February 26 – John 1:29-34
Main focus: The Son of God was revealed as the sacrificial Lamb of God so that we might hope in him for atonement.
This past week, our Ash Wednesday service kicked off the season of Lent, the forty days leading up to Easter. It’s incredibly fitting that as we are looking towards the cross, this week we’re reading about Jesus, the Son of God, the Lamb. When we read this week’s passage in the Gospel of John, we see John the Baptist proclaim Jesus as the “Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (v. 29). For those familiar with Scripture, the term “Lamb of God” might feel like a normal turn of phrase, but it’s worth expanding on its meaning in the Bible.
If we flip to about the midway point of our Bible, we come across the writings from the prophet Isaiah. In chapter 53, we read of a prophecy of the coming Messiah. This whole chapter is a prophecy regarding Jesus and how he would be treated while on earth, how he would relate to humanity, and, more importantly, how he would foot the bill for the sins of man.
Taking a quick detour and scanning through the Bible, we see this theme and plot of a repeated need for sacrifice for sins. Sin has a cost. So rather than smiting us the first time we stomp our feet and shout “no!” at our parents at the age of 3, God, in his lovingkindness, gave his people an alternative. Through the practice of animal sacrifice, God provided a way to cover his people’s sins. This would demonstrate to man that “the wages of sin is death” (Rom. 6:23). It would also serve as a reminder that the cost of clearing the slate is something or someone dying in their place.
With this in mind, we’ll finish our pit stop in Isaiah 53. Verse 7 says that Jesus “was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth.” Here we hear of Jesus being the one who was to fulfill the Old Testament prophecies, described as a sacrificial lamb. This gives us a little more context as to why John the Baptist calls the coming savior “the Lamb of God.” Jesus’s death would be the final atonement for mankind; he himself would be the ultimate sacrificial lamb. He died in place of repeated animal sacrifices to finally clear the tab for the sins we racked up. What is extraordinary about this is that Jesus’s sacrifice covered all sin. The author of Hebrews said that “we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all” (Heb. 10:10). Christ’s death was sufficient and took away our sin, removing the need for any further animal sacrifice. Jesus had the final word in making the payment for our sins.
Recentering our focus, let’s head back to John 1 and look at verse 31. Here, John the Baptist says that “I myself did not know him, but for this purpose I came baptizing with water, that he might be revealed to Israel.” The latter half of John the Baptist’s declaration is something worth keying in on here. John the Baptist notes that, at Jesus’ baptism, he was made known, or revealed, to Israel to be the savior. When we read Scripture, it can be easy to just breeze through it and take things at face value, but the words written in Scripture are loaded with meaning and are very intentionally chosen. Here, it’s said that Jesus was revealed to Israel. This tells us that he always was the savior of the world. There was never a point in which Jesus wasn’t existing or was not a part of the Triune God. He is “the Alpha and the Omega…who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty” (Rev. 1:8). Jesus existed before our reality began, and he was and is with God and the Holy Spirit in perfect unity.
As we enter discussion, we’ll examine how John describes Jesus and what that means for us as followers who have accepted Christ’s sacrifice. This also will apply to those of us who are doubters and seekers, as we’ll get a heartfelt look at the eternal implications of Christ bearing our collective and individual sins and paying the price for us. How wonderful is it that Jesus took the role of the sacrificial lamb and died in our place so we could be made right with God?
• Can someone read John 1:29-34?
• What stood out to you from this passage?
• Could someone read Isaiah 53?
• How can this help us better understand Jesus as the Lamb?
• Look at verse 5: Why do you think these things would cost Jesus this much?
• How do you think Jesus feels about you in your sin?
• How can these passages help you hope in God’s forgiveness for you?