From John 1-2
John the baptist was prophesied to come before the promised one. He has been sent by God to baptize people with water and point them to the coming of another who will have the Spirit descend on him. This promised one will baptize others with the Holy Spirit. John names who this person is. He is the lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. He is the Son of God. He is Jesus.
This post is part of my bible in a year series.
Passage and Comments
Our passage begins with John the baptist and the expectations of the people regarding the coming of one predicted in scripture.
19 And 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 So they said to him, “Who are you? We need to give an answer to those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?”
23 He said, “I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way of the Lord,’ as the prophet Isaiah said.” (Jn 1.19-23)
The original greek does not contain punctuation. This passage is one example where we see the translators of the greek into english have decided for us which sections of text represent different speakers. Verse 21 is a good example.
The ‘Jews’ send out priests and Levite’s from Jerusalem. Most people in the gospel are Jews. John the Baptist and Jesus included. However John uses the term to signify a select group of religious authorities.
They seem to be anticipating the coming of someone. The coming of significant people is predicted in the scriptures. The usual suspects are the Christ, Elijah or some sort of prophet. John is not any of these. He has another role.
John ‘confesses’ he is not the Christ. He ‘confesses’, he doesn’t ‘deny’. The expressions signify something more than a simple ‘yes I am’ confession and ‘no I’m not’ denial. Confession is associated with believing something the be true. Giving one’s allegiance to a person.
Do you ‘confess’ Jesus is Lord? Will you bow down on one knee before him?
Denial is similar, but in reverse. The word crops up many times in the gospel. Its associated with rejecting who Jesus is and the significance he has over one’s life.
Each of the synoptic gospels, Mt 3, Mk 1 and Lk 3 contain the same Isaiah reference we see in v23. The verse is used to signify John the Baptists role to prepare people for the coming of the Christ.
John the Baptist did not deny he was the Christ, because he confesses Jesus the one following him is.
24 (Now they had been sent from the Pharisees.) 25 They asked him, “Then why are you baptizing, if you are neither the Christ, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet?” 26 John answered them, “I baptize with water, but among you stands one you do not know, 27 even he who comes after me, the strap of whose sandal I am not worthy to untie.” 28 These things took place in Bethany across the Jordan, where John was baptizing. (Jn 1.24-28)
Baptizing others seems to be linked to what people thought the Christ, Elijah or prophets would do when they came.
John doesn’t really answer why he baptized people, only that he baptized with water. The way he says this implies there will be a another kind of baptism, something far greater.
John points to the one to come. He stands among them, but they don’t know him. He is so great, even John is not worthy to serve him and take his sandals off.
Are you worthy to take the Kings shoes off?
29 The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! (Jn 1.29)
When John sees Jesus he recognizes who he is and understands what his core mission is straight away.
Jesus Christ is the lamb of God. The passover lamb and sin offering of God.
This is His prime mission and purpose. The reason he was sent was to deal with sin. Not only our sin, but the sin of the whole world.
Jesus, the lamb of God takes away the sin of the world. If someone takes something away from you, it is no longer in your possession. Jesus takes away the sin of the world. When he finishes taking away sin from the world, there will be none left. No sin left in the world.
This amazing statement says more than God simply forgives our sins. That is wonderful in itself and completely necessary.
If you need forgiveness, ask Jesus. He will forgive you.
The statement however promises something bigger than forgiveness. Forgiveness is associated with debt and punishment. Capacity to sin and sin still remain. God’s plan is bigger than canceling the debt. Its about removing the cause.
The lamb of God takes away the sin of the world. There will be no sin left in the world when he is done. Jesus core mission is to remove sin from this world leaving it pure, righteous and complete.
30 This is he of whom I said, ‘After me comes a man who ranks before me, because he was before me.’ (Jn 1.30)
The same statement comparing John the baptist and Jesus is made in Jn 1.15. John the baptist was actually born before Jesus (Lk 1.57f). So what does he mean?
John upfront recognises that Jesus existed before John. He is the word of God, he was with God, he was God, in the beginning, he was with God (Jn 1.1-2).
The Hebrews gave more authority to their seniors. Who ranks before you?
People who were first ranked higher than those who followed them. Thus you can see Abraham ranked highest amongst the Jews. But Jesus ranks before Abraham (Jn 8.58) and before John the baptist (Jn 1.15,30). He ranks highest of all, because he is the word of God.
31 I myself did not know him, but for this purpose I came baptizing with water, that he might be revealed to Israel.” 32 And John bore witness: “I saw the Spirit descend from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him. (Jn 1.31-32)
John says ‘I myself did not know him’. The expression says there was a time when he did not know Jesus. He needed some means of recognizing who he was, his role and the significance he has over John himself and the world.
Do you know Jesus?
John finally reveals the reason why he baptized (cf. Jn 1.25). He does it to reveal the one who comes after him. John drew attention to himself so he could direct it to Jesus when he came. The reason he knew Jesus was the one was because he saw the Spirit descend and remain on him. He explains this further.
33 I myself did not know him, but he who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain, this is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ (Jn 1.33)
John repeats the expression ‘I myself did not know him’. Giving it more emphasis to his audience. This changed when the realization struck.
He refers to one ‘who sent him to baptize with water’. God sent him with this ministry. John was called by God to baptize people with water. When he was called God sent him with the advance notice, that after him would come another who would have the Spirit descend on him and would afterward baptize with the Holy Spirit.
So he has been anticipating the coming of this person ever since. Now he knows who God was speaking about.
34 And I have seen and have borne witness that this is the Son of God.” (Jn 1.34)
Jesus is the one God was speaking about. He is the Son and of God. The lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world.
Its significant that John the baptist is the one predicted by the scriptures to come before the promised Christ. When John sees Jesus and the Spirit descend on him, he recognizes him as the lamb of God.
As the lamb of God, it is Jesus primary mission to deal with sin. This should come as great comfort to us who need our sins forgiven and taken away. Jesus does just that.
Confessing Jesus to be the Christ, the Son of God is not an end in itself. People who confess Jesus as their Lord have their sins dealt with. The passage ends with John bearing witness to who Jesus is.
Who do you say Jesus is?
Copyright © Joshua Washington and thescripturesays, 2015. All Rights Reserved.