Wednesday, January 06, 2021

Behold The Lamb Of God (John 1:29-34)

 John the Baptist sees Jesus on the next day, and we should understand some background about the title he gives Jesus. Lambs were often given to God in sacrifice, commanded by Him to signify the forgiveness of sins. Leviticus 1-7 describes many sacrifices for sins that the Israelites were aware of, both large and small. The Passover (Exodus 12) was a sacrifice, and arguably the most important one for the people. As each family ate their Passover Lamb, they were participating in the memory of God passing over the houses of the Israelites with the final plague, when he led them out of Egypt. One critical thing to remember is that sacrifice in the Bible is not about death, for the most part. Sacrifices are about the life of the animal (see also Leviticus 17:11). The death of an animal sacrifice is meant to teach us that sin causes death, just as it did for Adam and Eve (see Genesis 3). St. Paul will say later, "For the wages of sin is death…" (Romans 6:23)

Therefore, John the Baptist is telling us that Jesus will be a pure sacrifice, once-for-all, to take away all of our sin. There is a mystery here, because we would naturally ask, "How can Jesus be before John the Baptist, when Jesus was born at a particular time, and the two men are about the same age?" We need to go back to the prologue, and remember that St. John's wording is meant to teach us that Jesus is God, who took on a human nature. He is not a human person who became God; he is God, who became man. This is probably the most important thing that John wants us to know. John the Baptist is also giving us a little preview of his plan to step aside, because his work is done. He doesn't need to announce the coming of Jesus once Jesus has come. This will help us to understand some things John the Baptist says later. John the Baptist is reminding us that his water baptism is not the same as the one Jesus will give, which is one in and by the Holy Spirit. We will get a chance to explore this more later.

Tuesday, January 05, 2021

Jesus Is Greater Than John The Baptist (John 1:19-28)

 The religious leaders asked John the Baptist who he was, because there were many ideas about who would come on the scene at the end of the world. Many thought Elijah would come again, before the end. The leaders also knew that John was preaching a bold message of repentance, that certainly challenged some of their lax attitudes. The "Prophet" is most likely the one spoken of in Deuteronomy 18:15-18. It also indicated to other people that maybe God was up to something new.

The Messiah was supposed to take his place as King, and lead their armies in victorious battle over the nations of the Earth. Most probably did not think John was the Messiah, but he was interesting enough that they had to ask.

John denied it, but the way he answered the question showed that God really was up to something new. John is not the Messiah, but he says he is the one to announce him. He quotes a prophecy from Isaiah, (Isaiah 40:3) and everyone should know that it will get very interesting from here.

One traditional view of John the Baptist is that he was the last prophet of the Old Testament. Therefore, when he is receiving messages from God about who Jesus is, he is fulfilling the last parts of his role as that prophet.

John also gives us some new information about the Messiah: he will also be the only Son of God the Father. We are also introduced to the Holy Spirit. Often in the Old Testament, the Holy Spirit is called, "the Spirit of God," and we don't get a lot of details about who He is, but we do know that the Holy Spirit would always come to the aid of the anointed kings and prophets in Israel. So, one thing we can reasonably conclude is that the author St. John believes Jesus to be a prophet and a king.