“Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!”
What a public proclamation by John the Baptist of the Person of Jesus.
John said of himself: ““I am the voice of one calling in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way for the Lord.’” “I baptize with water,….but among you stands one you do not know. He is the one who comes after me, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie.”
And of Jesus, after the proclamation: “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.”
John further testified: ““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 have testified that this is the Son of God.”
Thereafter, it is recorded that John proclaimed specifically to two of his disciples, one of who was Andrew, who was to be one of Jesus’ earliest disciples: ““Behold, the Lamb of God!”
Of John, it is recorded that Jesus said:
1.“Most certainly I tell you, among those who are born of women there has not arisen anyone greater than John the Baptizer; yet he who is least in the Kingdom of Heaven is greater than he.”
2. “For I tell you, among those who are born of women there is not a greater prophet than John the Baptizer, yet he who is least in God’s Kingdom is greater than he.”
I remember Dr. Ruth Edwards, my New Testament Greek lecturer at the University of Aberdeen in 1982, pointing to the class, that the tense of the verb “takes” as recorded in the phrase “ takes away the sin of the world” was that of the present active participle.
She explained that what this meant was that at that moment of the proclamation, Jesus was already actively taking away the sin of the world as Lamb of God. It was not something that was going to happen in the future – the verb being of the present active participle. In text and context, it was already happening in the person of Jesus, as Lamb of God, even as John spoke.
This statement of hers continues to its profound impact, to and for me, as to ‘Who’ I say Jesus is.
This text asserts and explicitly proclaims that the sin of the world was already being actively taken away in the person of Jesus, the Incarnate Son of God, Lamb of God, way before his crucifixion and death on the wooden cross at Calvary.
For me, questions never asked and considered were and are now being asked, considered, framed and re-framed. In doing this, I am always indebted to Professor James Torrance, my Systematic Theology lecturer in Aberdeen, who shared with the class the principle that the “question always predetermines its answer”. Hence, for me, the importance of framing correct or incorrect questions, as incorrect questions asked will only give incorrect predetermined answers.
Three questions, concerning this mystery, that are continuingly arising, framed, re-framed, laid aside to be considered again, for me, are:
1. Have other writers in the New Testament alluded to this in their writings?
2. What is the significance of the Son of God being the Lamb of God?
3. What is this sin of the world that the Lamb of God was taking away and how?
Below are some passages in the New Testament that I opined are related to this proclamation.
1. The Apostle John, in Revelation, wrote that this Lamb was slain away from or before the foundation of the cosmos world, universe or creation.
2. In the first epistle attributed to Peter, it is written: “For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake.”
3. In Colossians, Paul wrote of this Person Lamb as the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created in the heavens and on the earth, visible things and invisible things, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things have been created through him and for him He is before all things, and in him all things are held together. He is the head of the body, the assembly, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things he might have the preeminence..
In him also we have our redemption, the forgiveness of our sins. For in him all the fullness of the Deity was pleased to dwell bodily, and through him to reconcile all things to himself by him, whether things on the earth or things in the heavens, having made peace through the blood of his cross.
4. In Ephesians, Paul wrote: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and without defect before him in love, having predestined us for adoption as children through Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his desire, to the praise of the glory of his grace, by which he freely gave us favor in the Beloved, in whom we have our redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he made to abound toward us in all wisdom and prudence, making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he purposed in him to an administration of the fullness of the times, to sum up all things in Christ, the things in the heavens and the things on the earth, in him.”
Significance of Son of God being Lamb of God
1. In the above passages, I find that creation was birthed from this plan and design of Triune God in, of and from the Triune counsel of Son being Lamb of God slain in eternity, to be actualised in the Son of God becoming flesh to be Lamb of God in time.
2. This is to ensure and realise in the fullness of the times, the summing up of all things, things in the heavens and things in earth, in person of Incarnate Son, as Lamb of God, in creation for life eternal.
3. For only through eternal Son of God being the slain Lamb of God in eternity and Incarnate Lamb of God in time, is Triune God able to reconcile all things to himself by him, whether things on the earth or things in the heavens, having made peace through the blood of Son of God’s cross of and by being Lamb of God in eternity and time.
4. As such, Son of God as Lamb of God becoming human and continuing to be Lamb of God is ever in-essence:
4.1 Entwined with the mystery of the Kingdom of God.
4.2 Indivisible from the mystery, the revelation of Jesus Christ, which was kept secret since the world began.
4.3 Indissoluble from the mystery of His will according to His good pleasure, which He purposed in Christ…. to sum up all things in Christ, the things in the heavens and the things on the earth, in him.
4,4 Conjoined with God’s wisdom in a mystery, the wisdom that has been hidden, which God foreordained before the worlds for our glory”.
4.5 Joined as one in union and communion in the profound mystery of Christ and the church.
I believe that this joining as one in Christ in union and communion is part of the glory, which has been given to us in Christ, part of the glory Son had with the Father before the world existed. We are enabled though Spirit to become and participate as partners, joint heirs with and in the life of Incarnate Son of God as the Lamb of God, in and through the Spirit, within the constraints of our unique humanness, as humanly and divinely possible.
So what was this sin(singular) of the world that was being taken away in the person of Jesus, the Lamb of God, even before his crucifixion and death at the cross?
The Greek word for sin in John 1:29 is “ἁμαρτίαν–hamartian from ἁμαρτία-hamartia. Fundamentally the word connotes the meaning of missing the mark, error or failure.
What is this ‘mark’ that creation or the created order has missed?
Solomon in Ecclesiastes 1:2 understood all that is in creation as: “Futility of futilities! All is futility.” The Wycliffe Bible describes it in parenthesis as “emptiness and futility, yea, everything is empty and futile.”
Paul in Romans 8:20 wrote: “For the creation was subjected to frustration and futility, not willingly [because of some intentional fault on its part], but by the will of Him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will also be freed from its bondage to decay [and gain entrance] into the glorious freedom of the children of God.”
From the above, it would seem that the ‘mark’ that was missed was that of not being joined to divine essence, perfection and communion as divinely possible. The created nature and essence is not the same as the Divine, for creation, as is, has a beginning and will come to an end. The Divine is ever eternal, the Who was, is and is to come. Hence, the sin or missing the mark of creation is the unsurpassable chasm between what is created and what is Divine. It is inherently and essentially the difference in nature and essence between the Divine and created order.
According to Paul, this was not the will of Triune God. The plan and design for creation and all that is within it was for it to be set free from this bondage or sin into the glorious freedom of the children of God. This plan and design was already set in motion in Triune counsel eternity in Son, who, though He was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped but emptied Himself and took the form of a servant, consenting to become a man, a creature of creation. I believe that this is what is meant when it is written of the Lamb of God that was slain before the foundation of the worlds.
This is the only Way, the Truth and the Life whereby all things may be summed up in Christ to know the Father, and all things may be reconciled to Triune God, by and in the Person of Incarnate Son, whether things in heaven or on earth, visible or invisible.
Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!
 WEB-World English Bible
 John 1:29
 Matthew 3:1
 John 1:23 NIV
 John 1:30-31 NIV
 John 1:32-33 NIV
 John 1:34 WEB. See also Matthew 3:16,17 “Jesus, when he was baptized, went up directly from the water: and behold, the heavens were opened to him. He saw the Spirit of God descending as a dove, and coming on him. Behold, a voice out of the heavens said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”WEB
 Matthew 11:11
 Luke 7:28
 αἴρων from αἴρω (airō) Strong’s G142 Verb - Present Active Participle - Nominative Singular Masculine
 Revelation 13:8 Greek ἀπὸ - apo Strong’s G575 – a primary article "off," i.e. away (from something near), in various senses (of place, time, or relation; literal or figurative)
 Revelation 13:8 GW, NOG, NIRV, NLT, OJB
 1 Peter 1:19-20
 Colossians 1:16-18 WEB
 Colossians 2:9 and Colossians 1:19
 Colossians 1:20
 Ephesians 1:3-10 WEB
 For me, counsel of Father initiating, Son mediating and Spirit generating
 blood = life See Leviticus 17:11 “For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you on the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that makes atonement, by reason of the life [which it represents]” AMP
 See Matthew 16:24, Mark 8:34, Luke 9:23, Luke 14:27 – Likewise, I posit that the personal cross for and of Jesus was being Lamb of God as Son of God and Son of man for “ the disciple is not above his teacher nor the slave above his Lord” Matthew 10:24,25, Luke 6:40, See also John 13:13-16
 Mark 4:11
 Romans 16:5
 Ephesians 1:9 WEB
 Ephesians 1:10 WEB
 1 Corinthians 2:7 WEB
 Ephesians 5: 31-32
 John 17:22,
 1 Corinthians 12:27
 Strong’s G266 -
 The term hamartia derives from the Greek ἁμαρτία, from ἁμαρτάνειν hamartánein, which means "to miss the mark" or "to err". It is most often associated with Greek tragedy, although it is also used in Christian theology. Wikipedia
 See Strong’s G5356 and G5351