Who is the most famous person you’ve ever met? Or been in a crowd to say “Look, there’s _____!” and everyone is amazed?
– Maybe it was an active or former athlete from your favorite sports team
– An actor or musician…
– A president or other popular politician… (is that an oxymoron?)
Today we continue our series in John’s Gospel in chapter 1 with a man identifying the most renowned person he had ever met.
John 1:29, 35-36 – The Lamb of God 29 The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! 30 This is he of whom I said, ‘After me comes a man who ranks before me, because he was before me.’ 31 I myself did not know him, but for this purpose I came baptizing with water, that he might be revealed to Israel.” 32 And John bore witness: “I saw the Spirit descend from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him. 33 I myself did not know him, but he who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain, this is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ 34 And I have seen and have borne witness that this is the Son of God.” 35 The next day again John was standing with two of his disciples, 36 and he looked at Jesus as he walked by and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God!”
Last week we saw John’s Gospel open with at least 17 identifying titles for Jesus. We looked at each of those briefly and how they might have specific significance for us. Today we are going to probe just a bit deeper into one of those titles: “Lamb of God” to understand what it meant to the people of Jesus’ day and how it applies to us today.
We can see and must remember in reading the Gospels that the Jews anticipated the coming Messiah. They knew the centuries of prophecies and waited for God’s promises to be fulfilled. Life for the Jews had been difficult and depressing as their nation had declined physically and spiritually. Israel had fought defense of its freedom for the past few centuries only to essentially see the exchange of military powers to enslave them: Assyria – Babylon – Persia – Rome. They were beaten and broken in so many ways and needed God’s intervention.
God’s intervention would occur in surprising ways. The Jews expected the Messiah to be a lion from the tribe of Judah in the line of David; their great king who fought battles and inspired faith. Yet, when Jesus entered the world, He would be a different king. Jesus would never be cultivated as a warrior king to rally a rebellion to freedom. Instead, Jesus came to be a suffering servant and more like a lamb than a lion.
Isaiah 53:2-7 “For he grew up before him like a young plant and like a root out of dry ground; he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned – every one – to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that bears its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth.”
COMMUNION: Let us take a few moments to remember Jesus as the lamb who was sacrificed to take away our sin, and by his stripes we are healed… John 6 relates the life and death of Jesus in these elements…
Bread: “This is the bread that came down from heaven… whoever feeds on this bread will live forever.” In Jesus’ Name.
Cup: This is the true drink – the blood of Jesus – that leads to eternal life. In Jesus’ Name.
Based on the text, I would like to ask 3 questions and explore the answers for how they help us understand and apply them.
What motivates John to say, “Behold, The Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.”
John is a curious and perhaps a little bit of a crazy individual. We know his clothing was made of camel’s hair and he ate locusts and wild honey (Mark 1:6). We also know he lived in the desert woods (Luke 1:80). His preaching style was confrontational, calling his audience “a brood of vipers” (Luke 3:7), and other times calling out the king for an immoral and adulterous lifestyle, which would ultimately cost him his life (Luke 3:19). – – – Christians are called to confront secular immorality and political exploitation of power; we will either confront or compromise.
John’s personal lifestyle and prophetic ministry were so unique that some were curious if he were the Messiah (John 1:19-23). John’s aim was not to draw attention to himself but to Christ. Once Jesus’ time was prepared for public ministry, John shifts the focus to the proper place in the person of Jesus.
John 1:26 “John answered them, I baptize with water, but among you comes after me, the strap of whose sandal I am not worthy to untie” While John baptizes with water, Jesus will “baptize with the Holy Spirit and fire” (Luke 3:16; John 1:33). John is testifying that Jesus is the one whom the Spirit remains and ultimately is “the Son of God” (John 1:33-34). So, John’s motivation to call attention to Jesus is based upon His life calling from God. God opened his eyes to see the identity of Jesus and opened his heart to believe in Jesus.
è Either Jesus is a fake or we must be taking steps of faith toward Him. There is no neutral ground, or even postponing opinions about Jesus. Who do you say Jesus is?
o Serious study of Scripture… just try.
o Ask questions… church and pastor would be glad to schedule and spend time discussing with you.
o Crisis of belief – an experience where you stop your excuses, and you to step away from your past, and you step toward the Savior and Lord Jesus Christ. “A crisis of belief is not a calamity in your life but a turning point where you must make a decision. You must decide what you truly believe about God… requiring faith and action.” – Henry Blackaby
è Our life is either glorifying God or gratifying self. Who or what is most glorious in your life based upon the way you spend your time, talent, and treasure?
What is significance of “lamb of God”? (cf. also Exodus 12:1-13; Lev 16; 1Cor 5:7; 1Pet 1:18-19; Heb 9:11-14)
John lists numerous titles for Jesus. The identification of Jesus being the “lamb of God” is unique in contrast to the other Gospel’s that do not list this title. In fact, John references this title not just in his Gospel but also in another of his writings in the book of Revelation, where it is referenced 29 additional times. For John, Jesus being the Lamb was significant in at least three ways:
Jesus is the Lamb on the throne who alone is worthy of worship.
Revelation 5:6-14 6 And between the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders I saw a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain, with seven horns and with seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth. 7 And he went and took the scroll from the right hand of him who was seated on the throne. 8 And when he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each holding a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. 9 And they sang a new song, saying, “Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, 10 and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth.” 11 Then I looked, and I heard around the throne and the living creatures and the elders the voice of many angels, numbering myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands, 12 saying with a loud voice, “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!” 13 And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying, “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!” 14 And the four living creatures said, “Amen!” and the elders fell down and worshiped.
Revelation 7:9-10, 14, 17 – “behold a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, ‘Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne and to the Lamb!’… These are the ones coming out of the great tribulation. They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb… For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd, and he will guide them to springs of living water, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”
Revelation 12:11 “And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death.”
Revelation 15:3 “And they sing… the song of the Lamb, saying, ‘Great and amazing are your deeds, O Lord God the Almighty! Just and true are your ways, O King of the nations!’”
Revelation 21:22-23 “And I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb. And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light and its lamp is the Lamb.”
Revelation 22:1 “Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb.”
Jesus is the Lamb who will administrate justice and wrath upon sin and sinners.
Revelation 6:1, 15-16; 8:1 “Now I watched when the Lamb opened one of the seven seals… and the kings of the earth and the great ones and the generals, and the rich and powerful, and everyone hid themselves in the caves… calling to the mountains and rocks, ‘Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who is seated on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb… the Lamb opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour.”
Revelation 14:10 “he also will drink the wine of God’s wrath, poured full strength into the cup of his anger, and he will be tormented with fire and sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb.”
Revelation 17:14 “These shall make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them: for he is Lord of lords and King of kings”
Jesus is the Lamb who will separate believers unto eternal life and unbelievers unto eternal damnation.
Revelation 13:8 “[there will be many deceived and devoted to false worship among] everyone whose name has not been written before the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who was slain”
Revelation 19:9 “And the angel said to me, ‘Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.’ And he said to me, ‘These are the true words of God.’”
Revelation 21:22-27 22 And I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb. 23 And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb. 24 By its light will the nations walk, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it, 25 and its gates will never be shut by day—and there will be no night there. 26 They will bring into it the glory and the honor of the nations. 27 But nothing unclean will ever enter it, nor anyone who does what is detestable or false, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life.
Revelation 22:3 “No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him.”
è Jesus as the Lamb is gentle and graceful to forgive our sins, inviting us to come to Him for rest.
è Our nation’s hope is not in a Republican elephant or Democrat donkey, but in the Lamb Jesus Christ (Rev 6:15-16).
o Let us pray for our POTUS & staff. (1Tim 2:1-2)
o Let us provide perspective when gov. oversteps freedom & biblical values. (Acts 4:19; 1Pet 2:16)
o Let us pledge allegiance to the Lord (Psalm 33:12 “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord”)
How does the lamb take away the sin – and of the whole world?
The concept of a sacrificial lamb was familiar to the Jews, but may not likely be to us today. However, we can understand the concepts of restitution and justice for wrongdoing.
– Overwhelming majority of us agree that Dylan Roof, who killed 9 and wounded others in a Charleston African American church.
– American Citizens celebrated the justice execution of Osama Bin Laden, mastermind of 9-11 attack on our nation resulting in the death of thousands of our citizens.
– Parents understand the role of discipline for their children to help prevent wrongdoing and promote good.
Likewise, while our actions produce consequences in the earthly world, how much more so for the eternal? When we understand that our sin is not just against finite beings but an infinite God, then we can begin to grasp the reality of God’s wrath and hell.
Romans 3:23 “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Jesus is the Lamb of God sacrifice for the punishment of our sin. He was the perfect substitute being the sinless Son of God. His death is what we deserve, yet instead we receive His resurrection life through faith in Him.
without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins. Hebrews 9:22
“But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things that have come, then through the greater and more perfect tent (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation) he entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption. For if the blood of goats and bulls, and the sprinkling of defiled persons with the ashes of a heifer, sanctify for the purification of the flesh, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God.” Hebrews 9:11-14
“… knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.” 1Peter 1:18-19
Jesus’ sacrificial death is sufficient for all but efficient for those who believe and receive Jesus Christ as Savior from sin and Lord of life. The efficiency of the atonement is not based on the insufficiency of the gospel but of sinners who reject Christ (John 1:11-12).
Romans 10:13 “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
Romans 1:16 “the gospel is the power of God for salvation, for all who believe”
è You will not be in heaven from what you do, but what you don’t do. Our good works will not earn us heaven. Our sinful actions will not keep us from heaven, but our stubbornness to value our pride over faith in Jesus will cause us to miss out on all that is good and the glories of heaven.
In the OT Day of Atonement (cf. Leviticus 16) there were 2 sacrificial goats: The first goat was a sin offering, sacrificed on the altar as payment for sin. This symbolized propitiation. The second goat was sent away into the wilderness as a symbol that sin and guilt were removed from the people. This symbolized expiation – “As far as east is from west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us” (Psalm 103:12).
o Propitiation – the penalty of sin is paid
o Expiation – the power of sin is removed
 Further insight on the efficiency of the atonement see the following articles: https://www.monergism.com/thethreshold/articles/onsite/carsonatonement.html; https://www.gotquestions.org/limited-atonement.html; https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/did-jesus-die-to-save-everyone.