Short Meditations in John 1: 36. The Lamb of God (2)
Jn 1:36 When he saw Jesus passing by, he said, “Look, the Lamb of God!”
There are sometimes little things in Scripture that we miss in passing, perhaps because something bigger overshadows them – but we miss it. The big thing in this verse is what we have seen before – “Look, the Lamb of God.” Back in verse 29 we read, “John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” That had been the first mention of who Jesus was and his role on earth – “to take away the sin of the world!” and it is almost as if John the writer wants to make this double emphasis so that we won’t miss it. We’ll come to this more in a moment.
But the ‘little thing’ that I suspect we so often miss are the opening words of the verse, “When he saw Jesus passing by.” Simple words but words that raise questions that we won’t get answers for this side of heaven. The day before Jesus had been baptised. Where had he gone afterwards and why was he now back here and ‘passing by’?
From fuller reading of the Gospels we come to see that Jesus knew people and was fully aware of his plans with the Father and one can only wonder if he knew that it was time to start picking up disciples and a good starting place would be with John’s disciples who were already prepared. Verse 39 shows us that he was obviously staying for a few days somewhere near. Whether or not it was distant relative we don’t know. Whether it was someone he or the family had met when they went to Jerusalem for the annual feasts (as they would have surely done) we again don’t know, but the fact was that Jesus was staying in the vicinity and he now ‘passed by’ where John was so that John had another opportunity to point him out.
Are there times in life, I wonder, when Jesus draws near or ‘passes by’ so that things happen that give us an opportunity to testify to him to others? Are we aware of his presence moving in our circumstances?
Here John uses spiritual shorthand that those with him will understand – and perhaps they had questioned him and discussed what he had meant when he said it the day before. The Lamb of God, God’s sacrificial provision, just like the Passover Lamb, that was used as a substitute to save Israel in Egypt and deliver them when the destroying angel ‘passed over’. John the Baptist emphasises it for the sake of his disciples and it is the hook for all disciples.