Juan Ponce de León dedicated his entire life for one goal. A goal greater than when he discovered new islands throughout the Caribbean sea. A goal far more impressive than when he accompanied Christopher Columbus on his first voyage to the Americas. A goal far more lasting than planting some of America’s oldest settlements. For all that Juan Ponce de León accomplished, one goal sat at the very top: Finding the Fountain of Youth.
Immortality was life’s greatest treasure. Juan Ponce de León so desperately wanted to turn back the hands of time. To remove every ache and stiff joint. To strengthen weak eyes and saggy muscles. To feel better, to be younger. So, he sailed and searched and hiked and hunted—but he never found his treasure. All the while Juan Ponce de León grew older and older. He grew so old that he died. He never found immortality.
Call it a misplaced priority or willful ignorance, but you find Juan Ponce de León never found immortality because he did not want the immortality God offers. The flawed heart can elevate worldly matters over the true peace God sends. So, John the Baptist has a question for you: What Do You Seek in Jesus? Opinions abound regarding the work of Jesus. Many cling to those flawed opinions. Yet, only one answer stands acceptable to God.
So, John tells you exactly what he finds in Jesus. God promised the Savior. He spoke through Isaiah: I will also make you [=Jesus] a light for the Gentiles, that you [=Jesus]may bring my salvation to the ends of the earth (Isaiah 49:6). God even promised John: ‘The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is he who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’ God makes no secret about it; the long-promised Savior will shine on earth.
John sees it! Jesus leaves Galilee for the Jordan River to be baptized by John. The instant John pours water over Jesus, [t]he Spirit of God descending like a dove and lighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” (Matthew 3:16-17). John takes God’s promise, connects it to this awesome sight, and says: ‘I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him.’ Everything happened just like God said it would! If the events God promised unfold before your very eyes, then you can determine: I have seen and I testify that this is the Son of God.
Do you grasp the sheer weight of those words? I have seen and I testify that this is the Son of God. John points at this one man. The thirty-year-old, bearded, olive-skinned, carpenter’s son from the backwoods town of Nazareth, this man named ‘Jesus.’ That man— not his brother James, not his father Joseph— but this man Jesus is God. He exists before the creation of the world. He knits the universe together. He speaks to Abraham, wrestles with Jacob. He wipes out enemy nations. He watches generation after generation prepare for his arrival— and now he is here. Jesus, the Son of God. All-powerful. All-perfect. Speaks truth no one can deny. Exposes hidden motives. This One outranks every single person who has been (or ever will be) born.
When John saw Jesus coming toward him [he] said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” That man, Jesus— who is also the Son of God— is the Lamb God sent. A Lamb sent for a purpose.
Now, the image of a lamb carries a strong connection to the Old Testament. For centuries the Israelites offer sacrifices. An Israelite would lead his unblemished, healthy lamb to the temple. He would lay his hands on that lamb, transferring his guilt, shame, and rebellion onto that substitute. Then, he would slit that lamb’s throat. The lamb died. Yes, it was bloody. Yes, it is gruesome. That is what sin deserved: an ugly, gruesome consequence. Left untreated this is what each soul faces. So, this animal suffered the consequences in the place of that Israelite. Still, that animal did not have the power to actually scrub clean the heart. Every single animal pointed to Jesus, the One capable of purifying every heart. So John cries: ‘Look! The final sacrifice! The Substitute who can actually make your heart clean! Behold the Lamb of God!’
What Do You Seek in Jesus? I imagine the heart leaps at hearing forgiveness, but perhaps it dreads confronting its need for forgiveness. Jesus’ teachings sound appealing as long as those teachings do not condemn you (or me). My argument with the spouse— well, I do not want to hear that I am wrong. I want God to defend my money-spending habits and tell her to respect me! I want God to defend my flirting and tell him to give me space! But never, ever do I want the Word to suggest that I might be wrong. I do not want Jesus to expose my love for this world. I want God to accept the fact that my ballgame will come first Sunday morning. I want God to understand that I will find greater delight in freetime than finding real rest from his control. I want God to expect that I will determine what is morally ‘right.’ That I might embrace the world’s view of living without marriage. That I might tolerate same-sex marriage because it seems harmless. That I might call other religions ‘right’ because, well, at least Muslims worship something. But never, ever do I want the Word to suggest that I need to put God above my opinions. Instead, Jesus’ teachings can condemn others. Like my in-laws who fight all the time— they need these words. Those politicians need to hear this— but not me. Do you ever stop to listen to What Your Heart Seeks In Jesus?
Understand, if Jesus is the Lamb God sends, then that means God sends something the world needs. If Jesus is needed, then it means you (and I) need him. If I need him, then it means something is wrong with me. If something is wrong with me, then it means, God will never accept me without Jesus.
So John cries: ‘Behold the Lamb of God!’ He does not point out one way among many for eternal life. He does not identify just another great teacher. Here is the Lamb anointed—‘set aside’— by the Holy Spirit to be our sacrifice. The Lamb declared unblemished by God Almighty. The Word applies to him, but it does not condemn him. When Jesus compares his life to God’s Commandments, the match is perfect! That Lamb shines with such brilliance; the tacky stain of guilt never sticks to him! God transfers our guilt onto him. Jesus carries up our love-for-self and is slaughtered. Nailed to a cross, thorns slicing his head, spear piercing his side. Life seeping from his veins. Life leaving and ending— all to purify and cleanse you (and me). Behold the Lamb of God.
Behold the Lamb of God— approved and accepted. God raises Jesus from death in order make it clear that his sacrifice is enough. He brings Jesus out of the grave without guilt. If that life is offered in your (and my) place, then what does God find on you? No shame. No guilt. Nothing. Because Jesus lifted it off and obliterated it once and for all time (Hebrews 10:10).
What do You Find in Jesus? Behold the Lamb of God! The sacrifice needed. The sacrifice given. The sacrifice received. Do not stop there. Find the Christ.
The next day John was there again with two of his disciples. When he saw Jesus passing by, he said, “Look, the Lamb of God!” When the two disciples heard him say this, they followed Jesus. Turning around, Jesus saw them following and asked, “What do you want?” Many wanted something from him. Some wanted a warrior to purge Rome out of Jewish territory. Others wanted a teacher who condones already-created teachings. Still others want a bread-King, a social leader who fills bellies and brings happiness for the rest of life. Most did not want the Lamb. Yet, these two said, “Rabbi” (which means Teacher).
These disciples see in Jesus not a mere man, but a rabbi— and not just a rabbi, but the Rabbi. They ask, “Where are you staying? Because we will go with you to that place, sit down, and learn.’ They will see Jesus heal. They will hear him speak with authority. They will watch miracles pour out. Every incredible sight pieces together a bigger picture: Jesus is the Christ, the One set aside so that they live at peace with God.
These two see Jesus for who he truly is: the Christ. Andrew scrambles to brother Peter: We have found him! That is such a little phrase, but tremendous words. Andrew does not tell Peter that he found what he wanted to find. Rather, he found the Jesus God promised.
You find the same thing. God kept his promise. He sent the Christ. That might sound plain at first, but think about that again. God kept his promise. A vibrant promise passed from generation to generation, century to century. Even though some thought God forgot what he promised, even though others believed God had broken his Word, God had every intention bringing Jesus into your world. He did!
God kept this ancient promise; so what promise will he break? Christ came for you, he makes you God’s child. So, will God suddenly forget you in the operating room? Will your tight finances go unnoticed? What about your fear about the future— will God not address those? You are concerned about the poor choices your children make, you wonder if you will enter heaven, you do not know the future of Christianity. Does God just not care about those fears? Will God let your prayers for rescue and strength go unanswered? Of course not!
You know God cares. You know God addresses your fears and restlessness. You know this because God sent Jesus. He sent the One who establishes a bond of peace between God and you. Since he accomplished this mission, you know God will never leave you. When you fret and worry, when you wrestle with guilt and shame washes over you, go to the Word. Say: ‘God said I am his. Since God said this is so and since he does not break his Word, this will be so.’ Find the Christ God promised. Not the Leader people demand, but the Savior the world needs.
That’s what Andrew, Peter, and so many others found in Jesus. The flawed heart can elevate worldly matters. Juan Ponce de León wanted immortality, but searched for it outside of the Bible. Even today, many set family and success as life’s all-consuming goal. Others hear Jesus speak, but refuse to admit these words apply to them. What do they find? Happiness now, but not forever.
So John the Baptist asks: What Do You Seek in Jesus? Behold the Lamb of God. The Lamb who speaks to your heart, condemning its faulty priorities. The Lamb who takes away sin. Find the Christ, the One sent from God with words of life. Find the One who reigns at the top of every priority. See Jesus as the all-important One to follow and find peace.