In the past few blogs concerning John’s Gospel, we’ve been considering what John the Baptist didn’t know about Jesus. If what I’ve written is true, that is, that John was flabbergasted that Jesus, the carpenter’s Son was the Messiah, and that John fully expected, but was wrong to assume, some really fantastic events would occur through the Messiah in that generation, in order to make the Jewish nation the leading nation in the world. If this is true concerning what John didn’t know, how could he have understood that Jesus is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29, 36)?
As I already said, it took a sign from heaven to show John that Jesus truly was the Messiah. What did John see? After his baptism, Jesus prayed and the heavens parted and the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove came and rested upon him. Then there was heard a voice from heaven: “This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased!” (Matthew 3:16-17; John 1:32, 34).
Remember that the Gospel writer said that the Law came through Moses but grace and truth came through Jesus (John 1:17). When Moses led Israel out of Egypt he led them through the waters of the Red Sea which parted before them and they crossed on dry land (Exodus 14:21, 29). In fact, Paul claims that Israel was baptized unto Moses by walking through the midst of the sea (1Corinthians 10:2). The Scriptures teach us that Jesus is greater than Moses (Hebrew 3:3) and that the things done here are after a heavenly pattern (Hebrews 8:5). Now those things concerned the Tabernacle, but the Tabernacle, itself, was also a pattern depicting Christ. If Israel was baptized unto Moses by crossing the Red Sea, how is it a pattern of the baptism of Christ?
When God created the heavens and the earth, it is said that he divided the waters from the waters (Genesis 1:6). He made a firmament that separated the waters and named the firmament heaven. When Jesus was baptized, he prayed and the heavens were parted. The Red Sea parted before Moses, but the heavens parted before Jesus. Moses led Israel out of Egypt, and Jesus leads us out of sin—of which Egypt is a type or a pattern.
While in Egypt Pharaoh would not let Israel go to worship God until all the firstborn in Egypt were slain. None of the firstborn of Israel were slain. Why? It was because of the Passover lamb. The lamb was slain and some of the blood of the lamb was placed on the door posts and the lintel above the door of the homes where the Israelites dwelt. The Passover lamb saved the nation and was a type or pattern of Christ (1Corinthians 5:7).
John the Baptist knew the Scriptures very well. His father was a priest, so John was trained to study and meditate upon the word of God. When John perceived he had erred concerning what the Messiah’s work would be, he understood through the heavenly signs offered him, not only the identity of the Messiah but also his work. Instead of leading the Jews to victory over Rome, he was to lead his people out of sin, and not only the Jews, but also the whole world. John was able to see Jesus as the Lamb of God, sent to take away the sin (singular) of the world. This **sin** is the sin of Adam, the sin of rebellion, the sin that causes separation from God. Jesus takes away all sin (1John 2:2), but John the Baptist is here referring to the single sin of rebellion which Jesus, as the Lamb of God, was to remove. I speak of this particular sin in much more detail HERE (part 1) and HERE (part 2). John understood Jesus’ task by the pattern he considered, when the heavens parted and the Spirit (of which water is a pattern) descended and rested upon Jesus.