Category Archives: The Gospel of John

Behold, The Lamb of God

Behold, The Lamb of God

John 1:29 “The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!”

In the first chapter of John’s Gospel, the Apostle sets the framework for his account of Jesus’ life by turning our attention to the Old Testament.  This is evident in verse 1, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” as he brings readers to recall Genesis 1:1, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.”  The idea of God, more specifically Jesus Christ (see Hebrews 1) as Creator is expounded upon by John in verse 3, “All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.”

With one eye focused on the text of John and the other on the Old Testament, the discerning reader will be equipped to not only understand what God’s inspired word says in John, but also how the words of his gospel can inform one’s  understanding of the Old Testament.  This is precisely the case with our subject verse of John 1:29.

John the Baptist is quoted here referring to Jesus as “the Lamb of God”.  With our attention already keenly cast on the use of the OT in this first chapter of John (the Apostle), we should immediately began recalling where, if anywhere, we may have encountered an OT reference like this.  For those unfamiliar with the OT, most good Bible’s have a cross-reference system either in the center column or the margins of their pages.  If used properly, these can prove to be invaluable.

Using either recall or your cross-references, you may find that when John uses the title “the Lamb of God” he likely has Exodus 12 in mind.  Turning to this passage of the Old Testament, we find ourselves in the context of the Israelite captivity in Egypt and the implementation of plagues upon Pharaoh.  The final plague is promised in chapter 11,

“So Moses said, ‘Thus says the LORD: About midnight I will go out in the midst of Egypt, and every firstborn in the land of Egypt shall die, from the firstborn of Pharaoh who sits on his throne, even to the firstborn of the slave girl who is behind the handmill, and all the firstborn of the cattle. There shall be a great cry throughout all the land of Egypt, such as there has never been, nor ever will be again. But not a dog shall growl against any of the people of Israel, either man or beast, that you may know that the LORD makes a distinction between Egypt and Israel. And all these your servants shall come down to me and bow down to me, saying, ‘Get out, you and all the people who follow you.’ And after that I will go out.’ And he went out from Pharaoh in hot anger. Then the LORD said to Moses, ‘Pharaoh will not listen to you, that my wonders may be multiplied in the land of Egypt.’”

It is with this context in mind that we read of the Passover Lamb in Exodus 12.  God instructs Moses to tell all the congregation to acquire a lamb, without blemish (Ex. 12:5) for sacrifice.  The people were instructed to kill their lambs at twilight on the specified day.  They were to sprinkle its blood on the doorposts and the lintel, then roast and eat the flesh.  When God passed through the land of Egypt to enact judgment through the death of their firstborn (both man and beast), He would, “see the blood” and “pass over” the house.  This is where the memorial feast of Passover got its name.

There is more we could glean from this OT passage, but for now our understanding of John’s use of “Lamb of God” in John 1:29 is better informed.  Likewise, this imagery of a lamb is again used in Isaiah 53:7, “He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth.”  Additionally, the requirement of God to Moses that the lamb should be without spot or blemish is recounted in 1 Peter 1:19, “but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.”

Reading the OT by itself can often provide a limited picture of understanding.  Yes, they can be understood in their context, i.e. we can read of God requiring the Israelites to slaughter a lamb and sprinkle the blood, but without allowing the New Testament to inform our understanding of the OT, we miss out on a lot of key passages pertaining to Christ and run in danger of misinterpretation.

Passages such as these, where a person, place, event, or institution points or alludes to another person, place, event, or institution use what is called typology.  It commonly occurs between the OT and NT and provides continuity between the two, particularly as it relates to God’s plan of redemption.  In our case here, the Passover lamb is the type and John’s reference to Jesus as the “Lamb of God” makes Jesus the antitype.  Another common use of typology involves what is called the archetype.  An example of this would be the “pattern on the mountain” (Ex. 25:9; Heb. 8:5) that God shows Moses for construction of the tabernacle.  This pattern was the heavenly temple of God (Rev. 11:19, et.al.) and would be the archetype.  We know this because Moses constructed the tabernacle and Solomon eventually the temple, both of which would be the type.  What then is the antitype, or the greater temple?  It is Jesus.  In Matthew 12:6 Jesus says, “I tell you, something greater than the temple is here” and in John 2:19 He says, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.”  According to John 2:21-22, we know that this was indeed a reference to Jesus’ death and resurrection.

The New Testament is filled with rich references to the Old Testament such as this one from John 1:29.  Far from breezing through the Bible, it pays to take time and study, use cross references, and meditate on God’s Word.  Doing so will allow for a greater understanding of God’s Word, fuller revelation of Himself, and cause for worshipping God who in His infinite wisdom has determined the beginning from the end.

Thinking through John 1:15-34

A continuation of a study through the Gospel of John. See John 1:1-14 here

15 John bore witness of Him and cried out, saying, “This was He of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me is preferred before me, for He was before me.’”

A witness to the eternality of Christ; Despite John being ~6 months older, he recognizes that Christ was “before him”

16 And of His fullness we have all received, and grace for grace. 17 For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him.

Why do you think John contrast Moses and the law with Jesus and grace and truth?  Read Matthew 5:17-20

A Voice in the Wilderness

19 Now this is the testimony of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, “Who are you?”

20 He confessed, and did not deny, but confessed, “I am not the Christ.”

21 And they asked him, “What then? Are you Elijah?”

He said, “I am not.”

“Are you the Prophet?”

And he answered, “No.”

22 Then they said to him, “Who are you, that we may give an answer to those who sent us? What do you say about yourself?”

23 He said: “I am

‘The voice of one crying in the wilderness:
“Make straight the way of the Lord,”’

as the prophet Isaiah said.”

24 Now those who were sent were from the Pharisees. 25 And they asked him, saying, “Why then do you baptize if you are not the Christ, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet?”

26 John answered them, saying, “I baptize with water, but there stands One among you whom you do not know. 27 It is He who, coming after me, is preferred before me, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to loose.”

28 These things were done in Bethabara beyond the Jordan, where John was baptizing.

This section of the passage has a remarkable way of connecting the Old Testament to this New Testament context.  

  • Why are the questions being asked of John significant?  
  • Given the context and expectation of the coming Messiah, is it easy to see why the people were confused over who John was? Read also Mark 1:2-3 ; Isaiah 40:3; Malachi 4:5
  • Read Deuteronomy 18:15-18: What does this announcement say about the coming Messiah?

The Lamb of God

29 The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! 30 This is He of whom I said, ‘After me comes a Man who is preferred before me, for He was before me.’ 31 I did not know Him; but that He should be revealed to Israel, therefore I came baptizing with water.”

The Apostle John’s language here is intentional to bring our minds back to a specific reference in the Old Testament of the Israelite captivity in Egypt.  See: Exodus 12:1-13 In this way, the Passover Lamb is a type for the coming sacrifice of Christ, who Himself becomes the lamb slain.  For additional references on Christ as the Lamb see: 1 Corinthians 5:7; 1 Peter 1:19; Revelation 7:14, 12:11

32 And John bore witness, saying, “I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and He remained upon Him. 33 I did not know Him, but He who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘Upon whom you see the Spirit descending, and remaining on Him, this is He who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ 34 And I have seen and testified that this is the Son of God.”

Review the synoptic accounts of Jesus’ baptism: Matthew 3:13-17; Mark 1:9-11; Luke 3:21-22

Thinking through John 1:1-14

Recently I’ve been reading through the Gospel of John with my dad and offering up questions, thoughts, comments via email to him.  I thought they might be a helpful resource for thinking through the passage if  you’re reading through John, so I’ve included them below.  Lord willing, I’ll be able to post my other notes as I move through the book.

Observations on verses 1-5, the Deity of Christ:

  1. Jesus is eternal
  2. Jesus was with God; i.e. separate and distinct from the Father
  3. Jesus was (is) God
  4. All things were created through Him.
  5. In Him was life
  • Do you think John 1:1, “In the beginning was the Word” sounds similar to Genesis 1 “In the beginning God created”? John may develop this more a few verses later.

John the Baptist vs. 6-8:

  • Why do you think Jesus had someone come before Him? Why is it significant?

Jesus is the Light: vs. 9-13

  • Verses 9-11 are the Rejection of Christ

  • Verses 12-13 are the Acceptance of Christ; note the “But” connects them

  • What do you think of when you think of light?

  • How do verses 3 and 10 affect your view of Genesis 1?

  • Who were His own people?

  • Verses 12-13 are one sentence, I notice the verbs: receive, believe, gave, born.

  • What do you think the significance is that “He (Jesus) gave the right to become children of God” is contrasted with, “born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh nor the will of man, but of God.”?

    • Based on this, is there anything that man can do to earn or gain the right to become a child of God? Or is it all a “right” given from God?

Jesus’ Incarnation vs 14:

  • John here returns back to the “Word”; here we have the incarnation of Jesus, namely His “humiliation” in stepping down into human flesh.

  • “We have seen” – John is an eyewitness; this is an eyewitness account.

  • What do think John means by saying, “we have seen His glory”, “Glory as of the only Son from the Father”; What is this glory?

  • Grace and truth, why are both significant? For us?