“The next day he saw Jesus coming to him, and said, ‘Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.'” (John 1:29)
John the Baptist’s description of Jesus to his disciples and the crowd at the Jordan River that day is amazingly rich: “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” “The Lamb of God”: that one little phrase conveyed so much.
Calling Him “the Lamb” tied Jesus to the whole Old Testament sacrificial system. It indicated that everything there all pointed to Him, describing what He would do for His people in the atonement. HE was the sacrificial Lamb of Leviticus; HE was “the lamb led to slaughter”, the suffering substitute of Isaiah 53. HE was the promised Messiah of the Old Testament. What other phrase could have conveyed so much, so succinctly? Even had John said “Behold the Messiah” it would not have been as effective as this, for the people of his day had so many WRONG preconceptions about the Messiah — and they did not necessarily grasp the most important, atoning concepts either. This was just an amazing, and obviously inspired, appellation that John gave Him: “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.
— The phrase “who takes away the sin”: pointed to Jesus’ primary work, of atonement, dealing with our sins.
— And the phrase “of the world” indicates the SCOPE of His work. It was not merely for Israel, nor for any smaller group, but for the whole WORLD. As John would write later in I John 2:2, “He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for our sins only, but also for those of the whole world.”
We can marvel, and appreciate the rich description that John the Baptist gave of Jesus; but we should also do more than that — we should imitate his ministry, by pointing people to Jesus like he did: “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world”!