15 January 2017

John 1:29-42

“Here is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (v. 29)

Psalm: Psalm 40


There are so many threads in this passage that we have a quite complex tapestry.

  • Jesus as the Lamb of God (verses 29, 36)
  • John the Baptist as no more than a witness to Jesus (verses 32, 34)
  • An echo of the account in the other Gospels where Jesus is baptized, identified as God's Son and empowered by the Spirit (verses 32-33, cf Mark 1:9-11)
  • The promise of the Holy Spirit, given by Jesus to those who believe in him (verse 33)
  • The importance of discovering for ourselves who Jesus really is (verses 38-39)
  • The idea of witnessing to others what we have discovered (verses 36-37, 40-41)
  • The new identity given to Peter, echoing the story set at Caesarea Philippi in Matthew's Gospel (verse 42, cf. Matthew 16:13-20).

This interweaving is typical of John's Gospel and offers plenty of food for thought. But many readers are likely to focus on verse 29. It brings together three Old Testament images:

  • the lamb eaten still at Passover each year in Jewish households in celebration of deliverance from slavery in Egypt and the beginning of the long journey to freedom and maturity in the promised land
  • the many sacrificial victims offered in the temple ritual to deal with the contamination of sin
  • the scapegoat, on whom each year at the feast of the Atonement the sins of the people were symbolically laid to be carried away into the desert and lost.

All of these give an insight into who Jesus is.

To Ponder

  • What might it mean to say that Jesus takes away the sin of the world?
  • How might we bear witness effectively today to what we have discovered about Jesus?

Bible notes author

The Revd Brian Beck

Brian Beck is a Methodist minister, now retired, and a former president and secretary of the Methodist Conference. A large part of his ministry has been spent in theological education, both in Limuru, Kenya, and in Cambridge, England..