Welcome back, and thank you for taking a moment of your time to check out this or any of the other devotionals. I hope they’re a help to you. Take a moment to ask God’s blessing in your time here and I pray God’s best for you today.
Should you be a genuine believer reading this, I want to give you a great thought to ponder: think about the first moment your glorified eyes lay hold of the Savior, the One we’ve been preaching and learning about, whose words we see on the page but whose voice we’ve never heard. We’ve never seen his face or been in close proximity with Him physically. Think about how that’s going to go; I doubt any of us really can anticipate what that moment will be like. We live in a world where some of man’s greatest thrills come from relational changes (marriage, birth, etc.) or going on a vacation or receiving recognition as we succeed in some fashion. Everything we could attain or achieve in this world, no matter what we speak of outside of Christ, is temporary and may bring delight in the moment but does not serve to bring fulfillment for the long term.
John the Baptist experienced the greatest joy of his life up to this time in coming to recognize the Savior. We see him both in v. 29 and v. 36 saying “Behold the Lamb of God,” but the difference in v. 29 is that he says, “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” There is a great deal of elation in his words as he is awestruck with the promised Messiah standing before him. He would make this statement on the basis of the Spirit landing on Christ like a dove (vv. 30-33), and both times that he saw Jesus he now marveled at the person standing before him.
“Behold.” The word (orao) from the Greek is generally speaking to seeing something with the eyes; there is definitely attention given to sight as the channel for this experience. What was John the Baptist doing, and what was he calling the people around him to do? He was calling them (and himself) to look upon the Savior. Why is this significant? He’d been waiting all his life to see the Messiah and finally, he recognized him. The word “know” comes up a lot in the Gospel of John alone—in the New King James version, it will appear no less than 82 times! As stated in prior devotionals, there is relational knowledge (to know) and objective knowledge (to know about). John the Baptist did not objectively know who the Messiah was, though he’d been serving God with a Nazarite vow all of his life (see his setting apart and filling with Holy Spirit even from the womb in Luke 1:15). God revealed the Christ to John through seeing Jesus and seeing the Holy Spirit land on Him like a dove: a visual memory he would never forget, a moment that would forever change the rest of his life. The day you yourself see Jesus, should you the reader be one of His children, will be a day you never forget as you recognize Him physically for the first time.
Behold the Lamb of God. It’s interesting that John the Baptist identifies Christ in this fashion. John, the writer of this Gospel, starts by identifying Christ as the Word. Jesus will be identified as Light, Life, Truth, Way, among other labels. All of those labels signify Him as the source. Jesus, as the Lamb of God, would be a perfect, sinless sacrifice upon the cross that would bear the sin and shame of man upon Him.
Brief side note: have you ever read the book “The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis? It’s a book primarily about how to tempt humans from a demon’s point of view. It’s meant to be very insightful in helping us to think about how we might face spiritual adversity. One of my favorite parts of the book is practically the end of the book, where the human subject dies and sees the spiritual world (angels first, and then God) for the first time.
“He had no faintest conception till that very hour of how they would look, and even doubted their existence. But when he saw them he knew that he had always known them and realized what part each one of them had played at many an hour in his life when he had supposed himself alone, so that now he could say to them, one by one, not ‘Who are you?’ but ‘So it was you all the time.’ All that they were and said at this meeting woke memories. The dim consciousness of friends about him which had haunted his solitudes from infancy was now at last explained; that central music in every pure experience which had always just evaded memory was now at last recovered…He saw not only Them; he saw Him. This animal, this thing begotten in a bed, could look on Him. What is blinding, suffocating fire to you is now cool light to him, is clarity itself, and wears the form of a man.” (C.S. Lewis, “The Screwtape Letters”)
Peter writes about Jesus in 1 Peter 1:17-21:
“And if you call on the Father, who without partiality judges according to each one’s work, conduct yourselves throughout the time of your stay here in fear; knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot. He indeed was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you who through Him believe in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.”
While John the Baptist preached and prepared the way for the coming Christ, it is very possible that as He saw Jesus, he thought back to passages such as Isaiah 55 (looking at verses 3-11):
“He is despised and rejected by men, A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him; He was despised, and we did not esteem Him. Surely He has borne ourgriefs and carried our sorrows; Yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way; and the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed and He was afflicted, Yet He opened not His mouth; He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, And as a sheep before its shearers is silent, So He opened not His mouth. He was taken from prison and from judgment, and who will declare His generation? For He was cut off from the land of the living; For the transgressions of My people He was stricken. And they made His grave with the wicked– But with the rich at His death, because He had done no violence, nor was any deceit in His mouth. Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise Him; He has put Him to grief. When You make His soul an offering for sin, He shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in His hand. He shall see the labor of His soul, and be satisfied. By His knowledge My righteous Servant shall justify many, for He shall bear their iniquities.”
If you had learned the Scriptures like John the Baptist would have, seeing Jesus and knowing that the time had come for the Savior to take the stage would be astounding because the central figure of history, the God-Man Jesus Christ, was identified and right in front of you. The only thing we today can speak of hope relative to John’s here would be either dying and being ushered into Heaven or seeing the return of Christ in our own time. “Behold the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world!” Don’t read that verse with some vision of John the Baptist stating such coldly; it was more of a “eureka!” moment.
John’s excitement at the recognition of the Lamb of God being Jesus Christ is an excitement I hope you and I both experience some day in seeing Christ physically for the first time and forever to follow. Seeing Him, hearing Him, experiencing life with Him with no sin and complete joy–that’s the substance of hope, and it is coming.
Father, thank you for the truths of your word. Thank you for the revealing work of the Holy Spirit in opening the eyes of our hearts to see Him as the Savior. Thank you for opening our ears to hear His words and to answer the call to follow Him. Be with our friends in Christ today and strengthen them in their walk. Encourage the faint-hearted and give strength to the weak. Give wisdom to tired minds and clarity within uncertainty. Comfort those who have lost, and if it be your will, draw them unto you. In Christ’s name I pray, Amen.
Let’s end with a worship song that may be new to you but so rich with truths from God’s Word.