John 1:29 – The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and he said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.”
What a curious thing to say! Why would John call Jesus a lamb? And why would he be God’s Lamb? Well, you know, God, in the Bible, folds meaning into meaning, and over on top of meaning. And He weaves things together. And He layers truth upon truth for us to unravel and discover. So today we’re going to take a look at that statement of John’s and we’re going to do that from the perspective of someone who doesn’t know that much about the Bible. For those who understand the significance already, this can serve as a way to explain what it means to those who don’t yet understand.
So, at that time when John said that, they were under Roman rule, and the people were looking for a deliverer, and they were focusing on the prophecies about the Messiah – well, at least the ones that said He was a conquering a king. And they’d read those scriptures over and over again, but they failed to realize the Messiah was going to come twice. The second coming He was to come as a conquering king, but the first one was for a completely different purpose.
John mentioned it. He knew. He knew that He was coming to take away the sins of the world – not the Romans. That was foretold, in plain language, by an angel to Joseph. Maybe John heard the family story about this. It’s in Matthew 1, and verse 18.
Matthew 1:18 – Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way: when His mother, Mary, had been betrothed to Joseph – before they come together – she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. There is so much packed into that verse. If you really want to understand more about what that was like, watch the movie, The Nativity Story. There are a lot of inaccuracies in that movie, but the one thing that they really do is point up what it must have been like for Joseph and Mary – for her, in that society, to become pregnant out of wedlock – and for her to become pregnant without ever having had relations with anybody.
V-19 – And her husband, Joseph, being a just man, and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. He didn’t believe her story. But, as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a Son and you will call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.” And John knew, and, I imagine, Elizabeth knew it, and Zacharias, his father knew it, and Joseph knew it, and Mary knew it, and Jesus knew it, but maybe not too many other people knew it. And that’s because they were looking for another kind of deliverance. They missed what God was doing, because they were focused on their own perception. It’s kind of a warning for us, really, isn’t it? We can read all kinds of things into the Bible that come out of our own hearts, and our own minds, or from the minds and hearts of others through tradition or denominational doctrine, or just weird doctrine from weird people. And all of these things can blind us from the truth of God’s scripture, and the true meaning of it, and the purpose of God, and the activity that He is undertaking at the time – if we can just stick with the Book. And