19 January 2014

John 1:29-42

“The next day John again was standing with two of his disciples, and as he watched Jesus walk by, he exclaimed, ‘Look, here is the Lamb of God!’ The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus. When Jesus turned and saw them following, he said to them, ‘What are you looking for?’ They said to him, ‘Rabbi’ (which translated means Teacher), ‘where are you staying?’ He said to them, ‘Come and see.’” (vv. 35-39a)


Twice in today's passage, John the Baptist refers to Jesus as the Lamb of God (verses 29, 35).

On the first occasion (verse 29) he declares, "Here is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!" You may have sung or heard these words sung (in an older translation) as well as spoken for they are used in the opening chorus of the second part of Handel's Messiah. How are we to understand this declaration? Various suggestions have been made. Some point to Isaiah 53 in which God's suffering servant is said to be 'like a lamb that is led to the slaughter' (Isaiah 53:7); he "shall make many righteous, and he shall bear their iniquities" (Isaiah 53:11). Others point out that later in John's Gospel, there is a strong emphasis on how the crucifixion relates to the Passover. For example, Jesus is brought out by Pilate when the killing of the Passover lambs would begin: "it was the day of Preparation for the Passover; and it was about noon" (John 19:14). The point is also made that, although the soldiers broke the legs of those who were crucified with Jesus, they did not break his legs (John 19:36). This is significant because Exodus 12:46 and Numbers 9:12 record the command that none of the bones of the Passover lamb shall be broken. One of the weaknesses of this second suggestion is that the blood of the Passover lamb is used to protect the people rather than take away sin (Exodus 12:7, 13). Perhaps these two suggestions should be combined.

The second occasion Jesus is referred to as the Lamb of God two of John's disciples hear him and then follow Jesus. They respond positively both to John's witness and to the invitation of Jesus to 'come and see' where he is staying. Andrew, however, cannot wait to tell his brother what has happened; he, too, becomes a witness to Jesus and tells Simon Peter, "We have found the Messiah" (v. 41).

To Ponder

  • What images, titles, and stories have you found helpful in your growing understanding of Jesus and what he has done, is doing, and promises to do?
  • Do some of those images, titles, and stories prove more effective than others when you bear witness to Jesus? Which one? And why?
  • How do you respond to what Andrew did?

Bible notes author

The Revd Neil Stubbens

Neil Stubbens is a Methodist presbyter who is currently the connexional ecumenical officer. Previously, he has served in the Barnsley, Southport, St Helens and Prescot, and Sankey Valley Circuits.