05.03.02 Jn. 1:29-34
JOHN INTRODUCED JESUS
29 The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Here is the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! 30 This is the One I told you about: ‘After me comes a man who has surpassed me, because He existed before me.’ 31 I didn’t know Him, but I came baptizing with water so He might be revealed to Israel.”
32 And John testified, “I watched the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and He rested on Him. 33 I didn’t know Him, but He who sent me to baptize with water told me, ‘The One you see the Spirit descending and resting on — He is the One who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ 34 I have seen and testified that He is the Son of God!”
There were two aspects to the message of John.
- The arrival of the prophetic Kingdom of God (Mt. 3:2).
- The salvation of humanity, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world (Jn. 1:29).
These two themes encompassed the entire ministry of the Baptist.
“The lamb of God.” From the time of the Exodus, God had instructed the Hebrew children to sacrifice a lamb to God at Passover (Isa. 53:7; Jer. 11:19) to commemorate their deliverance from Egyptian bondage (Ex.12:3-6). After the resurrection, that lamb was symbolic of Jesus who was crucified on Passover to remove the sins of the world. The Baptist made a three-point declaration that Jesus was
- The Lamb of God of Isaiah 53
- The One who was to baptize with the Holy Spirit, and
- Is the Son of God. The lamb has become a symbol of Christ in Christian art and in
Communion services throughout church history.
Ironically, there was no mention that Jesus, as the Lamb of God, would be sacrificed on the cross as a sin offering for the people of the world (cf. 1 Cor. 5:7; 1 Pet. 1:19). The ancient prophets did mentioned the sacrifice of Jesus (although not by name), but neither the disciples nor Jews of His day contemplated His death.
“After me comes a man who has surpassed me, because He existed before me.” Another translation of this paradoxical phrase is, “after me comes a man who is before me.” John recognized that he was six months older than Jesus, but Jesus pre-existed throughout all eternity past.
“I didn’t know him.” John most certainly would have known Jesus personally; they were cousins. But John also admitted that he did not completely comprehend the majesty of his kinsman who was born of a virgin.
05.03.02.Q1 Was the baptism by John (Jn. 1:26, 33) similar to the baptism ritual that the Jews performed when a proselyte joined them?
The public ritual to “baptize with water”and repent from sin is the major similarity of the two baptisms. The Jews required a Gentile convert to renounce all evil, to be completely immersed in water, accept circumcision (for men) and to wear new clothing that identified him as a member of the Jewish community. John required complete repentance and immersion, but not a change of clothing, as his ministry was only to the Jews.
05.03.02.Q2 How does John 1:29 reconcile with Luke 7:19?
John 1:29 is in reference to a completely different context than is Luke 7:19. The John 1:29 passage was written when Jesus began His ministry and Luke 7:19 has reference to a later time when John the Baptizer was in prison. In the latter situation, John remembered that the messiah would set the captives free, so he naturally questioned why he was sitting in the prison dungeon of the Machaerus Fortress. Under this stressful situation, he also questioned his ministry and the work he had been doing on behalf of his Cousin.
Furthermore, John had his own opinions of what the messiah would be like. He spoke repeatedly and forcefully of the One coming after him as the One who would bring fire and judgment. But Jesus was not a “fire, hell, and brimstone preacher” calling for repentance. Rather, Jesus was mild mannered who taught thousands and performed many, many miracles. So it did not take very long for John to have some additional doubts and he asked the question recorded by Luke, especially when he (John) was sitting in prison. That is why the Baptizer sent a disciple to Jesus to ask this important question, “Are you the one who was to come, or should we expect someone else?” But what John did not know was that he was correct about his apocalyptic message – because when Jesus returns He will come as the divine judge precisely as he (John) preached.
. Tenney, “John.” 9:36.