The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh [on himself to bear] away the sin of the world. . . .
36 And looking upon Jesus as he walked, he saith, Behold the Lamb of God!
John the Baptist preached a message of repentance and baptism for the forgiveness of sins. Thousands of people came to him to be baptized. One day Jesus came to him and when he did John recognized him as the one for whom he had been sent to prepare a way.
The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh [on himself to bear] away the sin of the world.
Just like when the angel spoke to Joseph about the naming of Jesus in Matthew 1:21, John recognizes Jesus’ mission to eliminate the sin problem. Again the next day John repeated this saying, “Behold the Lamb of God!” (John 1:36). “Lamb,” the Greek noun amnos, refers to a young sheep up to one year old. “Of God” can mean either “sent from God” or perhaps “owned by God.” John says that Jesus is in some way like a lamb sent or provided by God Himself.
“Sin” is the common Greek noun harmartia. Originally it meant “to miss the mark” or “be mistaken.” In the New Testament it occurs 173 times as a comprehensive expression of everything opposed to God. “Of the world” is put by metonymy for the people in the world, and it refers here to “humanity in general.” “Take away” describes what the Lamb would do with sin, employing the Greek verb airō, which means generally “to lift up and move from one place to another.” Here it means “to take away, remove or blot out.”
John the Baptist is alluding to the Passover Lamb. I Corinthians 5:7 explicitly says that “Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us.” Jesus is the Lamb of God in a sacrificial sense. The shedding of blood was necessary for the atonement of sin.
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.
Hebrews 9:22 echoes this truth saying, “without shedding of blood is no remission.” Animal sacrifice was prescribed in the Old Testament, and the shedding of their blood did atone for sin.
For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh:
14 How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?
However, Hebrews 10:4 tells us that “it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins.” The reason the Old Testament sacrifices worked was because they were symbolic of the sacrifice Jesus would make. God provided a lamb for His people in the person of His only begotten son. His blood brought in the new covenant (Hebrews 10:29, 12:24; 13:20).
The metaphor of the sacrificial Lamb fits Jesus accurately. The Book of Revelation contains 27 uses of “Lamb” to refer to Jesus (5:6, 8; 6:16; 7:9-10, 17; 12:11; 13:8, 11; 14:1, 4; 15:3; 17:14; 19:7, 9; 21:9, 14, 22-23, 27). “Propitiation” in the KJV and the ESV is translated “atoning sacrifice” in the NIV and the NRSV. The 53rd chapter of Isaiah prophesies of the coming one who was wounded for our transgressions and bruised for our iniquities.
I John 2:1b-2: [NIV]
If anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense — Jesus Christ, the Righteous One.
2 He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.
Peter capsulizes this truth when he says:
I Peter 1:18-19:
Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers;
19 But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot:
Christ is likened to a lamb because lambs are meek and gentle and he bore suffering with patience for the shedding of his blood was the sacrifice for our sin.
By Wayne Clapp