John the Baptist came to point to Christ, to witness to Christ, to be the bridge between BC and AD.
We see him speak in John 1:29:: The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!
I will note that it’s very possible that John himself did not realize the full magnitude of what he was even saying when he uttered those words. But it’s impossible for a Christian to miss the meaning of those words.
Behold, John commands. Look to Jesus. Look upon the lamb who takes away the sins of the world. A profound theological statement about Jesus and what he did. Jesus is the perfect and spotless lamb who is sacrificed for sins. It’s a theme that we will see throughout John’s Gospel.
Many of the Old Testament sacrifices call for a lamb. Isaiah 53 has a passage of the suffering servant and talks of a perfect lamb being led to slaughter. There’s the Passover sacrifice where the Israelites scarified lambs before the Exodus and where it was an annual holy day.
And here Jesus is called the Lamb of God. The ultimate and greater sacrifice.
He’s the lamb who takes away the sins of the world.
It’s not that sin is just written off or no longer matters. Just the opposite. Sin matters a great deal but it is Jesus who takes away sin, takes away the penalty for our sins.
He takes away the sins of the world. That’s not saying that he takes away the sins of every individual person. John talks about “the world” several times in his gospel and other writings. It is Jesus who bears the penalty for a fallen humanity and for everyone who believes in him.
John points to Jesus. John 1:30 says: This is he of whom I said, ‘After me comes a man who ranks before me, because he was before me.
This is similar to John 1:15. There John said: ‘He who comes after me ranks before me, because he was before me.’
And what John is doing is looking back at his early prophesy, as pointing to one who was greater than him and he sees Jesus, and he says “this is that man.”
John gets at his specific purpose in 1:31: I myself did not know him, but for this purpose I came baptizing with water, that he might be revealed to Israel.”
Where John says he did not know Jesus, don’t get too caught up in that. The point isn’t that John the Baptist literally did not know Jesus but that he did not previously known Jesus for who he was: the promised messiah.
John was called to baptize so that the savior of the world would be revealed. That’s not primary about John, it’s about the Lord and the divine plan.
John’s call to repentance, John as the voice of one in the wilderness, John as a witness to Jesus, all of this was part of the divine plan for John’s ministry and purpose in the world as the forerunner to Jesus.
It’s not that John was causing the Lord to be revealed to the world. But that his ministry would be used by the Lord.
Verse 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.”
This is referring to when Jesus was baptized.
The other three gospels record that John baptized Jesus. That specific event is not mentioned in this gospel. As the Gospel of John was written later, perhaps it was assumed that readers would be aware of this.
All four gospels agree that John was a witness to the Holy Spirit descending on Jesus. John sees this moment. He’s a witness to the Spirit descending upon Jesus. And John says in the text that He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain, this is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’
In John chapters 14-16, Jesus will talk of the Spirit being given to his believers. The same Spirit who filled Jesus during his ministry is given to all people because of Jesus’ ministry. The Spirit equips us with gifts, convicts us of sin, sanctifies us to God.
Romans 8:16 says that the Spirit bears witness that we are children of God.
The Spirit bears witness to those who believe. The one who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than John the Baptist. Because we’re blessed to have more of the story.
We have the risen lamb. And is Spirit in which eh baptizes all who believe in him. Believe in the lamb. Turn away from sin. Point others to him.
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