Isaiah 49:3-6; Ps 40:2-10; 1 Cor 1:1-3; John 1:29-34
Today’s text from John’s gospel continues the story of Jesus’ baptism story from a different perspective. Here the focus is on John the Baptist and his prophetic role in announcing Jesus as the Promised Messiah. The Baptist reveals more who Jesus is. He stresses on the identity, life, and ministry of Jesus.
Jesus is the Center
Today, John the Baptist fulfilled his prophetic role by pointing people not to himself but to Jesus. John is a prophetic figure but as a prophetic figure he did not create a single attention to himself. He shifted the attention of his followers to the saviour, a lesson to many ministers of the gospel and prophets of today who create glory around them selves and not on Jesus. Jesus is the center and everything points to him. Secondly, by our baptism we also become prophetic figures, we have the responsibility to point people to Jesus.
The Lamb of God
John the Baptist saw Jesus coming to him, and says “‘Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” Here John thinks of Jesus as the Lamb, not as the conquering Messiah but as the atoning Saviour.” In their worship, Jews were taught to offer sacrifices for just about every aspect of life. For example, there were the burnt offerings, grain offerings, sin offerings etc, sacrifices were necessary in order to make the offerings. Sacrificial animals included bulls, cattle, calves, lambs etc. Naturally, when an animal was sacrificed, there was a lot of bloodshed. The blood was thought to have a special effect in appeasing God. Lambs were commonly used in ritual sacrifice and, when a lamb was specified, it was to be a “lamb without blemish.” The Passover feast when God commanded them to kill a lamb and smear the blood of the lamb on the doorposts of their homes can be a reference. It became the lamb of sacrifice to save them as that moment.
When John the Baptist saw Jesus coming his way, and said “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!”, John was emphasizing on the mission of Jesus who like a lamb will be sacrificed for our sins and save us from God’s wrath like in the days of the Passover event. “Behold” here could mean “look”, see, hold on etc., an advice for all always look and hold on to that man who is here with us for the assurance of our own salvation. Every Christian should look on to Jesus, are you suffering look on to Jesus, do you think you are the worst sinner on earth, look onto Jesus, do you think your sins cannot be forgiven again, just look and hold on to Jesus, has everybody deserted you, hold and look on to Jesus. He is the one who takes away our sins, our sorrows, distress etc.
The verbs “behold and takes” are in the present tense. When John says “Behold”, it is like a command and not an optional phrase. It is a command for all to take action now. Jesus is here to save us now. Not tomorrow and not next tomorrow. It indicates that if we are willing to take action now, he is willing to respond also now. Second, the verb “takes away” in Greek means airon. This verb also means take upon. So, it means that Jesus is here to take upon Himself the sins of men, and take them completely away.
Next, John the Baptist states “‘This is He on behalf of whom I said, “After me comes a Man who has a higher rank than I, for He existed before me.”‘” In John’s view, Jesus had a higher rank because Christ was preexistent. Here we can see that both the humanity and divinity of Christ is confirmed by John in this statement. Jesus is the Son of God and the Son of Man. John became the witness for all Israelites through his baptism. He points them to Jesus. When we behold him and invite him into our lives, then we can be true witnesses of the gospel. Then we can change lives because the One who can change lives is now living with us.
He Baptizes us with The Holy Spirit
John the Baptist speaks about the descent of the Spirit upon Christ and His work of baptizing men in the Holy Spirit. He bore witness saying (1:32), “‘I have beheld the Spirit descending as a dove out of heaven, and He remained upon Him.'” The Baptist emphasizes the abiding presence of the Spirit. Here, the Spirit descended upon Jesus and remained. When the Spirit came upon Jesus, the Baptist knew that He was the Messiah. The presence of the Spirit confirmed and authenticated the Messiah’s identity. The Spirit coming upon Jesus was a convincing evidence for him.
Secondly, Jesus was empowered to baptize others in the Spirit. As the Messiah, Jesus is “the one who baptizes in the Holy Spirit.” One of the reasons why the Spirit came upon Jesus was so that people will know that He alone could baptize others in the Spirit. To the woman at the well (John 4:14) Jesus spoke of the water He would give which would spring up into eternal life. Water was symbolic of the Holy Spirit. Jesus is the only one who is going to baptize us with the Holy Spirit. And when the Holy Spirit comes upon us, we shall receive power (Acts 1:8), we shall bear good fruits (Galatians 5 .22-23). When we claim we are in Jesus, the Holy Spirit is alive in us and the only evidence to prove that is through the type of life we live.
Today, the gospel calls us to obey John’s command as he points us to the Messiah. May we look upon, and behold Jesus always to receive mercy and forgiveness, free ourselves from the bondage of sin, be a true witness of the gospel, receive strength in the presence of difficulties and power to conquer evil and its agents. May we also live our lives to point others to Jesus and avoid creating self-glory. We can only change lives when our lives have already been transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit that lives in us through Jesus Christ.
Secondly, It is only when we look upon Jesus and hold him strictly can we receive grace upon grace. Let us avail ourselves of this saving opportunity. Let us Have time for God that has come to save us. We will never regret. May God bless us.
Fr. Sanctus MArio
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