John the Baptist has to be one of the strangest figures in all the Bible. Here’s a guy who wanders around in the desert, never cuts his hair, eats a steady diet of locusts and wild honey, clothes himself in camel hair, and spends his time preaching and plunging people under water. Let’s just say John the Baptist probably wouldn’t have made it on the cover of GQ Magazine.
But for all his peculiarities, John was a humble and holy man who deeply loved and profoundly understood the Messiah like no prophet before him. In John 1:29-30, we get a glimpse of the passion and affection John had for Jesus Christ. John’s heart must have skipped a beat that day he saw Jesus walking toward him…
The next day [John] saw Jesus coming to him and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. This is He on behalf of whom I said, ‘After me comes a Man who has a higher rank than I, for He existed before me.’ ”
These words of John reveal three central truths about Jesus Christ:
- Jesus is our great sin-bearer. By calling Jesus the “Lamb of God,” John instantly applies the entire Old Testament sacrificial system to this one person, who would offer Himself once-for-all for the sins of the world. Jesus didn’t come to save the Jews only, but to save all people from all the nations of the world. Whoever will confess their sins and cast themselves completely upon Him can receive eternal life. By dying on the cross, Jesus Christ bore the sin we’ve committed, and endured the wrath of God that we deserved. Yet through His shed blood, our sins were “taken away” as far as the east is from the west. Praise God!
- Jesus is a genuine human being. In verse 30, John the Baptist calls Jesus “a
” Jesus was not a mythological figure, or some kind of apparition. He was a literal, flesh-and-blood human being who dwelled upon this earth at a fixed point in time. His virgin birth, public ministry, crucifixion, and resurrection are some of the most well-documented and indisputable events in human history. And because Jesus was a genuine human being, He was able to represent the human race as our “second Adam,” living the life of perfect obedience that the first Adam never achieved (Romans 5:19). Man.
- Jesus is the eternal Son of God. John humbly acknowledges that Jesus “has a higher rank than I, for He existed before me.” This is quite a statement, since John was born six months before Jesus! Yet John rightly understood that Jesus Christ had always existed as the eternal Son of God. Jesus points to this reality again and again in the Gospel of John when He declares He has “come out of heaven” (6:38) and has been “sent” by the Father (4:34; 17:18; etc.). So, while John identifies Jesus as a man, he immediately identifies Him as something more than an ordinary man. Jesus Christ is the God-Man, the only-begotten Son of God, who was sent by His Father to seek and save those who are lost.
Let us listen to the words of John, and fix our eyes completely on the One whom he described. Jesus Christ alone is our glorious sin-bearer, our perfect representative, and the eternal Son of God.