On the morrow he seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold, the Lamb of God, that taketh away the sin of the world!John 1:29 ASV
John the Baptist hailed Jesus of Nazareth as the long expected Messiah of Israel and the Saviour of all mankind.
From the gates of Paradise until that dramatic instant, the sacrificial lamb had been the paramount and dominating feature of the worship of God throughout both the patriarchal and Mosaic dispensations.
The author of this Gospel, at that moment one of John’s disciples, heard that epic announcement in all of its dimensions and overtones.
It was a truth that thundered and reverberated in his mind throughout a lifetime; and this narrative of the exact circumstances of its revelation is one of the richest heritages of our holy faith.
In this first announcement of the great office of the Son of God, it was his relation to man’s sin that was emphasized.
He “taketh away the sin of the world!”
Christ did not come to solve the political problems of Israel, nor to break the back of Roman tyranny, nor for bringing improvements in agriculture, trade, medicine, or education, nor for any similar thing.
Christ came to redeem people from sin.
This is the only problem incapable of solution by the race of man; but this problem is so malignant and pervasive that it requires to be solved first, before the final solution of all the other problems can be achieved, thus being the one great need of mortal man that it should be truly solved.
CHRIST AND MAN’S SIN
Sin is man’s worst enemy, his greatest problem, all human wretchedness issuing from a single fountain of bitter waters, that of sin.
The glory of Jesus our Lord lies in what he does to sin.
A. He reveals sin. People would never have known their sin adequately had it not been for Christ.
Paul could face his enemies and, speaking from a human standpoint, say, “I know nothing against myself” (1 Corinthians 4:4); but, when he contemplated the work of Jesus on the cross, he had a far different estimate of himself, saying, “Jesus came to save sinners … of whom I am chief!” (1 Timothy 1:15).
B. Christ ransoms from sin.
Wonderful is the word that Christ ransoms people from sin.
In this world’s terrible night of darkness and despair, how grandly do the words go marching in the gloom: ransomed, redeemed, propitiated, bought with a price, saved by the blood of Christ (1 Timothy 2:6; 1 John 4:10; 2:1,2; Romans 3:25; 1 Peter 1:18,19; and 1 Corinthians 6:20).
C. Christ removes sin far away.
He takes away the guilt, the penalty and the practice of sin.
He is the sin-bearer for all humanity. God “laid upon him the iniquity of us all” (Isaiah 53:6).
Christ bore our sins in his own body on the tree, thus accomplishing what no typical lamb ever achieved.
In the tragic sleep-walking scene from Shakespeare’s Macbeth, following the murder of the king, Lady Macbeth cried because of the blood on her hand:
Will all great Neptune’s ocean wash this blood Clean from my hand?
No, this my hand will rather The multitudinous seas incarnadine, Making the green one red …. All the perfumes of Arabia cannot sweeten this little hand!
It is the blood of Christ alone which is able to do what all the oceans and the perfumes of Arabia cannot do – make the guilty innocent!
D. Christ overrules sin for the good of those who love him.
“Where sin increased, there grace abounded all the more” (Romans 5:20).
Under the great Mormon organ in the Salt Lake City Tabernacle, a great pit was opened up to give the organ deeper tones.
Similarly, people who have been scarred and burned in the ugly pits of sin are often more CONSCIOUS of God’s grace than some who have led more conventional lives.
Perhaps in this is explained why the publicans and harlots entered into the kingdom of heaven before the Pharisees.
Through tragic experience, people learn what they should have known already, that God’s word is indeed true, and that “the wages of sin is death.”
God’s teaching with regard to sin is confirmed and verified by every sin ever committed by either saint or sinner.
This endlessly-repeated proof and verification of God’s word is a strong inducement to fidelity.
E. Christ remits sin.
He forgives it!
This is the great difference between the new covenant and the old covenant (Jeremiah 31:31-35), that God indeed forgives sin, removing it as far as the east is from the west, as far as the bottom of the sea, forgiving sin so completely that God will not even remember it any more!
The technical question of which lamb John had in mind, whether the paschal lamb or the daily sacrifice, is resolved by including all of them.
Were not all these types fulfilled in Christ, and was not he the antitype to whom they all pointed?
It is particularly significant that Christ was thus presented as the Saviour of all people, and not merely as the Saviour of a class or nation.
“The sin of the world …” identifies the grand theater of our Lord’s redemptive service, making it encompass all mankind, but only in the sense of salvation’s being available to all, and not in the sense of the universal procurement of salvation.