"Rabbi [Teacher], where are you staying?" (John 1:38).Why were the disciples of John so interested in Jesus all of a sudden? It is because John the Baptist - their spiritual teacher - told his two disciples:
“Look, the Lamb of God!” (John 1:36)What does this statement mean: "Lamb of God"? What is a “lamb” of someone else? A lamb is a subservient animal - one who defers to the herder. This is, in other words, an analogy. 'Lamb of God' is describing one who is humbly devoted to God.
This is not how many people like to translate the word lamb. They like to think of lamb as an animal that gets slaughtered, because they themselves slaughter lambs and eat them. However, we know that John the Baptist did not eat lamb:
His food was locusts and wild honey. (Matt. 3:4)We also know from descriptions of Jesus, that Jesus did not eat meat. Thus we can understand that when Jesus' teacher, John the Baptist, referred to Jesus as the "lamb of God" he was not referring to Jesus being slaughtered. John was referring to Jesus as being someone who was devoted to the Supreme Being.
Jesus also referred to himself this way later:
"For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of Him who sent me." (John 6:38)By the way, "locusts" in the Matt. 3:4 is not referring to the insect. Locust refers the beans of the locust tree - the carob bean.
In other words, a lamb of God would be someone who was completely subservient to God, and willing to sacrifice everything on behalf of God. So describing Jesus as the "lamb of God" meant to describe Jesus as the humble, loving servant of God, who had given his life to God.
The day before, John also said:
"Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29)Was this referring to Jesus’ dying on the cross for our sins, as many in the ecclesiastical Christian church have proclaimed?
No. First let's define "sin." Sin is acting in a way that goes against God's will. Consider what God's will is, as taught by Moses and Jesus:
“ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (Matt. 22:37-40)In other words, sinning is acting in a self-centered manner. Sinning is acting in a way that is not pleasing to the Supreme Being. Since what is pleasing to God is to love Him and love others, then acting selfishly - in love of our self - is to sin. Doing the "will of God" means to do God's will instead of my own will.
People will often twist this to mean that we must love ourselves first before we can love others, since it says, "Love your neighbor as yourself." This is preposterous, because if we are focused upon ourselves and loving ourselves, our focus is on ourselves and away from others. Therefore, we are putting ourselves first.
Rather, Jesus' instruction is saying that others should be put in a place that is non-different than we put ourselves. Certainly we all care about ourselves - this is a given. We don't have to become greedy or wealthy to care about ourselves. We don't have to do things that hurt others in order to care about ourselves.
So this notion that we must "love ourselves first" is actually contradictory to Jesus' and Moses' teaching to love God. Love means sacrificing oneself for the purpose of pleasing another.
So the "sin" that Jesus can take away from the world is selfishness. How can anyone, even God, take away a person's selfishness by suffering on a cross?
And if God was truly all-powerful, why would He need to make His servant suffer on a cross to remove people's sins? God can remove sins of anyone simply by willing it, which is why Jesus taught his students to ask God for forgiveness for their sins in the Lord's Prayer.
The manner in which Jesus can take away sins is accomplished by his teachings and his example. By teaching us to love and serve God, and by showing us how to love and serve God, Jesus could effectively take away the sins of those who followed him. How so? By changing their hearts. By convincing them to give their lives to the Supreme Being.
This is how our sinful nature is purified. Sins are not removed by some magic trick. It is not a passive act. God does not remove the consequences of self-centered activity on a whim. The consequences of selfish activities are part of God's system of learning within the physical world. Without consequences, we would continue our self-centeredness with no hope of changing.
But when we have a change of heart and approach God humbly, asking for forgiveness, the Supreme Being forgives our past sinful nature. This is clearly part of Jesus' teachings as he taught his students to pray:
He said to them, "When you pray, say:Why did Jesus teach his students to ask God (Father) for forgiveness if all they had to do is wait for his crucifixion?
" 'Father, hallowed be Your Name, Your kingdom come.
Give us each day our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us." (Luke 11:2-4)
The fact is, this notion of the murder of Jesus' physical body being some sort of sacrifice for our sins so that we can go on sinning and wiping our sins off on Jesus is a hoax. It is a teaching created by sectarian teachers to gain followers by making purification cheap and easy - without requiring a change of heart. Jesus made a clear statement about such teachings along with those who teach them:
"Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?' Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!'" (Luke 7:21-23)