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John 1:29-42 | Jesus, The Lamb of God

The Gospel of John  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  35:37
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Scripture Reading

John 1:29–42 HCSB
The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Here is the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! This is the One I told you about: ‘After me comes a man who has surpassed me, because He existed before me.’ I didn’t know Him, but I came baptizing with water so He might be revealed to Israel.” And John testified, “I watched the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and He rested on Him. I didn’t know Him, but He who sent me to baptize with water told me, ‘The One you see the Spirit descending and resting on—He is the One who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ I have seen and testified that He is the Son of God!” Again the next day, John was standing with two of his disciples. When he saw Jesus passing by, he said, “Look! The Lamb of God!” The two disciples heard him say this and followed Jesus. When Jesus turned and noticed them following Him, He asked them, “What are you looking for?” They said to Him, “Rabbi” (which means “Teacher”), “where are You staying?” “Come and you’ll see,” He replied. So they went and saw where He was staying, and they stayed with Him that day. It was about 10 in the morning. Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, was one of the two who heard John and followed Him. He first found his own brother Simon and told him, “We have found the Messiah!” (which means “Anointed One”), and he brought Simon to Jesus. When Jesus saw him, He said, “You are Simon, son of John. You will be called Cephas” (which means “Rock”).

Introduction

Sometimes a title can tell you a great deal about a person. For example, Cyrus the World Conqueror, or Alexander the Great.
Some names, you may not want to be called. Billy the Kid.
Whoopi Goldberg. Caryn Elaine Johnson's nickname isn't exactly from childhood, but it comes from a childish (but hilarious) prank toy. "Here's the thing," she told the New York Times in 2006, "when you're performing on stage, you never really have time to go into the bathroom and close the door. So if you get a little gassy, you've got to let it go. So people used to say to me, 'You are like a whoopee cushion.' And that's where the name came from."
And so here in John’s Gospel we read of Jesus passing by and what is the declaration of John? “Here is the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world!”

Body

This is a mighty declaration, but if you take some time to think about this statement, it seems rather strange. The Lamb of God. This phrase is only found in two places in the Scriptures, here and again in vs 36. No where else in the New Testament do we read this title. Peter describes Jesus as being like a lamb in 1 Peter 1:19 and John again describes Jesus as a lamb in Revelation.
But why did John call him that? Why the Lamb of God?
In the Old Testament, lambs were used for sin offerings, for cleansing of a leper, for daily and afternoon sacrifices in the temple, the passover supper. However, none of the deaths of those lambs were truly expiatory. They were treated as offerings for forgiveness of sins, but not to actually take away sins.
This proclamation is not only unique in its occurence in John’s Gospel, but it conveys a very important truth about who Jesus is with implications for us. The Theologian Tenny said...
Holman New Testament Commentary: John E. Appearance of the Lamb (1:29–34)

“It combines in one descriptive term the concepts of innocence, voluntary sacrifice, substitutionary atonement, effective obedience, and redemptive power like that of the Passover Lamb (Exod. 12:21–27)”

You see John here is not describing just one aspect of Jesus. Not just the humility of Jesus. As though he is as soft and humble as a lamb. Nor is he describing Jesus as a dainty animal. But John is pointing the readers to a truth about who Jesus is and what Jesus has done for us in obedience to God the Father.
Now there are several interpretations for the phrase Lamb of God.
The full effect of this title is brought to light with the next phrase that John gives… “who takes away the sins of the world.”
The Lexham Bible Dictionary Possible Interpretations of “Lamb of God”

1. The Passover lamb (Exod 12). This is perhaps the strongest contender, as the writer of the Gospel of John applies the Passover lamb imagery to Christ at His death (John 19:36, citing Exod 12:46). Moreover, the Gospel dates Jesus’ death to the time of the slaying of the Passover lambs (John 18:28; 19:14, 31). However, the Passover sacrifice was not oriented towards taking away sin.

2. The Suffering Servant (Isa 53). The Suffering Servant bears the sins of the people of Israel (Isa 53:6–12) and is described as a lamb (ἀμνός, amnos) led to the slaughter (Isa 53:7 LXX; compare Acts 8:32; 1 Pet 1:19). John 12:38 cites Isaiah 53:1 in application to Jesus. Although this may not have been the only Old Testament text behind the phrase, it is very likely one of them.

3. The lamb sacrificed daily in the temple (Lev 1:4; Exod 29:38–46). The Greek word “lamb” (ἀμνός, amnos, see John 1:29, 36) appears 75 times in the Septuagint, mostly in reference to the lamb sacrificed daily to make atonement. However, this atonement lamb does not receive much attention elsewhere in Scripture and thus is probably not the referent of John’s phrase.

4. The “lamb” Abraham offered in place of Isaac (Gen 22). The account in Genesis clearly uses substitutionary and sacrificial language (Gen 22:13), and the New Testament authors invoke this account as foreshadowing Christ (Gen 22:16; Matt 3:17; Rom 8:32). However, Genesis does not present this sacrifice as taking away sin. In addition, the Septuagint uses the word “sheep” (πρόβατον, probaton) rather than “lamb” (ἀμνός, amnos) in this account (Gen 22:7 LXX). The actual animal that was sacrificed in place of Isaac was a “ram” (κριός, krios; Gen 22:13 LXX).

So, immediately there is a vivid picture in the minds of the readers. They are connecting it to a specific prophetic word and a specific event in their history where God saved them. The lamb that Isaiah spoke of. The one who was silent before the shearers. The one who was crushed by God and the one who bore the sins of many and interceded for many. That Lamb of God.
The Lamb of God who takes away our sins. Spurgeon said,
The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit Sermons, Vol. LVI “The Lamb of God.” (No. 3,222)

It is very likely that, if I had time to explain to you, my hearer, the fulness of your sin and the utter ruin of your natural state, you also would grow angry. Yet you would have no cause to be angry, for all that I could say would fall far short of the truth about your real condition in the sight of God; and it is most solemnly important for you to know that, however high you may stand in the ranks of merely moral men, you are a lost soul, and a condemned soul, so long as you remain without living faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

And so, when we think on the Lamb of God, we must reflect on three things:
We recognize who we are
We are sinners. Our true state is that of those who need saving grace. We cannot save ourselves on our own. We are powerless to do so. And so we do not look to ourselves. John told those around him to look to Jesus.
Martin Luther had a Latin word that he used to describe our condition as sinners. How we were incurvitas, a self-curved inward nature. And because of this, no matter how much our effort, no matter how hard we try, we fail. Luther would try so hard to fix himself and to find penance through good works, but when it came time for daily confessions, he was in the booth for hours. How much trouble could you get in a monastery? But he tried so hard and tried so hard in vain, his father confessor told him to come to him when he had done something serious. not that he had....
The reality was that he could do nothing. If we really examine ourselves, we would recognize our state.
Proverbs 14:10 HCSB
The heart knows its own bitterness, and no outsider shares in its joy.
We need to look outside of ourselves. We need an “alien” righteousness. Not one that is from outer space. But a righteousness that is alien, outside, of us. It was by the Lamb of God that we were able to be justified before God.
Philippians 3:9 HCSB
and be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own from the law, but one that is through faith in Christ —the righteousness from God based on faith.
Romans 5:10 HCSB
For if, while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, then how much more, having been reconciled, will we be saved by His life!
2. Not only do we recognize who we are, but also, what we are to do
We do not look to ourselves. We do not work hard in trying to fix the situation on our own power and our own effort. We look to Christ.
Hebrews 12:1–2 HCSB
Therefore, since we also have such a large cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us lay aside every weight and the sin that so easily ensnares us. Let us run with endurance the race that lies before us, keeping our eyes on Jesus, the source and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that lay before Him endured a cross and despised the shame and has sat down at the right hand of God’s throne.
We look to Christ. You may get a bit angry, thinking on your own sin or feeling that this message is too strong or offensive. And some people do react that way and so in light of that, they think that what they are to do is to focus even more inwardly. Or they will get more upset about it.
The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit Sermons, Vol. LVI “The Lamb of God.” (No. 3,222)

The fault is not in the gospel which we preach, so you should not be angry with it, or with us; the fault is in your own selves, in your own hearts and lives; and if you do not like to be told the truth about sin, it is a sure sign that your heart is not right in the sight of God. It is still true that “every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.”

Your offence was committed against God. And it is to Him which we must fix our eyes. It is on him that we are to behold. The Son of God, who died on the cross, who while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. So we see our state and we behold the Son.
And thirdly we must...
3. We recognize what he has done being the Lamb of God
The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit Sermons, Vol. LVI “The Lamb of God.” (No. 3,222)

When Jesus Christ was put into our place, our sin was laid upon him; and sin, like anything else, cannot be in two places at one time. If, then, I, being a believer in Jesus, know that all my sin was laid upon Christ, it follows necessarily that I have no sin left Upon me. It has become Christ’s burden; he has taken it away from me. “Yes,” you say, “but then the sin is still on Christ.” Ah! but, my hearers, if our Lord Jesus Christ, “his own self bare our sins in his own body up to the tree,” he there endured all the punishment that was due to us, or an equivalent for it, and those sins were by that means put away; that is to say, they ceased to be; so they do not exist any longer. All my indebtedness to God was transferred to Christ, and he paid all my debts.

He took our sins, we no longer carry them. So then what do we do? Do we continue on in sin. What a wretched decision that would be. For having been saved such a great debt, we ought to be renewed.
We no longer chase sin.
Romans 6:1–2 HCSB
What should we say then? Should we continue in sin so that grace may multiply? Absolutely not! How can we who died to sin still live in it?

Conclusion

Some may say, well that is all good and all, but we need a more timely message. This is the best message that could ever be given.
The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit Sermons, Vol. LVI “The Lamb of God.” (No. 3,222)

When Dr. Judson went home to America from Burmah, there was a large congregation gathered together, and they requested the returned missionary, the veteran of so many years of service, to address the assembly. He stood up, and simply told the story that I have again told you to-night, the story of Christ suffering in the stead of sinners, and of Christ saving all who trust him. Then he sat down; and one who sat next him said to him, “I am afraid the friends are rather disappointed; they expected to hear something interesting from you.” He said, “I have spoken to them, to the best of my ability, upon the most interesting subject in the whole world; what could I have done better than that?” “Yes,” said the other; “but, after having been so long abroad, they thought that you would tell them some interesting story; they did not think you would come all the way from Burmah just to tell them only that.” The missionary then rose, and said, “I should like to go home feeling that, although I have come all the way from Burmah, I do not know anything that I can tell you that I think is half so good for you to hear, or half so interesting, as the story of the love of Christ in dying to save sinners.” The good doctor was right; and I feel, just as he did, that there is nothing so interesting as the story of the cross. You want to hear it, you who are already saved; and you want to hear it, you who are not yet saved. You must hear it, for there is no hope of salvation for you except as faith shall come to you by hearing, and specially hearing that portion of the Word of God which deals most closely with the cross of Christ.

This is the best news. Notice how opposed this is to the idea that we are critically to understand the doctrines of the gospel before we can be saved. How many persons there are who want to know this and to understand that! They come to us, and say, “Here are two texts that do not seem to us to square with one another, and there are those two doctrines of divine sovereignty and human responsibility which do not appear to be consistent with each other. Must we understand all these mysteries before we can be saved?” Spurgeon, C. H. (1910). “The Lamb of God.” In The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit Sermons (Vol. 56, p. 534). London: Passmore & Alabaster.
If someone was in a major accident and is about to be lifeflighted to the hospital, does he argue with the EMT? Or the pilot, first tell me all the intricacies of the helicopter. How many nuts and bolts, describe the physics of how it lifts off and breaks through the air. How does the gasoline get converted into energy to power this thing, how do you know we have enough for the trip? What foolish questions, you are dying and this is the means for salvation.
And I also feel that you unconverted sinners have no business to set yourselves up as critics of the Word of God.
Confidence
So we look to Christ and we have hope. We have joy. We find peace with God. And this is not a little thing. We should be overjoyed by the fact that He came as the Lamb of God. To take away our sins. And the response should be appropriate, we follow him. We stay with him.
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