Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on John 1:29-34
Posted by Dim Bulb on January 2, 2016
Jn 1:29 The next day, John saw Jesus coming to him; and he saith: Behold the Lamb of God. Behold him who taketh away the sin of the world.
“The next day,” immediately following that, on which the foregoing testimony was rendered by the Baptist, to the deputation spoken of in the preceding verses.
“John saw Jesus coming to him.” Our Redeemer retired into the desert, immediately after His Baptism by John (Mark 1:12), where He, probably, was, when the Baptist gave the testimony of Him above recorded. Now, He comes forth from the desert, to give the Baptist an opportunity of bearing the testimony referred to here. This was after His Baptism. For, John says he saw “the Spirit descending on Him,” etc. (v. 32). Now, this occurred at His Baptism. “Behold,” which points to a determinate, distinct Person, “the Lamb of God.” This is allusive to the passage of Isaias (53:7) and Jeremias (11:19) in which our Lord is called a lamb. There is also allusion to the typical signification of the Paschal lamb, whose qualities, as described in the Old Testament, typified the character of our Lord. He was also prefigured by the lamb offered up in daily sacrifices by the Jews, and by the other legal oblations. “Of God,” offered up by God the Son, to His Father, as a victim of full atonement. Thus we say, the sacrifice “of Abraham,” offered up by Abraham—“Lamb of God,” the Divine Lamb, begotten of God the Father, marked out by Him as the true victim, alone adequate to make full atonement for all sin, “the sin of the world,” and utterly destroy it. It is worthy of remark, that whenever our Lord is called a lamb in SS. Scripture, it is always in connexion with His sacrificial character, as a victim of atonement for sin. It is so here, as appears from the words, “taketh away the sin of the world.” “Sin,” in the singular, embraces all the sins of all mankind, “the world;” “taketh away” (Isaias 53:6–12; 1 Peter 2:24, 25); taking on Himself the imputability of all sins, and the voluntary obligation of making full atonement for them, He utterly effaces by His blood, so far as He is concerned, unless obstacles on the part of creatures mar it, all the guilt and punishment of sin. Unlike the Paschal Lamb and other victims among the Jews, which had only a passing effect and were offered for only one people, the oblation of this Lamb had a permanent, abiding effect, in regard to the sins of all mankind.
John then, tells them, that his own Baptism can have no effect compared with His, who alone can remit and atone for all sin. To Him, therefore, they should go for the means of salvation.
Jn 1:30 This is he of whom I said: After me there cometh a man, who is preferred before me: because he was before me.
(See v. 27). Verse 27 Reads as follows~The same is he that shall come after me, who is preferred before me: the latchet of whose shoe I am not worthy to loose. Commenting on this Fr. MacEvilly wrote: (See v. 15, also Matthew 3:2). “He shall come after me” in his public manifestation, when I shall have discharged the office of precursor. But, “He is preferred before Me” in dignity, a dignity so great, that “I,”—whom you seem to esteem so much—“am not worthy to loose the latchet of His shoe,” unworthy to discharge in His regard the most menial and servile offices, the distance between us being infinite. He, true God; I, a creature.
Jn 1:31 And I knew him not: but that he may be made manifest in Israel, therefore am I come baptizing with water.
Far from being influenced by any private or personal motives in bearing testimony.
“I knew Him not,” in person, till He came to my Baptism, although I knew He had come and I had saluted Him even from my mother’s womb. From my knowledge that He was born and conversing among His people in an unknown capacity.
“I came,” commissioned by God, “baptizing in water,” which, of itself could not remit sin, this being reserved for His Baptism, whose precursor I was—in order “that He may be made manifest in Israel,” when amidst the great concourse of people flocking to my Baptism, I could bear testimony to Him and make Him known, as He was made known to me; first, by revelation, on His coming to be baptized; and again by the voice of the Eternal Father at His Baptism, when I saw the Holy Ghost descending on Him.
Jn 1:32 And John gave testimony, saying: I saw the Spirit coming down, as a dove from heaven; and he remained upon him.
“And John gave testimony, saying:” These are the words of the Evangelist. They are interposed between the preceding and following words, conveying the Baptist’s testimony.
“I saw the Spirit,” etc. at our Lord’s Baptism (Matthew 3:16, 17, see Commentary).
Jn 1:33 And I knew him not: but he who sent me to baptize with water said to me: He upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending and remaining upon him, he it is that baptizeth with the Holy Ghost.
“I knew Him not,” personally and externally. For, it was from the desert I came, being sent to baptize. But God, by whom I was sent, gave me this corrobarative, undoubted sign for knowing Him personally and distinguishing Him from the crowds of those flocking to my Baptism. John knew Him by revelation in his mother’s womb. He had also a revelation regarding Him before Baptism, on which account, he said, “ego debeo a Te baptizari” (Matthew 3:14).
“This is He that Baptizeth with the Holy Ghost,” of whom I spoke to you already. John added this, as is recorded by the other Evanglists, when he said, “I baptize in water” (v. 26). If, then, you believe in my baptism, and receive it as from God (Matthew 21:25), know, that He, who sent me, gave me this sign for knowing the Messiah. If then, you believe in me when baptizing, you should believe in me also when testifying regarding the Messiah, of whose exalted dignity and my own unworthiness I have already spoken.
Jn 1:34 And I saw: and I gave testimony that this is the Son of God.
When did John bear testimony that “this is the Son of God ὅ νιος, the Son, the only begotten, natural, consubstantial Son of God, Himself God? This is not distinctly seen in the Gospel. But it may be among the several parts relating to our Lord’s acts, not recorded in the Gospel. It may also be said, that John declared this implicitly, when speaking of His exalted dignity, His “taking away”—remitting—“the sins of the world.” For, the Jews themselves held, that no one but God could remit sin. It would be blasphemy, according to them, to say otherwise. “I saw,” the sign given of His Divinity; and as it was given, not for myself;—as I knew Him already—but for the people; hence, I bore testimony of His Divinity, as was declared by the Eternal Father at His baptism. “Hic est filius meus dilectus,” etc. (Matthew 3:17.)