The Lamb of God

The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said,
       Look! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! [John 1:29 NLT]

Many religious images arise when one hears the phrase "Lamb of God". Old Testament sacrifices used lambs as sin offerings. Some see Jesus in that light. I am not one of those people. I think it a bit more accurate to see Jesus as the lamb used at Passover to deliver the Jews from death.

Jesus seemed to allude to this when he shared a last supper with his disciples. During that meal he compared his body and blood with the Passover lamb as he spoke about eating his body and drinking his blood. The imagery speaks deeply of how sin is defeated and taken away as we are united to Jesus.

Thank you Lord that you have delivered, are delivering and will deliver me from sin.

... this devotion is part of a series about John the Baptist.

Unending Life

The one who believes in the Son has eternal life. The one who rejects the Son will not see life,
but God’s wrath remains on him. [John 3:36 NET]

aiónios. As in this verse, this Greek word often translated 'eternal'. I like that rendering. Yet I think that 'unending' captures the meaning of the word a bit better. Only God is eternal. He has no beginning or end. We step into the life of God when we are spiritually born. In that sense our life becomes unending.

In contrast, the one who rejects Jesus does not have life unending because they have nothing in them that survives death. These go the way of all earthly creation. These return to the earth. Yet those who believe have something unending in them. Their bodies return to the earth but their spirits ascend to heaven.

Yet there are those who embrace the concept of the innate immortality of the human soul. These feel that all humans have unending life. Some of them think that all go to heaven while some see others surviving death to live unendingly in hell. I disagree with both. Unending life comes from believing in the Son. We are not born with unending or immortal life. Our lives become immortal when we are spiritually born.

Be Thou my vision Lord. May your beauty continue to captivate my heart from this life to the next.

... this devotion is part of a series about John the Baptist.

Everything is in His Hands

The Father loves the Son and has placed everything in his hands. [John 3:35 NLT]

What do you think it means for everything to be in the hands of the Son? Some think it describes a Messiah that is in control of everything. Others see it more as a reference to the redemptive force of the Messiah. I tend to see it more as the latter. The ministry of redemption is a major messianic theme.

I love that God is able to take our sins and mistakes and turn them into something beautiful. His hands are those of a divine potter. Molding us. Shaping us. Adding holy water to our hard clay. Bringing beauty from lumps of clay. It is a beautiful image of what is means to be in the strong hands of the Son.

Help us to sense your hands of love Lord. Cause us to rest as you mold us into beautiful people.

... this devotion is part of a series about John the Baptist.

the Spirit without Measure

    For He whom God has sent speaks the words of God;
    for He gives the Spirit without measure. [John 3:34 NASB]

I have often heard it taught that only Jesus had the Spirit without measure. The idea comes from this verse by folks who believe that the second "He" is referring to the Father. Yet how would we read that verse if we believed the second "He" referred to Jesus. It would mean something very different.

I think that the Baptist may have understood that Jesus is the Giver and we are the receivers. It makes sense. God gives without limit. His measure, like his love, has no boundary. There is nothing we need that He will not give. He has given the Spirit to each of us without measure. Praise the Lord.

Teach me Lord to walk in a way that displays your Spirit without measure in my life.

... this devotion is part of a series about John the Baptist.

Messianic Testimony

Anyone who accepts his testimony can affirm that God is true. [John 3:33 NLT]

I wonder what the Baptist meant when he said "his testimony"? The Greek word μαρτυρία can be translated as witness, evidence, testimony or reputation. Later on in his gospel John quotes Jesus saying:
“I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.” [John 8:12 NLT]
The religious leaders rejected his testimony at every turn. In reality Jesus often testified about himself claiming to be one with God. His life and ministry were a witness to the nature and character of God.

Yet even today many reject the witness of the Messiah. They find no evidence that Jesus was who he said he was. They discount his reputation. These, like the religious leaders of old, refuse to accept the testimony of Christ and those who have been changed by his testimony. In doing so they reject God.

We accept your testimony dear Lord. We affirm that you are true.

... this devotion is part of a series about John the Baptist.

He testifies about what he has seen and heard ...

He testifies about what he has seen and heard, but how few believe what he tells them! [John 3:32 NLT]

I often say that I am a Red Letter Christian. I think the words that Jesus spoke (i.e. the red letters) carry more weight than others in the bible. As the Baptist speaks here, Jesus has a greater knowledge than religious scholars and theologians because his testimony comes from his heavenly life before this life.

Misunderstanding this idea, many put the words of Paul, James or Peter on the same level as the words of Christ. Some do the same with Old Testament writings. It is why so many did not see Jesus as the Messiah. How so few believed what Christ told them. Yet some did believe his testimony and were transformed.

The challenge remains for us today. Will we read the scriptures through the testimony of Jesus or will we see his words through the filter of what others say about Jesus. When we read the bible, will we consider the life, teachings and ministry of the One who has seen and heard things in heaven? Or something else?

Open our ears to hear your testimony in our hearts Lord. And our inner eyes to see heavenly things.

... this devotion is part of a series about John the Baptist.

He has come from Above

He must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less. “He has come from above and is greater than anyone else. [John 3:30-31 NLT]

I think that John the Baptist heard the incarnational story all of his life. From his mom and from his second cousin Mary. The tale of how the angel visited Mary and told her of a son that would be conceived by the Holy Spirit. And how John leapt in his mom's womb when a pregnant Mary visited their home.

From early on John knew who Jesus was. He knew that cousin was a hybrid. Part earthly. Part heavenly. John believed the story and accepted his role in it. It is why he lived simply. Why he preached repentance. Why he baptized. He humbly became less so that the One from above would become more.

With John I agree Lord. You must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less.

... this devotion is part of a series about John the Baptist.