|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
1:29-36 John saw Jesus coming to him, and pointed him out as the Lamb of God. The paschal lamb, in the shedding and sprinkling of its blood, the roasting and eating of its flesh, and all the other circumstances of the ordinance, represented the salvation of sinners by faith in Christ. And the lambs sacrificed every morning and evening, can only refer to Christ slain as a sacrifice to redeem us to God by his blood. John came as a preacher of repentance, yet he told his followers that they were to look for the pardon of their sins to Jesus only, and to his death. It agrees with God's glory to pardon all who depend on the atoning sacrifice of Christ. He takes away the sin of the world; purchases pardon for all that repent and believe the gospel. This encourages our faith; if Christ takes away the sin of the world, then why not my sin? He bore sin for us, and so bears it from us. God could have taken away sin, by taking away the sinner, as he took away the sin of the old world; but here is a way of doing away sin, yet sparing the sinner, by making his Son sin, that is, a sin-offering, for us. See Jesus taking away sin, and let that cause hatred of sin, and resolutions against it. Let us not hold that fast, which the Lamb of God came to take away. To confirm his testimony concerning Christ, John declares the appearance at his baptism, in which God himself bore witness to him. He saw and bare record that he is the Son of God. This is the end and object of John's testimony, that Jesus was the promised Messiah. John took every opportunity that offered to lead people to Christ.
Verse 34. - I for my part have seen and have borne testimony that this is the Son of God. The Old Testament standpoint which John occupied enabled him from the first to identify the Messiah with the "Son of God;" but surely this is the record of the first occasion when the Baptist recognized the token that One who sustained such relation with the Father stood before him. There is much in this Gospel and the synoptic narrative to show that the disciples (Matthew 16:16, 17) identified the Christ with the Son of God. The tempter and the demoniacs are familiar with the idea (Matthew 4:1-11; Mark 3:11; Mark 5:7). The high priest at the trial and the Roman centurion (Matthew 26:63; Matthew 27:40; Mark 14:61), Nathanael (John 1:49), Martha (John 11:27), hail him as Son of God. Though the Lord for the most part preferred to speak of himself as "Son of man," yet in this Gospel (John 5:19-23; John 6:40; John 10:36) he frequently claims this lofty designation. Nor is it confined to this Gospel, for in Matthew 11:25-27, we have practically the same confession. Now, the declaration of this verse is in intimate connection with what precedes. Neither the Baptist nor the evangelist implies that, by Christ's baptism, and by that which John saw of the descent and abiding of the Spirit upon the Lord, he was there and then constituted "the Son of God." From this misapprehension of the Gospel arose the Gnostic-Ebionite view of the heavenly Soter descending on Christ, to depart from him at the Crucifixion. The main significance of the entire paragraph is the special revelation given to John, his consequent illumination and momentous testimony, one that sank into the soul of his most susceptible disciples, and thus made this declaration the "true birth hour of Christendom" (Ewald, Meyer). The narrative does not imply that Christ's own consciousness of Divine sonship then commenced. He knew who he was when he spoke, at twelve years of age, of "the business of my Father;" but it would be equally inadequate exegesis to suppose that no communication was then made to the sacred humanity which had been fashioned by the Holy Spirit in the womb of the virgin, and by which he became from the first "the Son of God." The Lord's humanity did become alive to the solemn and awful responsibilities of this public recognition. He knew that the hour was come for his Messianic activity, and the distinct admission of this was the basis of each of the diabolic temptations from which he immediately suffered. There was a unique glory in this sonship which differed from all other usage of the same phrase. Many an Oriental mystic and Egyptian pharaoh and even Roman emperor had thus described themselves; but the Baptist did not speak of himself in this or any other sense as "Son of God." There was flashed into his mind the light of a Divine relationship between Jesus and the Father which convinced him of the preexisting life of him who was chronologically coming after him. It was probably this momentous utterance which led to the deputation of the Sanhedrin, and induced them to ask for the explanation of a mystery transcending all that John had said from the day of his showing unto Israel" (see my 'John the Baptist,' lect. 6. § 1). Many commentators here encounter the unquestionable difficulty of John the Baptist's message from the prison. I prefer to discuss it at the close of ch. 3. (see my 'John the Baptist,' lect. 7: "The Ministry of the Prison"). Here it is sufficient to observe that the vivid intuition and revelation which John obtained touching the deep things of God in Christ, and the vast and far-reaching testimonies which he bore to the Son of God, to the Baptizer with the Holy Ghost, the pre-existent glory of him that came after him, and to "the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world," were, nevertheless, in the evangelist's mind historically coincident with the fact that John never did unite himself to the circle of Christ's immediate followers. The "John" of the Fourth Gospel remained in an independent position - friendly, rejoicing in the Bridegroom's voice, but not one of his followers. The preparatory work with which he began his ministry he continued and pursued to the tragic end.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And I saw,.... The Spirit descending from heaven as a dove, and lighting upon Jesus, and remaining some time on him; this he saw with his bodily eyes:
and bore record; at the same time, before all the people that were with him, when he baptized Jesus:
that this is the Son of God; the natural, essential, and eternal Son of God; who being sent in the fulness of time, had assumed an human nature, in which he became subject to all ordinances, and had the Spirit without measure bestowed on him; and which was an evidence who he was, and of what he came about.
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