20 And he confessed, and denied not; but confessed, I am not the Christ.
21 And they asked him, What then? Art thou Elias? And he saith, I am not. Art thou that prophet? And he answered, No.
22 Then said they unto him, Who art thou? that we may give an answer to them that sent us. What sayest thou of thyself?
23 He said, I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Make straight the way of the Lord, as said the prophet Esaias.
24 And they which were sent were of the Pharisees.
25 And they asked him, and said unto him, Why baptizest thou then, if thou be not that Christ, nor Elias, neither that prophet?
26 John answered them, saying, I baptize with water: but there standeth one among you, whom ye know not;
27 He it is, who coming after me is preferred before me, whose shoe's latchet I am not worthy to unloose.
28 These things were done in Bethabara beyond Jordan, where John was baptizing.
29 The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.
30 This is he of whom I said, After me cometh a man which is preferred before me: for he was before me.
31 And I knew him not: but that he should be made manifest to Israel, therefore am I come baptizing with water.
32 And John bare record, saying, I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it abode upon him.
33 And I knew him not: but he that sent me to baptize with water, the same said unto me, Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and remaining on him, the same is he which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost.
John the Baptizer verifies the Lamb of God who comes to take away the sin of the world.
To introduce Christ to the world is an honor for John. He tells us that he was the voice of one crying in the wilderness. He definitely tells us that he was not Elijah. Thomas Aquinas gives us some interesting insights: “There are certain heretics who say that souls migrate from one body to another. And this belief was current among the Jews of that time. For this reason they believed that the soul of Elijah was in John’s body, because of the similarity of John’s actions to those of Elijah.”
The statement of Jesus still muddies the scene further: “And if you are willing to accept it, he is the Elijah who was to come.” The simplest explanation is that John the Baptist was one who came in the spirit of Elijah—that is he did similar things to Elijah. I think Jesus was talking in context of the offered kingdom here. He was offering himself as King, which if the Jews had accepted Him, John the Baptist’s coming in the spirit of Elijah would have been sufficient. However, as God knew already, the Jews would reject His Son, and therefore the prophet coming in the spirit of Elijah has not yet come.
I believe his identity to be as one of the two prophets sent during the time of Jacob’s trouble, to turn the hearts of Israel back to God. Elijah could come literally, or perhaps figuratively, as did John the Baptist. Either way would be a fulfillment of God’s promise.
John cried, “This is the Lamb of God who comes to take away the sin of the world.” It is John the apostle alone who tells us of the testimony of John the Baptist. The other gospels all tell of the message of John the Baptist: “But one more powerful than I will come, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie.” John also faithfully records this message. But it is John alone who records the cry of John the Baptist, and in the gospel of John it appears twice, on consecutive days. (verse 29 and verse 35 of John 1) Remember that the gospel of John emphasizes the deity of our Savior. What better emphasis than calling Him the Lamb of God?
It may be also that John was personally present to hear the two cries. Apparently the cries took place before the calling of Andrew and Peter, as well as Philip and Nathanael. I wonder if the two disciples following John the Baptist, who turned from John to follow Jesus were not likely John and his brother James. That would account for John being able to faithfully record this message.
What a message! The Lamb of God sent to take away the sin of the world. Not the sins of just a few—but the sins of the world. This fits so beautifully into John 3, where John tells us: “For God so loved the world,” and “God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world, through Him, might be saved.” Something to be thankful for indeed!
The Lily of the Valley
1. I have found a friend in Jesus, He's everything to me,
He's the fairest of ten thousand to my soul;
The Lily of the Valley, in Him alone I see
All I need to cleanse and make me fully whole.
In sorrow He's my comfort, in trouble He's my stay;
He tells me every care on Him to roll.
2. He all my grief has taken, and all my sorrows borne;
In temptation He's my strong and mighty tower;
I have all for Him forsaken, and all my idols torn
From my heart and now He keeps me by His power.
Though all the world forsake me, and Satan tempt me sore,
Through Jesus I shall safely reach the goal.
3. He will never, never leave me, nor yet forsake me here,
While I live by faith and do His blessed will;
A wall of fire about me, I've nothing now to fear,
From His manna He my hungry soul shall fill.
Then sweeping up to glory to see His blessed face,
Where the rivers of delight shall ever roll.
He's the Lily of the Valley, the Bright and Morning Star,
He's the fairest of ten thousand to my soul.
Lyrics: Charles William Fry