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

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