Summary: Going beyond the superficial in knowing God through Jesus Christ
John 1:29-36, 40-51
Most of us carry with us some form of identification that is “proof” of who we are. In many cases this ID is a driver’s license that has our picture and our name along with some physical descriptions and a unique number that references a data base on a computer. This “official” ID doesn’t really tell us a lot about the person other than his or her name and some sketchy physical attributes. In a less “official” sense we have numerous ways in which we are identified by others and, in many cases, these names and titles give some insight into who we are as individuals and such things as our interest, our character, our ability, and even our position in the culture or society in which we live. Sometimes these titles or identifiers are related to our jobs, our interests or hobbies, and positions of responsibility we might have. We use these descriptors to try to make sense of all the various aspects of what we know (or think we know) about a person. If I tell you that a particular person is a salesman who is a husband, a father, a grandfather, a Christian, a deacon, and a gardener, we form a preconceived idea about this person based on stereotypes. The labels we put on people can communicate a lot about them.
As we examine John’s Gospel we will find many names and descriptors applied to Jesus. Elmer Towns (Dean of the School of Religion at Liberty Baptist University) has written a book that identifies more than 700 names of Jesus found throughout the Scriptures. We find a few of these names or titles in the early part of John’s Gospel. Each one of these can give us some insight into the nature and character of Jesus. For example, in the prologue (first 18 verses) of John’s account we see Jesus identified as the Word which was related to His being the Agent of Creation or the Creator. We also saw that He is the Light of men and the Source of Life and these titles and descriptors tell us a lot of Who He is and opens up our understanding of God. In the latter part of this first chapter, additional titles were used by John the Baptist and some of the early disciples that give us additional insight as to what these various descriptor mean to us. These names or titles are the Lamb of God, the Messiah, the Son of God, the One who baptizes in the Holy Spirit, Rabbi, the King of Israel, and the Son of Man. What are some of the truths communicated in such identifiers?
I Can Be Forgiven – 1:29-36
29 The next day he saw Jesus coming to him and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! 30 “This is He on behalf of whom I said, ‘After me comes a Man who has a higher rank than I, for He existed before me.’ 31 “I did not recognize Him, but so that He might be manifested to Israel, I came baptizing in water.” 32 John testified saying, “I have seen the Spirit descending as a dove out of heaven, and He remained upon Him. 33 “I did not recognize Him, but He who sent me to baptize in water said to me, ‘He upon whom you see the Spirit descending and remaining upon Him, this is the One who baptizes in the Holy Spirit.’ 34 “I myself have seen, and have testified that this is the Son of God.” 35 Again the next day John was standing with two of his disciples, 36 and he looked at Jesus as He walked, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God!” John 1:29-36 (NASB95)
John was led to know that the time for the earthly ministry of Jesus was to begin. John had seen Jesus before. They were cousins and about the same age. Now, at this particular time, John made an announcement that Jesus is the Lamb of God. Apparently, this particular situation occurred after Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness which happened immediately after Jesus had been baptized of John. During that baptism John saw the Spirit of God descending and resting upon Jesus. This was the “sign” that God had told John to watch for. The person to whom this happened would be the promised Messiah of Israel.
John the Baptist said “I did not recognize Him.” The interpretation of this is that though John and Jesus grew up together and their mothers knew each other, John did not know who Jesus really was. He knew Him as the carpenter’s son and as his cousin; however, now He knew him as the fulfillment of many significant Old Testament promises as the Lamb of God. John saw in Jesus the purpose of his own calling in life. He was to point people to Jesus as the solution to the most significant need of all humanity and that is how to be forgiven and restored to a right relationship to God.