The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! This is He of whom I said, ‘After me comes a Man who is preferred before me, for He was before me.’ I did not know Him; but that He should be revealed to Israel, therefore I came baptizing with water.”
And John bore witness, saying, “I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and He remained upon Him. I did not know Him, but He who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘Upon whom you see the Spirit descending, and remaining on Him, this is He who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ And I have seen and testified that this is the Son of God.”
Again, we see information densely packed into this gospel. This time we get yet another name for Jesus. The Word/Life/Light/Son of God is also the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. His death on the cross is a long way off, but John is already asserting it. He also asserts that Jesus was before him.
That’s profound because John surely knows that his mom (Elizabeth) was well along in her pregnancy while Mary was just starting hers. So, in terms of birthdays, Jesus was most definitely not before John. The events surrounding Jesus’s birth, and John’s too, weren’t secrets; the family members would be expected to know all about it. Given the amazing circumstances surrounding Mary’s pregnancy, John would be expected to think Jesus is the Messiah.
But none of that says anything about lambs. John calling him the Lamb of God is huge, as is the line, “who takes away the sin of the world!” How could anyone besides Jesus have a clue what he’s talking about. That aspect of the Messiah won’t be understood for years. John has some major prophetic skills.
This makes every word in the second paragraph important. The spirit descending from heaven on Jesus is especially significant. Isaiah prophesied this.
The Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon Him, — Isaiah 11:2a
The Spirit remaining on Him is a sign that He’s the anointed one.
“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me,
Because the LORD has anointed Me” — Isaiah 61:1a
So, John had seen a clear sign that Jesus is the Messiah. That part he could figure out on his own.
But that Lamb bit and saying, “He was before me,” are pure supernatural insight.
This passage adds another precious detail that isn’t in Matthew’s account of Jesus’s baptism—God saying, “Upon whom you see the Spirit descending, and remaining on Him, this is He who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.” The account in Matthew 3:17 only notes God saying that Jesus is His beloved Son.
And suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”
These Monday—Friday DEEPs are written by Mike Slay. To subscribe to all the DEEPs click here:
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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. ESV stands for the English Standard Version. © Copyright 2001 by Crossway. Used by permission. All rights reserved. NIV stands for The Holy Bible, New International Version®. © Copyright 1973 by International Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. KJV stands for the King James Version.