St. John the Baptist introduces Jesus to the wider world darkened by sin by proclaiming, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.” Look there, John says, there is our Savior; look at God in a human body; come see where our confidence and hope lies.
And with these words, John the Baptist, points out the uniqueness of this faith we call Christian. A uniqueness rooted in particularity. God’s presence and love shining through a particular person, a concrete person born to suffer and die. It has not always been like this. For so many, the Divine is a distant, ambiguous and invisible presence.
To place one’s faith in Jesus as Lord, is to believe that God comes to us concretely and physically, not just vaguely and obscurely. To place one’s faith in Jesus as Lord, is to believe that God makes Himself known to us specifically and individually. To place one’s faith in Jesus as Lord, is to believe God brings Himself into our world and into our lives in ways that we can really see, in ways that we can really notice, in ways that really make a difference.
Of course, we don’t always have this in the forefront of our minds. The Baptist himself, admittedly, didn’t seem to know this all along: “I did not know him,” he says. He did not know? Strange, isn’t it? Strange when our tradition tells us the two were cousins: John, son of Elizabeth and Jesus, son of Mary. He didn’t know him? Perhaps better to say, John didn’t recognize the Divine presence standing in front of him throughout his life.
Only when he saw the Spirit coming down like a dove from the heavens and remain upon him, did he recognize and understand the full importance of the Incarnation and his declaration are the words we have come to believe. Through the Baptist’s account, our belief in Jesus as the Son of God who came to die for us is strengthened by his witness to the truth, which ultimately cost him his own life. Once John beheld the Lamb, his life was forever intertwined with Jesus’.
The omnipresent question in a disciples’ life is how far will I go knowing and believing Jesus as the Lamb of God, who is the Way the Truth and the Life? In recent times Christianity is again under siege, and so, this question is very relevant. Under the scrutiny of the public eye, is my faith strong enough to continue to proclaim Jesus is not just an abstraction or a mythical story of a bygone era?
Facing personal destruction in a cancel culture and openly being ostracized by the majority, do I have the courage to continue to proclaim Jesus is the Lamb of God? Or do I revert back to the time when I really did not know him? St. Peter surely did when he denied Christ three times. That was only half of the story. By God’s grace, Peter reversed his betrayal and gave his life, just as the Lamb of God gave his.
St. Peter too, was grafted onto the Lamb as did all those in history and who are presently being persecuted and martyred by the witness their own life. These men and women beheld the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.
Beholding the Lamb of God means accepting the fate of being cancelled and called all sorts of names by speaking and living the truth. Be assured, Jesus has already warned us, “If the world hates you, realize that it hated me first.” Only by truly beholding the Lamb of God, can our confidence and hope never waver, come what may.
Have you beheld the Lamb of God?