Summary: Explains the reason for the angel's announcement to the shepherds. Who were these shepherds.
The Shepherds and the birth of Jesus.
When John the Baptist saw Jesus coming to him while he was baptising, he exclaimed, “Behold the Lamb of God, which takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29, KJV).
Before we look at the famous statement by John the Baptist upon seeing Jesus, it is helpful to first review the problem of sin, which relates to the statement of John and gives us a better understanding of the context.
The Bible teaches us that mankind has a sin problem. Sin is violation of God’s Word, a rebellion against God. Sin came into the world through Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, as presented in the early chapters of Genesis. God had His plan of redemption, first through the animal sacrifice and finally through Jesus, which He had established from the very foundations of the world (Romans 5:12–21; 1 Peter 1:18–20; Revelation 13:8; John 1:29).
The need for a substitutionary sacrifice and shedding of innocent blood to atone for sin is well established in Scripture, beginning in Genesis 3:21, where God made use of animal skins to cover the nakedness and shame of Adam and Eve following their disobedience. A blood sacrifice is required by God, as presented in Leviticus:
“For the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul” (Leviticus 17:11).
God’s plan of redemption is further seen in the account of Abraham’s willingness to offer his son, Isaac, on an altar at God’s command (Genesis 22). Abraham’s hand was stayed, and God provided a substitute sacrifice, just as He would provide in His Son, Jesus.
This background of the problem of sin and God’s remedy through the sacrifice of His one and only son, Jesus.
Now coming to John 1:29, John sees Jesus coming and he draws the attention of those around him to Christ. He says, behold, or look, the Lamb of God. What does this mean? This is something that would have been very familiar to the Jewish people, the idea of a sacrificial lamb.
They knew all about Abraham and Isaac and about the lamb that Abraham was sure God would provide for the sacrifice. There was also the Passover that was sacrificed and it’s blood would be shed and sprinkled on the door posts. The sacrifice of a lamb was also familiar to them because twice every day, morning and evening in the temple, for the burnt offering for sin, the lamb was slain. Jewish people also knew about Isaiah’s prophesy in Isaiah 53:7 of a lamb that would be led to slaughter.
7 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted,
yet he opened not his mouth;
like a lamb that is led to the slaughter,
and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent,
so he opened not his mouth.
Throughout Israel’s history, God, over and over again made it clear that sin and separation from Him could be removed only by blood sacrifices and that the lamb used for sacrifice had to be spotless, it had to be perfect. Listen to this passage from Leviticus 4:32-35 that describes this.
32 “If he brings a lamb as his offering for a sin offering, he shall bring a female without blemish 33 and lay his hand on the head of the sin offering and kill it for a sin offering in the place where they kill the burnt offering. 34 Then the priest shall take some of the blood of the sin offering with his finger and put it on the horns of the altar of burnt offering and pour out all the rest of its blood at the base of the altar. 35 And all its fat he shall remove as the fat of the lamb is removed from the sacrifice of peace offerings, and the priest shall burn it on the altar, on top of the Lord’s food offerings. And the priest shall make atonement for him for the sin which he has committed, and he shall be forgiven.
So here’s John’s testimony, behold, look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! And note this that he didn’t says “sins” he said “sin Jesus Christ is the spotless lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. And when John says sin of the world, he’s pointing to the fact that forgiveness of sins isn’t only for the Jews. This isn’t for the Jewish race only, it’s for all human beings in general, but note that it’s not for all human beings without exception.
How is that true? It’s true because your sins are forgiven only if you believe in Jesus Christ.