“Look, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!”
John the Baptist in John 1:29 (NET)
My husband and I recently went to the rodeo with some friends. At one point they put little bitty kids on the backs of sheep, let them go, and watched to see how far they could last on the sheep’s back without falling off. I think it’s some kind of children’s bucking bronco contest!
I prefer to drive by fields and see sheep eating and lying down instead of being ridden by terrified kids who must terrify them as well!
Our snapshot of Jesus this week pictures Him as a lamb, but the image involves more than a pastoral setting and a life of eating and sleeping. The roots of this picture come from the Old Testament sacrificial system and the annual Jewish feast of Passover.
1. What three roles did John the Baptist deny for himself when questioned by the priests and Levites? [Note: The text in 1:19 says that they were sent by the Jews. John does not use that term for the entire nation, but it “generally represents the Jewish leadership in Jerusalem (particularly the temple) who are hostile to Jesus.”6]
2. Read these verses and write down what each prophesies. Why may these men have wanted to know if John fulfilled these roles?
a. Mal. 4:5
Diamonds in the Word: Use your commentaries or go online and find some resources. Read about the three roles that John denied for himself to the Jewish leaders. Be sure and look up the verses mentioned. What additional insights do you gain?
3. What role did John claim for himself as he quoted Is. 40:3 (v. 23)? How did his words in 1:19-36 fulfill his purpose? What did he say about Jesus? (List everything he said about Him!)
Gary Burge comments on 1:27: “Untying a sandal thong was a chore never done by disciples for their teacher. Rather, it was a chore reserved for slaves.”7
4. In light of that historical information, what was John the Baptist saying about Jesus and his relationship to Him?
5. Sharing question: Go back to your list in #3. Which identification of Jesus is most meaningful to you? Why?
6. Responding to God: Spend time meditating on the identification of Jesus that was most meaningful to you. Write your thoughts below. Then, praise Him in prayer or through a poem.
Review John 1:29-34.
7. When John identified Jesus as the Lamb of God, what significance did he give that statement? In other words, what did he say that Jesus would do as the Lamb?
Scholars have debated the significance of John using the picture of a lamb for Jesus. It is definitely rooted in the sacrificial system, but some feel that it points more to the Passover lamb and others to lambs mentioned elsewhere. Today we’ll go back to the original Passover, which occurred at the end of the period in which the Jews were slaves in Egypt.
You probably know the story of Moses and the plagues that God sent in order to force Pharaoh to allow the nation of Israel to leave Egypt. After each plague had ended, Pharaoh reneged on his promise to let the people go. Finally, one last plague came upon Egypt, and the events that surrounded it were the first Passover.
6. Read about the first Passover in Ex. 12:1-14. Describe the Passover ritual and the plague that accompanied it. Why the word Passover (v.13) and how did it relate to a lamb?
7. What does 1 Cor. 5:7 say about Jesus and the Passover?
8. Think about the picture in Exodus of the lamb’s blood and its purpose. Why do you think John the Baptist chose to identify Jesus as the Lamb of God?
9. As we consider Jesus as the Passover lamb, read about the Last Supper, the dinner that Jesus celebrated with His disciples the evening before He was crucified. Read one of the gospel accounts in Mt. 26:17-30, Mk. 14:12-26, or Lk. 22:7-20. Write down any thoughts that you have about the relationship between the two.
Diamonds in the Word: Read in your Bible resources about the original Passover. If you have time, you may want to read the entire chronicle of the plagues in Ex. 7-11.
10. Sharing question: Put yourself in place of the people of Israel who were living as slaves in the land of Egypt. God opened the way for them to leave and live as free people. How would you have felt about the feast of Passover? How important would it be for later generations of your family to remember it?
11. Responding to God: How can you better remember that God made a way for you to leave your past and begin afresh with Him, as He did the children of Israel?
Review John 1:29-31.
Yesterday we considered the lamb’s place in the Passover. Today we will look at other biblical references to a lamb. Keep in mind that God had given the Jews the sacrificial system after leaving Egypt while they camped at Mount Sinai, where they also received the Ten Commandments.
12. Read these verses and write down any insights you have into the snapshot John the Baptist used for Jesus when he called Him the Lamb of God.
a. Isaiah 53:7
b. Rev. 5:1-14
c. Ex. 29:38-46
Diamonds in the Word: Read about the sacrificial system in your Bible resources. Write down your insights.
13. Imagine yourself in that culture, where daily sacrifices were made. Likely you and your family would often bring animals that you had raised to serve as sacrifices for your sins. How would that help you appreciate Jesus and His sacrifice? Do you think that such a culture would help or hurt people in accepting Jesus as their sacrifice?
14. Sharing question: Review Rev. 5:1-14, which you read in #14. Some day all believers will participate in this kind of worship. What emotions does that stir in you today? Why? Write a poem or draw a picture to depict this throng of worshippers.
15. Responding to God: Use Rev. 5:9-10 as a pattern to worship Jesus today. Write out your prayer.
I hope today’s study helps us appreciate all that Jesus did as the Lamb of God!
Review John 1:29-31.
16. Read the following verses and write down your thoughts about Jesus as the Lamb:
a. Acts 10:34-43 (note v. 43)
b. Rom. 5:6-9
c. 2 Cor. 5:21
e. Rev. 1:5
17. The author of the book of Hebrews compared Jesus’ sacrifice to the sacrifices of the Old Testament system. As he did so, he pointed out how extensive that sacrifice was. Compare what happened to the sins under that old system with what happens to the sins of those who believe in Jesus from the following verses: (Diamonds in the Word: Read the entire passage of Heb. 9:7-10:18.)
18. Sharing question: Which of the verses in #18 or #19 is most meaningful to you? Why?
19. Responding to God: Use the verse or verses which most impacted you as the basis of a prayer of thanks for Jesus and His sacrifice. Write your prayer or poem below.
20. This section gives an account that takes place over three days in the area of Judea. Summarize what happened on each of those days.
Day Two begins with “the next day” in v. 29:
Day Three begins with v. 35: (note the change in location and consider how much of the rest of this passage may have been succeeding days in the new location)
21. Who else besides John the Baptist shared testimonies of Jesus? What did they say about Him?
22. What was the effect of these testimonies on those with whom they shared?
Diamonds in the Word: Look at a map in the back of your Bible or in a Bible atlas to find where Jesus was and where He went. See if you can determine from the map how far He traveled.
23. Sharing question: What specific people, like John the Baptist and the others in this chapter, have testified to you of Jesus through their actions and/or words?
24. Responding to God: Thank God for all of those who shared with you about Jesus. Consider writing them a note to thank them, even if you have previously done that. You may want to share what God has been doing in your life recently as an encouragement to them.
Yesterday we read in Hebrews that Jesus’ sacrifice took away our sins completely and forever. He was indeed the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! Alma shares a story of her sin and God’s forgiveness. Her story turns out well, but beware of thinking that sinning in the way that she did will always turn out this way!
I have been married for 25 years. I met my husband at the beginning of my senior year in High school, at which time he was in his second year of college. We dated for three and a half years. We have a great marriage and we both love the Lord. He is number one in our lives; we feel great joy and pleasure when we serve Him. Although we have always loved each other, our relationship with God was not always the same as now.
When I met Amit I was already a believer, but he was not. He came from a Hindu family, but he was not an active believer of Hinduism. He believed in science and his own strength to achieve everything he wanted. I was immediately attracted to him and him to me. I liked the fact that he had high morals, loved his family, was polite, believed in abstinence and was a very good student. I felt like the luckiest girl in the world to have met this wonderful guy. My parents liked him immediately, but reminded me time after time that he was not a believer. My father read to me straight from the Bible all the verses having to do with “not being equally yoked”, but I was too in love to break up with him. After we decided to get married, I did break up with him a few weeks before the wedding because he was not a believer, but the breakup only lasted a few hours.
We got married against everybody’s wishes; my family didn’t want me to marry a non-believer and his parents didn’t want him to marry a non-Hindu. I was not really bothered too much about it. We loved each other, and to me, that was all that counted. I just knew that Amit had the morals that a lot of guys that I knew who called themselves Christians did not have. But God had another plan. I did not remain comfortable for long.
After a few months of marriage, the realization that I had placed God second in my life started to bother me. It was painful to think about what I had done, and it also bothered my mother. I began to stop calling home so I did not have to talk about my situation with my family. I felt guilty, but I made a lot of excuses for my reasons to be married to a non Christian. My relationship with my husband was good, but I knew my relationship with God had suffered. I felt separated from Him. I was hurting and wanted to hide from Him in order to excuse my sin. I felt horrible. I felt sad, lonely and scared all the time.
One day I was listening to Luis Palau on the radio. He was preaching exactly about what I was experiencing. At that moment I prayed to God like I have never prayed before. I knew and understood with my heart that the only thing for me to do was to surrender myself to God, confess my sin and go back to Him, my first and number one love. I rededicated my life back to Him and felt a sense of relief that I haven’t felt before in my life. I felt free, and back in my walk with God. I also knew that I could not change my husband; only God can change a person’s heart. But I knew that I could pray for him and set a good example of how a Christian wife should be. After twelve years of marriage God changed my husband’s heart and Amit accepted Christ as his savior. We are happier now than when we first got married 25 years ago.
I know that God has forgiven me. I am free of any guilt I felt during those dark years, and I believe that God has fully forgiven me. I don’t think a lot about that stage in my life, except when God sends someone to my life who might be going through a similar experience. I now thank Him for the experience because I am able to tell others how God can fully restore us and we can enjoy our relationship by being in communion with Him. God, in His mercy, restored my life. This experience has helped me show mercy to others.
6 Gary Burge, The NIV Application Commentary: John (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2000), 71.
7 Ibid., 73.