This section begins the day after John the Baptist encountered the Levites.
Verse 29 reads,
“The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!”
Immediately upon seeing Jesus, John knew He was the Messiah, and he describes Him as the Lamb of God. He was the sacrifice that would once and for all end sacrifices. He was the completion of the law and the old covenant. John had been preparing people for the coming of Christ. He had them purify their bodies and repent of their sin so that when the Savior came, He could once and for all cleanse and forgive their sin. Jesus’ arrival was the completion of John’s ministry. Verses 30-31 read,
“This is he of whom I said, ‘After me comes a man who ranks before me, because he was before me.’ 31 I myself did not know him, but for this purpose I came baptizing with water, that he might be revealed to Israel.”
John said, that Jesus came after him but ranks before him because he was before him. He was merely a prophet a servant of God, but Jesus was the Son of God. And John didn’t mean Jesus was older than him. In fact John was about 5-6 months older than Jesus. He meant Jesus had existed before him. Jesus had been the Savior since the beginning and now they were no longer waiting for Him. Jesus was God.
Remember John’s ministry popular enough with the people that it freaked out the Pharisees. He had devoted disciples, he had been teaching, and he had people who followed him and showed up to hear him teach. Those followers respected him. He had taught them about the Messiah and now he finally saw Jesus. He had to direct his followers away from him and preparation, and to Jesus and fulfillment. John told them the reason that he had baptized was so that Israel would recognize their Savior, the Lamb of God, the fulfillment of the Law. John exalted Jesus as Savior and Son of God as he decreased himself.
John hadn’t known who the Messiah would be. But when John saw Jesus, he recognized Him because God spoke to Him. He told all those with him how he had recognized that Jesus was Christ. Once again he directed attention to Jesus and away from himself. Verses 32-34 read,
“And John bore witness: “I saw the Spirit descend from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him. 33 I myself did not know him, but he who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain, this is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ 34 And I have seen and have borne witness that this is the Son of God.”
John had the privilege of being God’s prophet. He was filled with the Holy Spirit from his time in the womb. God told him who Jesus was and then God confirmed it in this way that to me seems to be a beautiful illustration of transfer of ministry. We know from the other gospels that John had just baptized Jesus. Immediately after the baptism the Spirit came from Heaven like a dove and stayed on Jesus, just like God told John He would. John was filled with the Holy Spirit but Jesus was God and so He had no need to be filled with His own Spirit, He was His own Spirit. The Spirit manifested visibly and came down and remained on Jesus. John required God’s voice in order to be a voice. John required God and pointed to God. Jesus was God. He spoke with God’s voice. He loved with God’s love. His Spirit was The Holy Spirit. He pointed to Himself, to His Spirit and to His Father. John could only baptize with water, a merely symbolic act. But Jesus baptism was actual cleansing of sin, real forgiveness and an act of God, the Holy Spirit.
When Jesus came, John lessened himself, and his ministry. John now could tell everyone that Jesus was the Son of God, the Messiah and the one He had been teaching about. He sent his followers to follow Jesus, as we will read tomorrow.
When Jesus came into your life, did your life change? Did you stop gratifying yourself and start doing God’s will? Do you consistently decrease your flesh as The Holy Spirit fills you and transforms you? Do you point to yourself, your goodness, and your hard work or do you reveal Jesus to the world?