Behold the Lamb of God!

John 1:28-31.

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

 Jhn 1:29¶The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.

 Jhn 1:30This is He of Whom I said, After me cometh a Man which is preferred before me: for He was before Me.

 Jhn 1:31And I knew Him not: but that He should be made manifest to Israel, therefore am I come baptizing with water.

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John had been baptizing in the Jordan near Bethabara (Bethany) “beyond” (on the other side of) the Jordan River. I would love to see that spot and visualize the drama of the moment when John baptized Jesus Christ!

On the day following John’s interview with the priests and Levites, he looked up and saw Jesus! That in itself is an earth-shaking, profound moment!

His response was immediate and dynamic: “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world!”

John clearly understood Who Jesus was, what He had come to do, and what his own job was in preparing the way for Jesus. There was a great humility in him, as well as a great boldness.

He goes on to repeat what he had told the priests and Levites: “Jesus will come after me, but He was (existed) before me. I didn’t know Him, but I knew Who He would be! He is the salvation of Israel. That’s why I am preparing the way for Him, by water baptism, which symbolizes the desire of those who are willing to hear the Word of God.”

Unworthy

John 1:26-27

John answered them, saying, I baptize with water: but there standeth one among you, whom ye know not;

 He it is, who coming after me is preferred before me, Whose shoe’s latchet I am not worthy to unloose.

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John’s response, “I baptize with water,” left me wondering why that was the only answer he gave to the men who questioned his authority to baptize. So, of course, I did a little research. I am always humbled at what I do NOT know about the scriptures, after over 65 years of teaching, studying, reading.

It was required of Gentiles, if they chose to convert to Judaism, that they undergo complete immersion as a sign of total cleansing and change. After the baptism, they were to put on spotless clothing, again a sign of their desire to stay clean, ceremonially and spiritually.

Therefore, what John was saying was that the Jews needed to humble themselves in preparation for the coming of Messiah. Complete immersion would put them in the same position as the Gentiles, effectively erasing the line between them.

John’s baptism in water was like saying, “Come on, get ready! The King will be here, and we need to be clean and fresh, ready to receive Him! Put on your best clothes to honor the King!”

(This is just a “by the way,” not intended to be criticism or preaching, but simply an explanation. Some have asked me why I always dress up for church. Simply put, it is to honor the King. If I were invited to the White House or the residence of any other ruler, I would take a bath, wash my hair, put on my nicest clothes and present myself to honor that ruler. It is done out of respect. Going to church should be an important occasion, in which we honor and worship the King of Kings. That’s why I dress up. God does, after all, see the outward appearance as well as the heart. My dressing up is not to dishonor people, but to honor the Lord.)

In the next verse, John clarifies that he himself is not the focus of his preaching and baptism. It is the One Who comes from God; the One Who always was, and always will be. John says he is not worthy to loosen the strap on Jesus’ sandals. Doing so, in preparation for washing dusty, dirty feet, was the job of the lowest slave or servant in the household.

I can imagine that the priests and Levites who questioned John were scratching their heads and giving each other sideways looks when John said that the One he served was already among them, and they just didn’t know it. They must have wondered how a king could be in their midst, and not be recognized.

By What Authority?

John 1:24-25.

And they which were sent were of the Pharisees.

 And they asked him, and said unto him, Why baptizest thou then, if thou be not that Christ, nor Elias, neither that prophet?

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Verse 24 clarifies that it was the Pharisees who had sent the priests and Levites to question John. It was a never a good thing for anyone to be investigated by the Pharisees, who always, always believed and proclaimed that they and they alone had authority to bless or to curse the ministry of any upstart preachers.

Verse 25 reveals their real question: “If you are not Christ, nor Elijah, nor that prophet that shall come, then how do you have authority to baptize anyone?”

The Pharisees were educated men. They studied the scriptures. They knew the Torah. They knew tradition right down to the dotted i’s and crossed t’s.

What they didn’t know, though, was the most important prophecy of all: The coming of the Lord, Jesus Christ. They wanted a strong king who would deliver them from the Romans, and so they closed their eyes and hearts to the idea of anyone of such lowly brith could be possibly be the One Who would save them from Rome.

In memorizing tradition, they missed the biggest blessing of all. What’s worse, they took great pride in not being fooled.

Who art Thou?

John 1:19-23.

And this is the record of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, Who art thou?

And he confessed, and denied not; but confessed, I am not the Christ.

 And they asked him, What then? Art thou Elias? And he saith, I am not. Art thou that prophet? And he answered, No.

 Then said they unto him, Who art thou? that we may give an answer to them that sent us. What sayest thou of thyself?

He said, I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Make straight the way of the Lord, as said the prophet Esaias.

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Today’s passage is a simple, clear record of the first attempt of the Jewish religious leaders of the day to find out who John the Baptist claimed to be. They were sent by the Pharisees in Jerusalem. Their questions were direct:

“Who are you? Whom do you claim to be? Are you the Messiah?”

“No. I am not He.”

“Are you Elias (Elijah)?”

“No.”

“Then who are you? Our bosses want to know!”

“I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, “Make straight the way of the Lord, as said the prophet Esaias (Isaiah 40:3).”

John humbly stated his position: He was the forerunner of Christ. His job was to make the pathway clear and without anything to block the coming of Jesus Christ. Part of that process involved baptizing people who responded to his message, not for salvation, but as a symbol of cleansing and being ready for the coming of Messiah.

John purposefully and repeatedly deflected any suggestion that he, himself, was Christ, or Elijah, or the prophet who would come before Christ (Deut. 18:15-19). He knew and understood his job. He wanted no credit given to him, because he considered it to be a great privilege to do the work he had been given.

Father and Son

John 1:18. No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, He hath declared Him.

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Jesus, the Word, is the declaration of His Father, the Unseen God. He has declared the nature of God in His teachings, and throughout scripture.

In Greek, the word for God is Theon. There is no article, such as “the God.” The lack of an article indicates that John is presenting God in His nature of being rather than as a person. ‘Deity’ might be a more accurate translation. The meaning is that no human being has ever seen the essence of Deity.

This explanation is helpful to me. It is almost impossible for me to wrap my mind around His pre-existence, Self-existence, endless existence; the Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End. In my finite mind, I need tangibles. If I think too long about the fact of His ALWAYS existing, having no beginning and no ending. I get a little dizzy 🙂 This is a good place for Hebrews 11:1. “Now, faith is the substance of things hoped for; the evidence of things unseen.” We certainly have limitless evidence of the existence of God all around us every day.

The testimony of Jesus Christ is the most reliable witness we have of the existence of God. The Son has made known the Father. The Son and the Father are one: In John 10:30, Jesus made that simple and profound statement. “I and My Father are One.”

Grace for Grace

John 1:16-17

And of His fulness have all we received, and grace for grace.

 For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.

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When The Word, the only Begotten of the Father, came down to dwell among men, He brought an inexhaustible supply of grace. “Grace upon grace.”

Picture yourself at the shore. You are comfortable on the warm sand, and you’re entranced by the rhythm and endless beauty of the swelling breakers that roll in, one after the other, crashing down on the sand just as another wave follows, and another and another. That’s “grace upon grace.” It never stops, day or night.

grace upon grace like the sea waves roll. . . . .

Some years ago, I sang in a trio with two other women. We sang a song whose chorus contained the words “grace upon grace like the sea waves roll.” I can’t remember any of the rest of it. Maybe one of my friends will 🙂

Do you see how limitless, deep, full, and endless the grace of God is toward us? Amazing grace, how sweet the sound!

The Old Testament brought the Law of Moses, given to him by God on Mount Sinai. The Law, we are told in Galatians 3:24, was our schoolmaster, bringing us to salvation by grace through faith in Christ. The Law made us aware of our sin. God’s grace not only covers our sin, but cleanses it away through the blood of Jesus.

My head is full of music this morning. Here’s another song that emphasizes our verses for today:

Grace and truth came through Jesus, offered freely and without condition to all who will believe and receive.

Full of Grace and Truth

John 1:14-15.

And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only Begotten of the Father) full of grace and truth.

 John bare witness of Him, and cried, saying, This was He of Whom I spake, He that cometh after me is preferred before me: for He was before me.

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The Word (logos) became (was made) flesh: What an astonishing claim John made here! He was telling the people that God, The Word, was dwelling among them right then; that He had come in the flesh and presently walked among men. Perhaps many of them had already seen Him, not realizing Who He was.

I’m sure their reaction was, “Where? Where is this Only Begotten One of God? Where can we find Him? How can we know Him?”

There were surely skeptics among them, just as there would be today.

John goes on to say that there was a glory about this Man; He stood out from others because He was the Only Begotten of God.

He was full of grace and truth.

Not one other human being who has ever lived can be said to be FULL, completely filled to overflowing, with these two characteristics of God. Grace and truth are often apparent to a degree in true believers, but to be full of both grace and truth is to never be lacking in either of those qualities, at any time. Not even under trial. Not even under severe physical torture. Not even when being mocked, scorned, and ridiculed. He was full of grace and truth every single moment of His life, with no exceptions.

John was the forerunner of Jesus; he was the one who told the people, “He’s coming! I’ve seen Him! He is full of grace and truth! He is coming behind me, but He is, was, and always will be! He is so far above me that there is no measure! He is the Word, logos, the only Begotten of the Father! He’s coming! He’s coming!”

How do you think you would have responded, if you had heard John’s message yourself? I will tell you that if you are a skeptic now, you would have been a skeptic then. You would have demanded proof, needed to see, hear, and perhaps touch this One Who claimed to be the Son of God.