John 1:29
The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.
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(29) The next day.—We pass on to the witness of John on the second day, when he sees Jesus coming unto him, probably on the return from the Temptation. Forty days had passed since they met before, and since John knew at the baptism that Jesus was the Messiah. These days were for the One a period of loneliness, temptation, and victory. They must have been for the other a time of quickened energy, wondering thought, and earnest study of what the prophets foretold the Messianic advent should be. Prominent among those prophecies which every Rabbi of that day interpreted of the Messiah, was Isaiah 52:13; Isaiah 53:12. We know that on the previous day the fortieth chapter is quoted (John 1:23), and that this prophet is therefore in the speaker’s thoughts. Side by side with these thoughts was the daily continuing tale of grief and sorrow and sin from those who came to be baptised. How often must there have came to the mind such words as, “He hath borne our griefs and carried our sorrows,” “He was wounded for our transgressions,” “He is brought as a lamb to the slaughter,” “He bare the sin of many”! The Messiah, then, was the servant of Jehovah, the true Paschal Lamb of Isaiah’s thought. While the heart burns with this living truth that all men needed, and that one heart only knew, that same Form is seen advancing. It bears indeed no halo of glory, but it bears marks of the agonising contest and yet the calm of accomplished victory. “He hath no form nor comeliness,” “no beauty that we should desire Him.” John looks at Him as He is coming, sees there living, walking in their midst, the bearer of the world’s sin and sorrow; and utters words than which in depth and width of meaning none more full have ever come from human lips, “Behold the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world.”

The margin gives “beareth” as an alternative rendering for “taketh away,” and this union exactly expresses the force of the original. He is ever taking away sin, but this He does by bearing the burden Himself. (Comp. 1John 3:5.) A reference to the words of Isaiah 53:4, above, fully establishes this. The Baptist probably used the very word of the prophet; but the Evangelist does not, in recording this for Greek readers, use the word of the LXX. as St. Peter does (1Peter 2:24, “bare our sin in His own body”), but are-translates, and chooses the wider word which includes both meanings.



John 1:29

Our Lord, on returning from His temptation in the wilderness, came straight to John the Baptist. He was welcomed with these wonderful and rapturous words, familiarity with which has deadened our sense of their greatness. How audacious they would sound to some of their first hearers! Think of these two, one of them a young Galilean carpenter, to whom His companion witnesses and declares that He is of worldwide and infinite significance. It was the first public designation of Jesus Christ, and it throws into exclusive prominence one aspect of His work.

John the Baptist summing up the whole of former revelation which concentrated in Him, pointed a designating finger to Jesus and said, ‘That is He!’ My text is the sum of all Christian teaching ever since. My task, and that of all preachers, if we understand it aright, is but to repeat the same message, and to concentrate attention on the same fact-’The Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world.’ It is the one thing needful for you, dear friend, to believe. It is the truth that we all need most of all. There is no reason for our being gathered together now, except that I may beseech you to behold for yourselves the Lamb of God which takes away the world’s sin.

I. Now let me ask you to note, first, that Jesus Christ is the world’s sin-bearer.

The significance of the first clause of my text, ‘the Lamb of God,’ is deplorably weakened if it is taken to mean only, or mainly, that Jesus Christ, in the sweetness of His human nature, is gentle and meek and patient and innocent and pure. It does mean all that, thank God! But it was no mere description of Christ’s disposition which John the Baptist conceived himself to be uttering, as is clear by the words that follow in the next clause. His reason for selecting {under divine guidance, as I believe} that image of ‘the Lamb of God,’ went a great deal deeper than anything in the temper of the Person of whom he was speaking. Many streams of ancient prophecy and ritual converge upon this emblem, and if we want to understand what is meant by the designation ‘the Lamb of God,’ we must not content ourselves with the sentimentalisms which some superficial teachers have supposed to exhaust the significance of the expression; but we must submit to be led back by John, who was the summing up of all the ancient Revelation, to the sources in that Revelation from which he drew this metaphor.

First and chiefest of these, as I take it, are the words which no Jew ever doubted referred to the Messiah, until after He had come, and the Rabbis would not believe in Him, and so were bound to hunt up another interpretation-I mean the great words in the prophecy which, I suppose, is familiar to most of us, where there are found two representations, one, ‘He was led as a Lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so He opened not His mouth’; and the other, still more germane to the purpose of my text, ‘the Lord hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all. . . . By His knowledge shall He justify many, for He shall bear their iniquities.’ John the Baptist, looking back through the ages to that ancient prophetic utterance, points to the young Man standing by his side, and says, ‘There it is fulfilled.’

But the prophetic symbol of the Lamb, and the thought that He bore the iniquity of the many, had their roots in the past, and pointed back to the sacrificial lamb, the lamb of the daily sacrifice, and especially to the lamb slain at the Passover, which was an emblem and sacrament of deliverance from bondage. Thus the conceptions of vicarious suffering, and of a death which is a deliverance, and of blood which, sprinkled on the doorposts, guards the house from the destroying angel, are all gathered into these words.

Nor do these exhaust the sources of this figure, as it comes from the venerable and sacred past. For when we read ‘the Lamb of God,’ who is there that does not recognise, unless his eyes are blinded by obstinate prejudice, a glance backward to that sweet and pathetic story when the father went up with his son to the top of Mount Moriah, and to the boy’s question, ‘Where is the lamb?’ answered, ‘My son, God Himself will provide the lamb!’ John says, ‘Behold the Lamb that God has provided, the Sacrifice, on whom is laid a world’s sins, and who bears them away.’

Note, too, the universality of the power of Christ’s sacrificial work. John does not say ‘the sins,’ as the Litany, following an imperfect translation, makes him say. But he says, ‘the sin of the world,’ as if the whole mass of human transgression was bound together, in one black and awful bundle, and laid upon the unshrinking shoulders of this better Atlas who can bear it all, and bear it all away. Your sin, and mine, and every man’s, they were all laid upon Jesus Christ.

Now remember, dear brethren, that in this wondrous representation there lie, plain and distinct, two things which to me, and I pray they may be to you, are the very foundation of the Gospel to which we have to trust. One is that on Christ Jesus, in His life and in His death, were laid the guilt and the consequences of a world’s sin. I do not profess to be ready with an explanation of how that is possible. That it is a fact I believe, on the authority of Christ Himself and of Scripture; that it is inconsistent with the laws of human nature may be asserted, but never can be proved. Theories manifold have been invented in order to make it plain. I do not know that any of them have gone to the bottom of the bottomless. But Christ in His perfect manhood, wedded, as I believe it is, to true divinity, is capable of entering into-not merely by sympathy, though that has much to do with it-such closeness of relation with human kind, and with every man, as that on Him can be laid the iniquity of us all.

Oh, brethren! what was the meaning of ‘I have a baptism to be baptized with,’ unless the cold waters of the flood into which He unshrinkingly stepped, and allowed to flow over Him, were made by the gathered accumulation of the sins of the whole world? What was the meaning of the agony in Gethsemane? What was the meaning of that most awful word ever spoken by human lips, in which the consciousness of union with, and of separation from, God, were so marvellously blended, ‘My God! my God! why hast Thou forsaken Me?’ unless the Guiltless was then loaded with the sins of the world, which rose between Him and God?

Dear friends, it seems to me that unless this transcendent element be fairly recognised as existing in the passion and death of Jesus Christ, His demeanour when He came to die was far less heroic and noble and worthy of imitation than have been the deaths of hundreds of people who drew all their strength to die from Him. I do not venture to bring a theory, but I press upon you the fact, He bears the sins of the world, and in that awful load are yours and mine.

There is the other truth here, as clearly, and perhaps more directly, meant by the selection of the expression in my text, that the Sin-bearer not only carries, but carries away, the burden that is laid upon Him. Perhaps there may be a reference-in addition to the other sources of the figure which I have indicated as existing in ritual, and prophecy, and history-there may be a reference in the words to yet another of the eloquent symbols of that ancient system which enshrined truths that were not peculiar to any people, but were the property of humanity. You remember, no doubt, the singular ceremonial connected with the scapegoat, and many of you will recall the wonderful embodiment of it given by the Christian genius of a modern painter. The sins of the nation were symbolically laid upon its head, and it was carried out to the edge of the wilderness and driven forth to wander alone, bearing away upon itself into the darkness and solitude-far from man and far from God-the whole burden of the nation’s sins. Jesus Christ takes away the sin which He bears, and there is, as I believe, only one way by which individuals, or society, or the world at large, can thoroughly get rid of the guilt and penal consequences and of the dominion of sin, and that is, by beholding the Lamb of God that takes upon Himself, that He may carry away out of sight, the sin of the world. So much, then, for the first thought that I wish to suggest to you.

II. Now let me ask you to look with me at a second thought, that such a world’s Sin-bearer is the world’s deepest need.

The sacrifices of every land witness to the fact that humanity all over the world, and through all the ages, and under all varieties of culture, has been dimly conscious that its deepest need was that the fact of sin should be dealt with. I know that there are plenty of modern ingenious ways of explaining the universal prevalence of an altar and a sacrifice, and the slaying of innocent creatures, on other grounds, some of which I think it is not uncharitable to suppose are in favour mainly because they weaken this branch of the evidence for the conformity of Christian truth with human necessities. But notwithstanding these, I venture to affirm, with all proper submission to wiser men, that you cannot legitimately explain the universal prevalence of sacrifice, unless you take into account as one-I should say the main-element in it, this universally diffused sense that things are wrong between man and the higher Power, and need to be set right even by such a method.

But I do not need to appeal only to this world-wide fact as being a declaration of what man’s deepest need is. I would appeal to every man’s own consciousness-hard though it be to get at it; buried as it is, with some of us, under mountains of indifference and neglect; and callous as it is with many of us by reason of indulgence in habits of evil. I believe that in every one of us, if we will be honest, and give heed to the inward voice, there does echo a response and an amen to the Scripture declaration, ‘God hath shut up all under sin.’ I ask you about yourselves, is it not so? Do you not know that, however you may gloss over the thing, or forget it amidst a whirl of engagements and occupations, or try to divert your thoughts into more or less noble or ignoble channels of pleasures and pursuits, there does lie, in each of our hearts, the sense, dormant often, but sometimes like a snake in its hybernation, waking up enough to move, and sometimes enough to sting-there does lie, in each of us, the consciousness that we are wrong with God, and need something to put us right?

And, brethren, let modern philanthropists of all sorts take this lesson: The thing that the world wants is to have sin dealt with-dealt with in the way of conscious forgiveness; dealt with in the way of drying up its source, and delivering men from the power of it. Unless you do that, I do not say you do nothing, but you pour a bottle full of cold water into Vesuvius, and try to put the fire out with that. You may educate, you may cultivate, you may refine; you may set political and economical arrangements right in accordance with the newest notions of the century, and what then? Why! the old thing will just begin over again, and the old miseries will appear again, because the old grandmother of them all is there, the sin that has led to them.

Now do not misunderstand me, as if I were warring against good and noble men who are trying to remedy the world’s evils by less thorough methods than Christ’s Gospel. They will do a great deal. But you may have high education, beautiful refinement of culture and manners; you may divide out political power in accordance with the most democratic notions; you may give everybody ‘a living wage,’ however extravagant his notions of a living wage may be. You may carry out all these panaceas and the world will groan still, because you have not dealt with the tap-root of all the mischief. You cannot cure an internal cancer with a plaster upon the little finger, and you will never stanch the world’s wounds until you go to the Physician that has balm and bandage, even Jesus Christ, that takes away the sins of the world. I profoundly distrust all these remedies for the world’s misery as in themselves inadequate, even whilst I would help them all, and regard them all as then blessed and powerful, when they are consequences and secondary results of the Gospel, the first task of which is to deal by forgiveness and by cleansing with individual transgression.

And if I might venture to go a step further, I would like to say that this aspect of our Lord’s work on which John the Baptist concentrated all our attention is the only one which gives Him power to sway men, and which makes the Gospel-the record of His work-the kingly power in the world that it is meant to be. Depend upon it, that in the measure in which Christian teachers fail to give supreme importance to that aspect of Christ’s work they fail altogether. There are many other aspects which, as I have just said, follow in my conception from this first one; but if, as is obviously the tendency in many quarters to-day, Christianity be thought of as being mainly a means of social improvement, or if its principles of action be applied to life without that basis of them all, in the Cross which takes away the world’s iniquity, then it needs no prophet to foretell that such a Christianity will only have superficial effects, and that, in losing sight of this central thought, it will have cast away all its power.

I beseech you, dear brethren, remember that Jesus Christ is something more than a social reformer, though He is the first of them, and the only one whose work will last. Jesus Christ is something more than a lovely pattern of human conduct, though He is that. Jesus Christ is something more than a great religious genius who set forth the Fatherhood of God as it had never been set forth before. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is the record not only of what He said but of what He did, not only that He lived but that He died; and all His other powers, and all His other benefits and blessings to society, come as results of His dealing with the individual soul when He takes away its guilt and reconciles it to God.

III. And so, lastly, let me ask you to notice that this Sin-bearer of the world is our Sin-bearer if we ‘behold’ Him.

John was simply summoning ignorant eyes to look, and telling of what they would see. But his call is susceptible, without violence, of a far deeper meaning. This is really the one truth that I want to press upon you, dear friends-’Behold the Lamb of God!’

What is that beholding? Surely it is nothing else than our recognising in Him the great and blessed work which I have been trying to describe, and then resting ourselves upon that great Lord and sufficient Sacrifice. And such an exercise of simple trust is well named beholding, because they who believe do see, with a deeper and a truer vision than sense can give. You and I can see Christ more really than these men who stood round Him, and to whom His flesh was ‘a veil’-as the Epistle to the Hebrews calls it-hiding His true divinity and work. They who thus behold by faith lack nothing either of the directness or of the certitude that belong to vision. ‘Seeing is believing,’ says the cynical proverb. The Christian version inverts its terms, ‘Believing is seeing.’ ‘Whom having not seen ye love, in whom though now ye see Him not, yet believing ye rejoice.’

And your simple act of ‘beholding,’ by the recognition of His work and the resting of yourself upon it, makes the world’s Sin-bearer your Sin-bearer. You appropriate the general blessing, like a man taking in a little piece of a boundless prairie for his very own. Your possession does not make my possession of Him less, for every eye gets its own beam, and however many eyes wait upon Him, they all receive the light on to their happy eyeballs. You can make Christ your own, and have all that He has done for the world as your possession, and can experience in your own hearts the sense of your own forgiveness and deliverance from the power and guilt of your own sin, on the simple condition of looking unto Jesus. The serpent is lifted on the pole, the dying camp cannot go to it, but the filming eyes of the man in his last gasp may turn to the gleaming image hanging on high; and as he looks the health begins to tingle back into his veins, and he is healed.

And so, dear brethren, behold Him; for unless you do, though He has borne the world’s sin, your sin will not be there, but will remain on your back to crush you down. ‘O Lamb of God, that taketh away the sins of the world, have mercy upon me!’

John 1:29. The next day — Namely, the day after John had returned the answer mentioned John 1:26-27, to the priests and Levites sent to inquire into his character and mission; John seeth Jesus coming unto him — Having now returned from the desert, in which he had been tempted; and saith, Behold the Lamb of God — That innocent and holy person, who is to be offered up a sacrifice for the sins of mankind; prophesied of by Isaiah, (Isaiah 53:7,) and typified by the paschal lamb, and by the daily sacrifice; which, taketh away the sin of the world — Which so atones for and expiates the guilt of mankind, not only of the Jews, but also of the Gentiles, that through his mediation, whosoever, being truly penitent, and bringing forth fruits worthy of repentance, believeth in him, may receive remission of sins. Grotius, indeed, understands this of Christ’s reforming men’s lives; but it plainly refers to his being slain as a piacular victim, (1 Peter 1:19,) to redeem us to God by his blood, (Revelation 5:9,) or to procure for us that redemption which ensures to the penitent, that believe in him with a true and living faith, remission of sins, (Ephesians 1:7; Colossians 1:14,) and an exemption from the punishment deserved thereby. To understand this doctrine more fully, the reader must observe that, when a sacrifice was to be offered for sin, he that brought it laid his hand upon the head of the victim, according to the command of God, Leviticus 1:4; Leviticus 3:2; Leviticus 4:4; (where see the notes;) and by that rite was supposed to transfer his sins upon the victim, which is said to take them upon itself and to carry them away. Accordingly, in the daily sacrifice of the lamb, the stationary men, says Dr. Lightfoot, who were the representatives of the people, laid their hands upon the lambs thus offered for them; and these two lambs offered for the daily sacrifice were bought with that half shekel which all the Jews yearly paid, εις λυτρον της ψυχης αυτων, εξιλασασθαι περι των ψυξων αυτων, as the price of redemption of their souls, to make atonement for them, Exodus 12:3; Exodus 12:14; Exodus 12:16. This lamb was therefore offered to take away the guilt of their sin, as this phrase signifies when it relates to sacrifices. Since, therefore, the Baptist had said, he baptized them for the remission of their sins, he here shows them by what means that remission was to be obtained. See Whitby.

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.The next day - The day after the Jews made inquiry whether he was the Christ.

Behold the Lamb of God - A "lamb," among the Jews, was killed and eaten at the Passover to commemorate their deliverance from Egypt, Exodus 12:3-11. A lamb was offered in the tabernacle, and afterward in the temple, every morning and evening, as a part of the daily worship, Exodus 29:38-39. The Messiah was predicted as a lamb led to the slaughter, to show his patience in his sufferings, and readiness to die for man, Isaiah 53:7. A lamb, among the Jews, was also an emblem of patience, meekness, gentleness. On "all" these accounts, rather than on any one of them alone, Jesus was called "the Lamb." He was innocent 1 Peter 2:23-25; he was a sacrifice for sin the substance represented by the daily offering of the lamb, and slain at the usual time of the evening sacrifice Luke 23:44-46; and he was what was represented by the Passover, turning away the anger of God, and saving sinners by his blood from vengeance and eternal death, 1 Corinthians 5:7.

Of God - Appointed by God, approved by God, and most dear to him; the sacrifice which he chose, and which he approves to save people from death.

Which taketh away - This denotes his "bearing" the sins of the world, or the sufferings which made an atonement for sin. Compare Isaiah 53:4; 1 John 3:5; 1 Peter 2:24. He takes away sin by "bearing" in his own body the sufferings which God appointed to show his sense of the evil of sin, thus magnifying the law, and rendering it consistent for him to pardon. See the notes at Romans 3:24-25.

Of the world - Of all mankind, Jew and Gentile. His work was not to be confined to the Jew, but was also to benefit the Gentile; it was not confined to any one part of the world, but was designed to open the way of pardon to all men. He was the propitiation for the sins of the whole world, 1 John 2:2. See the notes at 2 Corinthians 5:15.

29. seeth Jesus—fresh, probably, from the scene of the temptation.

coming unto him—as to congenial company (Ac 4:23), and to receive from him His first greeting.

and saith—catching a sublime inspiration at the sight of Him approaching.

the Lamb of God—the one God-ordained, God-gifted sacrificial offering.

that taketh away—taketh up and taketh away. The word signifies both, as does the corresponding Hebrew word. Applied to sin, it means to be chargeable with the guilt of it (Ex 28:38; Le 5:1; Eze 18:20), and to bear it away (as often). In the Levitical victims both ideas met, as they do in Christ, the people's guilt being viewed as transferred to them, avenged in their death, and so borne away by them (Le 4:15; 16:15, 21, 22; and compare Isa 53:6-12; 2Co 5:21).

the sin—The singular number being used to mark the collective burden and all-embracing efficacy.

of the world—not of Israel only, for whom the typical victims were exclusively offered. Wherever there shall live a sinner throughout the wide world, sinking under that burden too heavy for him to bear, he shall find in this "Lamb of God," a shoulder equal to the weight. The right note was struck at the first—balm, doubtless, to Christ's own spirit; nor was ever after, or ever will be, a more glorious utterance.

The next day; the most think, the day following that day when the messengers from Jerusalem had been examining the Baptist. Heinsius thinks it was the same day, and saith, the Hellenists usually so interpret en epaupion, for meta tauta, after these things; but the former sense is more generally embraced.

John seeth Jesus coming to him, out of the wilderness, as some think, where he had been tempted by the devil; but then it must follow, that he was not amongst the crowd, John 1:2, standing in the midst of them, when the messengers were there; and it should appear by John 1:32,33, that this which is here recorded happened after Christ’s baptism by John (of which this evangelist saith nothing): it seemeth rather to be understood of another coming of Christ to John after he had been baptized, when John, seeing him, pointed as it were with his finger to him, (for the term

Behold seemeth to be here used demonstratively), showing them the person whom he would have them cast their eye upon; whom he calls,

the Lamb of God, not only to denote his excellency, as we read of the night of the Lord, Exodus 12:42, and the bread of God, Leviticus 21:21; which indeed Christ was, being without blemish, 1 Peter 1:19; but with reference to the lambs used in the Jewish sacrifices, not only at the passover, Exodus 12:5, but in the daily sacrifice, Exodus 29:38 Leviticus 1:10, or the burnt offering; and in the peace offering, Leviticus 3:7, and in the sin offering, Leviticus 4:32. He calls Christ the Lamb of God, probably, because divers of the priests were there to hear, and (as appears, John 1:39) it was nigh the time of their daily sacrifice; that so he might remind them that Christ was the truth and Antitype to all their sacrifices.

Which taketh away the sin of the world; o airwn, the word signifies both to take up, and to take away: which taketh away the sin of the world, as God, to whom it belongs to forgive sin; and this he did by taking it upon himself, (so it is translated, Matthew 16:24), expiating it, which expiation is followed by a plenary remission, and taking it away, both the punishment of it, and the root, and body, and power of it; redeeming them as from the grave and hell, due to man for sin; so from a vain conversation, 1 Peter 1:18; and not doing this for the Jews only, but for the Gentiles also, 1Jo 2:2, for many in the world, being he without whom there is no remission, Acts 4:12. Nor doth his gracious act cease at any time, it is a work he is always doing, and which none but he can do: ministers may persuade, priests of old offered lambs and other beasts in sacrifice; but he alone taketh away sin. So that, as what he said to the messengers of the sanhedrim gave all the honour of any valuable effect of baptism to Christ; so, what he saith here gives him all the honour of any good effect of preaching, or any good effect of our ministry; it is he alone, who (when we have said or done what we can) taketh away the sin of the world.

The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him,.... Not to be baptized, for he had been baptized before by him. This seems to have been after Christ had been forty days in the wilderness, from whence he now returned, and came to attend on John's ministry; both to do honour to him, and that he might be made manifest by him; and this was the day after John had bore such a testimony concerning him, to the priests and Levites; and which Christ the omniscient God, knew full well, and therefore came at this season, when the minds of the people were prepared by John's testimony, to expect and receive him: one part of the work of Elias, which the Jews assign unto him, and the precise time of his doing it, exactly agree with this account of John the Baptist; they say (c), that his work is

“to bring to them (the Israelites) the good news of the coming of the Redeemer; and this shall be, , "one day", before the coming of the, Messiah; and this is that which is written, "behold I will send you Elijah the prophet, before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord". Malachi 4:5.

For John, the day before Christ Lord, came to him, had signified to the priests and Levites, that the Messiah was already come; and now on the day following, seeing him, pointed as with his finger to him,

and saith, behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world: he calls him a "lamb", either with respect to any lamb in common, for his harmlessness and innocence; for his meekness and humility; for his patience; and for his usefulness, both for food and clothing, in a spiritual sense; as well as for his being to be a sacrifice for the sins of his people: or else with respect to the lambs that were offered in sacrifice, under the legal dispensation; and that either to the passover lamb, or rather to the lambs of the daily sacrifice, that were offered morning and evening; since the account of them best agrees with what is said of this Lamb of God, who was slain in type, in the morning of the world, or from the foundation of the world; and actually in the evening of the world, or in the end of it; and who has a continued virtue to take away the sins of his people, from the beginning, to the end of the world; and their sins, both of the day and night, or which are committed every day: for as they are daily committed, there is need of the daily application of the blood and sacrifice of Christ, to remove them; or of continual looking unto him by faith, whose blood has a continual virtue, to cleanse from all sin: the Jewish doctors say (d), that "the morning daily sacrifice made atonement for the iniquities done in the night; and the evening sacrifice made atonement for the iniquities that were by day:

and in various things they were typical of Christ, as that they were lambs of the first year, which may denote the weakness of the human nature of Christ, which had all the sinless infirmities of it; they, were also without spot, signifying the purity of Christ's human nature, who was holy and harmless, a lamb without spot and blemish; these were offered as a sacrifice, and for the children of Israel only, as Christ has given himself an offering and a sacrifice to God, both in soul and body, for the sins of the mystical Israel of God, the Israel whom God has chosen for himself, whether Jews or Gentiles; for Christ is the propitiation for the sins of both: and these were offered daily, morning and evening; and though Christ was but once offered, otherwise he must have often suffered; yet as he has by one offering put away sin for ever, so there is a perpetual virtue in his sacrifice to take it away, and there is a constant application of it for that purpose; to which may be added, that these lambs were offered with fine flour, oil and wine, for a sweet savour to the Lord; denoting the acceptableness of the sacrifice of Christ to his Father, to whom it is for a sweet smelling savour, Ephesians 5:2. And Christ is styled the Lamb "of God", in allusion to the same, whom the Cabalistic Jews (e) call the secret of the mystery, and , "the Lambs of God"; because God has a special property in him; he is his own Son; and because he is of his providing and appointing, as a sacrifice for sin, and is acceptable to him as such; and to distinguish him from all other lambs; and to give him the preference, since he does that which they could not do, "taketh away the sin of the world": by the "sin of the world", is not meant the sin, or sins of every individual person in the world; for some die in their sins, and their sins go before hand to judgment, and they go into everlasting punishment for them; which could not be, if Christ took them away: rather, the sin which is common to the whole world, namely: original sin; but then it must be observed, that this is not the only sin Christ takes away; for he also takes away actual sins; and the Arabic and Ethiopic versions read in the plural, "the sins of the world"; and also that this he takes away, only with respect the elect; wherefore they are the persons intended by the world, as in John 6:33, whose sin, or sins, Christ takes away: and a peculiar regard seems to be had to the elect among the Gentiles, who are called the world, in distinction from the Jews, as in John 3:16, and the rather, since the lambs of the daily sacrifice, to which the allusion is, were only offered for the sins of the Jews: but John here signifies, that the Lamb of God he pointed at, and which was the antitype of these lambs, not only took away the sins of God's people among the Jews, but the sins of such of them also as were among the Gentiles; and this seems to me to be the true sense of the passage. The phrase "taking away sin", signifies a taking it up, as Christ did; he took it voluntarily upon himself, and became responsible to divine justice for it; and also a bearing and carrying it, for taking it upon himself, he bore it in his own body on the tree, and carried it away, as the scape goat did under the law; and so likewise a taking it quite away: Christ has removed it as far as the east is from the west, out of sight, so as never to be seen any more; he has destroyed, abolished, and made an utter end of it: and this is expressed in the present tense, "taketh away": to denote the continued virtue of Christ's sacrifice to take away sin, and the constant efficacy of his blood to cleanse from it, and the daily application of it to the consciences of his people; and which is owing to the dignity of his person, as the Son of God; and to his continual and powerful mediation and intercession: this must be a great relief to minds afflicted with the continual ebullitions of sin, which is taken away by the Lamb of God, as fast as it rises; and who, for that purpose, are called to "behold", and wonder at, the love and grace of Christ, in taking up, bearing, and taking away sin; and to look to him by faith continually, for everlasting salvation; and love him, and give him the honour of it, and glorify him for it,

(c) R. Abraham ben David in Misn. Ediot, c. 8. sect. 7. (d) R. Menachem, fol. 115. apud Ainsworth, in Exodus 29.39. (e) Raya Mehimna, in Zohar in Lev. fol. 33. 2.

{13} The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold {n} the Lamb of God, which {o} taketh away the {p} sin of the world.

(13) The body and truth of all the sacrifices of the law, to make satisfaction for the sin of the world, is Christ.

(n) This word the which is added has great force in it, not only to set forth the worthiness of Christ, and so to separate him for the lamb which was a symbol of him, and from all other sacrifices of the law, but also to remind us of the prophecies of Isaiah and others.

(o) This word is in the present tense, and signifies a continuous act, for the Lamb rightfully has this power both now and forever to take away the sins of the world.

(p) That is, that root of sins, namely, our corruption, and so consequently the fruits of sins, which are commonly called in the plural number, sins.

John 1:29. Τῇ ἐπαύριον] on the following day, the next after the events narrated in John 1:19-28. Comp. John 1:35; John 1:44 (John 2:1), John 6:22, John 12:12.

ἐρχόμ. πρὸς αὐτ.] coming towards him, not coming to him, i.e. only so near that he could point to Him (Baur). He came, however, neither to take leave of the Baptist before His temptation (Kuinoel, against which is John 1:35), nor to be baptized of him (Evvald, Hengstenberg; see the foregoing note); but with a purpose not more fully known to us, which John has not stated, because he was not concerned about that, but about the testimony of the Baptist. If we were to take into account the narrative of the temptation,—which, however, is not the case,

Jesus might be regarded as here returning from the temptation (see Euthymius Zigabenus, Lücke, Luthardt, Riggenbach, Godet).

ἴδε ὁ ἀμνὸς τοῦ θεοῦ, κ.τ.λ.] These words are not addressed to Jesus, but to those who are around the Baptist, and they are suggested by the sight of Jesus; comp. John 1:36. As to the use of the singular ἴδε, when nevertheless several are addressed, see on Matthew 10:16. The article denotes the appointed Lamb of God, which, according to the prophetic utterance presupposed as well known, was expected in the person of the Messiah. This characteristic form of Messianic expectation is based upon Isaiah 53:7. Comp. Matthew 8:17; Luke 22:37; Acts 8:32; 1 Peter 2:22 ff.; and the ἀρνίον in the Apocalypse. On the force of the article, see John 1:21, ὁ προφήτης; also ἡ ῥίζα τοῦ Ἰεσσαί, Romans 15:12; ὁ λέων ὁ ἐκ τῆς φυλῆς Ἰούδα, Revelation 5:5. The genitive is that of possession, that which belongs to God, i.e. the lamb appointed as a sacrifice by God Himself. This interpretation follows from the entire contents of Isaiah 53, and from the idea of sacrifice which is contained in ὁ αἴρων, κ.τ.λ. We must not therefore render: “the Lamb given by God” (Hofmann, Luthardt). But while, according to this view, the lamb, designated and appointed by God, is meant,—the lamb already spoken of in holy prophecies of old, whose fulfilment in Jesus was already recognised by the Baptist,—it is erroneous to assume any reference to the paschal lamb (Luther, Grotius, Bengel, Lampe, Olshausen, Maier, Reuss, Luthardt, Hofmann, Hengstenberg; comp. Godet). Such an assumption derives no support from the more precise definition in ὁ αἴρων, κ.τ.λ., and would produce a ὕστερον πρότερον; for the view which regarded Christ as the paschal lamb first arose ex eventu, because He was crucified upon the same day on which the paschal lamb was slain (see on John 18:28; 1 Corinthians 5:7). He certainly thus became the antitype of the paschal lamb, but, according to the whole tenor of the passage in Isaiah, He was not regarded by the Baptist in this special aspect, nor could He be so conceived of by his hearers. The conception of sacrifice which, according to the prophecy in Isaiah and the immediate connection in John, is contained in ὁ ἀμνὸς τοῦ θεοῦ, is that of the trespass-offering, אָשָׁם, Isaiah 53:10;[116] 1 John 2:2; 1 John 4:10; 1 John 1:7. It by no means militates against this, that, according to the law, lambs were not as a rule employed for trespass-offerings (Leviticus 14:2, Numbers 6:12, relate to exceptional cases only; and the daily morning and evening sacrifices, Exodus 29:38 ff., Numbers 28, which Wetstein here introduces, were prayer- and thank-offerings), but for sacrifices of purification (Leviticus 5:1-6; Leviticus 14:12; Numbers 6:12):[117] for in Isaiah the Servant of Jehovah, who makes atonement for the people by His vicarious sufferings, is represented as a lamb; and it is this prophetic view, not the legal prescription, which is the ruling thought here. Christ was, as the Baptist here prophetically recognises Him, the antitype of the O. T. sacrifices: He must therefore, as such, be represented in the form of some animal appointed for sacrifice; and the appropriate figure was given not in the law, but by the prophet, who, contemplating Him in His gentleness and meekness, represents Him as a sacrificial lamb, and from this was derived the form which came to be the normal one in the Christian manner of view. The apostolic church consequently could apprehend Him as the Christian Passover; though legally the passover lamb, as a trespass-offering, which it certainly was, differed from the ordinary trespass-offerings (Ewald, Alterth. p. 467 f.; Hengstenberg takes a different view, Opfer, d. h. Schr. p. 24 ff.). This Christian method of view accordingly had a prophetical, and not a legal foundation. To exclude the idea of sacrifice altogether, and to find in the expression Lamb of God the representation merely of a divinely consecrated, innocent, and gentle sufferer (Gabler, Melet. in John 1:29, Jen. 1808–1811, in his Opusc. p. 514 ff.; Paulus, Kuinoel), is opposed to the context both in Isaiah and in John, as well as to the view of the work of redemption which pervades the whole of the N. T. Weiss, Lehrbegr. p. 159 ff.

ὁ αἴρων τ. ἁμαρτ. τ. κόσμου] may either signify, “who takes away the sin of the world,” or, “who takes upon himself,” etc., i.e. in order to bear it. Both renderings (which Flacius, Melancthon, and most others, even Bäumlein, combine) must, according to Isaiah 53., express the idea of atonement; so that in the first the cancelling of the guilt is conceived of as a removing, a doing away with sin (an abolition of it); in the second, as a bearing (an expiation) of it. The latter interpretation is usually preferred (so Lücke, B. Crusius, De Wette, Hengstenberg, Brückner, Ewald, Weber, v. Zorne Gottes, p. 250), because in Isaiah 53 the idea is certainly that of bearing by way of expiation (נשא: LXX. ΦΈΡΕΙ, ἈΝΈΝΕΓΚΕ, ἈΝΟΊΣΕΙ). But since the LXX. never use ΑἼΡΕΙΝ to express the bearing of sin, but always φέρειν, etc., while on the other hand they express the taking away of sin by ΑἼΡΕΙΝ (1 Samuel 15:25; 1 Samuel 25:28; Aq. Psalm 31:5, where Symm. has ἈΦΈΛῌς and the LXX. ἈΦῆΚΑς); and as the context of 1 John 3:5, in like manner, requires us to take ΤᾺς ἉΜΑΡΤΊΑς ἩΜῶΝ ἌΡῌ, there used to denote the act of expiation (comp. John 2:2), as signifying the taking away of sins; so ὁ αἴρων, etc., here is to be explained in this sense,—not, indeed, that the Baptist expresses an idea different from Isaiah 53, but the expiation there described as a bearing of sins is represented, according to its necessary and immediate result, as the abolition of sins by virtue of the vicarious sacrificial suffering and death of the victim, as the ἀθέτησις ἁμαρτίας, Hebrews 9:26. Comp. already Cyril: ἵνα τοῦ κόσμου τὴν ἁμαρτίαν ἀνέλῃ; Vulgate: qui tollit; Goth.: afnimith. John himself expresses this idea in 1 John 1:7, when referring to the sin-cleansing power of Christ’s blood, which operates also on those who are already regenerate (see Düsterdieck in loc., p. 99 ff.), by ΚΑΘΑΡΊΖΕΙ ἩΜᾶς ἈΠῸ ΠΆΣΗς ἉΜΑΡΤΊΑς. The taking away of sins by the Lamb presupposes His taking them upon Himself. The interpretation “to take away,” in itself correct, is (after Grotius) misused by Kuinoel: “removebit peccata hominum, i.e. pravitatem e terra;”[118] and Gabler has misinterpreted the rendering “to bear;” “qui pravitatem hominum … i.e. mala sibi inflicta, patienti et mansueto animo sustinebit.” Both are opposed to the necessary relation of the word to ὁ ἀμνὸς τ. θεοῦ, as well as to the real meaning of Isaiah 53; although even Gabler’s explanation would not in itself be linguistically erroneous, but would have to be referred back to the signification, to take upon oneself, to take over (Æsch. Pers. 544; Soph. Tr. 70; Xen. Mem. iv. 4. 14; 1Ma 13:17; Matthew 11:29, al.).

The Present ὁ αἴρων arises from the fact that the Baptist prophetically views the act of atonement accomplished by the Lamb of God as present. This act is ever-enduring, not in itself, but in its effects (against Hengstenberg). Luthardt holds that the words are not to be understood of the future, and that the Baptist had not Christ’s death in view, but only regarded and designated Him in a general way, as one who was manifested in a body of weakness, and with liability to suffering, in order to the salvation of men. But this is far too general for the concrete representation of Christ as the Lamb of God, and for the express reference herein made to sin, especially from the lips of a man belonging to the old theocracy, who was himself the son of a sacrificing priest, a Nazarite and a prophet.

τὴν ἁμαρτίαν] the sins of the world conceived of as a collective unity; “una pestis, quse omnes corripuit,” Bengel. Comp. Romans 5:20.

τοῦ κόσμου] an extension of the earlier prophetic representation of atonement for the people, Isaiah 53. to all mankind, the reconciliation of whom has been objectively accomplished by the ἱλαστήριον of the Lamb of God, but is accomplished subjectively in all who believe (John 3:15-16). Comp. Romans 5:18.

John 1:29-34. The witness of John based on the sign at the baptism of Jesus.

29–34. The Testimony of the Baptist to the people

29. The next day] These words prevent us from inserting the Temptation between John 1:28-29. The fact of the Baptist knowing who Jesus is shews that the Baptism, and therefore the Temptation, must have preceded the deputation from Jerusalem. The Evangelist assumes that his readers are well acquainted with the history of the Baptism and Temptation.

the Lamb of God] Evidently some Lamb well known to John’s hearers is meant, viz. the Lamb of Isaiah 53 (comp. Acts 8:32); but there may be an indirect allusion to the Paschal Lamb. With ‘Behold’ comp. John 19:5; John 19:14 : with ‘of God’ comp. Genesis 22:8.

which taketh away, &c.] These words seem to make the reference to Isaiah 53, esp. John 1:4-5; John 1:10, clear. The marginal reading, beareth, is not right here (1 John 3:5).

the sin] Regarding it as one great burden or plague.

of the world] Isaiah (Isaiah 53:8) seems to see no further than the redemption of the Jews: ‘for the transgression of my people was he stricken.’ The Baptist knows that the Messiah comes to save the whole human race, even those hostile to Him.

John 1:29. Εῤχόμενον πρὸς αὐτόν, coming to him) after His baptism, as we have seen [and indeed not on the very day of His baptism, on which Jesus was immediately led up into the wilderness (Matthew 4:1.) In this place, it seems, Jesus began to walk publickly, John 1:36; John 1:43, after His return from the wilderness full of victory (we say flushed with victory, victoriæ plenum) Jesus came to John in such a way, that John could point Him out close at hand: and yet Jesus did not begin the conversation with him.—V. g.]—ὁ ἀμνὸς τοῦ Θεοῦ, the Lamb of God) He calls Him the Iamb, [as being] innocent, [and] about to be immolated;[One] who renders active and passive obedience, 1 Peter 1:19 [the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot]. , the article has respect to the prophecy delivered concerning Him under this figure, Isaiah 53:7 [He is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so He opened not His mouth]; also under the type of the Paschal lamb. Moreover the passover itself was then near, ch. John 2:13. John being divinely instructed, calls Him the Lamb of God: although at that early time the exact understanding of this appellation would escape, if not John himself, at least his hearers. [Having first asserted his knowledge as to the exalted nature of the person of Jesus Christ, to wit, as to the Word which was made Flesh; next John describes His office and His chief benefit. In like manner Jesus Christ first presented Himself to be acknowledged by the disciples as Son of God; then He instructed them as to His sufferings, etc.—V. g.]—τοῦ Θεοῦ, of God) The Lamb of God, whom God gave and approved of; and concerning whom He Himself bears such testimony, This is the only Lamb, this is the only victim pleasing to Me, Hebrews 10:5, etc. “Sacrifice and offering Thou wouldst not, but a body hast Thou prepared Me: In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin Thou hast had no pleasure, Then said I, Lo I come to do Thy will O God.” So Psalm 51:17, The sacrifices of God [mean those] which God acknowledges [as pleasing to Him], Luke 2:26, the Lord’s Christ.—ὁ αἴρων,) Chrysost. John says, ἀμνὸν ΚΑΙ ΟΤΙ αἴρει, κ.τ.λ. “Behold the Lamb, and that He takes away,” etc. The Vulgate has Ecce Agnus Dei, ECCE qui tollit, etc. [Behold the Lamb, behold Him who takes away]. Both understood the words ὁ ἀμνὸς, ὁ αἴρων, not in the construction of substantive and adjective, but as in apposition. The Lamb of God, i.e., He who takes away, etc. And this second clause was added by either the Baptist, or the Evangelist, as ch. John 4:25 [Messias cometh, which is called Christ]. The Lamb of God first took the load of sin off the world on Himself, then rolled it off from Himself. [The same expression evidently, as 1 John 3:5 (He was manifested to take away our sins).—V. g.]—τὴν ἁμαρτίαν, the sin) The singular number, with the article, [gives it] the greatest force. [There was] the one plague, which seized on all; He bore the whole; He did not so bear one part [of our sin], as not to bear the other. The same singular number is interposed between Plurals, Isaiah 53:6; Isaiah 53:8; Isaiah 53:12, “The Lord hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all:” whereas in John 1:5, “He was wounded for our transgressions;”—“for the transgression of My people was He stricken;” “He bare the sin of many.” Sin and the world are equally widely extended.

Verse 29. - On the following day. Next after the day on which the Sanhedrin had heard from John the vindication of his own right to baptize in virtue of the commencement of the Messiah's ministry, which as yet was concealed from all eyes but his own. He [John ] seeth Jesus coming towards him, within reach of observation (certainly not, as Ewald and others have imagined, to be baptized of him, for, as we have seen, the statements of ver. 33 exclude the possibility of such a purpose. The design of Jesus is not stated. The evangelist is here occupied with the testimony of the Baptist to Christ. Enough is said to provide the opportunity for the most wonderful and mysterious utterances of the forerunner. Behold (ἴδε in the singular, although several persons are addressed, is not unusual; see Matthew 10:16 and John 11:3) the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world. We should observe, from the later context, that already John had perceived by special signs and Divine inspiration that Jesus was the Son of God, and the veritable Baptizer with the Holy Ghost; that he was before him in dignity, honour, and by pre-existence, although his earthly ministry had been delayed until after John's preparatory work had been done. John had felt that the "confession of sins" made by the guilty multitude, by generations of vipers, was needful, rational, imperative upon them; but that in the case of Jesus this confession was not only superfluous, but a kind of contradiction in terms. The Lord over whom the heavens had opened, and to whom the heavenly name had been given, fulfilling all righteousness by submitting to the baptism of repentance unto the remission of sins, was a profound perplexity to the Baptist. Strange was it that he who would have power to deal with the Holy Ghost even as John had been using water should have been called in any real sense to confess the sins of his own nature or life. John believed that Jesus was the Source of a fiery purity and purifying power, and that according to his own showing he had rejected all proposals which might bring Israel to his feet by assuming the role of their conquering Messiah. He had even treated these suggestions as temptations of the devil. Not to save his physical life from starvation would he use his miraculous energies for his own personal ends. Not to bring the whole Sanhedrin, priesthood, and temple guard, nay, even the Roman governor and court, to his feet, will he utter a word or wave a signal which they could misunderstand. His purpose was to identify himself, Son of God though he be, with the world - to "suffer all, that he might succour all." Because John knew that Jesus was so great he was brought to apprehend the veritable fact and central reality of the Lord's person and work. He saw by a Divine inspiration what Jesus was, and what he was about to do. The simple supposition that Jesus had made John the Baptist his confidant, on his return from the wilderness of temptation and victory, and that we owe the story of the temptation to the facts of Christ's experience which had been communicated to John, do more than any other supposition does to expound the standpoint of John's remarkable exclamation. A library of discussion and exposition has been produced by the words which John uttered on this occasion, and different writers have taken opposite views, which in their origin proceed from the same root. The early Greek interpreters were moving in a true direction when they looked to the celebrated oracle of Isaiah 53 as the primary signification of the great phrase, "The Lamb of God." The image used to portray the suffering Sin-bearer is the "Lamb brought silently to the slaughter," "a Sheep dumb before his shearers." Doubtless the first implication of this comparison arose from the prophet's conception of the patience, gentleness, and submission of the sublime but suffering "Servant of God;" but the fourth, fifth, sixth, and twelfth verses of that chapter are so charged with the sin bearing of the great Victim, the vicarious and propitiatory virtue of his agony unto death, that we cannot separate the one from the other. He who is led as a Lamb to the slaughter bears our sins and suffers pain for us, is wounded on account of our transgressions: "The Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all... it pleased the Lord to bruise him," etc. The Servant of God is God's Lamb, appointed and consecrated for the highest work of sacrificial suffering and death. The LXX. has certainly used the verb φέρειν, to bear, where John uses αἴρειν, to take away. Meyer suggests that in the idea of αἄρειν the previous notion of φέρειν is involved and presupposed. The Hebrew formula, נָשָׂא חֵטְא and נָשָׂא עָון, are variously translated by the LXX., but generally in the sense of bearing the consequences of personal guilt or the sin of another (Numbers 14:34; Leviticus 5:17; Leviticus 20:17; Ezekiel 18:19). In Leviticus 10:17 it is distinctly used of the priestly expiation for sin to be effected by Eleazar. Here and elsewhere נָשָׂא is translated in the LXX. by ἀφαιρεῖν, where God as the subject of the verb is described as lifting off sin from the transgressor and by bearing it himself - bearing it away. In several places the LXX. has gone further, translating the word, when God is the subject, by ἀφιεναί, with the idea of forgiveness (Psalm 32:5; Psalm 85:3; Genesis 50:17; Isaiah 33:24). Hence the Baptist, in using the word αἴρειν, had doubtless in his mind the large connotation of the Hebrew word נָשָׂא with the fundamental prerequisite of the taking away, which the oracle of Isaiah had suggested to him. John knew that the taking away of sin involved the twofold process:

(1) the conference of a new spiritual life by the gift and grace of the Holy Spirit; and

(2) such a removal of the consequences and shame and peril of sin as is involved by the bearing of sins in his own Divine personality. Thus he not only perceived from the accompaniments of the baptism that Jesus was the Son of God and the Baptizer with the Holy Ghost, but that, being these, his meek submission and his triumphant repudiation of the temptations of the devil which were based upon the fact of his Divine sonship proved that he was the Divine sin-bearing Lamb of Isaiah's oracle. Many commentators have, however, seen a special reference to the Paschal lamb, with which Christ's work was, without hesitation, compared in later years (1 Corinthians 5:7). There can be no doubt that the Passover lamb was a "sin offering" (Hengstenberg, 'Christ of the Old Testament,' vol. 4:351; Baur, 'Uber die Ursprung und Bedeutung des Passah-Fest,' quoted by Lucke, 1:404). It was God's sacrifice by pre-eminence, and the blood of the lamb was offered to God to make atonement, and it freed Israel from the curse that fell on the firstborn of Egypt. John, the son of a sacrificing priest, the Nazarite, the stern prophet of the wilderness, was familiar with all the ritual and the lessons of that solemn festival; and might look on the Son of God, selected for this sacrifice, as fulfilling in singular and unique fashion the function of the Passover Lamb for the whole world. But John would not be limited by the Paschal associations. Day by day lambs were presented before God as burnt offerings, as expressions of the desire of the offerers to accept absolutely the supreme will of God. Moreover, the lamb of the trespass offering was slain for atonement (Leviticus 4:35; Leviticus 14:11; Numbers 6:12), either when physical defilement excluded the sufferer from temple worship, or when a Nazarite had lost the advantage of his vow by contact with the dead. Even the ceremonial of the great Day of Atonement, though other animal victims were used, suggested the same great thought of propitiatory suffering and death. These various forms of sacrificial worship must have been in the minds of both Isaiah and John. They are the key to Isaiah's prophecy, and this in its turn is the basis of the cry of John. The New Testament apostles and evangelists, whether accurate or not in their exegesis, did repeatedly take this oracle of Isaiah's as descriptive of the work of the Lord, and other early Christian writers treated the chapter as though it were a fragment of their contemporaneous evidence and exposition (Matthew 8:17; 1 Peter 2:22-25; Acts 8:28; Luke 22:37; Revelation 5:6; Revelation 13:8; Romans 10:16; Clement, '1 Ep. ad Cor.,' 16.). John was standing further back, and on an Old Testament platform, but we have, in his knowledge of Isaiah's prophecies, and his familiarity with the sacrificial system of which that oracle foreshadowed the fulfilment, quite enough to account for the burning words in which he condensed the meaning of the ancient sacrifices, and saw them all transcended in the suffering Son of God. The author of 'Ecce Homo,' by identifying the "Lamb of God" with the imagery of Psalm 23, supposed that John saw, in the inward repose and spiritual joyfulness of Jesus, the power he would wield to take away the sin of the world. "He (John) was one of the dogs of the flock of Jehovah, Jesus was one of the Lambs of the good Shepherd." There is no hint whatever of these ideas in the psalm. This curiosity of exegesis has not secured any acceptance. Some difficulty has been felt in the fact that John should have made such progress in New Testament thought; but the experience through which John has passed during his contact with Jesus, the sentiment with which he found the Lord whom he sought coming to his baptism, the agony that he foresaw must follow the contact of such a One with the prejudices and sins of the people, above all, the mode in which our Lord was treating the current expectation of Messiah regarding its eagerly desired manifestations as temptations of the devil, flashed the whole of Isaiah's oracle into sudden splendour. He saw the Lamb already led to slaughter, and his blood upon the very door posts of every house; he saw him lifting, bearing, carrying away, the sin of the world, all impurity, transgression, and shame. His atoning sacrifice is already going on. The sins of mankind fall on the Holy One. He sees him pouring out his soul unto death, and making gentle intercession for his murderers; so in a glorious ecstasy he cries, "BEHOLD THE LAMB OF GOD!" (see my 'John the Baptist,' ch. 6. § 2, pp. 369-386). John 1:29John

The best texts omit.

Seeth (βλέπει)

Both ὁράω and βλέπω denote the physical act of seeing, the former seeing in general, the latter the single look. The perception indicated by βλέπω is more outward; the perception of sense as distinguished from mental discernment, which is prominent in ὁράω. A look told the Baptist that the Mightier One had come. See on John 1:18, and see on Matthew 7:3.

Unto (πρὸς)

Strictly, towards.

Behold (ἴδε)

The imperative in the singular number, though the company of his followers is addressed. This construction, however, is not uncommon. See Matthew 26:65; Acts 13:46.

The Lamb (ὁ ἀμνὸς)

The word occurs in John only here and in John 1:36. Also in Acts 8:32; 1 Peter 1:19. The diminutive ἀρνίον, a little lamb, is found once in the Gospel (John 21:15), often in Revelation, but only of the glorified Redeemer, and nowhere else in the New Testament. In some instances the word may emphasize the gentle and innocent character of Jesus suffering to expiate the sins of men (Revelation 5:6, Revelation 5:12; Revelation 13:8); but it is also employed in describing Him as indignant (Revelation 6:16); as victorious (Revelation 17:4); as the object of adoration (Revelation 5:8); and as enthroned (Revelation 5:13; Revelation 7:17).

The term, the Lamb of God (note the article), is evidently used here by the Baptist in some sense understood by his hearers, and points to Isaiah 53:7; compare Acts 8:32. The reference is probably to the Paschal lamb, though commentators differ.

Of God

Provided by God for sacrifice.

That taketh away (ὁ αἴρων)


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