Ash Wednesday: Behold, the Lamb of God

February 18, 2015

The next day John saw Jesus coming towards him and said, ‘Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! John 1:29-34

John the Baptist was a bit of a wild man. He lived an outsider’s existence, physically separating himself by living—and preaching—in the Judean wilderness. The gospel stories describe him wearing the garments of an Old Testament prophet and preaching the very sermon of an Old Testament prophet: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near!” (Matthew 3:2). But far from being put-off by any eccentricities, the people longed to hear his message. They came in droves from all over Judea to hear John preach. And they did repent, and he baptized many of them as a sign of their repentance.

And then…

One day, Jesus himself comes down the road toward the Jordan River, where John is preaching, calling for repentance—a turning away from sin.

Can you picture it?

John sees Jesus coming and knows the truth of who Jesus is: this is the Messiah, the anointed one, the one God had promised throughout the Old Testament.

Imagine John’s intense gesturing, directing the crowd’s attention to the man walking up toward them: “Look! This is what I’ve been telling you about! The kingdom of heaven has come near—and here He comes, right now. Look! I’ve been preaching repentance, turning away from your sins—but look! Here He is: the Lamb of God! He is the one who will actually take away your sin—the sins of the whole world!”

John is calling us, too, to look—to really look—at the Lamb, and to see Him as the one who will serve as the sacrifice, the one who takes away sin.

In today’s English, we often use “look” to indicate a quick glance or sneaking a peek. This is why I love the way today’s verse reads in the King James Version: “Behold the Lamb of God!”

“Beholding” is different than “taking a look.” Beholding has the connotation of taking a deep, long, contemplative look at something. The sense I have of “beholding” is inspiration and awe, something you don’t see every day. Perhaps even something that takes your breath away?

John knew the truth: Jesus, the Lamb of God, was indeed a sight for these people to behold. And if they understood the truth in that moment, it would have taken their breath away too!

Today is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of the season of Lent. Let us commit, over the next few weeks up to Easter, to look—to really look—at Jesus, the Messiah, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world. Each Friday through Lent, watch for a new devotional here at in all things, one that will hopefully help you “behold the Lamb” from the perspective of one of those who had a role to play in Christ’s journey to the cross. May God bless us all with eyes to see and minds to understand the truth of who Jesus is: the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.

About the Author
  • Dave Mulder serves as Professor of Education at Dordt University, where he teaches pre-service teachers in the undergrad program and works with practicing teachers in the Master of Education program. His interests in education are varied, but include educational technology, online learning, STEM education, faith formation, and teaching Christianly. 

What are your thoughts about this topic?
We welcome your ideas and questions about the topics considered here. If you would like to receive others' comments and respond by email, please check the box below the comment form when you submit your own comments.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

There are currently no comments. Why don't you kick things off?