In our last post from the gospel of John we saw how John the Baptist was grilled with questions. And he answered all their questions, all the questions asked by this group of inquisitors sent from the Pharisees.
One Last Question
So now they ask him one final question: “Okay, if you’re not the Messiah, and you’re not that prophet, and you’re not Elijah, then why do you baptize?” (In those days baptism was for gentiles newly converted to Judaism, but John was baptizing Jews. This was unorthodox and confusing to the religious leadership.)
John the Baptist says, “I baptize with water, but right now in the crowd stands someone you don’t know whose sandal I’m not worthy to untie.”
He doesn’t really answer their last question. They’re wondering about why John’s baptizing Jews, but John turns the conversation to Jesus, who was standing right there with them in the surrounding crowd.
A Weird Moment In The Space-Time Continuum
What a weird moment in the space-time continuum that must have been. Here is the Messiah, and more than the Messiah, the Son of God Himself, the One through whom all things were created, standing right there with them in the crowd, yet remaining unidentified except to John the Baptist. And it’s a crowd of people, most of whom knew the prophecies. They knew about Abraham offering his son Isaac.
They knew about Isaac’s confusion when he asked, “But dad, we have the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for the sacrifice?” And they knew about Abraham’s prophetic answer, “God will provide for Himself the lamb for the sacrifice.”
And they knew about the lambs slain so the Israelites could escape death and be freed from slavery just before they fled Egypt.
They knew about the prophecy in Isaiah (John already pointed them to Isaiah earlier). They knew about Isaiah’s words that God’s lamb would be crushed for our iniquities and that God’s chastening would fall upon him, and that by his scourging we are all healed, and that all of us like sheep have gone astray, and each of us has turned to our own way but God caused the sin of us all to fall on Him.
They knew of the prophecies in Psalm 22 which Jesus would later quote from, when he was on the cross.
They knew all these things. But they didn’t recognize their Messiah, the very Son of God, when he was standing right there with them in the crowd.
There’s something curious about that moment, something mysterious.
There they all were, standing on Holy ground, yet completely oblivious.
How They Both Talked About Shoes
But that’s how it is for us too. Last post I shared a quote from Elizabeth Barrett Browning. She once wrote: “Earth’s crammed with Heaven, and every common bush afire with God, but only he who sees takes off his shoes.” John was one who saw, and like Browning, he talked about shoes too. He talked about how he, John, wasn’t worthy to untie Jesus’ shoes.
This is the entire purpose of this blog: to help you to see Jesus the way John saw Jesus. The next day, John, who saw Jesus for who he was, and is, reveals him. The next day John the Baptist sees Jesus coming toward him and says, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! He’s the one I was talking about when I said he came after me, but he ranks before me, because he existed before me.”
The Lambs Of The Bible And Their Stream Of Blood
“The Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!”
The Bible is full of lambs and every one is a picture of Jesus.
- Abel sacrificed a lamb for one person, for himself, and God was pleased with Abel’s sacrifice.
- A lamb was sacrificed by each family, so they could live when the angel of death passed over them in Egypt.
- In 2 Chronicles lambs were sacrificed on behalf of the nation of Israel.
- Finally John identifies Jesus as “The Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.”
A lamb for an individual, then a family, then a nation, and then comes Jesus, for the whole world.
The lambs of the Bible bleed a stream of blood that leads to Jesus.
How I Need Him (And How You Do Too)
And how we need him, and his shed blood. My heart breaks for the hurt I cause when I live life without him. I’m argumentative, and harsh, and critical. And that’s just what I do on the outside. What’s in my heart is sometimes worse. But when I’m filled with him I’m more like him. I pray for God to fill me with the Spirit of Jesus every moment. Because without him I’m lost.
And so are you. So are we all. We all like sheep go astray. We all have that part of us deep down that says: “I will do what I want to do, I’ll decide my own way.” We all have that in us. We all resist him. All of us. The whole world. You, and I, and the whole world are lost without the Lamb of God–who takes away the sin of the whole world.
Give yourself to him, completely, and utterly. Give yourself to him entirely.
Pray that God will bring you to the place where you surrender yourself to him, wholly, and completely.
Give yourself to him.
If you want to give yourself to Jesus go here. And please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
(Now they had been sent from the Pharisees.) They asked him, “Then why are you baptizing, if you are neither the Christ, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet?” John answered them, “I baptize with water, but among you stands one you do not know, even he who comes after me, the strap of whose sandal I am not worthy to untie.” These things took place in Bethany across the Jordan, where John was baptizing.
The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! This is he of whom I said, ‘After me comes a man who ranks before me, because he was before me.’ I myself did not know him, but for this purpose I came baptizing with water, that he might be revealed to Israel.”
[Image via Tigerweet – Creative Commons]