Lamb of God | John 1.29-34
The next day he 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 ranks before me, because he was before me.’ I myself did not know him, but for this purpose I came baptizing with water, that he might be revealed to Israel.” And John bore witness: “I saw the Spirit descend from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him. 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.’ And I have seen and have borne witness that this is the Son of God.” John 1:29-34 | ESV
Fast forward. Next day. (Day two of this new creation journey). Grace (John) sees Salvation (Jesus) coming towards him and he blurts out to any who will listen (though the religious delegation has long departed): “Look! There! Here he is! The Lamb of God who takes away the sins – who rights all the wrongs – of this world! This is the one I was talking about – this is the one I’ve always been talking about! ‘After me comes a man who is before me – because he’s always been ahead of me, first in line!’ And I didn’t recognize him for who he is either – but this is my whole reason for being, to point him out, to show our people Israel that this is the One! That’s why I’ve been doing all this dipping in water.” And then John paused. Looking past the crowds, looking past everything, and saying slowly, solemnly, “I saw the Spirit. Coming down like a dove, a pigeon, right out of heaven, perching on him, staying on him. I had no idea. I didn’t see this coming – didn’t see him coming. But the one who sent me to do all this dipping in water, my Superior, the Most High, he told me what to look for: “On whomever you see the Spirit coming down and settling down, making his perch right there on him – that’s the one. That’s the real Dipper – the one who plunges people into Holy Spirit!’ And I have seen it – the image burned on my brain! I have solemnly spoken it – the words still echoing in the air: This. Is. God’s. SON.” MAV
On October 12, AD 312, Constantine fought the Battle of the Milvian Bridge, the shields of his soldiers bearing the slanted symbol “X” – the sign and symbol of Christ, of the cross. Tradition says he had a dream or vision the night before in which he saw that symbol in the air over his forces and heard a voice saying In Hoc Signo Vinces or “with this sign, you will conquer.” It was a pivotal turning point in church history. I can’t help but contrast that scene, that vision, with the sight John said he witnessed that gave him proof positive that Jesus was the long awaited Messiah, the Chosen One. Just what visible sign might one expect to see of the Chosen One, the Deliverer, the Messiah, in an oppressed society longing for a vanquishing military and political saviour? Crossed swords, maybe? A fortress in the sky? What message might you expect to hear accompanying such a sight? “By this one, conquer,” perhaps? But what vision does God provide? What does he see? A pigeon, a dove, descending from the sky and landing on Jesus. “I saw the Spirit coming out of the sky like a pigeon, and she perched on him.” Laughable. Really. You can’t be serious. You’re not serious, are you? A pigeon? Perching on his head? And what does John say he heard? “In this one conquer?” No. Not exactly. “This is my Son, whom I love. I am completely, thoroughly delighted with him.” What kind of mushy messiah is this? Can you see the absurdity? Can you hear the incongruity? A mamby-pamby mushy messiah more in need of saving than Savior! The Chosen One a Lamb signaled by a Dove? Really. But the Dipper stuck to his story. In fact he said this was his entire purpose for being on the scene – so that all Israel might meet her Messiah. Think on that one a bit. The entire purpose of John’s ministry was to introduce Someone Else. We like building our own bios, our own resumes with lists of illustrious achievements – please, this side photographs best. But try to introduce John the Dipper to a crowd of eager admirers, and all he will do is interrupt you just as you get started as he then speaks of pigeons and perching and a beloved Son, finally shouting, “And without further delay, Behold, the Lamb of God!” Then without even taking the stage himself, he’s gone and you’re looking at the Chosen One who will rescue God’s people from the clutches of their oppressors, and who is the…Lamb? This is simply no way to run a ministry or to build a career. Or to save a people.
Or is it…
If you are a believer/follower of Jesus, what was the “sign” that convinced you? If you’re not yet, what sign would it take for you to believe? Why?
Holy Spirit, fall on me, descend and perch on me, on my life, so that my life may become yet another platform, another stage on which the Beauty of the Son may be in evidence to a world that desperately needs the Lamb that rights all its wrongs. Descend upon us. In your mercy. Through Christ.
For all of this week’s resources for this new series on Spiritual Disciplines including this week’s DG video, check out the Vineyard website.