Saturday, December 31, 2011

The Blood of the Grape


"When the ruler of the feast had tasted the water that was made wine, and knew not whence it was: (but the servants which drew the water knew;) the governor of the feast called the bridegroom, and saith unto him, Every man at the beginning doth set forth good wine; and when men have well drunk, then that which is worse: but thou hast kept the good wine until now. This beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee, and manifested forth His glory; and His disciples believed on Him." John 2:9-11

   "When the ruler of the feast had tasted the water that was made wine, and knew not whence it was: (but the servants which drew the water knew...." Christ never made much show in His miracles. Here, something unheard of has just been done and no one but the servants know who is responsible for such wonders. Every Christian should emulate the humility of their Lord. Far too many people desire to have their pride boosted by constant recognition. Such behavior was not found in Jesus.
   "...the governor of the feast called the bridegroom, and saith unto him, Every man at the beginning doth set forth good wine; and when men have well drunk, then that which is worse: but thou hast kept the good wine until now." Obviously, this practice was unheard of as indicated by the governor's surprise. That which Christ offers always exceeds in excellence any substitute that man can conjure up.
   "This beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee...." Lastly, we must consider the picture of this miracle. Why did God choose the first miracle to be that of water being turned into wine? The word for miracle here is often rendered sign in the Authorized Version. Everything Jesus ever did here on earth has significance. This first sign (miracle) has some valuable lessons for us today as well as to those in Bible days. The Bible says in Isaiah 55:1, "Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price." This verse is Millennial in its context. It speaks of the salvation offered freely to all who are willing to believe in the Messiah. At the second coming, Israel will be converted as a nation (Zech 12,13) and will enjoy the salvation of their Messiah all through the Millennium. The wine spoken of here in Isaiah signifies the joy and sustaining power of such a salvation. When Christ came the first time, He offered the nation of Israel the kingdom. This miracle pictured the joy of the kingdom. The wine that could be freely attained through faith in the Messiah of Israel.
   However, this miracle also pictures something else. It pictures the blood of Christ. In Matthew 26, Jesus said that the blood of the grape pictured His blood. In this very first miracle of the world's Redeemer, we see a beautiful picture of the vehicle by which man's redemption would be accomplished, the blood of Christ. How appropriate, that the first miracle performed should be one in which the blood of man's redemption is seen, the blood shed by the One who came "to seek and to save that which was lost."
   "...and His disciples believed on Him." "They believed on Him, the disciples of Him." This would be a word for word rendering. The aspect of their belief is emphatic. They humbled their hearts and recognized Christ for Who He is. May we do the same.

Friday, December 30, 2011

The Power in the Miracle


"And there were set there six waterpots of stone, after the manner of the purifying of the Jews, containing two or three firkins apiece. Jesus saith unto them, Fill the waterpots with water. And they filled them up to the brim. And He saith unto them, Draw out now, and bear unto the governor of the feast. And they bare it." John 2:6-8

   The Jewish custom was to wash often during meal times and so this water was to serve for that purpose. The exact amount is somewhat difficult to calculate with great accuracy, but it would have been in the neighborhood of thirty gallons. In these next few verses, Christ will demonstrate His absolute authority over His creation. We will now see the power of the miracle. "Jesus saith unto them, Fill the waterpots with water. And they filled them up to the brim." Mary had told the servants to do exactly as Jesus told them, so they follow His orders and fill waterpots full of the water used for purifying (cleansing). "And He saith unto them, Draw out now, and bear unto the governor of the feast. And they bare it." "Begin to draw out now, and bear and keep on bearing...." This is the idea of these two commands in the Greek. No shortage of wine existed once Christ had intervened. Put somewhat poetically, perhaps the water blushed at the face of its Creator and became wine. Pure, simple water became the nourishing and rejuvenating blood of the grape. This miracle demonstrates the omnipotence of the Messiah of Israel. Nothing is too hard for God. All of creation was brought into existence by means of the Son (Col. 1:16); therefore, this miracle shows clearly that the Son had put on human flesh for the redemption of mankind.
   At this juncture, it becomes necessary to digress somewhat. Many struggle with this passage because they believe it leaves room to say that Jesus made alcoholic wine. This is not possible, because the same God that condemns the consumption of alcohol and warns of its dangers (Pr. 20:1, 23:29-35) is the same God that made this wine. God also warns of giving people intoxicating drink in Habakkuk 2:15; therefore, He would not contradict Himself by doing so in this passage. Another point to remember is that the word for wine here is very generic, and context, the rest of Scripture and cultural significance must be considered before assuming the wine spoken of is intoxicating. Simply stated, consuming alcohol has proven over and over to be both disastrous and far from edifying. It is not a holy practice by any means and the thrice Holy God would never condone drinking, in moderation or to excess. To assume Jesus made alcohol here is worse than blasphemous.
   So we have here an awesome picture of the power of the Messiah. We who claim to be His children would do well to contemplate the power of this miracle. It demonstrates to us that nothing is too hard for our Savior. We can rest in His ability.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

His Ways Are Not Our Ways


"And the third day there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee;
and the mother of Jesus was there: and both Jesus was called,
and His disciples, to the marriage. And when they wanted wine,
the mother of Jesus saith unto Him, They have no wine.
Jesus saith unto her, Woman, what have I to do with thee?
Mine hour is not yet come. His mother saith unto the servants,
Whatsoever He saith unto you, do it." John 2:1-5

   This passage has been the object of many who wish to justify the ungodly practice of drinking alcohol. In so doing, many have cast a slur upon the holiness of God and have robbed themselves of the great spiritual lessons contained in these next few verses. The first eleven verses of chapter two will be examined in three different sections. First, in verses one through five, we will look at the purpose of the miracle.
   "And the third day there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee; and the mother of Jesus was there...." The third day seems to be counted from the time when John first introduced Christ in chapter one. Mary must have had some affiliation with the married couple since she was invited. "...and both Jesus was called, and His disciples, to the marriage." The verb for called is singular in the Greek. It may be that Jesus was invited but the newly gathered disciples were not expected and so this may have placed a strain on the supply of food and drink. "And when they wanted wine, the mother of Jesus saith unto Him, They have no wine." This was more than a simple remark on the part of Mary. She was strongly suggesting that Christ manifest His Messianic proprieties and declare Himself for who He is. Mary's motives may have been right and pure, but our thoughts are not God's thoughts, and very seldom is our timing His timing. The purpose of this miracle was not to make an open assertion of His kingship. In His earthly ministry, Christ was always subject to the will of the Father. His reply is interesting. He says, "Woman, what have I to do with thee? Mine hour is not yet come." This sounds harsh in our modern English, but woman is used here in a tender sense. A similar use can be seen in Matthew 15:28. Jesus tenderly but firmly demonstrates to Mary that He is under the rule of His Father and not under the rule of her own will. The following verses will show that Jesus was not adverse to meeting Mary's desires, but He first made it clear that His purpose in so doing was not her purpose. Many times we as God's people desire a need to be met, but before God will meet it, He must first correct our purpose and motive. Christ demonstrates here that all things must be done according to the timing, will and motives of our heavenly Father. Mary did not lose faith in the deity of Christ; she simply commands her servants, "Whatsoever He saith unto you, do it." This is a trusting command. Mary knew that whatever Jesus commanded would be the best course. Catholicism boldly declares Mary to be over Christ when this passage of Scripture asserts quite the opposite. Mary was a sinner saved by grace and acknowledged as much in her prayers recorded in the gospel of Luke. Here, she once again shows her submission to the ultimate purposes of God. 

Thursday, December 22, 2011

The All knowing, Ever present, All powerful Jesus!

"Jesus saw Nathanael coming to Him, and saith of him, Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile!  Nathanael saith unto Him, Whence knowest Thou me? Jesus answered and said unto him, Before that Philip called thee, when thou wast under the fig tree, I saw thee.  Nathanael answered and saith unto Him, Rabbi, Thou art the Son of God; Thou art the King of Israel.  Jesus answered and said unto him, Because I said unto thee, I saw thee under the fig tree, believest thou? thou shalt see greater things than these.  And He saith unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Hereafter ye shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man." 
John 1:47-51

   This last passage of chapter one is a marvelous passage indeed.  In these last few verses we will see that Christ boldly demonstrates His omniscience, omnipresence, and omnipotence.  "Jesus saw Nathanael coming to Him, and saith of him, Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile!"  Who could know such facts concerning men save Him Who looketh on the heart (I Sam. 16:7)?  Nathaniel was obviously a believer since Christ made such a statement.  Though Nathaniel was unfamiliar with the specific identity of the Messiah, he was obviously trusting in the work of the Messiah.  Here Jesus plainly shows His omniscience.  Each and every believer should ask themselves what Christ would audibly say in public concerning their heart.  Jesus said that Nathaniel had no guile.  This means he had no deceit or treachery.  Though no man's heart is pure in and of itself (Jer. 17:9), this man had a clear conscience before God and was walking in fellowship with Him. 
   "Nathanael saith unto Him, Whence knowest thou me?"  This was a logical question for a mere mortal, but Jesus is anything but a mere mortal.  "Jesus answered and said unto him, Before that Philip called thee, when thou wast under the fig tree, I saw thee."  The wording is unmistakable.  At the time Nathaniel was under the fig tree, Christ was actively seeing him.  The action of Nathaniel sitting under the fig tree and the action of Christ seeing him are simultaneous.  Jesus here demonstrates His omnipresence.  Proverbs 15:3 says, "The eyes of the LORD are in every place, beholding the evil and the good."  Christ is identifying Himself with the all-seeing Jehovah of the Old Testament.  No believer is hid from the eyes of God (nor any unbeliever).  The Spirit of Christ is carried inside of every Christian.  The believer's body is the inner sanctuary of the Holy Spirit (I Co. 6:19).  The believer is the property of Christ.  We must glorify Him in ALL that we do.  No sinful activity, thought, or motive has any place in the life of a Christian.  We belong to the One Whose eyes are in every place beholding our evil and our good.  Let us live like He sees us because He does!!
   Nathaniel, stunned by this declaration, makes a very appropriate statement, "Rabbi, Thou art the Son of God; Thou art the King of Israel."  Rabbi has the meaning of master or lord.  It is an honorary title still used by Jewish people today.  He calls Christ, the Son of God, declaring His deity, and the King of Israel, declaring His sovereignty.  Christ is indeed the sinless Son of the living God spoken of prophetically throughout the Old Testament (Ps. 2, Pr. 30:4 etc.).  He is also the King, and He will reign on the earthly throne of David in the Millennial Kingdom (Ps. 24, Rev. 20:1-6, Luke 1:31-33).  Israel as a nation rejected Him at His first coming, but at His second coming, they will mourn their sin of rejection and turn to Him as a nation (Rom. 11:26, Zech. 12-13). 
   "Jesus answered and said unto him, Because I said unto thee, I saw thee under the fig tree, believest thou? thou shalt see greater things than these."  Christ is letting Nathaniel know that such acts of power are nothing for God.  "And He saith unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Hereafter ye shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man."  In this second verse the verb ye shall see is in the plural in the Greek.  The King James translators brought this out by using the personal pronoun you instead of thou.  Christ is referring to more people than just Nathaniel.  He goes on to make a reference to Genesis 28 where Jacob saw the vision of the angels of God ascending and descending upon a heavenly ladder.  In this last verse, Jesus brings out His omnipotence.  Jacob's dream had the LORD God Almighty standing at the top of the ladder and saying to Jacob, "I am the LORD God of Abraham thy father, and the God of Isaac: the land whereon thou liest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed; and thy seed shall be as the dust of the earth, and thou shalt spread abroad to the west, and to the east, and to the north, and to the south: and in thee and in thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed."  Though this passage in John is no doubt somewhat difficult, the following facts cannot be doubted.  God promised Jacob that in his seed, all families of the earth would be blessed.  He promised the same thing to Abraham.  This promise is made possible through Jesus Christ the Messiah.  No matter the lineage, every person who is willing to accept Christ is eternally blessed by being adopted into the spiritual family of God.  When a person is saved, they are immediately accounted to the spiritual family of Abraham since they exercised the faith of Abraham, faith that pleases God (Gal. 3:7-9).  This author is not saying that this is all there is to this passage, but he is saying that Christ was declaring His omnipotence by identifying Himself as the One Who is able to bring upon Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and the world, the blessing promised in Genesis chapter 28.  God told Jacob in his dream that in his seed, all families of the earth would be blessed.  Christ is the fulfillment of that seed and He is boldly identifying Himself with this event in Jacob's life.  In Christ, and only in Christ, can all families of the earth be blessed.  
   What a wonderful Savior!!  He is the All knowing, Ever present, All powerful JESUS!!! 


Monday, December 19, 2011

An Appeal to the Will

"The day following Jesus would go forth into Galilee, and findeth Philip, and saith unto him, Follow Me.  Now Philip was of Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter.  Philip findeth Nathanael, and saith unto him, We have found Him, of whom Moses in the law, and the prophets, did write, Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of Joseph.  And Nathanael said unto him, Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth? Philip saith unto him, Come and see."  John 1:43-46

   "Relative truth" is a popular concept in society today.  Absolute truth is put down and spoken against.  Most would rather believe that each person has the liberty to decide for themselves what is truth for them.  The Word of God does not follow this line of thinking.  Imperative statements are an intimate part of the Bible.  God routinely makes direct commands to mankind in order to move man's will to make a choice.  If men do not have clear cut truth to follow, they will wander aimlessly, and they will never know what their Creator expects of them.  In these verses, God allows us to see three imperatives that challenged the wills of two different men.  Their choice to obey these commands forever changed their lives.  We would do well to heed the message for today. 
   "The day following Jesus would go forth into Galilee...."  Here we find a transition in Jesus ministry.  Up to this point, He had been in the southern part of Israel, Judah, but now He moves to the most northern part, Galilee.  When the text says "Jesus would" it has the meaning of strong desire.  Christ was fully minded to go into the northern parts of Israel.  "...and findeth Phillip and saith unto him, Follow Me."  At this juncture, Jesus is making a direct appeal to the will of Phillip.  Christ speaks to him with authority.  He does not "suggest" that Phillip follow Him.  He is not giving Phillip an alternative to make a second best choice.  Christ's plan for Phillip is that he follow, and so He speaks with all the authority that is rightly His.  Similarly, God does not offer multiple plans for men in the Bible.  For instance, God says that Jesus Christ His Son is the only way to heaven.  In order to be delivered from sin and hell, men have but only one choice, repent and believe the gospel.  God deals in absolute truth and we as Christians must deal in absolute truth.  When counselling others the only deliverance we can offer them is obedience to the Bible.  If they reject this, they will not find true deliverance.  Phillip could have chosen not to follow Jesus.  If he had, his life would have been disastrous; however, he humbled himself and responded obediently to God's command.  May each and every one of us humble ourselves and obediently respond to the truth of God in Scripture.  God wants every one of His children to follow Him; let us make the choice of Phillip. 
   "Now Phillip was of Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter."  Bethsaida means house of fish.  This small town was located on the northeast side of the Sea of Galilee.  "Philip findeth Nathanael, and saith unto him, We have found Him, of whom Moses in the law, and the prophets, did write, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph."  The verb we have found is in the perfect tense in the Greek.  Phillip is absolutely certain that Christ is the Messiah promised in the Old Testament.  His loyalties have been transferred to the Son of God, and he is now a dedicated disciple.  Few professing Christians today demonstrate the dedication and loyalty to Jesus that Phillip shows here.  It is probable, that many who call themselves Christians are not.  They have never truly submitted themselves to the command "Follow Me," but rather they hold on to the Christian religion as more of a good luck charm and Christ is not their Messiah but simply an idol on the shelf, to be used for selfish motives. 
   "Nathanael said unto him, Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth?...."  Nazareth, being a garrison town, was known for its corruption and ignorance.  How amazing, that God should choose such an unlikely place for the upbringing of the sinless Lamb.  This demonstrates the truth that God "hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise...and base things...and things which are despised, hath God chosen...that no flesh should glory in His presence (I Co. 1:27-29)."  God does need the riches and intelligence and culture of men to work His will.  The more difficult the odds, the greater the glory to God. "...Phillip saith unto him, Come and see."  These are the other two of the three imperatives mentioned.  Phillip was challenged by Christ to follow and now Phillip is challenging Nathanael to put aside his human reasoning and prejudices and Come and See the truth of God.  Had Nathanael followed his heart, he would have missed a tremendous blessing, but instead, (as we will see in the coming verses) he submits his will and follows the challenge to come and see.  Christians often miss a true blessing by following their own understanding.  God often challenges His children to do something that seems unreasonable or illogical and yet, He has a purpose and plan in it all (Genesis 22), something veiled to human sight.  The only way that Nathanael could avail himself of God's blessing was to put aside his own feelings and reasonings and faithfully and humbly follow.
   God is a God of commands, and yet every command that He gives is for the good of mankind.  The sooner we learn to submit our wills to the challenges of His commands, the sooner we will find true peace.

Monday, December 12, 2011

The Stone

"One of the two which heard John speak, and followed him, was Andrew, Simon Peter's brother.  He first findeth his own brother Simon, and saith unto him, We have found the Messias, which is, being interpreted, the Christ.  And he brought him to Jesus. And when Jesus beheld him, he said, Thou art Simon the son of Jona: thou shalt be called Cephas, which is by interpretation, A stone."  John 1:40-42

  This event (by context) takes place in Judea.  The actual calling of Peter as recorded by Matthew takes place in Galilee at some point after these events (see Matthew chapter 4).  "One of the two which heard John speak, and followed Him, was Andrew, Simon Peter's brother.  He first findeth his own brother Simon, and saith unto him, We have found the Messias, which is, being interpreted, the Christ."  Andrew, convinced that Jesus is the long-awaited ,seeks out his own brother.  Based upon the prophecies of Daniel (Daniel 9:24-27), it is very likely that many Jews were eagerly looking for the Messiah.  The name Messiah is Hebrew in its origin and means the anointed one.  The name Christ is Greek in its origin and means the same thing.  Andrew shows a spiritual interest in his brother by bringing him to Jesus.  Each and every Christian should have the spiritual welfare of their fellowman first and foremost in their hearts.  Too many believers are content with shallow relationships centered around idle talk and hobbies.  Hobbies and common interests can be used to open doors, but the ultimate goal should be to get our acquaintances to the feet of Christ.
   "And he brought him to Jesus. And when Jesus beheld him...."  The word for beheld here means to fix one's gaze upon.  Christ always takes a keen interest in people.  He is love.  While we often glance over others and their associated needs, Jesus never fails to take a keen interest in people regardless of their appearance or spiritual condition.  He is ever so compassionate.  "...he said, Thou art Simon the son of Jona: thou shalt be called Cephas, which is by interpretation, A stone."  Cephas is a Greek transliteration from the Hebrew word which means a rock or stone.  The verse says that the interpretation of Cephas is "a stone."  The word for stone here is literally Petros from which we derive the English name of Peter.  At least two different words for rock exist in the Greek.  The first is petros which means a piece of a larger mass.  The second is petra which means a large mass of rock.  Jesus does not call Simon the Rock.  Only one Rock exists and that is Almighty God (Deut. 32:4, Ps. 18:2, I Co. 10:4).  Jesus says rather that Simon is a piece of a larger mass, or a stone.  He indeed was greatly used to build the church.  His character, though often hasty and proud, was solid.  Christ used this man of stout character to help found the church upon the true Rock which is Christ.  This principle is clearly seen in Matthew 16:18 where Jesus said, "...thou art Peter (petros); and upon this rock (petra, Christ Himself) I will build my church...."  Peter's character, though infected by sin and failure, was one of firmness and dedication; however, the Church is built upon no man, but upon Christ Himself.  Though Peter would temporarily wander back to his former trade of fishing (Matt. 4), he is here exposed to his Messiah, thanks to Andrew, and will soon become a dedicated follower.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Come!

"Again the next day after John stood, and two of his disciples; and looking upon Jesus as He walked, he saith, Behold the Lamb of God!  And the two disciples heard him speak, and they followed Jesus.  Then Jesus turned, and saw them following, and saith unto them, What seek ye? They said unto Him, Rabbi, (which is to say, being interpreted, Master,) where dwellest Thou?  He saith unto them, Come and see. They came and saw where He dwelt, and abode with Him that day: for it was about the tenth hour." 
John 1:35-39

   "Again the next day after John stood, and two of his disciples; and looking upon Jesus as He walked, he saith, Behold the Lamb of God!"  At this juncture of Scripture, we see disciples beginning to follow Jesus.  The text says that John was looking upon Jesus as He walked.  This word means to fix one's gaze upon (see Acts 1:11).  John's attention was fixed upon Christ.  His motive was to point people to Jesus.  Far too many Christian's have their attention fixed upon something other than Christ.  Professing believer's will fix their attention upon worldly lusts, popularity and fame, but few choose to fix their full attention upon the Lamb of God.  We need to emulate John's example in that his attention was fixed upon the Messiah, and he did not hesitate to point his followers to Christ.
   "And the two disciples heard him speak, and they followed Jesus."  The two disciples leave John and accompany Christ.  The word for follow here akoloutheo and it has the sense of following as a disciple.  This is brought out more as the same word appears in verses 40 and 43 where the sense of following as a disciple is clearly seen.  John did not hesitate to point to Christ those who had attached themselves to him.  People will often attach themselves to believers for various reasons.  The motives of people are not always well directed and perfectly pure, but we, as God's servants, must gently lead others to the true Source of help. 
   "Then Jesus turned, and saw them following, and saith unto them, What seek ye?"  God does not ask questions for knowledge.  He is knowledge.  He asks questions for the benefit of men.  Questions can prompt a person to think in ways that declarative statements cannot.  Jesus says, "What seek ye?"  What are our motives for following Christ?  Some follow for relief of pain.  Some follow in an attempt to escape consequences.  Some believe that following will gain popularity.  Christ wants followers with pure motives.  He wants servants as followers.  Proud people cannot be true followers of Christ.  "What seek ye?"  It is a question that we would all do well to answer properly.  The disciples simply reply, "Rabbi, where dwellest Thou?"  God is ever so patient with our deficient answers and lack of understanding.  Christ's reply to their question is beautiful.  He says, "Come, and see."  The imperative for come is in the present tense.  This has the idea of come and keep coming.  God is a God of comes.  In Matthew 11:28 Jesus says, "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest."  He offers spiritual rest and help to the hell bound sinner who is unable to rescue himself.  In Revelation 22:17, the Bible says, " And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely."  The Spirit of God is knocking at the hearts of sinners this very day, convicting them of sin and saying to them, Come!  God wants us to come to Him.  He is a God of redemption, One who desires to loose the prisoners, but a man can come to God only through repentance and faith in Jesus Christ the Lamb.  So Jesus says, Come!  He wanted those two disciples to follow and to keep on following.  The second command of see is aorist tense.  It means to begin an action not already in progress.  These men had not yet seen where Jesus was staying and He wanted them to see. 
   The text goes on to say that they saw where He dwelt.  The tenth hour would be approximately 4pm.  Let all who have a desire to be saved from their sins Come! and follow Jesus!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

The Sacrificial Lamb of God

"The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.  This is He of whom I said, After me cometh a man which is preferred before me: for He was before me.  And I knew Him not: but that He should be made manifest to Israel, therefore am I come baptizing with water.  And John bare record, saying, I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it abode upon Him.  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.  And I saw, and bare record that this is the Son of God."  John 1:29-34

   "The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God...."  Here John the Baptist recognizes Christ as the sacrificial Lamb of the Father.  In making this statement, John was boldly declaring that sin requires a sacrifice, and Christ is the only acceptable sacrifice.  Before this point, an animal was the only thing thought of as a sacrifice for sin.  At this point, John brings to light the teaching of Isaiah 53, the Old Testament passage where, for the first time in the Scriptures, a Man is seen as the substitute for the sins of a man.  The word for Lamb here is only used in reference to Christ as the sacrificial Lamb.  The other references are John 1:36, Acts 8:32, and I Peter 1:19.  All of these verses use this Greek word amnos in reference to Christ as God's sacrificial Lamb for the sins of mankind.  Christ is the only One referred to as God's Lamb.  Outside of Christ's blood, God's wrath toward the sinner cannot be appeased.  Christ is the only way, the only truth, and the only life (John 14:6). 
   The passage goes on to say, "...which taketh away the sin of the world."  The word for taketh away has the idea of taking up, or lifting up.  Christ took upon Himself the sins of all mankind (Isaiah 53:11).  He took sin upon Himself and became sin for man (II Co. 5:21), so that all who are willing to repent and trust Christ can escape the damnation of eternal Hell. 
   "This is He of whom I said, After me cometh a man which is preferred before me: for He was before me."  John is boldly declaring the preexistence of Christ and thereby supporting His deity.  Though born after John in a physical sense, He has always been because He is the eternal Son of God. 
   "And I knew Him not: but that He should be made manifest to Israel, therefore am I come baptizing with water."  The tense of the verb knew is Pluperfect.  This means that an action occurred in the past with the results of that action continuing to a certain point and then terminating.  Before John baptized Christ, he did not know the identity of the Messiah of Israel.  God chose for Christ to be nationally identified as the Messiah through the mode of water baptism.  John goes on to say, "And John bare record, saying, I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it abode upon Him.  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."  At Christ's baptism, the Holy Trinity is seen.  This picture is more clear in Matthew's account.  God the Father announces that He is well pleased in His Son as the Spirit descends from heaven in the form of a dove and dwells upon the Savior.  Again, John says, "and I knew Him not."  This verb is also Pluperfect in tense as previously discussed.  Up to this point, John did not know the identity of Christ; however, through absolute obedience to God's instructions, John the Baptist could confidently identify God's chosen Lamb.  Other methods of determining the Messiah may have been possible.  Elizabeth (John the Baptist's mother) knew that Mary was the mother of the Messiah (Luke 1).  Yet, God gave specific directions to His servant for identifying Christ.  John followed God's word to the letter and found the Messiah.  God's word always takes precedence over any experience, or known fact.  God's word trumps all and any authority, for it is the supreme authority.
   The last part of the verse says that Christ is He which "baptizeth with the Holy Ghost."  The moment a person places their faith in Jesus as their Savior, the Spirit of God seals and indwells that believer (Ephesians 1:13).  God is the only One who can give His Spirit.  Though He chose to give it through certain apostles during the transitional book of Acts, God is the giver of His Spirit.  Any charismatic event that would claim the Spirit is given by a man is false doctrine.  After the passing of the apostles, the delayed giving of the Spirit to the believer is no longer seen.  At the moment of salvation, all believers have all of the Spirit of God they will ever need or ever get.  Each believer can walk in the Spirit each day if they so choose.
  John finishes by saying, "And I saw, and bare record that this is the Son of God."  God's directions were followed, John stood in amazement as he watched the Spirit of the living God come down upon the Son, and John knew, at that point, that this is indeed the Messiah.  The verbs for saw and bare record are very strong in their tense.  John has seen and he has born witness that Christ is the Son of God, and this truth will forever be relevant.  John is completely convinced at this point that Jesus is the Christ.  He introduces Christ as the Lamb and concludes with Christ as the Son.  What love, that God should give His only begotten Son to be a sinless Lamb for sinful men!