O Lamb of God, send your Spirit with your gracious pardon, and silence my accusing conscience. Amen.
The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!”
In the name of Jesus, the Lamb of God who takes our sin away – dear forgiven ones:
He wasn’t much to look at. He didn’t dress in the current fashion. No, he wore camel hair. He could have been the host of the TV show, “Bizarre Foods,” with his diet of locusts and honey. He didn’t have a fancy temple or auditorium – you could find him along the banks of the Jordan River – out in the sticks. His message was jarring and harsh. He said things that upset people. He called on people to repent. He called the religious leaders a brood of vipers and called on them to produce the fruits of repentance. But there was more to his preaching – something unique, comforting, and powerful. This John, whom God had sent to prepare the way for the Christ, he pointed to Christ. His finest preaching consisted of simply pointing to Jesus and saying: Look, the Lamb of God!
Let’s listen to John with undivided attention. He wants us to see the long-awaited Christ. He wants us to know the source of our forgiveness and salvation. He wants us to see repentance as not just sorrow over sin, but also trust in Jesus for a certain forgiveness of all our sins. John wants us to see Jesus. John wants us to see Jesus as God’s promised deliverer.
He will crush your head – that’s the promise God made to Satan in the Garden after the fall into sin. God was talking about the great deliverer he would send to rescue his creation from corruption and damnation. The Great Deliverer would conquer Satan as Satan struck his heal – there would be pain and suffering. So in Psalm 22 the deliverer says, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, so far from the words of my groaning?” The suffering Servant of the Lord is described in detail by Isaiah in his 53rd chapter: “But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.” The Great Deliverer took on human flesh, became one of us, fulfilled the law in our place, and suffered our punishment. So much he loved the world of sinners! So much he loves you!
John bids us look to the Lamb of God – Jesus! He is everything to us. He has delivered us from ourselves, from the devil, and from death. He took the sins of the world on himself. He paid for those sins in full with his bloody death. He delivered us – as he was the only one who could. So this Lamb of God carried our sins away. He removed them forever. In so doing he has reconciled us to our holy God and counted us as God’s dear children and his dear brothers and sisters. We have been set free from slavery! We are forgiven because of this Lamb!
He took away the sin of the world. This powerful and important truth is often dismissed among us as the “same old message.” Yet, it remains the single most important message you will ever hear. You need to hear it and hear it often, because the delicate soul inside you depends on it for its life. You need this assurance of God’s love for you in spite of your sinfulness. You need to have the guilt that nags at you removed. You need to know that everything is good between you and God. You need this great assurance of God’s perfect love.
As far as the east is from the west so far has God removed your sins from you! This is what the Lamb of God has accomplished for the world! This is what the Lamb of God has accomplished for you! So now you stand forgiven before God! Only and all because of Jesus.
It is this amazing and eternity changing fact that caused Martin Luther to write, “The Son of God says to me, ‘You are no longer a sinner, but I am. I am your substitute … All your sins rest on me and not on you.” Let this good news wash over you. As you hear it think back to the font where water was applied to your head in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit – all for the forgiveness of sins. Let this good news wash over you each time it is announced – As a called servant of Christ and by his authority I forgive you all your sins in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Let this good news wash over you each time your receive the body and blood of Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. Jesus, the holy God who hates sin, became the very thing he hates because he loved you. He became your sin – so now you have his righteousness. Paul puts it this way: God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. Jesus carried your sin away. He carried it to the cross. He nailed all your sin to that cross and left it there. You are forgiven!
May the Lord keep our eyes of faith focused on the object of John’s preaching – Jesus. He is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! You are forgiven! Amen.