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)
Some refer to this day of Holy Week as “Silent Wednesday” because the Gospels do not record any words or activities of Jesus on this day. However, in our verse for today, John the Baptist was anything but silent. Preaching beside the Jordan River, he cries out, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!”
It is what John saw when he looked at Jesus. Have you ever wondered what Jesus sees when he looks at us? Jesus should look at us and cry out, “Look, the sin of the world that takes away the Lamb of God!”
We ought to run to him, but instead we seek happiness by running from him with the sin in our lives. He ought to run away from us, but instead he chose torture by running into the world to save us.
You see, sin was the one thing that kept us separate from a holy God. Jesus came to take it away by sacrificing himself. It is why John’s eyes lit up, and he looked beyond his listeners and pointed directly at Jesus and, with excitement in his voice, cried out, “Look, the Lamb of God!” “The Lamb” that John was referring to was the Passover lamb.
Each year, each family chose a lamb. The lamb had to be perfect. Then God wanted his people to take the lamb into the house for almost a week and treat it like a pet. God wanted the kids to play with the lamb. God wanted the family to come to love their new pet. And then, when it was time, God wanted the father to place his hand on the lamb’s head and take his knife and slit the lamb’s throat and watch as the white wool turned red. I can only imagine the tears shed, especially by the children of the house.
What was God teaching? He was teaching that my sin and yours require suffering and bleeding and dying. But he was also teaching something else about how he handles sin. Though I sinned, the lamb dies as my substitute. And finally, there is emotion involved here. As the father slit the throat of that lamb that had become the family pet, everyone would get just a glimpse of the pain God would experience when he would watch his only Son . . . his Lamb . . . bleed out on the cross. It would be the only way to take away our sin.
So, what does Jesus see when he looks at you? He sees the one he loves. And what do you see when you look at Jesus? The Lamb, your Savior. This is One who takes away the sin of the world, even your sin and mine.
Dear Jesus, keep our eyes focused on your love for us this Holy Week. May we always see you as you are, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! Amen.
Rev. David Scharf serves Martin Luther College as a professor of theology.