We are barely out from under the sparkle of Jesus’ coming at Christmas, and the Gospel reminds us of WHY Jesus came: to take away the sins of the world. He is the Word made flesh, Who is the Lamb of God. There is a three-fold significance to this title for Jesus.

1)      For the Jewish people, the lamb is the price to be paid for sin, being sacrificed twice a day as expiation.  So, as “Lamb of God,” Jesus comes as the sacrifice for sin. Today’s Responsorial Psalm is like a hymn of Christ to the Father: “Here I am, Lord; I come to do your will… Holocausts or sin-offerings you sought not; then said I, ‘Behold, I come.’”

2)      The primary holy day for Jews is Passover, when each family sacrifices and eats a lamb to recall and relive their liberation from slavery in Egypt. So, as “Lamb of God,” sacrificed and consumed, Jesus comes as a sign of God’s merciful love, as the One who saves and sets free.

3)      In the Old Testament, the prophets often described the coming Messiah as a lamb going meekly to slaughter, to take the sins of the people on himself. So, as “Lamb of God,” Jesus comes as the long-awaited Anointed One, who will make all things right at last.

John the Baptist gives witness to something extraordinary: a man came forward to be baptized, and a dove came down from heaven and hovered over him. John is eager to share this event with others, making clear that he was told beforehand that this would be the sign of the one who would come to baptize with the Holy Spirit. John does not keep this information to himself, but boldly makes a solemn statement as he points Jesus out to his followers: “Now I have seen and testified that he is the Son of God.”

This Gospel reminds us that from the very beginning of his ministry, Jesus was described as the Son of God, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world, the one who existed before all time. Some of the disciples of John understood the significance of this and followed after him immediately! Others took some convincing. Others would never accept the Truth while he was still alive.

How would I have understood these words? What would I have done in response? John gives us an example to follow. He sees Jesus “coming toward him,” and he shares freely what he sees. What a beautiful meditation these words are, as Jesus is always coming toward us, never moving away from us! It is up to us to watch, listen, receive, and then, like John, testify to what we have seen! Boldly!

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