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Christ's Ministry Begins.
At this point Jesus breaks suddenly in upon the narrative. The Fourth Gospel passes by all the details contained in the other three concerning the early life of the Savior; the miraculous conception, the birth at Bethlehem, the flight to Egypt, the return to Nazareth, the visit to the temple when Jesus was twelve 36years old, and even his baptism a short time before in the Jordan. This is referred to, and a familiarity with it implied, but its history is not given. In these facts we have additional evidence that John wrote many years after the other evangelists and supposed his readers to be acquainted with the facts that they narrated.
Jesus was at this time thirty years old, had lived a singularly blameless life with his home at Nazareth, where he had worked at the trade of Joseph, and hence is spoken of as “the carpenter” and “the carpenter's son.” He had never attended the great schools of the Jewish law in which all the Rabbins obtained their education, but went from the carpenter's bench to John's baptism, was anointed with the Holy Spirit, retired to the desert for forty days of lonely preparation, and then reappears at this point, to begin his ministry. (Joh 1:29)
29. The next day John seeth Jesus. The next day after the visit of the deputation of the Sanhedrim. It was not the first visit of Jesus to John. About forty days before he had presented himself and demanded baptism. He doubtless knew Jesus personally before this, for he testifies to the blameless purity of his life, but it had not then been revealed to him that Jesus was the Christ; only that the One upon whom he should see the Spirit descending was the King of whom he bore witness. After this baptism Jesus had retired to the wilderness to meet the tempter alone. It is at the period of his return that John points him out as the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world. The lamb was a very familiar object of sacrifice to the Jews. It was slain by every Jewish family at the passover, was commonly used for a sin offering (Lev. 4:32); in the cleansing of the leper (Lev. 14:10); at both the morning and the evening sacrifice (Exod. 29:38); at all the great feasts, and on special occasions. When John pointed out Jesus, not as a, but the Lamb of God, it can only mean that God had provided him as a sacrificial offering. Every lamb offered on Jewish altars pointed to him; Isaiah, in chapter LIII, points out that he was “lead as a lamb to the slaughter.” In Revelation he is declared to be the Lamb, “as it were slain.” There is no escape from the idea that Jesus became a sacrificial offering for the world. This is entirely in harmony with the class of passages which affirm that “his blood cleanseth from all sin.” We may not be able to fathom all the mysteries of the atonement, but it is the part of faith to accept and trust fully, what is so clearly taught. It will be seen, also, that John, by inspiration, is enabled to grasp the magnitude of the Savior's work. He is to take away the sin, not of Jews only, but of the world.
The reader should not fail to note, at the beginning of the Savior's ministry, that the idea that he is more than a Jewish deliverer comes into prominence. He is the Lamb of God who taketh away sin, not the sin of Israel only, but the sin of the world. John, by inspiration, is enabled to rise above the idea of a Jewish Messiah, the sphere of whose blessings would be confined to the narrow limits of the race of Abraham, and at once points his followers to Jesus as the Messiah of man, the Redeemer of the world who taketh away the sin thereof. 37Here, at the outset, is a divergence from the Messianic ideas of the Jews, and the germ of that disappointment of their hopes by seeing in Jesus the founder of a universal spiritual kingdom, rather than a worldly national empire, which led to their rejection of the Christ. (Joh 1:30)
30. This is he of whom I said. In verse 27 the words he refers to are given. The One who will come after him in point of time, precedes him in eminence, for he was before him in existence. John might be first known on earth and older by human birth, but Christ had existed from eternity. (Joh 1:31)
31. I knew him not. Knew not whom God had chosen as the Christ. He knew Jesus personally, but did not know he was the Christ until God pointed him out. Therefore am I come baptizing with (in) water. His whole mission of preaching and baptizing was to prepare for and reveal the Christ. In his baptizing the Christ became manifest in the way stated in the following verses. (Joh 1:32)
32. John bare record. Gave witness to the fact, either at this or some subsequent time. I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove. See Matt. 3:16. At this time, as Jesus came up out of the water, the Spirit was seen descending in the form of a dove, and the voice of God was heard declaring, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” Thus Jesus was anointed with the Spirit, and was thenceforward the Christ, the Anointed. It is significant that this took place at the time of baptism. Why should any Christian disparage a rite the Lord has so honored? (Joh 1:33)
33. And I knew him not. Knew not who was the Messiah. The Lord had however, given him a sign by which he could recognize him. Upon whomsoever the Spirit visibly descended and abode, the same would baptize in the Holy Spirit. The only one baptizing in the Holy Spirit is the Christ. The Spirit in its fulness abode with him, and hence he was able to impart its fulness in the baptism of the spirits of his disciples. Christ did not baptize in the Holy Spirit until after he had ascended, the first instance being recorded in Acts 2:1–4. (Joh 1:34)
34. And I saw and bare record that this is the Son of God. While the apostle does not give the history of the Savior's baptism, his allusions to it are very full and 38can only be understood by comparing them with the accounts given in the other Gospels. John “saw” all that is recorded by Matthew (3:13–17) and heard the Divine voice. Hence he “bare record that this is the Son of God.” This language was spoken the “next day” after the deputation of the Sanhedrim had waited upon him, and that event is thus located after the baptism and temptation of Christ. The order of events, in the gospel history, up to this date, is about as follows: 1. The Annunciation to Mary; 2. The Birth of John the Baptist; 3. The Birth of Jesus; 4. Jesus in the Temple with the Doctors; 5. The Preaching of John; 6. The Baptism of Jesus; 7. The Temptation in the Wilderness; 8. The Deputation of the Sanhedrim to John; 9. The Return of Jesus to John.
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