need to cultivate the spirit of Jonathan who was content to see someone else favoured by God over himself. More than that, he was ready to devote himself to supporting and protecting the one who might be seen as stealing his place as future leader of God's people. This reminds me of John the Baptist who, when many of his disciples were leaving him to follow Jesus said, "He must increase but I must decrease." We need to remember that we must always play second violin to him who alone is to have the supremacy among the people of God, to him who has embraced us in his covenant love and called us into his service. Jesus Christ is our Lord and our King.

As David and his men were hiding in the Desert of Ziph, some of the inhabitants from that region went to Saul to tell him that David was in their area and that they would be pleased to lead Saul to him. Saul replied "The Lord bless you for your concern for me" (v.21) before asking them to return to get more information. It is easy for us to recognise Saul's hypocrisy here; he is living in disobedience to God and seeking to oppose the purposes of God while at the same time appealing for the Lord's blessing on those who aid him in his evil plans. In this he was so like his later namesake, Saul the Pharisee, who believed that he would secure the Lord's favour by opposing those who owned the Lord's anointed as their king.

But God does not give his blessing to those who oppose him. His blessing rested rather on David, his anointed, and on those who had recognised David as their leader. As Saul closed in on David he was suddenly called back by a messenger saying "Come quickly! The Philistines are raiding the land" (v. 27). David is kept safe from death by the providential hand of God.

Have there been times when we have wandered away from obedience to God and from faithfully following the Lord Jesus but have still asked God to bless us?

When we walk with the Lord in the light of His Word,
What a glory He sheds on our way!
While we do His good will, He abides with us still,
And with all who will trust and obey.
Trust and obey, for there's no other way
To be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.

Sovereign God, give me the discernment to see where you are at work and who you choose to raise to positions of prominence in the work of your kingdom. Give me the grace to be content with the place you have chosen for me. Help me always to trust you and follow Christ; may all my energies be devoted to building the kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ rather than seeking a kingdom for myself.

Peter Misselbrook