Introduction to Look at the Lamb
In John Stott’s The Incomparable Christ, Jesus was studied with reference to His four different portraits painted from the varying eye-witness accounts of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Whereas some point questioningly to the differences of the gospel ‘portraits’, as ‘discrepancies’, Stott instead likens the rich variations captured by each portrait to the way that light is refracted beautifully through a diamond – i.e. we should be in awe of the variety, and grateful, not suspicious.
In Look at the Lamb, we’re studying Jesus only in the gospel of John, in isolation as it were, rather than a wider study throughout Scripture which would go beyond the reach of a concise, on-line devotional study. In the sense that this is a limited study because we’re looking only at Jesus through the one lens of John’s gospel, this will obviously, at times, influence our exegesis.
The simple format for each day/chapter will be: summary, 3 key thoughts and a prayer to take into the day.
Day 1 – Nick
Summary of Chapter 1
Verses 1-18: Unlike the three synoptic gospels, John’s takes us back to Genesis One where it all started…“In the beginning…”. Our minds are immediately taken to a higher place and forced to think a bit harder than they would when reading Matthew, Mark and Luke. But that’s OK! The thing with John Chapter One is that even if we memorised it perfectly and went through it in our heads every day for the rest of our lives, it would never cease to be utterly amazing. It’s like zooming out and seeing Earth from space; it’s supposed to bring us to our knees where our love for God swells in worship. In the middle of this (v6) we’re introduced to a man called John (as distinct from the writer of the gospel).
Verses 19-34: Suddenly, like an intergalactic drone on steroids, we’re plummeted back through the stratospheres, forward through the ages, into scenes revolving around a man called John the Baptist and the Jewish leaders. Also known as The Bright and Shining Lamp, John the Baptist lived and was prepared in the wilderness for approximately 20 years for 6 months worth of public ministry! His calling and mission in life was to point others to Jesus, to flesh out Isaiah’s prophecy (Isa.40:3) to ‘make straight the way for the Lord’, constantly pointing away from himself towards Jesus, The Lamb of God. John’s ministry of water was a precursor to Jesus’ ministry of fire as he made it abundantly clear to a watching world that Jesus of Nazareth was God’s Chosen One, God’s Holy Messiah. In v 29 John shouts out,
“Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!”
Verses 35-51: The focus now pans from John’s testimony of Jesus to Jesus’ interaction with his first followers. Jesus’ following and John’s prophesying are inextricably linked. It is a miracle that any of the disciples saw Jesus for Who He really was…John’s prophetic voice was central in this (v37). Jesus meets Andrew, Simon (Peter), Philip and Nathanael as the band of brothers begins to assemble. It’s worth mentioning Mark 3:13 here where it says that,
Jesus went up on a mountainside and called to him those he wanted, and they came to him.
Note: those Jesus wanted rather than needed.
Key Thoughts from Chapter 1
- If there is one passage of the Bible to memorise, as a kind of worship-provoking implant, it would be John 1:1-18: It’s a passage that takes you out into outer space and allows your perspective again to rise to Jesus as the Maker and Creator, the Ancient of Days, the One and Only. It all starts with Him, continues in Him and will finish in Him.
- Though the title for this study is Look at the Lamb, the better alternative for it would be Behold the Lamb: The NIV has replaced the NKJV’s behold with look which isn’t as good. Like when Pilate says in John 19:5 “Here is the man!”, something is missed with ‘here’ instead of ‘behold’. When we behold something or someone we devote our fixed attention and scrutiny of heart and mind to it; when we look at something or someone it doesn’t necessarily mean the same thing, carrying as it does a much more casual meaning. When John says ‘Behold the Lamb of God!”, the exclamation mark is not random. He’s crying out, he’s shouting, he’s straining, he’s raising the alarm! ‘Behold the Lamb’ not ‘look at the Lamb’. When Pilate says, “Behold the man!”, again with exclamation, he is unknowingly prophesying to the entire cosmos that this battered Jewish Lamb was the Son of Man, the Son of God…the one to whom the fixed gaze of the span of our lives should be devoted for salvation, for peace, wisdom and everything that is pure and holy. ‘Behold the man’ not ‘here is the man’.
- Jesus models different approaches to discipleship: Andrew had first come to Jesus as he heard John’s prophecy, seeing him literally point to Jesus as the One to follow. (What was special about Andrew?). Andrew’s own brother, Simon, came to faith because Andrew went and got him. Then Simon encountered Jesus himself and received a name change to Peter (What was special about Simon?). Jesus then searches Philip out, approaching him in a way he didn’t the others. (What was special about Philip?). Philip then convinces the hesitant Nathanael to come to Jesus. Jesus commends Nathanael’s apparent doubt and negativity as being of high quality (What was special about Nathanael?).
Prayers from Chapter 1
Dear Lord Jesus,
We love You, You fascinate us and we pray that our vision, love and worship of You would grow as we study John’s Lamb of God.
Help us to learn how to behold You more intently, like David gazed and was commended as a man after Your own heart.
Forgive us for so often only looking casually at You with familiarity. Help us to know how to reach others with the news of Who You are. Help us to tell others about what we’ve found in You; we want to make disciples as You mean us to.