i. 29: 'Behold, the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world!'

i. 36: 'Behold, the Lamb of God!'

xi. 50: 'Ye know nothing at all, nor do ye take account that it is expedient for you that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation perish not.'

Of these passages the last derives its main interest from the Evangelist's suggestion that the words of Caiaphas were an unconscious prophecy, that Jesus should die for the nation and for the children of God scattered abroad throughout the world (xi. 51f.). It is a mere expression of political expediency: Jesus ought to be put to death in order to avert the dangers of revolution. 'If we let him thus alone, all men will believe on him: and the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation' (xi. 48).

The first two passages are of the greatest interest and importance. The words are ascribed to John the Baptist, 238 but there is every reason to think that this is an example of dramatic representation, and that historically the statement is that of the Evangelist.11   Cf. Bernard, 46. For a defence of the passage, as an opinion of the Baptist, see Burney, The Aramaic Origin of the Fourth Gospel, 104-8. However the words are interpreted, they express a recognition of Jesus as the Christian Messiah, and it is improbable that this conviction was reached so early by the Baptist, and was expressed in terms which surpass those of Peter at Caesarea Philippi (cf. Mk. viii. 29; Mt. xvi. 16).22   The narrative of Mk. i. 9-11 implies, when most naturally interpreted, that the words of the divine voice are heard by Jesus alone. There is even stronger reason to take this view if the saying is a confession of Jesus as the Suffering Servant of Isa. liii., for a pre-Christian Messianic use of this conception has not been proved, and it is almost certainly an identification first made by Jesus Himself.33   See earlier, pp. 45ff.

The phrase, 'the Lamb of God,' has been variously explained with reference to (a) the lamb offered at the morning and the evening sacrifice (Ex. xxix. 38-46); (b) Jer. xi. 19: 'But I was like a gentle lamb that is led to the slaughter'; (c) the Paschal Lamb (Ex. xii.) ; and (d) the Servant of Yahweh, who in Isa. liii. 7 is compared to a lamb that is led to the slaughter', and who 'bare the sin of many' (liii. 12). There is perhaps least to be said for the first of these explanations, since the daily sacrifices were not expiatory in character.44   Cf. Lagrange, Evangile selon Saint Jean, 41. It is also unlikely that the reference is to the gentleness and innocence of a lamb,[^6] as in Jer. xi. 19, for, while on this interpretation it is easier to attribute at least the first part of the saying to the Baptist, the words 'which taketh away the sin of the 239 world', show that the thought is sacrificial in character. Moreover, the reference is not general, but to a definite and known lamb. There is much more to be said for the view that the Evangelist is thinking of the Paschal Lamb. As it has often been observed, he shows a special interest in the Passover, and represents Jesus as dying at the time when the Paschal lambs were sacrificed in the Temple.11   Cf. Bernard, cvi. See also Jn. xix. 36 which freely quotes Ex. xii. 46: 'Neither shall ye break a bone thereof,' i.e.. of the Paschal Lamb. The difficulty of this view is that the Paschal Lamb is not represented in the Old Testament as bearing away sin; its blood is a token which averts the judgment of Yahweh.22   Cf. Ex. xii. 13. Note, however, the opinion of J. Jeremias mentioned on p. 138f. Perhaps the last interpretation is the best; the Evangelist is thinking of the Servant of Yahweh, for Isa. liii. 7 and 12 easily explain the references to a lamb and to sin-bearing. This identification, however, is not without its difficulties, for *airwn in i. 29 probably means 'taking away',33   So very many modern commentators. See Bernard, Lagrange, Meyer, in loc. Cf. 1 Sam. xv. 25, xxv. 28, and I Jn. iii. 5. whereas in the Septuagint pherein is used to express the idea of bearing sin,44   Cf. Isa. 12, where *anapherein is used. and the picture has points of likeness to the ritual of the Day of Atonement (cf. Lev. xvi. 22). The dominant conception appears to be that of the Servant, freely used in association with other sacrificial ideas.55   C. J. Ball has suggested that in the original Aramaic talya, 'servant', may have carried with it the associations of the Hebrew tale, 'lamb*. He does not, however, bring his suggestion into relation with Isa. liii. Cf. C. F. Burney, The Aramaic Origin of the Fourth Gospel, 107f.; J. Jeremias, Theologisches Worterbuch, i. 185. H. A. W. Meyer observes: 'The taking away of sins by the Lamb presupposes His taking them upon Himself,' i. 115.

E. F. Scott has suggested that in this passage 'we have nothing but a vague concession to the earlier doctrine'.66   The Fourth Gospel: its Purpose and Theology, 219. 240 It is not quite true, however, to speak of the saying as 'the single text in which Christ is regarded as the great sacrifice for sin', for the ideas implicit in the saying: For their sakes I sanctify myself (xvii. 19), are sacrificial, and the principle of life through death is expressed in the words about a grain of wheat (xii. 24). Moreover, it is not likely that 'a vague concession to the earlier doctrine' would have been expressed at the moment when the Evangelist first brings the historical figure of Jesus before the attention of his readers. It is far better to suppose that the words were of great importance to the Evangelist and that it is for this reason that he thrusts them into the forefront of his Gospel. At the same time the fact remains that the saying stands almost isolated in the Gospel, and that for the most part the other Passion-sayings in it are of a different tenor. The closer parallels are in I John. This is a fact of very great interest and importance, and it will be useful at this stage to examine the references to the Atonement in this Epistle. It may well be that in the sayings which are attributed to Jesus, yet to be considered, there are ideas which are distinctively those of the Evangelist. But this is a problem which calls for special consideration, and it is best at this point to compare the statements of the Evangelist, which have been noted as such, with those in the Epistle. This comparison has an important bearing upon the genuineness of the Passion-sayings attributed to Jesus.


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