Posted by Amy Orr-Ewing, on April 26, 2011
In the first chapter of John a theme begins which John willcarry throughout his entire testimony. We read, “The next day, John saw Jesus coming toward him and hesaid, ‘Look, the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.'” What John is saying here and will sayagain and again is “Look! Look at Jesus.” In fact, he goes on to use this word fifteen times in hisgospel. In the King James Version,it is translated emphatically, “Behold!” Interwoven throughout his stories of the life of Jesus, Johnrepeatedly seems to stop and point his finger to make sure we hearers aregetting it: “Look atthis. Look at Jesus. This is astonishing. This is amazing. This is mind-blowing. Will you behold?” It is an appropriate question to holdbefore us as we take in the events of Easter: What are you lookingat?
In one of my favorite hymns, Charles Wesley writes in hisfinal verse, “Happy, if with my latest breath I might but gasp his name,preach him to all and cry in death, ‘Behold, behold the lamb.'” An account of Charles Wesley’s deathtells us that that is exactly what happened. As he lay dying, he said those words, ‘Behold the lamb,’ andthen went to be with the Lord. What is it that you are beholding? John wants to make sure we heed the call to look at Jesus.
In his gospel, John then goes on to give us several signsthat tell us something of who and what this Jesus really is. Out of the many miracles that Jesusperformed in his ministry, John deliberately chooses seven in order to give usa very particular perspective. Thefirst miracle he recounts is the miracle at the wedding in Cana where Jesustakes ceremonial washing jars filled with water and astonishingly turns thewater the red. Choosing thismiracle, John shows us a sign of what Jesus has come to do. He has come to wash us, to give his redblood as a gift that we might be purified. John wants us to behold Jesus as the one who comes to bringatonement.
In the second and third miracles John offers are the signsof miraculous healing. In chapter4, Jesus heals the son of a man in the royal household of Herod. As this man’s son lay dying miles awayat home, he begs Jesus to heal him. And right there, Jesus pronounces the words, “Your son will live.” In chapter 5, Jesus heals the man atthe pool of Bethesda, literally “the house of mercy,” where the manhad come for years hoping for healing but could never attain it on hisown. Into this man’s despair Jesuscomes and simply tells him, “Pick up your mat and walk.” In both of these miracles, we find thehealing Jesus offers reaching far beyond the private corners of faith and intothe very public realms of reality.
In the fourth miracle John chooses, we are shown a pictureof the abundance in the very person of Christ. In John chapter 6, Jesus feeds a crowd of five thousand bydramatically multiplying the loaves and fish. We are left with a picture of mind-blowing abundance, theSon of God demonstrating the fullness of God in the person of Jesus Christ. Also in chapter 6, the fifth miracleshows Jesus walking on water in the midst of a storm. The disciples are terrified, but Jesus gives them anextraordinary look at his authority, not only over the elements, but over allthat would cause fear. Here, hesays to them, “It is I. Don’tbe afraid.”
In the sixth and seventh miracles John offers, we are giveneven further reason to thoroughly behold the person of Christ. In chapter 9, Jesus heals a man bornblind and we literally see darkness illuminated by the Son of God. Here, John gives us another sign ofwhat Jesus has come to do. Christhas come into a dark and broken and needy world, and he is the light of theworld who shines in the darkness. Finally, in the seventh miracle, John gives us a picture of all that isto come in Christ. In the raisingof Lazarus, Jesus demonstrates his authority over death itself. It is a sign of his impendingresurrection, a sign of the resurrection to come.
Thus the question remains: Will you behold thelamb of God? John wants tomake sure we see clearly the one who brings atonement, who shows mercy, whobrings healing, who has authority, the one who tells us not to fear, the onewho is abundant, the one who illuminates a darkened world and literally opensthe eyes of the blind, the one who has power even over death itself. It is Christ. It is this Jesus who we do well to be looking at. Will you behold?
Amy Orr-Ewing is United Kingdom director forRavi Zacharias International Ministries in Europe.