See the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! (John 1:29)
This post draws on Adult Sunday School class notes at Christ Presbyterian Church in Houston.
The Lord’s Supper is for Repenting Sinners
John Duncan (1796–1870) was a Scottish missionary to Jews in Hungary and a Professor of Hebrew. He loved the Jewish people and the Old Testament Scriptures that all point to Christ, so he was nicknamed “Rabbi.” One Communion Sunday, John was in church, feeling too unworthy for fellowship with Jesus and His people. So he decided he wouldn’t take the Lord’s Supper. Duncan was feeling miserable because of remaining sin in his life and he noticed a young woman across the meeting room who didn’t go up front either. She was weeping and the old man guessed that she was feeling the burden of her own sins too. So Duncan whispered loudly, so loudly that you could hear it across the whole church. He said: “Take it, lassie, take it. It’s meant for sinners like us.” And then she gets up and goes forward. And then Duncan gets up and takes Communion also and they are refreshed by remembering that God redeems unworthy ones in Christ.
Jesus said: This is my blood of the covenant, poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins….This cup is the new covenant in my blood, poured out for you.1 Scripture also says: We have peace with God through our Lord Jesus and access by faith….Christ made peace through His blood, shed on the cross….For the Son of Man came to seek and save lost people like us.2
Let’s listen afresh to what the Spirit teaches here in John 1:29 and related Scriptures. I am indebted to the insights of Charles Spurgeon (1834-1892).
John Reminds Us to Beware Attachment to Preachers without Attachment to Christ
John the Baptist has charisma and pizzazz. People are attracted to him and crowds are coming to learn. John is an engaging messenger. He would have been great on TV and the internet. Even wicked King Herod enjoyed John’s preaching, but Herod didn’t trust Christ for salvation.
The same happens in our day too. A woman in Florida was dying, so she called Dr. Steve Brown, a radio pastor. When he arrives at the hospital, she’s relieved and says, “I’ve heard you preach many times.” Brown answers, “I’m glad, but do you know Jesus Christ? Is He your Lord and Savior? She says, “I listen all the time.” He says tenderly, “Dear woman, you are going die and face God’s judgment.3 And it’s eternally important to call on Jesus now and ask Him for mercy.” She doesn’t get it and the woman dies without coming to faith in Christ.
Don’t let that happen to us, beloved. Friends, loved ones, and strangers are dying all around us. Almost 7 million people have died worldwide from COVID-19 in the past few years. 67 million people died of all causes last year alone. No wonder Moses taught us to pray, “Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.”4 Beloved, are we ready to die in Christ? Are we ready to live for Christ? Today, this week, and for the rest of our lives?
John says, Behold, look at, see Jesus, the sacrificial Lamb of God, and put your trust in Him. Christ is our only hope for this world and the world to come. John says: Don’t look at me. Christ must increase, but I must decrease. Jesus is the Bridegroom, the Mediator, the Savior we need. I (John) am only His servant, friend, and introducer. John says: Don’t miss Jesus! Whoever has ears, let them hear.
And John Warns Us to Beware Looking at Our Selves Instead of at Christ
John the Baptist is a very special man in the Bible. He has a miracle birth and wonderful parents. They are Jewish believers who love, trust, and follow God. They are not sinless, but they are people saved and changed by the Lord. The Holy Spirit came upon John before he was born, to make him Christ’s anointed messenger. John is super-privileged and he’s Jesus’ cousin! But John is not counting on his family or his religious background to gain him points with God. He’s not counting on his unique and exciting Christian experience. John says: Look at Jesus, put your hope in Him. Only Christ takes away sin! John says: I just baptize with water. Only Jesus baptizes with the Holy Spirit.5 That’s what we need more than anything else, beloved. Only Christ can give us new birth and make us whiter than snow. And change us from inside out for the rest of our lives.6
Spurgeon says: It’s hard to get people’s eyes off of themselves and their accomplishments. Off their religious ceremonies and creeds. It’s hard to get people to trust in the resurrected and living Christ, call on Him for salvation, and follow Him. John says: “See the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!”
Christ Fulfills Old Testament Prophecies
The Greek word for Lamb here is amnos, a word for sacrifice. Back then, John was speaking to a mostly Jewish audience. They were prepared by God with this idea of a sacrificial animal pointing ahead to Jesus the Christ.
John’s hearers would be thinking about Abraham offering Isaac on Mt. Moriah. Isaac says: Father, the fire and wood are here. Where’s the lamb for offering? Abraham answers: Jehovah Jireh. God Himself will provide.7 And God was pointing to Jesus the Messiah, 2000 years ahead of time, through Abraham.
John’s hearers would also be thinking of The Passover in Moses’ day. God says: Slaughter the lamb. Put blood on the top and sides of your doorframe. And when I strike the Egyptians, when I see the blood, I will pass over you and I will not permit the destroyer to strike you down.8 The Lord made a distinction between His repenting and believing people and those who reject Him. God was pointing to Christ, 1400 years ahead of time, through Moses.
John’s hearers would also be thinking of Isaiah’s words:
We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
Each of us has turned to our own way;
And the Lord has laid on Him (Jesus) 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.9
The Holy Spirit put those words in Isaiah, 700 years before Jesus’ birth, pointing to God’s Messiah. Then near 30 AD, John says: See the one and only Lamb of God, who fulfills all these Scriptures and takes away our sin! And the people should have understood who Jesus is and what He came to do. But most of them were confused or hard-hearted. What about you? Do you understand and believe on Christ?
Prayer: Heavenly Father, we praise You that You so loved the world that You gave Your one and only Son, that whoever believes in Jesus shall not perish but have eternal life. Help us to believe on Him in our heads, our hearts, and the way we live our lives forever. Amen.10
To be continued. See The Lamb of God (Part 1)
Notes (various Bible translations used): 1 Matt 26:28; Luke 22:20. 2 Rom 5:1; Col 1:20; Luke 19:10. 3 Heb 9:27. 4 Psalm 90:12. 5 Mark 1:8; Luke 3:16; John 5:5-8; 2 Cor 5:17. 6 Ezek 36:26-31; Jer 31:31-34. 7 Gen 22:7-8. 8 Ex 12:21-23. 9 Isaiah 53:6-7. 10 Prayer based on John 3:16. Note: Older translations say: “Behold the Lamb.” Newer translations say look at Him or see Him. The meaning is the same.