About Jesus  -  Steve Sweetman

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Jesus, The Lamb Of God  (ch. 1:29-34)


In verse 29 we note that we have now come to the next day, the day after what John had just discussed.  Verse 29 is one of my favourite verses in the Bible.  John saw Jesus coming towards him and says, "Look, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world." This is the message of the gospel in its simplest form. 


The verb "takes away" in verse 29 is a present active Greek participle.  Present obviously means in the present time that John the Baptist was baptizing.  Active means that it was Jesus and He alone taking away the sin of the world.  Even though the actual act of taking away the world's sin was when Jesus died on the cross, the present tense here suggest that as Jesus' ministry was about to begin, His ministry had something to do with taking away the world's sin. All that Jesus did prior to the cross was just as important as the cross itself.  One way that it was important was that Jesus was the only one in history who lived the righteous life that God demanded.  Actually, Jesus lived the righteous life on our behalf, something that many don't understand in their preaching of the gospel.


When we become "in Christ", as the Apostle Paul puts it, God sees us through the lens of Jesus.  Since Jesus lived the perfect sinless life, God sees us as living the perfect sinless life as well. 


The term "Lamb of God" is a clear reference to the sacrificial Old Testament lambs that were slain on the behalf of Israel .  As the book of Hebrews so clearly teaches, Jesus the Lamb, would be the final lamb that would be sacrificed, not only for the Jews but for the whole world as John says here.  And, as Hebrews also states, if you reject Jesus' sacrifice, there is no other sacrifice you can accept.  Only eternal damnation waits for you upon your death.    


What does it mean when John says that Jesus took away the sin (sin being singular not plural) of the world?  The phrase suggests a blanket statement here.  It does not suggest that Jesus took away individual sins of individual people.  At least it does not say that here.  The life, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus would cause the sin of humanity to not be seen by God.  Humanity still sinned, but, provision was made so God would not see it.  Of course, there are sufficient Scriptures that tell us that God still sees sin.  Sin has not yet been removed from God's sight, other than the sins committed by those who have handed their lives over to Jesus. 


I think the word "look" is important in verse 29.  I can't begin to imagine just how John must have felt when he saw Jesus standing among the crowd of people.  The word "look" to me suggests ultimate surprise and excitement.              


I just mentioned that I've often wondered how Jesus felt as He was standing in the crowd listening to John.  Now I wonder how John felt as Jesus approached Him to be baptized.  What a moment that must have been.  Again, it's probably beyond our comprehension.                  


Understanding the fact that Jews did not baptized Jews but only Gentile converts, the baptism of Jesus is totally amazing.  One reason why the Jewish leadership was so upset with John the Baptist was because he was baptizing Jews as if they were Gentile sinners.  One would never associate a Jew with a Gentile.  It was pure blasphemy.  What John the Baptist was doing, and that on behalf of God, was saying that the Jews were just as much a sinner as the Gentiles.  Now, what does this mean to the fact that John baptized Jesus?  It means that Jesus, the perfect One, was associating Himself with not only Jewish sinners but Gentile sinners.  This is the ultimate in Jesus' descent from Heaven to earth.  God was in fact humiliating Himself in order for us to be abler to obtain salvation.       


Throughout the history of the Jews lambs were killed and sacrificed to God to bring temporary forgiveness of sins.  John describes Jesus as the Lamb of God, and that He was.  He would die like one of the sacrificial Lambs, but there was a big difference between His death and the death of an animal.  Jesus was the Son of God.  Jesus was God Himself.  Jesus would die as a form of punishment for our sins. He took our place when it comes to experiencing Godís wrath and punishment.  We should be the oneís to be punished.  We are in the wrong, not Jesus.  Jesus stepped in on our behalf.  God punished Him by death.  God saw this punishment and His sense of justice was satisfied. Sin was finally punished in such a way that it satisfied God. 


Now for those of us who trust in the death of Jesus to provide such forgiveness, God no longer sees our sins and wants to punish us. In this way our sins have been taken away from the eyes of God. Pity the people who donít appropriate the cross to their lives.  Pity them if they donít accept the provision for forgiveness that Jesus provided for them on the cross.  If God was so angry at us because of our sin that He killed His Son, then how much more angry will He be at those who refuse to accept His provision of forgiveness. The wrath of God will be on these people in its totality.


In verse 30 John clarifies the point that this is what he meant concerning Jesus who came after him but really was before him.  This is not double talk.  John the Baptist knew that the Messiah came from God and the He existed before creation.  He was just now appearing to the world in the form of a human being.  Jesus existed before John but now will take over after John departs from the scene, when his ministry is complete.  So once again, we see one of the main points the writer of this gospel is making, and that is, Jesus existed long before He entered humanity. 


In verse 31 John the Baptist said, "I did not know."  This might sound confusing to some people.  Remember, John the Baptist and Jesus were cousins.  They surely must have known each other while growing up.  What John the Baptist didn't know was that his cousin Jesus was the Messiah.  He did not know it until this particular point in time.  Again, how surprised John must have been.  We can't begin to imagine how he must have felt.      


Also in verse 31 John the Baptist states the reason why God called him to his ministry.  It was to introduce Jesus to Israel .  Note that John's calling was to make Jesus known to Israel , not to the world.  We should know that the main focus of Jesus' ministry was to Israel , not to the world.  When He returns to earth, He will return to Israel , redeem His people, and rule the nations. 


In verses 32 and 33 John the Baptist proceeds to explain how He recognized Jesus to be the Messiah.  God, who called him, told him that some day as he was baptizing a man would come before him to be baptized.  When he was ready to put this man under the water, the Holy Spirit would descend like a dove and remain on this man.  This man would be the Messiah.  How thrilled John must have been when he saw the Holy Spirit come on his cousin Jesus.


The baptism of Jesus was an initiation into His earthly ministry.  What happened here was that God anointed Jesus with the Holy Spirit, as one would anoint someone with water or oil.  This anointing gave Jesus the authority to do what He came to earth to do. 


We need to ask.  Did Jesus have the Holy Spirit before this event?  Of course He did.  He is God in human flesh, but as with man, there is more to the Holy Spirit than one human body can contain, and Jesusí body was no exception.


We should realize that there is a difference between the Holy Spirit being in you and the Holy Spirit coming upon you.  When the Spirit comes on us miraculous things happen.  He comes upon us from time to time, but as John puts it, "He remained on Jesus" throughout His earthly ministry.


One thing I need to note here.  Paul, in Colossians 1:19 tells us that the fullness of God lived in Jesus.  That means all of who God is lives in Jesus.  Still, there is more to God than can fit in one human body.  Once again, we're talking about the Deity of Christ here, something those who held to the Gnostic position failed to accept.     


Then John the Baptist tells the crowd that the one whom the Spirit comes and remains will baptize with the Holy Spirit.  Jesus will not baptize with water but with the Holy Spirit.  The first time this took place was on the day of Pentecost when the believers received the Spirit for the first time in their lives.  Up to that point they did not have the Holy Spirit living in them.  As a side note, John 20:22 where Jesus said, "receive the Spirit" to His disciples, must be interpreted in this light.  They did not receive the Spirit in John 22:22 when Jesus breathed on them.  That was a prophetic jester speaking of what would soon take place on the Day of Pentecost as seen in Acts 2.  I won't comment further on this point because I've done so on my web site in detail.   


What happens when someone is baptized in the Spirit is that they receive the Holy Spirit.  Baptism is only the way in which one receives the Spirit.  Pentecostals have tended to emphasize how the Holy Spirit is given, and not the Spirit Himself.  How we receive the Spirit is secondary.  That is to say, the process of baptism is secondary.  The Holy Spirit Himself is primary.


In another aside, concerning me personally; I am Pentecostal by experience and not by doctrine.  I pray in tongues like Pentecostals believe, but, I do not believe the Baptism in the Holy Spirit, as Pentecostals call it, is a second work of grace.  A careful study of the book of Acts tells us that the experience we call the Baptism in the Spirit takes place when someone is born again, when he or she receives the Holy Spirit into his or her life.  


In verse 34 John the Baptist concludes that He "has seen and testifies that Jesus is the Son of God."  This is a clear and convincing confession by John the Baptist.  Once again, we see the doctrine of the Deity of Christ, that is, "Jesus is in fact God".  And also once again, this is in a direct contradiction to what the Gnostics believed about Jesus.  To them, Jesus was a created angel.  To John who both saw and experienced the initiation of Jesus into His ministry, he was convinced that Jesus was in fact the very Son of God.

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