"Will you really lay down your life for me? I tell you the truth, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times!" (John 13:38)

Jesus is responding to Simon Peter who said to Jesus:
"Lord, why can't I follow you now? I will lay down my life for you." (John 13:37)
This after Jesus had said:
"Where I am going, you cannot follow now, but you will follow later." (John 13:36)
Why is this exchange important? Why did Jesus challenge Peter's allegiance to him?

This exchange goes to the heart of why Jesus allowed his body to be crucified.

We must remember that Jesus was also a follower - a follower of John the Baptist. We know that Jesus received baptism by John the Baptist, and that Jesus also baptized his students. This illustrates that baptism was a ceremony representing that a student would follow the teacher's teachings.

As John pointed out when he baptized Jesus, Jesus was not an ordinary student. Here is what is John stated about his beloved and exalted student, Jesus, translated according to the Greek texts:

They asked him, "Who are you then? Are you Elijah?" He said, "I am not." "Are you the Prophet?" He answered, "No." Finally they said, "Who are you? Give us an answer to take back to those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?" John replied in the words of Isaiah the prophet, "I am the voice of one calling in the wilderness, 'Make straight the way for the Lord.' "
Now the Pharisees who had been sent questioned him, "Why then do you baptize if you are not the Christ [Messiah], nor Elijah, nor the Prophet?" "I baptize with water," John replied, "but among you stands one you do know not. He is the one who comes after me, the binding of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie."
This took place in Bethany on the other side of the river Jordan, where John was baptizing. The following day, he saw Jesus coming to him and said, "Look, the Lamb of God, who removes the darkness of the material world. This is the one I was referring to when I said, 'A man with more authority comes after me because he has surpassed me.' I did not recognize him, but he became known to Israel through my baptizing with water."
And John testified: "I saw the Spirit descend from heaven as a dove and remain on him. I did not recognize him, but He who sent me to baptize with water said to me, 'He upon whom you see the Spirit comes down and remains is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.' I myself have seen and testified that this is the Loving Servant of God."  (John 1:21-34)

Through mistranslations of this text, this exchange has led many ecclesiastical translators and interpreters to proclaim that this means that Jesus was God and that he "died for our sins." They validate this by John's statement describing Jesus as "the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!"

While the language may or may not be translated correctly, it has been interpreted incorrectly. While the word "lamb" may be correctly derived from the Greek word ἀμνός (amnos), John the Baptist is clearly saying that Jesus is the "Lamb of God." He is not saying that Jesus is God.

And while it appears that John did not conduct this form of worship himself, offering lamb to the Supreme Being as an offering was discussed throughout the Old Testament:
If he offers a lamb, he is to present it before the LORD. (Lev 3:7)
Furthermore, John the Baptist did not say that Jesus is God and that God "died" for our sins.

The phrase word "who takes away" comes from the Greek word αἴρω (airō) which has a secondary meaning of to "remove" or "carry off, carry away with one." However, its primary means is "to raise up, elevate, lift up" according to the lexicon.

Then "the sin" is being translated from the Greek word ἁμαρτία (hamartia), which means, according to the lexicon, "to miss the mark," "to err, be mistaken" or "to miss or wander from the path of uprightness and honour, to do or go wrong" or "to wander from the law of God, violate God's law." Thus in the translation above, "darkness" is used because this composes the entirety of these points.

Plus, the reality is that Jesus provided the illumination of Truth - as pointed out by the verses prior - a form of light. This was provided by Jesus' teachings.

Now "of the world!" is being translated from κόσμος (kosmos), which can mean, according to the lexicon, "an apt and harmonious arrangement or constitution, order, government", ornament, decoration, adornment, i.e. the arrangement of the stars," "'the heavenly hosts', as the ornament of the heavens," "the world, the universe", "the "circle of the earth, the earth" or "the inhabitants of the earth, men, the human family."

Let's consider this carefully. If sin means to stray or "wander from the path of righteousness" or "wander from the law of God" - which we could summarize as "wandering from God" - then how can anyone remove that?

Are people not wandering from God now? Did Jesus' body's dying on the cross make it so no one is sinning now and no one is wandering from God's laws now?

Certainly not. Most of us in this world - including some of the very priests who have been crowing this incorrect interpretation (as evidenced from their abuse of children) - are still sinning, and wandering from God. Jesus has not removed sinning from the world.

Does this mean the scripture is wrong? No. It means simply that its translation and interpretation is wrong.

First we must understand what sinning essentially is. What is the essence of "God's laws" and what is "the path of righteousness" that sinning means to wander from? When we think of "God's laws," we must consider Moses' teachings, as Jesus taught. The core "God's law" that he laid down:
"Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength." (Deut. 6:4)
"Love the LORD your God and keep His requirements, His decrees, His laws and His commands always." (Deut. 11:1)
Keeping God's "requirements," "decrees," "laws" and "commands" clearly means doing God's will. It means living in such a way that is pleasing to God. Now how would a person "wander" from this "law" of loving God and doing God's will?

Being self-centered. Being self-centered is the diametrically opposite consciousness of love for God. Love for God means to give our lives to God, and live for God. It means to care for what God wants, and want to please the Supreme Being.

Living a self-centered life means to live to please oneself. It means to do whatever pleases us. This is essentially what sin is.

So we know that "sinning" comes from a particular consciousness of being self-centered. How can Jesus crucifixion "remove" this?

Rather, Jesus' life and his sacrifice can help us change our consciousness, from one of being self-centered to one of being God-centered. This is because Jesus' acts were all centered around pleasing God:
"My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as You will." (Matt. 26:39)
This is how can Jesus' teachings and his activities - such as his allowing his body to be murdered - can change our consciousness from being self-centered to being God-centered. Because Jesus had the ultimate love for God. He is the perfect loving servant of God, and he is God's representative.

Jesus was able to change the consciousness of those who listened carefully to his teachings, followed his teachings, and also understood that he was willing to sacrifice his physical body for those teachings. These actions all expressed Jesus' love for God.

And this was Jesus' primary teaching:
“‘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.” (Matt. 22:37-38)
So his teacher John was not talking about Jesus removing the sins of the world as if no one will sin again, or be responsible for their sins after he was crucified. People are still sinning, and people are still paying the consequences of their sins. This is why so many people are in jail: Because they are paying the consequences of their sins. Can you imagine what an absurd world it would be if suddenly people could rob, cheat, steal and kill and not have to suffer any consequences?

Absurd is just what the ecclesiastical sectarian interpretation of Jesus' life and crucifixion is.

Jesus' life and teachings are very clear for the serious student. Jesus was teaching us to love God, and to change our consciousness from being self-centered to being God-centered.

And this was Jesus' message to Peter. Jesus knew that Peter's commitment and love for God was not strong enough to follow Jesus home to the spiritual realm after the death of his body (see the previous commentary and verse for this discussion). Jesus knew that Peter was still self-centered to some degree, and would protect the comfort of his body if put to the test. He was still learning to give his life to the Supreme Being, and his conviction to God was growing.

But Jesus, on the other hand, was God's perfect loving servant and God's representative. He was completely committed to loving and pleasing the Supreme Being. This is what John the Baptist was trying to communicate to those pharisees who were questioning him.

And John the Baptist is also surely to be honored as an exalted loving servant of the Supreme Being. While he humbly referred to himself in comparison to Jesus, John the Baptist also sacrificed his life on behalf of serving God and His teachings, as he was beheaded by Herod. While John the Baptist humbly said he baptized with water, he was still convincing his students to love and serve the Supreme Being. He was an honored Teacher, and his baptisms were strong enough for Jesus to be baptized with.

And when Jesus was asked about his teacher John the Baptist, here is what Jesus said:
"I tell you the truth: Among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist; yet he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he." (Matt. 11:11)
Jesus is clearly stating that John was the greatest "among those born of women." So John is pretty exalted, yes? Jesus honors John as the greatest, as John was his Teacher, and this is how a humble student respects their Teacher.

But Jesus also adds that "yet he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he." What is he talking about? Jesus is communicating to his students the consciousness of the spiritual realm. The spiritual realm is a place of humility. Those exalted citizens of the spiritual realm all feel that they are the most unimportant person and that the Supreme Being and all of the Supreme Being's children are far more important than they are.

Here in the physical world, we all think that we are the most important person, and that others are less important than we are. This is the consciousness of the physical world: Diametrically opposite of the consciousness of the spiritual realm where love for God prevails.

This is why John the Baptist described himself as teaching, "'Make straight the way for the Lord.'" This phrase means to live in such a way that is pleasing to God: "Make straight the way" means to straighten out or steer our path - εὐθύνω euthynō - being translated to "make straight" means to steer a straight course. So "'Make straight the way for the Lord.'" means to steer our lives towards God - and live in a way that pleases the Supreme Being.

So yes, Jesus' life and teachings have the ability to save us from our sins. But not in the manner sectarian teachers portray. Their interest is self-centered: the consequences of sin - going to hell, etc. The interest of John the Baptist and Jesus was to change our consciousness from being self-centered to being God-centered. From loving ourselves above all to loving God - the Supreme Being - Our Best Friend and Soul Mate - above all.


(For a translation of Jesus' statements from the Gospel of John without sectarian institutional influence, see the Gospels of Jesus  - translated from the original Greek texts.)