The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!”
John 1:29 (NKJV)
We are in the time that the church celebrates Epiphany. The word means a manifestation or revelation and, as we know, it is a time of year when the church considers the identity of the baby who was born at Bethlehem. Nowadays church readings can include the arrival of the Magi; the presentation in the temple; the baptism of Jesus; the marriage at Cana, and it can run up to the transfiguration.
But our use of the word ‘epiphany’ in English means a bit more than unveiling. We would include a sudden perception of sight into something. We could go further and say the word includes us exclaiming ‘Ah-ha, I see!’
All through the gospels we see the disciples misunderstanding who Jesus was, and looking for a conquering Messiah to free them from their Roman overlords and restore their kingdom. They didn’t pick up the references in the Hebrew scriptures to a different Messiah. But sometime earlier, maybe in the desert, John the Baptist must have had an ‘Ah-ha’ moment. He saw the Passover lamb slain and its blood smeared on the doorposts so the death angel passed over. He saw the sacrificial system of Israel, and in particular the Day of Atonement. He read the prophecies of Isaiah, such as Isaiah 53. He knew that the coming Messiah was not just to be a king but a sacrificial Lamb.
So as soon as he sees Jesus approaching, John cries out: “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” The next day he is standing with two of his disciples and as Jesus walks by, he repeats it: “Behold the Lamb of God!” (vv. 35-36). The two disciples turn and follow Jesus but do not understand the full implication of John’s statement.
It would be much later, after the crucifixion and resurrection, that on the road to Emmaus Jesus would open the minds of the two disciples walking at his side; he enabled them to understand he was both a King and a sacrificial Lamb. That was the start of many ‘ah-ha’ moments for the church down the ages.
We give you thanks, our Father, that through your Spirit you open our minds to precious ‘ah- ha, oh I see’ moments, so that we may grow in grace and understanding. May our lives reflect our thankfulness. Amen.
Study by Hilary Buck
About the writer:
Hilary Buck is a minister and pastors the Lewes congregation of Grace Communion International.
Grace Communion in Lewes
The House of Friendship
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Sunday 11:00 am
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