This is part 2 of 49 parts video series covering the Gospel of John. Here John the Baptist answered the priests and Levites sent by Jewish authorities inquiring who is he? John answered them I am ‘the voice of someone shouting in the desert: Make a straight path for the Lord to travel!. In this part also John points to Jesus saying, “There is the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!
John 1:19-34 (GNT)
JOHN 1: 19-34 (GNT)
John the Baptist’s Message
19 The Jewish authorities in Jerusalem sent some priests and Levites to John to ask him, “Who are you?”
20 John did not refuse to answer, but spoke out openly and clearly, saying: “I am not the Messiah.”
21 “Who are you, then?” they asked. “Are you Elijah?”
“No, I am not,” John answered.
“Are you the Prophet?” they asked.
“No,” he replied.
22 “Then tell us who you are,” they said. “We have to take an answer back to those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?”
23 John answered by quoting the prophet Isaiah:
“I am ‘the voice of someone shouting in the desert:
Make a straight path for the Lord to travel!’”
24 The messengers, who had been sent by the Pharisees,
25 then asked John, “If you are not the Messiah nor Elijah nor the Prophet, why do you baptize?”
26 John answered, “I baptize with water, but among you stands the one you do not know.
27 He is coming after me, but I am not good enough even to untie his sandals.”
28 All this happened in Bethany on the east side of the Jordan River, where John was baptizing.
The Lamb of God
29 The next day John saw Jesus coming to him, and said, “There is the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!
30 This is the one I was talking about when I said, ‘A man is coming after me, but he is greater than I am, because he existed before I was born.’
31 I did not know who he would be, but I came baptizing with water in order to make him known to the people of Israel.”
32 And John gave this testimony: “I saw the Spirit come down like a dove from heaven and stay on him.
33 I still did not know that he was the one, but God, who sent me to baptize with water, had said to me, ‘You will see the Spirit come down and stay on a man; he is the one who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’
34 I have seen it,” said John, “and I tell you that he is the Son of God.”
Now this is the testimony of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, “Who are you?” He confessed, and did not deny, but confessed, “I am not the Christ.” And they asked him, “What then? Are you Elijah?” He said, “I am not.” “Are you the Prophet?” And he answered, “No.” Then they said to him, “Who are you, that we may give an answer to those who sent us? What do you say about yourself?”
a. Now this is the testimony of John: We have already learned that John the Baptist came for a witness (John 1:7 and 1:15). Now we learn what his testimony regarding Jesus was.
i. The Jews: “Here for the first time we come upon the use of the term ‘the Jews’ in this Gospel to denote not the people as a whole but one particular group – here, the religious establishment in Jerusalem.” (Bruce)
ii. “Thus the parents of the man born blind were certainly members of the Jewish nation, but they are said to fear ‘the Jews’ (John 9:22).” (Morris)
b. I am not the Christ: With emphasis, John told the Jewish leaders who he was not. He did not come to focus attention on himself, because he was not the Messiah. His job was to point to the Messiah.
i. “John completely rejected that claim; but he rejected it with a certain hint. In the Greek the word I is stressed by its position. It is as if John said: ‘I am not the Messiah, but, if you only knew, the Messiah is here.’” (Barclay)
ii. He confessed, and did not deny: “Sincerely and studiously; he put away that honour with both hands earnestly, as knowing the danger of wronging the jealous God.” (Trapp)
iii. It was important for John the Gospel writer to make clear to his readers that John the Baptist did not claim to be more than he was. “As late as a.d. 250 the Clementine Recognitions tell us that ‘there were some of John’s disciples who preached about him as if their master was the Messiah.’” (Barclay)
a. I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness: Quoting from Isaiah 40:3, John explained his work – to prepare the way of the Lord. His baptism prepared people, cleansing them for the coming King. The idea was, “Get cleaned up, get ready for a royal visit.”
i. “John’s real function was not to teach ethics, but to point men to Jesus. ‘Make straight the way of the Lord’ is a call to be ready, for the coming of the Messiah is near.” (Morris)
ii. The religious leaders wanted to know who John was, and he wasn’t really interested in answering that question. He wanted to talk about his mission: to prepare the way for the Messiah.
C. Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! In this one sentence, John the Baptist summarized the greatest work of Jesus: to deal with the sin problem afflicting the human race. Every word of this sentence is important.
i. Behold! John said this as he saw Jesus coming toward him. As a preacher, John first saw Jesus himself and then told all his listeners to look upon Jesus, to behold him.
ii. The Lamb of God: John used the image of the sacrificial lamb, represented many times in the Old Testament. Jesus is the perfect fulfillment of every time that image is displayed.
· He is the lamb slain before the foundation of the world.
· He is the animal slain in the Garden of Eden to cover the nakedness of the first sinners.
· He is the lamb God would Himself provide for Abraham as a substitute for Isaac.
· He is the Passover lamb for Israel.
· He is the lamb for the guilt offering in the Levitical sacrifices.
· He is Isaiah’s lamb to the slaughter, ready to be shorn
· Each of these lambs fulfilled their role in their death; this was an announcement that Jesus would die, and as a sacrifice for the sin of the world.
iii. Who takes away: The sense of the original combines the words to bear and to take away. Jesus bears sin, but in the sense of bearing them upon Himself and taking them away. “The verb ‘taketh away’ conveys the notion of bearing off.” (Morris)
· “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.” (Maclaren)
iv. The sin: Not the plural sins, but the singular sin – with the sense that that the entire guilt of humanity was collected into one and placed upon Jesus. “Only afterwards could the Evangelist, as he looked back, have caught the Baptist’s full meaning.” (Trench)
v. Of the world: The sacrifice of this Lamb of God has all the capacity to forgive every sin and cleanse every sinner. It is big enough for the whole world. “He will give Himself as the expiatory Sacrifice not only of the sins of His people, but of the germ of all sin in Adam’s descendants, the sin of the world, the apostasy in Eden: thus wide and deep is the Baptist’s vision.” (Trench)
Commentary by David Guzik
About the Gospel of John. The gospel of John was written to persuade people to believe in Jesus (20:30-31). The opening verses declare that Jesus is God, stressing His unique relationship with God the Father. The book focuses on seven of Jesus’ signs (miracles), to show his divinity. Jesus called people to believe in him, promising eternal life. He proved he could give life by raising Lazarus (ch.11) and by his own death and resurrection. John features Christ’s seven “I am” statements, his encounters with Nicodemus and the Samaritan woman, his upper room teachings and washing of disciple’s feet (chs. 13-16, and his high priestly prayer (ch. 17. It includes the most well-known summary of the gospel (3:16).