Isaiah 49:3-6; Ps 40:2-10; 1 Cor 1:1-3; John 1:29-34
Let us Behold Jesus Christ
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 about 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 themselves and not on Jesus.
Jesus is the centre 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 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 bloodsheds. The blood was thought to have a special effect on appeasing God.
These were commonly used in ritual sacrifice. This lamb was specified, it was to be a “lamb without blemish.”
This is what is used during the Passover feast when God commanded them to kill a lamb and smear the blood of the lamb on the doorposts of their homes as a point of reference. It became the lamb of sacrifice to save them at that moment.
When John the Baptist saw Jesus coming his way. He says to his listeners “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!”. In this particular statement, John was emphasizing these:
1. The mission of Jesus who is like a lamb that will be sacrificed for our sins and save us from God’s wrath like in the days of the Passover event.
2. The Identity of Jesus as the Messiah they have been waiting for.
3. He is telling us to behold Jesus as the source of our salvation.
4. It is an Invitation to go to Jesus and embrace Him.
5. He points to us, the One we have to run to, in times of challenges and difficulties.
Let Us Behold Jesus Christ.
“Behold” here could mean “look”, see, hold on etc., It is advisable for all to always look and hold on to that man who is here with us for the assurance of our own salvation.
It is a pointer that every Christian should look on to Jesus. Here, John is asking us “are you faced with guilt, run to Jesus. Do you need God’s forgiveness, let us always approach the seat of mercy, which is Jesus. Let us behold Jesus Christ always.
Are you suffering, look on to Jesus. Do you think you are the worst sinner on earth, look unto Jesus.
Also, 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. He takes away our sins, guilts, tribulations, sorrows, distress etc.
The Verbs “Behold and Take”
The verbs “behold and takes” as used by John the Baptist today are in the present tense. When John says “Behold”, it is like a command. It is not an optional phrase.
John did not say “will you be able to behold? Or can you behold? Etc. John was direct. It is like a commandment to his listeners.
1.It is a command for all of us 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.
2. Secondly, 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.
Let us behold Jesus Christ.
We have to approach Him confidently always to show us mercy. Let us not glory in sin but seek the presence and forgiveness of the Lord.
3. Thirdly, the verb “takes away” also reveals the prophetic role of our Lord Jesus Christ. This is revealed by Isiah in the first reading.
Speaking about his prophetic role, Isaiah says “And now the Lord has spoken, he who formed me in the womb to be his servant, to bring Jacob back to him, to gather Israel to him.
Contained in this call of Isaiah is the vocation to bring the lost sheep back to God and to gather the people again. Jesus replicates this when he says in John 10:14-16
“I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father, and I lay down my life for the sheep, I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd.
Therefore, let us always look upon Jesus. We are like people who are lost. Only Jesus can bring us back again”.
Next, John the Baptist states “‘This is He on behalf of whom I said, “After I, comes to 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 are confirmed by John in this statement.
Jesus is the Son of God and the Son of Man. Therefore, John confirmed that Jesus existed before.
2. John became the witness for all Israelites through his baptism. He points them to Jesus.
Therefore, when we behold Jesus and invite him into our lives. When we invite Him, our lives will change. Then we can be true witnesses of the gospel.
Through this, we can change lives because the One who can change lives is now living with us.
1. Today, John the Baptist speaks about the descent of the Spirit upon Jesus Christ and His work of baptizing men in the Holy Spirit.
John the Baptist bears witness saying “I have beheld the Spirit descending as a dove out of heaven, and He remained upon Him.”
John the Baptist emphasizes the abiding presence of the Spirit on Jesus Christ. Here, the Spirit descended upon Jesus and remained. When the Spirit came upon Jesus, John the Baptist knew that Jesus was the Messiah.
Therefore, the presence of the Holy Spirit confirmed and authenticated the identity of the Messiah. The Spirit coming upon Jesus was convincing evidence for Him.
Let us behold Jesus Christ. He is the source of our spiritual empowerment and changes through the baptism of the Spirit.
2. 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 the Spirit came upon Jesus was so that people will know that He alone could baptize others in the Spirit.
In John 4:14, Jesus says to the woman at the well that He would give her water which would spring up into eternal life.
We know that water is also symbolic of the Holy Spirit. What this means is that Jesus is the only one who is going to baptize us with the Holy Spirit.
Then, when the Holy Spirit comes upon us, we shall receive power (Acts 1:8), and bear good fruits (Galatians 5 .22-23).
When we claim we are in Jesus, what we mean is that the Holy Spirit is alive in us. Then if the Holy Spirit is alive in us, our lives will definitely change. Therefore, if we truly live a life in the Spirit, the only evidence to prove that is through the type of life we live.
3. The gospel calls us to obey John’s command as he points us to the Messiah. Therefore, let us always behold Jesus in our times of falling, moments of losing hope, and mistakes.
In times of regrets, and disappointments and shamed with guilt, let us behold Jesus the lamb of God, only He can take away our sins.
Let us not be ashamed to meet Him at the Sacrament of Penance and say with the repentant thief “ Lord remember me” or like Bartimaeus “Jesus son of David, have mercy on me”. These two prayers look very simple but extremely powerful.
4. As John points others to Jesus, let us also point others to Jesus Christ. Let us be the instrument that brings people to God. Let us not be the people that lead others away from God.
Also, Let us not be the people that bring pain in the lives of others. Rather, let us bring salvation, joy, breakthrough and light to the lives of the people who encounter us.
5. As Jesus is the lamb that takes away the sins of the world, it reminds us that Jesus is ready to remove our sinfulness, guilt, shame and depression. Jesus is the key to our lives.
Therefore, let us behold Jesus Christ and imitate Him. Our vocation is to be a source of solace to the people. We have to be the lamb and not the wolf.
6. When John says “behold the lamb of God” John is pointing to Jesus as the source of our salvation. If Jesus is the source of our salvation, it means we have to approach Him always to be saved.
Therefore, 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, and receive strength in the times 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 that we 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 it. May God bless us.