Dear Baptized of God, baptized into the Lamb of God, who has taken away the sin of the world. The voice of one crying in the wilderness continues to prepare our hearts for the coming of that Lamb. But it’s not what we do, it’s what the Lamb does. We cannot undo our sins or past mistakes. For example, no matter how much we wish we could take back something we said. And God knows that we cannot. Yet, for the sake of the Lamb, He forgives our sin. The Lamb of God takes away the sin of the world, having more forgiveness than the whole world has sin. “Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God. Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry unto her, that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned: for she hath received of the LORD'S hand double for all her sins.”
We have received double forgiveness, that we might be doubly sure, the Lamb removes our sin from us as far as the east is from the west.
We notice the order in Isaiah – first comes the forgiveness, then comes God’s call for us to repent. First and foremost, the Lamb takes our sin away, then comes the gift of repentance and faith in the Lamb. And by the power of His Word and Spirit, we can, and we do repent and believe. Those are the gifts of His Spirit.
He knows us, and He knows our need for repentance, and so He sends the preparer, the forerunner of Christ, the voice crying in the wilderness, “Make straight the way of the Lord”, “make straight in the desert a highway for our God.”
East of Norfolk, highway 275 was converted from 2 to 4 lanes, if we remember, about 10 years ago. The point is that it wasn’t just a little bit of renovation, fixing pot holes and cracks here and there. The highway was completely torn up, and completely redone. Hills were lowered. Low spots were raised.
But the voice of one crying in the wilderness says, “Make straight in the desert a highway for our God.” It’s not an earthly highway that needs renovaton. It’s not earthly terrain that needs landscaping. It’s the terrain of our sinful hearts. “Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low: and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain.” There are obstacles that need to be cleared, and this goes all the way back to the very beginning, when Adam and Eve rejected God’s Word. He said not to eat the forbidden fruit, and they said in their hearts, “we’ll do it anyway”.
But God’s Word is our source of life. God spoke, and the world was created. Jesus says that Word is the one thing needful. Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word the proceedeth out of the mouth of God. The grass withereth, the flower fadeth, but the Word of our God shall stand forever.
It’s the same issue today as it was in the very beginning, God’s Word is not valued. Everything else is valued, power, money, fame and fortune, earthly relationships. The one thing that seems to be the least valued, is taking a stand on God’s Word. Yet, Jesus says, “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of My hand.”
So there is that spiritual obstacle, or spiritual mountain, that must be made low: pride. It gets in the way of God’s Word, faith, salvation. The Pharisee in the temple boasted, “Look at everything I can do for you God. I’m the best there is in the world.” That mountain of pride didn’t leave much room for God’s grace in his heart. He was so completely self-absorbed. So Jesus says, “I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”
It’s not really sin, though, that prevents a soul from entering heaven since the Lamb of God already took our sin away. It’s the lack of repentance and faith. It’s that self-righteousness that refuses to acknowledge sin, “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” But, “If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His Word is not in us.”
Our hope and strength is in the Lamb: The Lamb of God taketh away the sin of the world. No matter how hard we try not to, we will sin again. For example, how easy it is to say the wrong thing, even when we don’t mean to, or want to. Yet, the Lamb of God takes that sin away. How easy it is to find the wrong attitude in our heart. Yet, the Lamb takes that sin away. How easy it is to find ourselves just thinking thoughts we should not. Yet, the Lamb takes that sin away.
Our hope, strength, and faith is not that we take our own sin away. We cannot fix past mistakes. We cannot prevent ourselves from making mistakes in the future. But the Lamb of God takes our sin away. This isn’t just some make-believe story made up to raise self-esteem. This is real, lasting peace and comfort in the real forgiveness of our sin. We know it’s real because God’s Word says it’s real.
The real Lamb of God did what was necessary. He went to the cross, and took our sin away. His resurrection proves that the Father accepted His sacrifice for us. He takes away the sin of the world, so that whosoever believeth in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life. That Word creates real and lasting repentance, and faith in our hearts. The Lamb of God taketh away our sins.
The Pharisees didn’t like John baptizing, because they did not authorize him. Again, their pride was getting in the way of hearing God’s Word. Because John’s voice was God’s voice. John’s message was God’s message, the message of the Gospel. And the Gospel is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth.
God promises that Word will always remain with us. The Word of our God shall stand forever. And those who put their faith in that eternal Word, will live forever. “He that heareth My Word, and believeth on Him that sent Me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.”
That is what keeps us in the one true saving faith. The voice of God. It continues to prepare our hearts, for the Lamb to continue to enter in. Providing us with real and lasting repentance, faith, comfort and assurance: The Lamb of God taketh away sin of the world. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Click here for a higher resolution image (600dpi)