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WESLEY’S VAIN REFERENCE
TO JOHN’S PROCLAMATION

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached on Lord’s Day Morning, February 8, 2009
at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles

“The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world” (John 1:29).


The main purpose of John the Baptist was to point people to Jesus ”the Lamb of God.” His message was centered in Christ. At the very climax of his preaching, he told the people, “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.”

John the Baptist knew a great deal about Jesus. He leaped with joy inside Elizabeth his mother when her cousin Mary came with the baby Jesus in her womb (Luke 1:44). I think that John the Baptist grew up with Jesus and knew Him well. He could have pictured Jesus in many ways. He could have called Jesus a great prophet, or a great moral teacher, or a great example, for Jesus was in many ways all of these, and more. Yet John felt that none of those descriptions fully captured the main characteristic of Christ. For John the Baptist, the most important description of Jesus was,

“the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world”
      (John 1:29).

“Look!” he said. There is “the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world”!

Those who were listening to John the Baptist were all Jewish people. Every one of them knew what the term “Lamb of God” meant, at least outwardly. There in Jerusalem a lamb was sacrificed in the Temple every morning and every evening. And in the great festival of the Passover, a lamb was sacrificed every April, in memory of the Exodus, the time, centuries before, when God brought the Jews out of slavery in Egypt. John would have known all the references in the Old Testament to the Lamb of God.

John the Baptist was the son of a priest in the Jewish Temple at Jerusalem. He knew about all those types and figures in the Old Testament. He knew that Abel offered a lamb,

“And the Lord had respect unto Abel and to his offering”
      (Genesis 4:4).

He knew what Abraham said to Isaac on Mount Moriah,

“My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering”
      (Genesis 22:8).

He remembered that God told Moses,

“In the tenth day of this month they shall take to them every man a lamb…And they shall take of the blood, and strike it on the two side posts and on the upper door post of the houses…And when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and the plague shall not be upon you to destroy you” (Exodus 12:3, 7, 13).

He could have quoted from the fifty-third chapter of Isaiah,

“He is brought as a lamb to the slaughter” (Isaiah 53:7).

Thus, John the Baptist must have known that Jesus was not only the Messiah, but that He was also the Lamb of God who would take away the sins of the world through His Blood sacrifice on the Cross. And so John said,

“Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world” (John 1:29).

I have been accused of being more of an evangelist than a pastor. That is an accusation I am willing to bear. It puts me in good company with not only John, but Jesus Himself.

Although I teach the Bible verse-by-verse each Saturday night to all of our church members, yet I feel that on Sundays I cannot do better than John the Baptist. In these Sunday services I must “do the work of an evangelist” (II Timothy 4:5). There are so many new lost young people in each Sunday service that I feel they need to hear Gospel preaching. Such preaching on salvation through Jesus inspires and encourages Christians.  We have a Gospel feast in each Sunday service, both in the morning and in the evening. To the end of my ministry and the close of my life, may the great theme of my Sunday preaching remain,

“Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world” (John 1:29).

As we think about this text, I want you to notice three things.

I. First, John experienced this truth himself.

Although he leaped in the womb of Elizabeth when she came near the mother of Jesus, he did not yet know Him as the Lamb of God. There was a time when John the Baptist said, “I knew him not” (John 1:33). Spurgeon remarked,

John knew Jesus, but did not know him as the Sin-Bearer. I think he must have known the life of the holy child, his near relative, while he grew in favour both with God and man; but he had not yet seen upon him the attesting seal which marked him as the Son of God…But when at last [John the Baptist] received that personal token, when he plunged [Christ] into the waters of Jordan [and heard God say] “This is my beloved Son,” then he knew him, and was [then on] sure. When he afterwards spoke he did not say, “I think this is the Lamb of God”…No, he boldly cried, “Behold him! See for yourselves. This is the lamb of God!...Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world” (C. H. Spurgeon, “Behold the Lamb of God,” The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, Pilgrim Publications, 1974 reprint, volume XXXIII, p. 568).

I hope and pray that every one of you may also experience Jesus Christ personally. May you know for sure that He is the Lamb of God who takes away your sin. Some of you were raised as children to believe that Jesus is the Lamb of God who takes away sin. Others this morning are hearing that for the first time. But if you have heard it many times, or only once, still what is revealed in the Bible must be made real in your own heart by the Holy Spirit. You must know, for yourself, that Jesus is the Lamb of God who has taken away your sin, yes, even your own sins.

Before John Wesley was converted, a German pastor asked, him, “Do you know Jesus Christ?” Wesley paused and said, referring to our text, “I know He is the Saviour of the world.” “True,” the pastor replied, “but do you know He has saved you?” Wesley answered, “I hope He has died to save me.” The pastor said, “Do you know yourself?” Wesley said, “I do. But I fear they were vain [empty and untrue] words” (The Journal of John Wesley, Moody Press, no date, pp. 36-37). It was over two years later in Aldersgate Street, in London, that John Wesley, in an awakened state, under conviction of sin, went

…where one was reading Luther’s preface to the Epistle to the Romans. About a quarter before nine, while he was describing the change which God works in the heart through faith in Christ, I felt my heart strangely warmed. I felt I did trust Christ…And an assurance was given me, that he had taken away my sins, even mine and saved me from the law of sin and death (The Works of John Wesley, Baker Book House, 1979 reprint, volume I, page. 103).

Wesley no longer vainly repeated John’s proclamation. Now he said, “I felt I did trust Christ…he had taken away my sins, even mine.” In the same way, John the Baptist himself saw Jesus as the sin-bearer, and he proclaimed,

“I saw, and bare record that this is the Son of God” (John 1:34).

II. Second, John described Jesus as the only Lamb.

He said,

“Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world” (John 1:29).

It was as if John the Baptist looked forward and saw, in Heaven,

“the throne of God and of the Lamb” (Revelation 22:3).

And it is as if he saw that great crowd of people in Heaven, and could agree with the Apostle,

“These are they which…have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb” (Revelation 7:14).

“Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).

Jesus Himself said,

“No man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (John 14:6).

Why is that so? Because Christ alone is

the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world”
      (John 1:29).

III. Third, John described Jesus as the sacrifice of God.

He called Jesus “the Lamb of God.” Jesus is the Lamb of God. He is the Lamb that God Himself provided, and sent to die on the Cross to save you from the guilt and power of sin. Jesus came “to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10). That’s you! Jesus came to save you from your sins in the sight of God. The best loved verse in all the Bible says,

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).

The Apostle Paul said,

“Christ Jesus: Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood” (Romans 3:24-25).

“Propitiation” refers to the appeasement of God’s wrath. Jesus was sent by God to propitiate or absorb and pacify the wrath of God. “God so loved the world that he gave” Jesus to appease, absorb and pacify His wrath against your sin (Join 3:16). Without the crucifixion of Christ the whole weight of your sin would be on your own shoulders and, in the future, God would damn you to hell for your sin, and rightly so. But Jesus took the righteous judgment of God upon Himself, and was punished by God in your place, to satisfy the law and the justice of God. God cannot be just if He does not punish sin – and so God put man’s sin upon Jesus,

“Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree”
      (I Peter 2:24).

Ultimately it was not the Jews and Pilate who sent Jesus to die on the Cross. Actually, they were only the human instruments God used – for it was God who sent Jesus to die in our place, so He could be both just and the justifier of sinful men and women. When the nails were pounded into His hands, it was God that moved the hammer that pierced His hands. When the whip lashed open great gouges in His back, it was God that moved the flogger to beat Jesus until He was half dead.

“Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin”
      (Isaiah 53:10).

Why would God do such a thing to Jesus? To fulfill to the letter His righteous hatred of sin, and at the same time to let the believing sinner free, because Jesus had stood in his place, and Jesus had received the pain and torture the sinner should have received. But by the mercy of God Jesus was the scapegoat, the one who received all the punishment, so the converted sinner could go free and receive no punishment at all – because Jesus had been punished in his place. “What?” you say, “Jesus was punished for my sins?” Yes, and His willingness to go through the horror of Gethesmane, the flogging, and the Cross shows how much Jesus loves you. If He didn’t care for you He would have walked away and let you go to Hell. But His great love for you sent Him to the Cross to be tortured and crucified by the will and purpose of God – for God knew that His Son had to be horribly abused and nailed to the Cross, to pay for all the sins we have in our hearts, and on God's record, and to cleanse us with His precious Blood.

“Behold the Lamb of God,”

for He is God’s Lamb from start to finish. And God sent Him to be crucified for your sin, to pay for it, to atone for it, to pay the price of it, and to absorb the anger of God toward you for your sins – both the sins people know about, and the ones no one knows about but God, and also the sin we inherited from Adam. Jesus came to die to pay the debt we owe to God for the sin in our hearts and lives, and the sin we inherited from Adam.

“Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world,”

Jesus Himself, by bearing the weight of sin, by being brutally beaten for it, for dying a horrible death, did these things to secure our salvation. He went to the Cross to appease the anger of God and to remove the guilt of sin from us. His whole reason for going through the Bloody and horrifying pain, as our substitute, was to save our souls from damnation – because He paid our sentence, in our place, to make us free from condemnation.

“For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved” (John 3:17).

What an awesome Saviour! And, I assure you, I don’t use that word in everyday slang. But it should be used to describe Jesus, for He is the awesome sin-bearer. But it is a mockery to use “awesome” for most things in this fallen world. All this and more John, in simple words, preached to the people.

When I was a little boy I saw a statue of Jesus in a Catholic church. He was covered with blood, carrying His cross. Only years later did I discover that He did that to save me from my guilt and sin. I know of no other way for men to be saved than by the bleeding sacrifice of Jesus, “the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.”

And I call on you this morning to come to Jesus who

“was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God”
    (Mark 16:19), at His ascension into that glorious place
     called Heaven.

Fall at His feet. Come to Him. His all-atoning Blood will cleanse your sins and you will be saved by Jesus for ever and ever, world without end. O look to Him! Come to Him,

“the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world”
      (John 1:29).

Come to Him in Heaven, where He is still clothed in the Bloody garments of Gethsemane, His flogging, and the Cross, because He is right now, “clothed with a vesture dipped in blood” (Revelation 19:13). And when you come to Jesus, He will take away your sins, even yours, and you will be fully cleansed by His own Blood, which will take away your sins, even yours, and save you, as Wesley said, “from the law of sin and death.”

Let us stand and sing hymn number seven on your song sheet.

What can wash away my sin?
   Nothing but the blood of Jesus;
What can make me whole again?
   Nothing but the blood of Jesus.
Oh! precious is the flow
   That makes me white as snow;
No other fount I know,
   Nothing but the blood of Jesus.
(“Nothing But the Blood” by Robert Lowry, 1826-1899).

While we sing the chorus of that hymn again, if you would like to speak with a deacon and me about Jesus suffering and dying to save you, please step to the back of the room as we sing. The deacon will take you to a quiet place where we can talk to you about coming to, and beholding,

“The Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world” (John 1:29).

That is the way you become a real Christian.  Come to Jesus, and we pray that Satan and all his demons will not be able to prevent you from doing so. 

(END OF SERMON)
You can read Dr. Hymers' sermons each week on the Internet
at www.realconversion.com. Click on “Sermon Manuscripts.”

Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Dr. Kreighton L. Chan: John 1:28-34.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
“Look to the Lamb of God” (by H. G. Jackson, 1834-1914).


THE OUTLINE OF

WESLEY’S VAIN REFERENCE
TO JOHN’S PROCLAMATION

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

“The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world” (John 1:29).

(Luke 1:44; Genesis 4:4; 22:8; Exodus 12:3, 7, 13;
Isaiah 53:7; II Timothy 4:5)

I.   First, John experienced this truth himself, John 1:33, 34.

II.  Second, John described Jesus as the only Lamb,
Revelation 22:3; 7:14; Acts 4:12; John 14:6.

III. Third, John described Jesus as the sacrifice of God, Luke 19:10;
John 3:16; Romans 3:24-25; I Peter 2:24; Isaiah 53:10;
Mark 16:19; John 3:17; Revelation 19:13.