First Sunday After Epiphany - Morning Prayer (10 January 2021) John 1:29-34
John chapter 1 is a familiar passage to every one of us. On Christmas Day, we meditated on the attributes of Jesus based on the first few verses in this chapter. John the Baptist was a man sent from the God to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe. John preached about the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins. When people repented and confessed their sins, he baptized them in the river Jordan. Jesus was also baptized by John the Baptist to fulfil all righteousness.
In today’s reading, we read about John the Baptist bearing witness about Jesus. He said, “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world. This is he of whom I said, after me cometh a man which is preferred before me: for he was before me. And I knew him not: but that he should be made manifest to Israel, therefore am I come baptizing with water. And John bare record, saying, I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it abode upon him. And I knew him not: but he that sent me to baptize with water, the same said unto me, upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and remaining on him, the same is he which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost”. John bears witness about three facts in this passage:
1) Jesus is the Lamb of God (verse 29)
2) Jesus is the Son of God (verse 34)
3) Jesus was baptised with the Holy Ghost (verse 33).
1) Jesus is the Lamb of God
God separated Abraham from his family and promised to make him the father of nations. But Abraham did not have any children. Ishmael was born when Hagar was given to Abraham. When Abraham was 100 years old, the promised son Isaac was born. God asked Abraham to sacrifice Isaac on the mount of Moriah. When Abraham obeyed without any question, the LORD God provided a ram for their sacrifice.
When Israelites were in their bondage land, God the Father asked Israelites to celebrate the Passover meal. The Passover lamb was killed on that day and the blood was put on the sides and top of the door frames of the houses. They did that as a token upon the houses where they were. God the Father said, “when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and the plague shall not be upon you to destroy you, when I smite the land of Egypt”.
After the laws were given through Moses, people offered sacrifices for the remission of their sins. Hebrews 9:22 says, “And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission”. God the Father gave His only begotten son Jesus Christ for the remission of everyone's sin. Jesus offered Himself to be sacrificed as the Passover Lamb on the Cross. Hebrews 7:27 says, “Who needeth not daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifice, first for his own sins, and then for the people's: for this he did once, when he offered up himself “. In Revelation 14:1 also Apostle John saw Jesus as the Lamb of God.
2) Jesus is the Son of God
We know from John 3:16 that God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son so that we could inherit everlasting life. Jesus came as the Son of God and offered Himself as the Lamb of God on the Cross.
After Jesus was baptised by John, a voice was heard “from heaven, saying, this is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased”. We read this in Matthew 3:16 and 17. John bore this same witness that Jesus was the Son of God. Peter says in Matthew 16:16. “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Those who witnessed Jesus’s death on the cross said “Truly this was the Son of God.” We read this in Matthew 27:54.
When John was born, his father prophesised, “And thou, child, shalt be called the prophet of the Highest: for thou shalt go before the face of the Lord to prepare his ways”. John prophesised about the purpose of Jesus’s life and ministry in John 1. He prepared the way for Jesus and baptised Him when He was ready to do His ministry. He witnessed that Jesus is the Son of God.
3) Jesus was baptised with the Holy Ghost
Jesus came to John and asked John to baptise Him. In Matthew 3:14 we read that “John forbad him, saying, I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me?” John knew he “came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe.” He also knew he was not worthy to loose the latchet of Jesus’s shoe. But Jesus replied, “Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness”. Jesus became in flesh to this world to save us from eternal death. When the appointed time came for Him to start His ministry, He had to be separated from flesh. He was baptised to receive the Holy Spirit. When Jesus came out of the water, “the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him”. When Jesus was baptised, He received the Holy Spirit who strengthened Him to overcome temptation in the wilderness.
Jesus came to this world as the Son of God to save us all from eternal death. John 8:36 says “If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.” Those who saw Jesus, witnessed that He is the Son of God. What is our witness? Do our friends and neighbours bear witness that we are God’s children? Are we reflecting Jesus in what we do? We can be true Christians only if there is a difference in us because we reflect the Son of God.
To stop Abraham from sacrificing Isaac, God the Father provided a ram for sacrifice in Mount Moriah. Abraham sacrificed the ram. To stop the Israelites from being killed in their bondage land, God the Father commanded them to sacrifice a lamb. Israelites killed a lamb and celebrated the Passover meal. To bring an end to the sacrifices people offered to be saved from the bondage of sin, God the Father gave His only Begotten Son Jesus Christ. Jews crucified Jesus on the Cross and He offered Himself as one-time sacrifice as a Passover Lamb for the remission of our sins. Jesus sacrificed Himself to save us from eternal death. We have the responsibility to stop those around us from inheriting eternal death. John 15:13 says “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” What are we doing so our friends will inherit eternal life? What are we sacrificing to save souls from eternal death?
Baptism signifies purification or regeneration. Being immersed and rising out of water refers to the death of our old sinful self and the birth of a new life of witness. We say we are separated, we are turning to God and focusing on inheriting eternal life. John the Baptist prophesised that Jesus will baptise with the Holy Spirit. When our lives turn to Jesus, we too will receive Holy Spirit from Heaven. Are our lives regenerated in Jesus Christ? Have we received the Holy Spirit? Acts 1:8 says “ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.”
I would like to conclude with a commandment that Jesus gave in Mark 16:15 and 16: “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.”. We who have accepted Jesus as the Son of God and Lamb of God and have received the Holy Spirit are called to live a life of witness. We have also been entrusted to preach the gospel to every creature that Jesus is the Son of God and Lamb of God. We are living in the last days expecting the second coming of Jesus. During this time, are we fulfilling our duty as Jesus’s witnesses? John the Baptist bore witness to Jesus and prepared the way for Him. We who are Jesus’s witnesses, are we preparing the way for people to come to Jesus? It is our responsibility to prepare the way, so people will know Jesus as the Son of God and the Lamb of God. Amen!