John 1:30-39

Henry Mahan

When John pointed to the Lord Jesus and said, "BEHOLD THE LAMB OF GOD, " the title suggests several things.

(Vs. 30) This is the third time John has declared that Christ is "PREFERRED BEFORE ME" (Vs. 15 & 27). What he is doing is declaring the eternality, deity, and pre-existence of the Lord Jesus (John 17:5).

(Vs. 31) In this verse John tells the purpose of his baptism. It was to make Christ "MANIFEST" to Israel. It was to prepare a people for Him. This people was prepared by their taking the place of sinners before God (Mark 1:5). That is why John baptized in Jordan, the river of death; for, being baptized in Jordan, they ACKNOWLEDGED THAT DEATH WAS THEIR DUE. In this, John's baptism differs from our baptism. In believers' baptism the believer does not confess that death is his due, but he shows forth the fact that HE HAS ALREADY DIED–died TO sin, died WITH Christ.

(Vs. 32-33) These verses have reference to the occasion when Christ was baptized of John (Matt. 3:16-17). The dove manifests the CHARACTER of the One upon whom the Spirit came. The dove is a bird of love and sorrow. When the Holy Spirit came upon the disciples on the day of Pentecost, "There appeared unto them cloven tongues of fire." Fire signifies Divine judgment. There was that in the disciples which needed to be judged: the evil nature remained within them. But there was no sin in Christ; hence did the Spirit descend upon Him like a dove. The Holy Spirit did not come upon Him and then leave again, as with the prophets of old. He ABODE on Christ. The Spirit descended and REMAINED on Him. He it is Who baptized His people with the Holy Ghost (John 20:22).

(Vs. 34) John bore a seven-fold witness to the excellency and glory of Christ.

(Vs. 35-36) The next day John stood with two of his followers (we believe, to be John and Andrew) and, looking upon Jesus Christ as He walked by, said, "BEHOLD THE LAMB OF GOD." This was John's ministry and message–to point men to Christ the Redeemer.

(Vs. 37) John and Andrew, who were fishermen by trade, had attached themselves to John. They had not only been baptized of him, but eagerly awaited the promised Messiah and Saviour of Whom John preached. At last the day arrived when this teacher, whom they believed to be God's prophet, stopped them in their walk, pointed to the passing figure, and said, "BEHOLD, THE LAMB OF GOD." They left John and followed the Lord Jesus!

(Vs. 38) The Master turned and asked, "WHAT SEEK YE?" At first it may seem strange that the all-knowing Lord should ask such a question of them. His question was to reveal the true motive and purpose of these men. He asked Cain, "Where is your brother?" He asked Adam, "Where art thou?" In those days many followed Him for various reasons – the miracles (John 2:23), the loaves and fishes (John 6:26), or because it was the popular thing to do. But some followed Him because of their need and because they believed (John 6:66-69). The question is, "WHAT SEEK YE?" or "On what is your heart set?" (Psalm 42:1).

Their reply was, "MASTER, WHERE DWELLEST THOU?" Where dwellest THOU? It was not a "WHAT" but a "WHOM" that their hearts were set upon. It was not a blessing, but the Blesser Himself they were interested in (II Tim. 1:12).

(Vs. 39) The place where He dwelt is not given. They "ABODE WITH HIM." His abiding place is theirs too – wherever that is! (John 14:3.) It is not WHAT that we seek but WHOM, for salvation is a person and a living union with Him!


Once it was the blessing,
Now it is the Lord;
Once it was the feeling, Now it is his Word;
Once his gifts I wanted,
Now the Giver own;
Once I sought for healing,
Now himself alone.

Once 'twas painful trying,
Now 'tis perfect trust;
Once a half salvation,
Now the uttermost;
Once 'twas ceaseless holding,
Now he holds me fast;
Once 'twas constant drifting,
Now my anchor's cast.

Once 'twas busy planning,
Now 'tis trustful prayer;
Once 'twas anxious caring,
Now he has the care;
Once 'twas what I wanted,
Now what Jesus says;
Once 'twas constant asking,
Now 'tis ceaseless praise.

Once it was my working,
His it hence shall be;
Once I tried to use him,
Now he uses me;
Once the power I wanted,
Now the Mighty One;
Once for self I laboured,
Now for him alone.

Once I hoped in Jesus,
Now I know he's mine;
Once my lamps were dying,
Now they brightly shine;
Once for death I waited,
Now his coming hail,
And my hopes are anchored,
Save within the veil.

Henry Mahan
Ashland, Ky.


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