“I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way of the Lord.’..Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” John 1:23,29 (ESV)
“for this reason I came baptizing with water, that he (Jesus) might be revealed…” John 1:31 (ESV)
There are two significant things I visualize reading these verses: the first is John the Baptist crying out in the wilderness—outside the hustle and bustle of daily life—to those who came out to see him; and the second is the Lamb of God—the one John says will take away the sins of the world.
John cries out, “Make straight the way of the Lord!” In essense, repent and prepare to see God. It strikes me, in his plan to send his Son to earth, God sent a messenger into the wilderness to prepare the way. If I were called to tell the world its Creator and Sovereign was coming, I wouldn’t go out to the wilderness to do it. I’d go to the most populous place and broadcast it as loudly as possible.
But John called people out of their busy lives to consider their ways. He called them to confess their sins and be washed of their shame—albeit with water—in order to be ready for their Lord’s coming. The coming of the the Messiah was an event Israel had been waiting for a very long time. They expected he would inaugurate a new Kingdom—
“For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The Mighty God, The Everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.” (Isaiah 9:6–7.)
If a King were coming, why did John the Baptist say, ‘the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world’?
The image of a lamb—especially to the Jews—would lend itself to the image of a sacrifice. Their practice since the origin of the Laws of Moses was to sacrifice a blemish-free lamb to cover their sins. It’s striking, once again, John says their Lord is also their Lamb.
But they didn’t understand. I confess, I wouldn’t understand either. God’s idea of a King and my idea of a king are completely different. The kingdom Jesus inaugurated was a kingdom where the King is the perfect servant, obedient to His Father in heaven, holy and without sin, just in every judgment, compassionate and humble. So the words of the prophet Isaiah are quiet accurate regarding Jesus of Nazareth, the Lord and Lamb of God.
Unto us a Son was given—He is Wonderful. He’s the perfect Counselor. He’s the Prince of Peace.
John was called to reveal Jesus to Israel. As followers of Jesus Christ, we too are called to reveal Jesus and his kingdom to the world. (Acts 1:8, Matthew 28:19-20)
I am a voice of one crying out in the wilderness—Make straight the way of the Lord, the Lamb of God who took away the sins of the world is coming back!