Advent | December 01, 2021
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First Introductions

The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! This is the one I meant when I said, ‘A man who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’ I myself did not know him, but the reason I came baptizing with water was that he might be revealed to Israel.”

Then John gave this testimony: “I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him. And I myself did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, ‘The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’ I have seen and I testify that this is God’s Chosen One.”

—John 1:29-34 (NIV)

When John saw Jesus for the first time, he recognized right away who Jesus was: God’s Chosen One. What an exciting moment! The closest example from my own life would probably be when I ran into Madonna on a Malawian soccer field. I didn’t even realize it was her until I left the field and saw all the security around the property. Afterwards, it was fun to share the story of that encounter. “I ran into Madonna, you know, the American singer.”

Of all of the titles John could have used to “introduce” Jesus, he said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.” He didn’t introduce Jesus as the king of kings or the all-powerful one. Instead John chose to introduce Jesus as the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the WORLD—that would be what Jesus was most known for.

The concept of “lamb” from the Bible is foreign to us now, but in Jesus’ time, it was a loaded term. The lamb was a symbol of purity and innocence; the lamb was the pure and innocent animal that was used to atone for the people’s sins. (See Leviticus 4:32-34.) The lamb also reminded the people of John’s time of the sacrifice and deliverance of their escape from Egypt, visible in the celebration of the Passover. John declared that Jesus was the pure, innocent sacrifice that would bring salvation to our world. 

While the Jewish people may have been looking for a king to restore their earthly power, Jesus came instead to give up his power and become the final sacrifice. He had all of the power and the right to do whatever he wanted, but he didn’t use it. He turned people’s expectations upside down!

When we look at God, we want to stress his power: he is all knowing, everywhere present, and outside of time. But those weren’t the things that Jesus stressed. By choosing to be a lamb, he allowed himself to be afflicted and sacrificed. 

In our current climate, it’s common to strive for more power and assert our rights, but as followers of Jesus, we can pause to meditate on who Jesus is. During this Advent season, we can be like Jesus and adopt a posture of a lamb even when we have power and rights.

Prayer: Listen to Samuel Barber’s Agnus Dei and pray the Agnus Dei (below). Focus on the beauty of Jesus as the Lamb of God, and pray that he will have mercy on us when we fail and grant us peace.

Agnus Dei
Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, have mercy on us.
Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, grant us peace.

Faye Yu works with World Renew in Malawi. During the COVID-19 pandemic, she started mountain biking, like thousands of other Americans, and now she’s hooked. Luckily, Malawi has a temperate climate, so she can cycle year-round!

Even a humble gift can change a story.

The gift of a goat might not feel significant; however, one goat can transform a family’s story by bringing nutrition and a stable source of income to that family’s home. As we reflect on the humble king who came to serve, we also celebrate each and every humble gift, given by someone like you, in order to spread the hope of Jesus in new ways this Christmas season. Thank you for giving through World Renew! Click to give in the United States or in Canada