The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! This is the one I meant when I said, ‘A man who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’ I myself did not know him, but the reason I came baptizing with water was that he might be revealed to Israel.” Then John gave this testimony: “I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him. 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.’ I have seen and I testify that this is God’s Chosen One.”
John the Baptist was Jesus’ cousin (Elizabeth’s son). It is plausible to assume that he had met Jesus several times, perhaps during festivities or other family occasions such as weddings and funerals. But it had to be revealed by God to John that Jesus was, in fact, the Messiah! John himself denied being the Messiah. He was not there to talk about himself, but to point to the One who was coming – the One who was greater! This passage, in short, describes the event when the Messiah was revealed. As we meditate on this passage, here are some truths to consider:
The excitement and the wait were over, not just for John but for the world at large. The word was “Look!”, and there He was! From the crowd emerged THE ONE that was God in flesh. Here John refers to Him as “the Lamb of God.” This statement contains not only the announcement, but also the purpose of the Messiah – He has come to take away the sin of the world. This is not “a” lamb, but “the” Lamb. This was not “of man,” but “of God.” The sacrificial system Israel had known was all pointing to this moment. Men could not yet see what John saw – the revelation came from God – that Jesus was the sacrificial lamb. The lamb without blemish, the infinite God-man was now to be sacrificed once and for all to take away the sins of the world.
We see also that God’s revelation drives the attitude of humility in John – “He has surpassed me because he was before me.” Earlier in the chapter (v.27), he says of Jesus, “the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie.” John proclaims, “Don’t look at me, look to Him. He is greater, He alone is your hope for He is God’s Chosen One.”
John the Baptist’s testimony reminds us that our greatest problem is our own sin and our greatest need is a Savior. Only Jesus can meet our greatest need and He did that completely on the cross and confirmed that powerfully through His Resurrection. O Church, let us be reminded that our hope for this life and the next is found fully and only in Christ. In Him we find the incomparable riches of God’s grace (Eph 2:7) and in Him we find all the fullness of God (Eph 3:19, Col 2:9).
Note: Each day’s devotional is written by a different member of the GRC family.