Monday after the First Sunday after Epiphany
Scripture: St. John 1:29-34 (NKJV)
1:29 The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! 30 This is He of whom I said, ‘After me comes a Man who is preferred before me, for He was before me.’ 31 I did not know Him; but that He should be revealed to Israel, therefore I came baptizing with water.”
32 And John bore witness, saying, “I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and He remained upon Him. 33 I did not know Him, but He who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘Upon whom you see the Spirit descending, and remaining on Him, this is He who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ 34 And I have seen and testified that this is the Son of God.”
Could there be sweeter words to the ears of people who are troubled by their sins and burdened by guilt over the things they have done? “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” John reveals Christ as the Lamb of God. Jesus is the Lamb without spot or defect which all the Old Testament sacrifices prefigured. As the Lamb without blemish, the Lord laid upon Him the iniquity of us all so that by His innocent, bitter sufferings and death Christ made satisfaction for our sins, “and not for ours only, but also for the whole world”
(1 John 2:2).
The satisfaction that the Lamb made upon the cross is applied to sinners when they believe the Gospel that in Christ they have a God who is merciful to them. When we trust God’s promises in Christ, He forgives our sins, taking them away from us “as far as the east is from the west” (Ps. 103:12). This is why we sing these words of John in the Divine Service immediately before Holy Communion. There Christ has mercy on us and takes away our sins by faith in the words “given and shed for you for the remission of sins.”
When, by faith, the benefits earned at the cross are graciously bestowed on us through the Word and Sacrament we then fight sin in our mortal body by the power of the Holy Ghost. In our sanctification we see once again Christ taking away our sins. He teaches us to renounce sin and pursue God’s will according to the Commandments. We do so in the joy that Christ takes away our sin and gives us His perfect righteousness by faith.
Lord Jesus Christ, mercifully forgive our sins and take them away from us. Amen.
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.