Reflecting on John 1: 29-34
Most of us reading this column aren’t Jewish, and so we don’t immediately grasp the powerful Old Testament reference which John the Baptist (a Jew) is making to his (Jewish) audience when he announces that the man walking towards him is the “Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world.”
The Jews to whom this statement was addressed would have hearkened back to that iconic springtime lamb, the spotless one, none of whose bones had been broken, whose blood was sprinkled on the doorposts of the houses of the Hebrews on that first Passover night (Ex. 12:1-28). The Angel of Death would “pass over” the homes that were sprinkled with that blood.
John the Baptist, then, announces that Jesus is the Lamb whose blood will take away the sins of the world. In John’s gospel, (ch. 19), Jesus is crucified at the same time the Passover lambs are being slaughtered in the Temple.
Even earlier in the salvation story (Gen 22: 1-8), Abraham and Isaac climb up the mountain (later identified in Christian typography as Calvary). Isaac says to his father, “Here are the fire and the wood for the sacrifice, but where is the lamb?” And Abraham answers, “God will provide the lamb.” Jesus is the Lamb for the sacrifice.
It’s the littleness of it that gets you. It’s the lamb, not the lion. It’s the baby in the manger, not the vicious King Herod. It’s the heavenly host of angels, not the legions of armies on the march. It’s perhaps the elderly couple praying their rosary in church every morning whose prayers are keeping the world from calamity.
Behold the Lamb.
What “little” people are the ones who draw you closest to Christ?