I sometimes wonder what it would have been like to have been standing in the crowd as John the Baptist preached. As he warned all within earshot to flee from the wrath to come, to live just and honest lives as they awaited the coming of the Messiah, God’s promised Rescuer. And then, finally, to have heard him say, “Here is the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29 CSB)
“Here is the Lamb of God,” or as some translations say, “Behold the Lamb of God” (ESV). This was an incredible moment. Centuries of anticipation, of studying the Scriptures and examining the prophecies handed down from the likes of Isaiah, Zechariah, Ezekiel, Daniel, and more besides. Of hearing God’s promise to deliver His people and place David’s heir on a throne that would last forever. The pressure had been building. Some had given up. Others kept the faith. They knew God would deliver on His promise. They knew He would send His Rescuer. And then, John cried out, “The One we’ve been waiting for, the One God promised from the very beginning—there He is!”
Every time I read the Old Testament, I feel this same sense of anticipation growing in my own heart. I follow along with the story, God’s plan of redemption slowly unfolding over centuries. I already know what’s coming, but the drama hooks me. I read of the failures of Judges and Kings, the weeping of Prophets, the boasting of the arrogant, the cries of the repentant, and the lamentations of the grieving. But as the story unfolds and the drama builds, I’m stuck. And then, finally, I get to John’s proclamation.
While I wonder about what it would have been like to have been present when these words were spoken, I don’t have to imagine the response. I feel it every time: relief! Joy! Finally, the Messiah has come. Finally, the promises would be fulfilled, and God’s people would be restored and redeemed. And this relief flows into a greater anticipation. I read of Jesus’ stories and sayings, signs and wonders, and although I know what’s coming, my excitement grows. Jesus made Himself known, He went to the cross, He died for people like you and me. I behold the Lamb, and I cannot help be overcome with joy. And that joy is intensified because John’s proclamation points me to the words of another John, who saw One who was “like a slaughtered lamb” (Rev. 5:6). Jesus, the Lamb of whom multitudes sing, “Worthy is the Lamb who was slaughtered to receive power and riches and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and blessing” (Rev. 5:12).
Someday, you and I will sing with them. Someday, the story will be finished and all the promises of God will be finally fulfilled. But we’re not there yet. For now, we wait in anticipation. But while we wait, as our anticipation builds, we can have confidence, as we behold the Lamb who takes away the sin of the world.
Aaron Armstrong is the Brand Manager of The Gospel Project, and an author, blogger, and speaker based in the Nashville area. Today’s post is the first in a new series, Beholding Jesus. Read other posts in the series here.