JOHN (1:29-34) 35-42
29The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him and declared, "Here is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! 30This is he of whom I said, 'After me comes a man who ranks ahead of me because he was before me.' 31I myself did not know him; but I came baptizing with water for this reason, that he might be revealed to Israel." 32And John testified, "I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him. 33I myself did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water said to me, 'He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain is the one who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.' 34And I myself have seen and have testified that this is the Son of God."
35The next day John again was standing with two of his disciples, 36and as he watched Jesus walk by, he exclaimed, "Look, here is the Lamb of God!" 37The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus.38When Jesus turned and saw them following, he said to them, "What are you looking for?" They said to him, "Rabbi" (which translated means Teacher), "where are you staying?" 39He said to them, "Come and see." They came and saw where he was staying, and they remained with him that day. It was about four o'clock in the afternoon. 40One of the two who heard John speak and followed him was Andrew, Simon Peter's brother. 41He first found his brother Simon and said to him, "We have found the Messiah" (which is translated Anointed).42He brought Simon to Jesus, who looked at him and said, "You are Simon son of John. You are to be called Cephas" (which is translated Peter).
The only place in the Gospel accounts where Jesus is called "the Lamb of God" occurs here, from the mouth of John the Baptist, in John 1:29 and 1:36. In verse 29, this Lamb of God is the one who "takes away the sin of the world."
Scholars have wondered what John might have had in mind when he called Jesus 'the Lamb of God'. Was this lamb the lamb that is offered at Passover or the lamb of Isaiah 53:7, Jeremiah 11:19, and Genesis 22:8?
Isaiah 53:7 -- He was oppressed and afflicted,
yet he did not open his mouth;
he was led like a lamb to the slaughter,
and as a sheep before its shearers is silent,
so he did not open his mouth.
Jeremiah 11:19 -- I had been like a gentle lamb led to the slaughter.
Genesis 22:8 -- Abraham answered, “God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.” And the two of them went on together.
Or, might John the Baptist had in mind something like the vision that John the Apostle had in Revelation 5:6 -- Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing at the center of the throne, encircled by the four living creatures and the elders. The Lamb had seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth.
It is impossible to know precisely what was in John the Baptist mind when he called Jesus "the Lamb of God." Most likely he had in mind the image of the sacrificial lamb used in the temple. And passages such as the ones in Isaiah and Jeremiah above would have been familiar to John the Baptist.
The intriguing association is found in Revelation 5:6. Here the Lamb is pictured as the sacrifice ["slain"] in line with the familiar OT image. However, at the same time this Lamb is also depicted as the mighty conqueror, surrounded by the four living creatures and the elders. This Lamb has seven horns and seven eyes. (The horn is a Jewish symbol for strength and power; and the eyes, we are told, are the seven spirits of God sent out into the earth.)
From a larger perspective then, the way the Lamb of God "takes away the sin of the world" is twofold: (1) through the sacrificial offering on the Cross and (2) the subsequent and ultimate conquest of all the evil in creation. The power of sin (and evil) are defeated by the conquering Lamb of God! This lamb is beyond gentle and sweet.
Let's pray: O Jesus, we honor you as the Lamb that was led to the slaughter for our sins and we honor you as the Lamb that conquered sin and evil with your mighty power. We look to you for the forgiveness of sins and for the victory over sins in your power and grace. We thank you that in you we find every help we need and then some. May your Cross and Resurrection cover us today. In your name. amen.