(Over the course of the next several days (albeit sporadically) I will post a series of short homilies based upon John’s declaration concerning the Christ in John 1:29. I trust that these will be an encouragement to you. What follows is merely an introduction.)
The sun rose that morning to find the Judean hill country abuzz with activity. Hundreds left their hovels and their huts to see the spectacle that had taken the world by storm. The air was thick with anticipation. Every eye was opened wide and every ear was straining to hear. It had been said that a voice had been heard…crying in the wilderness.
It was a casteless and classless multitude that formed the crowd that day. Everyone was curious. The Pharisees were there. They had to examine the scene, of course. There was a contingent of Levitical leaders there too. Probably counting noses and taking names. There were merchants and magistrates, craftsmen and carpenters, and schoolboys and shepherds. There were representatives from every layer of social strata present hoping to see the strange sight.
And then they saw him…
The man looked like a moving mountain as he marched toward the huddled crowds. Looking directly at him, bathed in those morning rays, he seemed to glow as though he were on fire. If I didn’t know better I might think that he was Elijah descending from his flaming chariot. Those clothes, that rugged demeanor, the wild honey glistening in his beard—it could just be Elijah.
With the sun at his back, his long shadow hovered over every man and boy that was present. All eyes were on him…
But he had not come to be seen. He had come to be heard. As he stood before the gathered throng, he turned the wilderness into his parish and the rocks into his pulpit. He opened his mouth and began to preach. His preaching was like a fierce storm in the ears of the people. There was fire in his eyes, lighting in his words and thunder in his voice. And it shook the people to their very core.
He cried aloud and did not spare. He showed the people their sins. He laid their hypocritical hearts bare before the world. There may have been honey in his beard but there was none in his words.
“Your sins have come up before the Lord. What will you do? What can you do? Your scheming and your striving will not save you. You need mercy. You need a deliverer. You need a sacrifice!”
And then he saw Him…
Yonder in the distance there was a man walking. But there was something different about this man. He seemed to be borne along by the winds of heaven. John may well have thought to himself the words of Solomon’s great song, “Who is this coming out of the wilderness like pillars of smoke, perfumed with myrrh and frankincense, with all the fragrant spices of the merchant?”
But John would recognize Him anywhere. At their first meeting, the glory of the unborn Christ had pierced through the tender walls of his mother’s womb. Even then he donned the mantle of a prophet and leaped for joy while he was still in utero. Oh yes, he would recognize him anywhere. He recognized Him in the womb of Jesus, he recognized Him in the waters of Jordan, and now he recognizes Him in the wilderness of Judea.
He stretches his arm out before the people and points a triumphant finger toward the Stranger. Then he cries with a loud voice, “Behold, the Lamb of God, which takes away the sin of the world!”
What a declaration! What a designation!
In the Gospel of John we have heard that this Man is the Divine Logos. That seems appropriate. God spoke and that which was Spoken was the Son. We have heard that the Divine Logos is the Divine Life. By Him all things were created and by Him all things consist. We have heard that the Divine Life is also the Divine Light. His illumination brings light to a dark world and life to a dead world.
But here He is called the Lamb. That seems to be a strange designation, especially for the Sovereign Ruler. But Christ did not come just to liberate a people from the oppression of government, He came to liberate people from the oppression of guilt. He came to break the chains of condemnation. He entered the world to shatter the shackles of sin. He would indeed be their Sovereign Ruler but first they needed Him to be their Saving Redeemer. He would ascended as glorified Lord but first He would descend as crucified Lamb.
And thus it ever was. All of redemptive history, yea, all of human history has been leading up to this pivotal point—the coming of the Lamb of God.
In coming days we will consider the Lamb sanctified, prophesied, typified, personified, magnified, glorified, and identified.