The words of John the Baptist echo from the shores of the Jordan River to our Advent season. Seeing Jesus, he said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29).
His words bring to mind a couple of things to remember at Advent and long after Advent. The first is that John points to the Savior “who takes away the sin of the world.” I think that’s important because all sinners are included. Jesus did not come just for those who flocked to hear John’s announcement. Jesus came also for those who did not come to hear John.
John said, “the world!” His political sight included the Romans who occupied Judea and perhaps those who visited Judea from other nations. Of course, the world was more than what John saw. It included those he could not have known in parts of the world far away—India, China, what would become the New World. I think he did realize the world Jesus came for included people yet unborn.
That’s important to us all because God’s plan included every soul who would inhabit this world. Jesus paid the penalty for the sins of all people. All sins are taken away! In grace and mercy, God declared all humanity righteous and forgiven for the sake of this Lamb of God. It’s a gift of his grace to all. No exceptions. No exclusions. The sins of the world are taken away.
No one else, except a perfect loving God, can do this. No man, woman, or child is free from sin. And not one citizen of this world is able to do enough good to remove sin. No one can remove his or her own sins, let alone the sins of another person. And certainly not the sins of the world.
Taking away sins is a gift God freely offers to any and every sinner. It can’t be earned. Faith in Jesus simply accepts God’s forgiveness. Sadly, many refuse to receive God’s loving gift. They remain in their comfortable homes in Jerusalem, New York, Rome, Singapore, or your neighborhood. They don’t have time to be bothered. But those, like you and me, who turn to Jesus trust God’s promise of forgiveness and find in his promise peace, joy, and hope.
The second thought connected to John’s proclamation comes from an observation of Christian churches and their leaders. It frustrates me to see Christian leaders with high profile media presence fail to do as John did—point to Jesus. All too often the message is about social issues like global warming, refugees, tolerance for all, terrorism, and immigration. Not a syllable about Jesus. All these issues are important, but missing an opportunity to say, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” is inexcusable.
Long after all of us are gone, a new generation will face other social issues. Our issues will seem old-fashioned. Only one thing remains—the Lamb of God. He is loving, kind, and generous to sinners.
But a word of warning: Advent reminds us that the Lamb will return. Then he will invite those who trusted his promises to shout, “Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!” (Revelation 5:12). The others will be removed from his presence; they did not accept God’s gift and must go on without it as they did while they were here.
John reminded the people on the banks of the Jordan—and us too—“Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near” (Matthew 3:2).
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Author: John A. Braun
Volume 102, Number 12
Issue: December 2015
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