Today let’s revisit this:
29 “The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him and declared, “Here is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!”
My study bible has a confusing footnote that basically says lambs weren’t used as a sin offering and the Passover Lamb was not about sin.
This time instead of trying to parse the imagery of a lamb, let’s cut a bit deeper: what is the sin of the world?
Think of the time your heart was broken; think of superstorms and hurricanes; think of injustice — we don’t have to look very far the last couple of weeks to see that in the headline news. But of course injustice is there all the time, in systemic ways. Back in Jesus’ day, the Roman citizens had rights the rest of the world did not have, and this plays out for Paul later in the story. But our world today — and people far more qualified than me can trace and analyze every jot — is just as full of injustice.
Perhaps “brokenness” is the right word for the sin of the world. All too often people hear the word “sin” and think of what their culture or family deems wrong, immoral, different — and that may just be a time and place thing and not what is meant theologically (spiritually?) as sin. We have to dig deeper. And we can’t be all sweet about it, “oh God will work everything out for good.” “God’s plan is different from our ours.” Don’t you want to scream when someone says stuff like that? Or is that just me?
A poet I love defines sin as “missing the mark”. When did you and I fail to help? When did you and I fail in kindness? When did you and I fail to think before we spoke? When did the help you and I offered completely miss the point?
The poem is “On Slow Learning” by Scott Cairns and starts “If you’ve ever owned/a tortoise” and explains that however hard your well-meaning tortoise tries it “may find himself in his journeys/to be painfully far from the mark”.
And you forgive and help your tortoise.
Let’s move to the part where — Jesus, the Lamb, takes the sin of the world away. The joyous part! See John’s face light up with joy, with faith, with thankfulness and love. He’s so very happy to see Jesus. He’s been in the desert, he’s eaten the locusts, he’s baptized everyone he could for repentance, he’s been trying to hard to get people to understand and then, finally, then: There! Look! Behold!