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" Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world." — John i : 29.
r I ""HESE words of the Baptist at once mark ¦*- him as a great man. They show us toward what the yearnings of his heart tend — the destruction of sin. This places him at once above all the philosophers of his age, for they only reasoned of how to endure its evils. John longed to see the evil die. To deliver man from the oppressor within was his great aim. And when he thought of God and His greatness, this was the field fit and meet for the play of omnipotent powers. To him, no freedom was worthy of the name so long as it left men servants of sin. No joy was meet for the soul while it was the prey of sin's disease. No hope was worth the name while darkened with the obscurities of corruption. No government was strong, with the weakness of sin's
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desolations preying on its vitals. A true patriot of his race, he arrayed his might against the chief enemy thereof, and reached out for that complete victory which God has given us through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Within the soul of the Baptist three master visions must be passing to give birth to the thoughts that echoed in these words.
First, the Lamb of God. How different this idea of Jesus from that of the world and age, yea, even the church around him. They wanted a king, arrayed in all the paraphernalia of worldly pomp and power. But John's farreaching soul saw more clearly, and realized that man needed a sacrifice, an atonement, as well as a king, and the Messiah's might rose before him in the similitude of a lamb, an offering of the Father's love. He realized that it was not the might and crash of battle or the thunderingsof war that could deliver from sin, but the deeper, grander, quiet might of Omnipotent love. The Lamb and not the Lion
was to woo and win back the prodigal to the Father's bosom. And so, his lips were the first to utter, as he saw Jesus, the true nature
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of his warfare. He saw the victim of the altar in the Son of God, and grasped something of the spirit of the life and conquest of his Lord. He saw and felt the great travailings of God's love as they exceeded the outward glories of this conquest. He was awed and humbled by this overwhelming love. While others were looking for exhibitions of power which would challenge worldly homage in their rough rudeness and crushing effects, John saw the heart of God bowing in the depths of its tenderness to embrace and lift up the fallen.
There was a second point in the character of Jesus which deeply impressed John : that was His coming to take away sin. He came not as earth's great ones, to bathe his career in violence and blood, but he came as a lamb. He
came not to seek the name and fame ' which earth called great, but to take away sin. John had felt the agonies of its torments during those long, stern conflicts in the wilderness, and had seen its soul-ravages traced in bitterness over the multitudes who came to hear his cry of " Repent." And when he saw Jesus come as the anointed one, " to heal the broken-hearted
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and preach deliverance to the captives," the sight stirred his inmost soul, and he cried, " Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world." There rose before him the armies of souls rejoicing forever in God's emancipating love, and the beautiful vision of the "glorious liberty of the sons of God" passed over his rejoicing spirit and bound it to Jesus.
How near can our hearts press to the side of John's in this joy ! How heavily do the sins of a world press on us ! What anguish do we
feel for the ravages Satan is committing, and the hopes and lives he is blasting in this wide world ! We want a little path cleared of its sharpest thorns, so that our own feet may pass over unpierced ; but do we agonize for the woes and wretchedness of the millions lost ? John's heart was big and strong to feel and yearn over man's doom and degradation, and, though but man, that great heart bowed beneath the woe, and struggled with its fullest sympathy and might to raise men nearer to their God, and lift them from their fallen
wretchedness. Here, then, is a life, grand, -,*
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broad, deep, and great, with a holy unselfishness and the loftiest aspirations that can burn in human heart.
There was another emotion throbbing- in John's bosom which raised him above his own
nation: it speaks in the expression, " taketh away the sin of the world," not simply of the Israelite, but of the Gentile too. Here was a true conception of the nature of God, an emotion akin to that sympathy in the Father's bosom which is pealed forth to us in the words, " God so loved the world, that He gave His only-begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on Him should not perish, but have everlasting life." Here was a charity and sympathy capable of going out with the Spirit of Jesus to a world's salvation. No narrowness of sect or confines of nationality — His brotherhood with humanity was too perfect for that, and His kinship too purely of God. He looked out with a wider, sweeping vision, and felt the vastness of God's love embracing a world, and his soul leaped for joy once more, in obedience to that Spirit which thrilled him in his mother's womb.
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Alas ! how slowly do the souls of men rise
to the stature and glory of John's. Did John speak the truth ? Has the life of Jesus fulfilled these words ? Do any patients stand to proclaim the trueness of this Great Physician's power? Was the life of Jesus a pretended usurpation, or is it a culminating reality ? What is the testimony of eighteen centuries ? Ah ! all that is worth the name of truth proclaims the life of Jesus a success. The undisputed testimony of infidel and believer alike is that it supplied a deeply-felt need, and gave a vast impulse to all that is good and noble and true in man, and that light, and right, and joy, and happiness, strength, and glory have ever followed in its footsteps. Aching hearts which knew no rest have found rest at the Cross. To darkened souls who had no hope — yea, even to " those who sat in the shadow of death," this heavenly light overspread them. The power of His life is as really beyond dispute as the power of the sun that shines, the lightning that scathes, or gravitation that draws. The balm of Gilead has established His reputation, The fountain for sin and unclean-
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ness has graven its living testimonials on earth, sea, and sky. That which makes the pulse of life beat stronger in each succeeding century is the life of Jesus, coursing its ocean tide of life, glory, and peace through the bosom of ages. He is " the light of the world" to the darkened soul, " the fountain for sin and uncleanness" to the impure soul, the "living water" to the thirsty soul, the " shadow of the great rock" to the weary soul, the " bread of heaven" to the hungry soul, the " deliverer" to the soul bound, and Jesus to humanity. 11 Behold the Lamb of God." Look, look, look ! There is no life that stands so clearly before the world as that of Jesus, no heart that beats its warm throbs so near the aching heart of man, no beauty that rises so winsome before the spirit's eye, no voice that calls so tenderly to the lone mourner, no arm that enfolds so strongly and lovingly to His bosom :
" Yea, all I need, in thee to find, O Lamb of God, I come.
Let the sceptic doubt ; for, truly, the Christian " knows in whom he has believed," and therefore does " his soul rest in hope."
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