Sunday, January 15, 2023
Second Sunday after Epiphany
29 The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! 30 This is the one I meant when I said, ‘A man who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’ 31 I myself did not know him, but the reason I came baptizing with water was that he might be revealed to Israel.”
32 Then John gave this testimony: “I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him. 33 And I myself did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, ‘The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’ 34 I have seen and I testify that this is God’s Chosen One.”
35 The next day John was there again with two of his disciples. 36 When he saw Jesus passing by, he said, “Look, the Lamb of God!”
37 When the two disciples heard him say this, they followed Jesus. 38 Turning around, Jesus saw them following and asked, “What do you want?”
They said, “Rabbi” (which means “Teacher”), “where are you staying?”
39 “Come,” he replied, “and you will see.”
So they went and saw where he was staying, and they spent that day with him. It was about four in the afternoon.
40 Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, was one of the two who heard what John had said and who had followed Jesus. 41 The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon and tell him, “We have found the Messiah” (that is, the Christ).
Gender reveals have become pretty common for people who are expecting a baby. Ultrasounds are able to detect the gender of the baby before it is born using today’s updated technology. Couples will often have family and friends gather together so that they can reveal whether their baby is a boy or a girl. Some couples have found pretty unique ways to reveal this information to their guests.
Our text for today points us to a “reveal” that took place near the Jordan river. John the Baptist was baptizing in that area when Jesus approached him. With words that are now very familiar to us, John “revealed” to the people who this was that was approaching. He said, “Look, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.”
God continues to reveal that Jesus is the Savior. He uses the power that he has given to his gospel message to help people see that Jesus is the Savior. He sends his Holy Spirit to open hearts to believe in Jesus. Today we will see how God reveals his Son to the world as we consider the words of John….
“Look, the Lamb of God!”
I. A sacrifice for sins
II. A sacrifice for all
The familiar words of John 1:29 spoken by John the Baptist make a bold statement about Jesus. The Apostle John wrote that when John the Baptist saw Jesus approaching, he said, “Look, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” John introduced Jesus as the one that the people had been waiting for. This, he said, was the Messiah that God had first promised to Adam and Eve. This was the one who had been sent to protect God’s people from the devil and secure eternal life for all who would believe.
This might not have been the introduction that we would expect. One with such an important role to fill would seem to merit more of a grand entrance. The story of the arrival of history’s greatest hero was quite subdued. John pointed the small gathering of people to Jesus and declared that he was the “Lamb” sent by “God” to “…take away the sin of the world.”
John referred to Jesus as a “Lamb,” not the most imposing of animals, and certainly not one that would appear to have the power to overcome the enemy who had seized the world in sin. There are few battles in the animal kingdom that a lamb would be able to win. Lambs fall into the “prey” category and are often the easy targets of bears, lions, and tigers. The picture of a lamb coming to protect anything isn’t very inspiring.
At the time that John spoke these words, the picture of a lamb brought different thoughts. The thought of a lamb providing safety and protection was more familiar to the people of Israel. Centuries of worshippers had seen lambs brought to the temple to be sacrificed. Lambs that had done nothing wrong were put to death in place of those who had sinned and deserved death. Innocent lambs being sacrificed provided a picture for the people of what their Redeemer would do for them. That picture would have come to mind when John identified Jesus as the “Lamb of God.” Yes, a Lamb would save God’s people from their sins.
There is a church in Germany that has a picture of a flock of sheep on its steeple. Some might assume that the sheep represent God’s children who are “shepherded” by him in the church. But there’s a different story to this picture. When the church was being built, one of the men who was working on the steeple lost his footing and fell. A shepherd had been moving his flock of sheep along that road at just that moment. The worker fell onto one of the sheep, which, sadly, was killed, but the worker survived the fall. This reminds us of Jesus, “the Lamb of God,” who saves his people from their fall into sin.
John identified that Jesus would do that when he said, “This is what I meant when I said, ‘A man who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’” Chronologically, John came before Jesus. He was born 6 months before Jesus. But in importance, Jesus “surpassed” John. Jesus was the Savior; John was just the messenger who had been sent to point people to Jesus.
John confessed that he knew that Jesus, as common and ordinary as he appeared to be, truly was the Savior. He said that he had been told by God that he would see a sign indicating that Jesus was the “Lamb of God.” God had said to him, “The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is he who will baptize with the Holy Spirit. I have seen and I testify that this is the Son of God.” When John baptized Jesus, he saw the Holy Spirit descend in the form of a dove and come to Jesus.
The “reveal” of Jesus as the promised Messiah might not have been a champagne popping event, but that does not diminish the importance of what he had come to do. He had come to “…take away the sin of the world.” Take careful note that John said Jesus had come to remove the “sin” of the world. The word “sin” is used as a collective whole for everything wrong that had been done and would be done. Jesus had come to remove all the guilt of all sins, from the tiny “white” lie to the more appalling sins that are committed.
The Old Testament lambs that were sacrificed were only a symbol. They could not actually save anyone from their sins. The “Lamb of God” provides the true salvation from sin, salvation from the “sin of the world.”
II. A sacrifice for all
John the Baptist said, “I have seen and I testify that this is the Son of God.” When John used the word “testify,” it brings to mind a witness in a trial. The witness is sharing what he or she knows to be true. That information needs to be shared with the judge and the jurors. When God revealed to John that Jesus was the true Messiah, John testified about what he had been told. He told others.
Our text noted, “The next day John was there again with two of his disciples. When he saw Jesus passing by, he said, ‘Look, the Lamb of God!’” The two men spent the rest of the day with Jesus, talking with him and learning more about him. One of the men, Andrew, shared the news of what had happened with his brother, Simon Peter. John wrote that the “…first thing that Andrew did was to find his brother Simon and tell him, ‘We have found the Messiah’ (that is, the Christ.)”
If we go back to John’s “reveal” of Jesus, we hear him call Jesus the “Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” We immediately begin to see the power of that gospel message at work in the hearts of God’s people. John told the two men to follow Jesus, and one of them told his brother about Jesus. The word continued to spread with the result that people, as the author of this text would later write in Revelation, from “… every tribe and language and people and nation” (Rev. 5:9) would be saved through faith in Jesus.
John didn’t hesitate to point people to Jesus. Andrew didn’t hesitate to tell his brother Simon about Jesus. We don’t hesitate to talk about Jesus in our worship services, Bible classes, and Sunday School. The Holy Spirit that marked Jesus as the true Messiah at his baptism has also come to us and led us to faith in Jesus as our Savior. All who confess their faith in Jesus do so because the Holy Spirit has used the gospel to lead them to Jesus.
The enemies of God don’t want to see that happen. The Word of God that points to Jesus as the Lamb of God is under attack. Some feel they need to glamorize the story of salvation instead of pointing to the humble “Lamb of God” for salvation. Others feel they need to make the story of salvation sound more logical and reasonable. Some wrongly believe and teach that sinful man needs to help pay for the sins that they have committed by good deeds, prayers, and offerings.
Such teachings are insulting to God and the Lamb that he sent to save the world from sin. John spoke the words that point to Jesus as the “Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world,” but they came from God. At Jesus’ baptism, God the Father declared that Jesus was his “Son” and said that he was “well pleased” with him. The world is saved from sin by Jesus and by Jesus alone. The Apostle John would later write, “He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.” (I Jn. 2:2)
God “revealed” that Jesus was the Savior of all through his Word. Constant contact with that Word will keep our faith in Jesus as our Savior strong. Let God take care of you. Let him protect you. Turn to the Bible often. Come to the Lord’s Supper where the body and blood of the Lamb, given and shed for you for the forgiveness of your sins, is promised in the bread and wine of the sacrament. Trust the power of Jesus and the sacrifice that he made to save you from your sins. The Lamb of God has saved you from sin. Amen.