In these verses, what seemed to be the culmination of John the Baptist’s ministry was finally happening. Jesus was walking toward him and John uttered those beautiful words, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” God had provided His own Lamb for the sacrifice, just as He had done on the mountain as Abraham was about to sacrifice Isaac. Jesus was the Perfect, Spotless Lamb who would become the perfect sacrifice for the sins of His people.
In order to understand John’s statement, “who takes away the sin (singular) of the world,” we need to look at a principle called “Cause & Effect” and we need to understand how it applies to sin. This is a deep theological truth, so stay with me here. In the Garden of Eden, our representative for all of humanity, Adam, was tested, failed the test, and sin entered the world. This sin that Adam committed in the garden is known as “Original Sin” and it has been passed down to every man, woman and child. This doctrine of Original Sin has been taught extensively in Catholic and Lutheran churches, but in Evangelical Christian churches, it seems to be a lost truth. The way we are taught today, we think that we are sinners because we sin. This is one reason that works-based salvation is so popular. We believe that if only we could stop sinning, we would no longer be sinners.
But that is a lie of the devil. It is meant to remove from our thoughts our need for a Savior and to give us the false hope that we can solve our sin problem on our own.
If we look to Romans 5: 12-21, we will see that we are not sinners because we sin. We will understand that we sin because we are sinners. Because we each have a sin nature passed down from Adam, everything we do is tainted by sin.
And consider this… if you think people are inherently good and do not accept that we have a sin nature, think about a child, under 2 years old, telling a lie to his mother about the cookie he just ate and is now denying, even though the cookie crumbs are all over his face. Where did that child learn to lie? It came from the sin nature that is within each one of us.
Now consider this… even if you were able to go from conception to death without committing one sin… not even one… you would still need a Savior to escape eternal damnation in hell, because the sin we commit everyday is not our only problem. Our “Original Sin” needs to be dealt with as well, and that was something that only Jesus Christ could do for us through His perfect life, death and resurrection. It was only through that perfect union of God and humanity in Christ that we can be declared justified in the sight of God.
John continues his testimony by exalting the preexistent Christ “who ranks before me, because He was before me.” John came for the purpose of preparing the way for the Messiah, that Jesus might be revealed to Israel. John goes on to describe the anointing of the Holy Spirit that he saw descend on Jesus and remain on Him, and finally to conclude that Jesus is the Son of God.
Before we move on to the next section, I ask you to comment here and let me know your thoughts, whether you agree or disagree. We all can learn from each other, so let’s talk about these past few passages.