Behold the Lamb of God
April 5th, 1970 @ 7:30 PM
BEHOLD THE LAMB OF GOD
Dr. W. A. Criswell
4-05-70 7:30 p.m.
With the pastor, would all of us turn to John, the Gospel of John, the Fourth Gospel, and we shall read from verse 29 through verse 37. And on the radio, the radio of the city of Dallas, if you will turn with us to the first chapter of the Fourth Gospel, we would be blessed together in our reading it out loud. John, chapter 1, verse 29 through verse 37. Now we all have it, and then let us everyone of us read it out loud together; John 1:29 through verse 37. Now together:
The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.
This is He of whom I said, After me cometh a Man which is preferred before me: for He was before me.
And I knew Him not: but that He should be made manifest to Israel, therefore am I come baptizing with water.
And John bare record, saying, I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it abode upon Him.
And I knew Him not: but He that sent me to baptize with water, the same said unto me, Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and remaining on Him, the same is He which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost.
And I saw, and bare record that this is the Son of God.
Again the next day after John stood, and two of his disciples;
And looking upon Jesus as he walked, he saith, Behold the Lamb of God!
And the two disciples heard him speak, and they followed Jesus.
This is a man born to say one sentence, one sentence. The ministry of John the Baptist preacher was meteoric. He arose out of the barren desert waste of the wilderness of Judea. He delivered his message, and almost as quickly, as fleetingly, did he disappear from the scene of spiritual history; a man born to say one sentence. And that sentence was the introduction to the world of Jesus the Son of God. That was the public beginning of His public ministry [John 1:29].
Now had you been that elect forerunner sent into the world to introduce Christ, to say one sentence about Him, what would you have said? I can easily think that there are those who would have introduced the Lord with this wondrous exclamation: “Behold a man who can raise the dead!” [John 11:43-44]. I think every newspaper reporter in the earth would have delighted in that caption, “Here is a man who can raise the dead.” And what that would have meant; think of the people who die, and think of the Lord who is able by just the word of His voice to call them out of the tomb. “Behold a man who can raise the dead.” I could well imagine others saying, “Behold a man who can feed the poor” [Matthew 14:15-21].
Looks as though this whole United States of America has some complex about those who won’t work, and those who don’t care, and those who don’t help themselves; and they call upon the other part of America that is working to support those that won’t work, and won’t try, and won’t help themselves. It’s a wonderful thing to help people who deserve it, and who try, and who work, and who because of an ill-fortune fall into sickness or into poverty beyond their control. But we’ve got a complex––I think it’s a guilt complex––in America that sends us into ten thousand welfare programs that start off in somebody’s foolish egghead and get increasingly more inane as they are implemented in the cities and in the counties and in the governments of America.
Oh my, what a wonderful day it’d be for these eggheads to stand up and say, “Behold a man that can feed the poor! All he has got to do is just break bread; all he has got to do is just multiply the fish; and there they are fed and seated [John 6:5-13]. Don’t have to work, don’t have to do anything, just sit there and receive from his gracious hands.” That would have been a great introduction for some of these do-gooders wouldn’t it?
“Behold,” I can see others saying, “Behold, a man that can call legions of angels” [Matthew 26:53]. One time the Lord said all He had to do was to say the word and seventy-two thousand angels would be there by His side, fighting in behalf of the cause and comfort and deliverance of the Son of God [Matthew 26:53]. Do you ever sometimes figure out what these things mean? One angel, I don’t mean two, I mean one, one angel came down out of God’s heaven and passed over the army of Sennacherib Assyrians, and the next morning when Jerusalem and Hezekiah awakened out of their sleep, there were one hundred eighty-five thousand corpses, the entire army of Sennacherib was dead, defunct, kaput; just one angel, just one [2 Kings 19:35].
Think of having seventy-two thousand of them! [Matthew 26:53]. Oh, I can imagine what all of these men who give themselves to force and power, think of what Hitler would have done! Nations who give themselves to aggression, and to conquest, and to violation of boundaries and treaties; here’s a man who at his call could have seventy-two thousand angels warring by his side. Oh, we don’t have time to go on. “Here is a man, behold a man, look at him, he can heal the sick, He can open the eyes of the blind” [Matthew 9:27-30; Luke 18:35-43]; think of what the weatherman would like to say, “Here is a Man that can still the tempest and calm the storms, and wash out those feminine hurricanes” [Mark 4:35-41; Luke 8:22-25]. Isn’t that an unusual thing? They’re all named after women, the hurricanes. I think that’s the best joke in the world.
Oh, the attitude toward the Lord, as I can see Him were He appearing today, the attitude toward the Lord as the reporters would write about Him and as people would introduce Him. I can just see the whole gamut of their vivid and dramatic imaginations as they present the towering, glorious Son of God. But how does the Lord do it? The Lord raised up the great forerunner John the Baptist [Mark 1:1-3], and sent him into the world to say this one introductory sentence: “Behold! Look, the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world” [John 1:29].
What do you think about that? God says, “What is the matter with this world?” It is not its poverty, or its disease, or its suffering, or its death, or its blindness, or its crippledness, or its greed, or it’s a thousand other things that we see it afflicted with. God says what is the matter with the world is the sin that lies back of all of the judgments of suffering, and disease, and horror, and violence, and bloodshed, and death; sin [John 1:29]. As I think of the world in the mind of God, I thought of that thing that Livingstone said in East Africa as he watched those endless Arab trains of slaves. And I stood in front of those places where the slaves were gathered together and then carried across in those Arab little boats—called a dhow—carried across the Niassa Lake, Malawi Lake, over into East Portugal, Mozambique called today.
And I thought of what Livingstone said just before he died, the last entry in his book, he wrote these words, “God’s blessings be upon any man, American, Englishman, or Turk, who will help to heal this open sore of the world.” And I think of that as God looks upon this earth; the affliction by which we are afflicted and the curse by which we are cursed. And we are beginning to go back to some of those old doctrines that you find in the Bible and that our forefathers preached, which these psychologists of this past generation and the sociologists of this recent generation used to scoff at and laugh at. But increasingly we are becoming aware that the thing that we cope with and the monster that we battle against is just as it was described by the Bible and by these old time preachers. What they called it was the doctrine of total depravity, that we are born sinners. That’s not the doctrine that a man is as vile and evil as he can be; but it is the doctrine that sin has entered every faculty and every emotion of our fallen natures, that we are born that way, and that unless a man is disciplined he is increasingly that way! Now that’s what the old divines used to preach.
Now I want to read you something from a judge. This is a judge in one of the courts of America, and a very distinguished judge. And he quotes here in an interview; he quotes here from a report of the Minnesota Crime Commission. Now, I want you to look at what he says. I’m illustrating what God says about total depravity, that we are born sinners. You don’t get to be sinners; you’re just born that way [Psalm 51:5; Ephesians 2:3]. And you’re life without discipline exhibits that born innate errancy.
Now look at this, what this judge says. He says, “The best pronouncement on this subject of what’s the matter with us today, how we’re born, is to be found in a report of the Minnesota Crime Commission. The report says,” and then he quotes from it. Now you listen to this: “What we called delinquent behavior is as old and universal as man.” Now isn’t that something?
It is not something to which only an evil or moronic segment of humanity, different from the rest of us, is liable; it must be remembered that no infant is born a finished product. On the contrary, every baby starts life as a little savage, is equipped, among other things, with organs and muscles over which he has no control, with an urge for self-preservation, with aggressive drives and emotions like anger, fear, and love, over which likewise he has practically no control. He is completely selfish and self-centered. He wants what he wants when he wants it. His bottle, his mother’s attention, his playmate’s toy, his uncle’s watch; and deny him those wants and he seethes with rage and aggression which would be murderous were he not so helpless. He is dirty, he has no morals.
I’m not done with this yet. He’s describing these little divinities, you know, that are born into our home. “He is dirty”; I heard one of them defined, “A baby is an instrument, a little organism that has a mouth at one end and no responsibility at the other.” Now on the radio you’re still listening to the First Baptist Church in Dallas. Now this judge is reporting from that crime commission, that little fellow that’s born into this world.
He’s dirty, he has no morals, no knowledge, no skills, which what this means of course, is that all children, not just certain children, are born delinquent. And if permitted to continue in the self-centered world of his infancy, given free rein to his impulsive actions to satisfy his wants, every child will grow up a criminal, a thief, a killer, and a rapist. And in the process of growing up, it is normal for every child to be dirty, to fight, to grab, to steal, to tear things apart, to talk back, to disobey, to obey. Every child has to grow out of delinquent behavior.
And that’s the end of his quotation from the Minnesota Crime Commission; and then he says that, “What we need is discipline.” And he goes on and on and on. Oh, it’s a strange world to me, but when men face facts as facts are and when they face reality as reality is, any man anywhere that is conversant with human nature will finally come to that conclusion, that men are born depraved, and it’s in all of us. There are emotions and feelings of depravity that all of us feel; God calls it sin. And that is our problem; and that’s the one to which God addresses Himself.
Nothing in itself is wrong. God says so in Romans 14:14, “Nothing of itself is unclean,” there is not anything of itself wrong. That’s why when I talk with people about what they do, there is nothing wrong inherently, say, with alcohol. There’s nothing wrong with it at all. In fact, I don’t think, Dr. Stoney, that you could have medicine without alcohol. It’s the great solvent in which so many of our medicines are carried, and it’s the great antiseptic and cleansing, alcohol. But when you put it with sin, then you fall into all kinds of disaster. The drunk, the people who make money off of the weaknesses of humanity, alcohol is connected with so many accidents and so many crimes, it’s sin with it.
Take anything, just name it, and in itself there’s nothing wrong; but put sin with it; like, playing cards. One of these boys in our church, young married man with whom I was talking, was asking me about us down here at the church. And one of the things he brought up was, “Ya’ll don’t believe in playing cards.” Well I said, “I just never had thought of that. I never had thought of that; just never had occurred to me.” Why, to play dominoes, to play games, why, there’s nothing in the world wrong with that, nothing at all. It’s when you put sin with it, where they get to gambling and playing all night and wasting their wages. That is where we fall into that same depraved disaster. Just name it. A gun, why, a gun, one of the finest instruments of the world; but put sin with it, and you’ve got blood and murder, blackmail, oh dear, just name it. It’s sin with it. And God deals not with the pimples on the surface, but with the bloodstream in the heart. For the problem is not the gun, or the epidermic needle, or the card, or the movie, that’s not the problem. The problem is the sin to which it gets wedded.
Take a gun from the murderer, and he’s a murderer still because murder is in his heart, it’s in his heart that feeling. Take the bottle away from the drunkard; he’s still a drunkard because it’s in his heart. Take the needle away from the dope addict; he’s a dope addict still because it’s in his heart. Take the filthy movie away from the picture show man, these people that they raided last week, they’re still that way because it’s in their hearts. Take a harlot from her paramour, she’s still a harlot. That’s one of the most astonishing things to me that mind could imagine.
I talked––we were over there in Memphis, Tennessee in a crusade about two weeks ago––I talked to a godly couple in Memphis, Tennessee, and they had taken a young harlot, a prostitute, whom they got out of the gutter, filthy, dirty, disheveled, used like though she were a rag then thrown away; that sweet couple took that girl and nursed her back to health and life, and dressed her up, and cleaned her up, and took her with them out. And they said, to their great sorrow, that girl slipped out of the house at night and went back into those dens and dives of harlotry and prostitution. Isn’t that an astonishing thing? For there’s not anything in itself that is wrong, it’s when you put sin to it, and that gets in your heart. It’s in the heart of the murderer. It’s in the heart of the dope addict. It’s in the heart of the drunkard. It’s in the heart of the harlot. It’s just like God says it is. Our problem is not out there somewhere. It’s inside there. And that’s why you have this tremendous introduction of the Son of God, “Behold the Lamb of God that can take away the sin of the world” [John 1:29].
Well, in these closing moments let me speak of what the Lamb of God does, what the Lord does; “The Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world” [John 1:29]. It’s a wonderful thing how God does. Wherever you have a poison, there is always an anecdote. Isn’t that strange how God put it together like that? I have no idea who this Dr. Hodges is, but the article that I clipped out, the man who was writing it was talking about a physician that was well known, and his name was Dr. Hodges. And John, I don’t know who Dr. Hodges was, but he must have been a very famous physician.
Over there in the Bahamas where some of you have visited, in the Bahamas there was a boy, there are colored people that live over there in the Bahamas, and this colored boy was fleeing from a rainstorm, and he found refuge under a big tall bush. And as the rain fell on the bush, the water dripped down from the leaves on the boy; and the poison from the bush entered the pores of his skin, and the lad died. Well, this Dr. Hodges, whoever he was, an American, United States, heard about that case; and he went over there to the Bahamas to seek out that unusual situation; a bush, so poisonous that the water dripping through the leaves and onto the human body poisons the body and destroys it.
And this is what the physician found out. By talking to some of the old tribal chieftains over there in the Bahamas, he learned that wherever that bush grows, poisonous, and the drippings of the water from the leaves will destroy the life, wherever that bush grows, there is another bush close by, always, close by, and you can take the leaves of that bush and rub it on the surface of your skin, and the poison is washed away, nullified, ameliorated, neutralized. I read that as an article. And I thought, in the twenty-second chapter of the Revelation and the second verse, “And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the people” [Revelation 22:2]. Every bottle of poison that you’ll buy at a drug store, always and without exception, there’ll be the antidote; always, there is the antidote. And that’s God. There’s an antidote for our sin, and God provided it.
Well, how does it do? How does it work? This is the way that it works: “Behold the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world” [John 1:29]. He took our penalty and our judgment. He did it. He died. All of the wrath and judgment of God upon our iniquity, He took it in His own body and bare it on the tree [1 Peter 2:24]. Our judgment, our death, all of it He bore for us. And in my acceptance of that atoning grace [Ephesians 2:8-9], the Holy Spirit does something inside of me. He washes the stain of sin out of my soul [Ephesians 5:25-27; 1 John 1:7]. He forgives all our iniquities [Colossians 1:14]. And He creates in us a new heart and a new love and a new life [2 Corinthians 5:17]. The young man I referred to a while ago, whom I was visiting with last week, he said, “All of these things that down there at that Baptist church you don’t believe in.” Why, I said, “My young man, there are no contradictions and interdictions and laws in the Christian faith at all, none at all. I am absolutely free, absolutely free. I just cuss all I want to, drink all I want to, get drunk all I want to, gamble all I want to, take all of those epidermic drugs all I want to, just carouse all I want to.”
“Oh,” he said, “you don’t mean it.”
“Yeah man, I just kick up my heels, and I have the most hilarious time you ever saw in your life.” But I said, “What’s the matter is when you give your heart to Jesus, you’ve got a new heart. You’ve got a new love. You’ve got a new life.” Why, I’m no more interested in cussing. I just don’t like it, and I don’t like to be around people who cuss, I just don’t. I don’t like to drink. I just don’t like it. I just don’t like the effects of it, and I don’t like to be around people when they are drinking. I just don’t like it. And as for taking drugs, that’s the last thing in the earth that as a Christian I want to do; because God says my body is the holy temple of the Holy Spirit [1 Corinthians 6:19]. And that ruins my mind, and it destroys the brain cells in my head, and finally, eventually it will eventuate in the atrophying of my body, my muscles, my nerves! Oh, I’m just not interested in that, and the same way about ten thousand other things out there that are glittering in the world.
That’s what Jesus does for us. When I open my heart to the Lord, He gives me a new vision, and a new dream, and a new dedication, and a new life. Why, I’ve got to the place where I just love to go to church, love to be with God’s people, love to sing the songs of Zion, love to work with children, with young people, on and on and on. Why, I’d be dead if I didn’t like it. Last week enough was enough to kill me, but I just had the best time in the world. Oh, oh, that’s what Jesus does!
Then there’s another thing: not only in this life, not only now, but in the world that is to come, in the life that is to come, what Jesus does for us. When the Lord died and entered into heaven, tell me, did He go alone? Was He by Himself when He went through those gates of glory, when He went back to the Father, when in the Spirit He offered His blood as an atonement before the throne of grace? [Hebrews 9:12]. Didn’t He have somebody with Him? When He went into glory, He went arm in arm with a convert, that thief who died by His side on the cross [Luke 23:42-43]. “The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” [John 1:29]. And think of being a John the Baptist, pointing to Him. “Look, look, look.”
I don’t know why, but little old incidents sometime just move my soul. Well, I had one like that not long ago. I was in Florida––remember when I was down there preaching in Florida to their state evangelistic conference? I got a telephone call from a man in Mississippi. And he said, “You don’t know who I am,” he said, “I am calling for a young wife here in our city.” He said, “Her husband was an electrical engineer. And the two, the young man and his wife, lived in the city of Dallas.” And he said, “You got that young engineer up in your study at the church, and you won him to Jesus and baptized him.” And the man on the other end of the telephone said, “Doing a work here, an assignment here in this city in Mississippi, as he was working as an electrical engineer, something went wrong, and he was electrocuted and has died. And the first thing his wife wanted to do was she wanted to call you, and I’m doing it for her, to tell you that the sweetest and most comforting assurance in her heart is the remembrance of that day when you got him in your study at the church and won him to the Lord. She just wanted you to know.”
Just wanted me to know, and I thought, “Money couldn’t buy that. You couldn’t hire a man for enough to pay him for that.” If this church were to pay me a salary of a hundred thousand dollars a month, it’d be nothing compared to the reward that God gives a man who will stand as an emissary from heaven and point to the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world [John 1:29]. That’s what John did, and that’s what we’re doing today. You, and you, and you, and I, pointing to the Savior, “Look, look,” oh, the goodness of His grace, and the blessing of His presence, and the sweetness of His Spirit when He comes into our hearts and gives us a new love and a new life [Romans 5:5; 2 Corinthians 5:17].
We’re going to sing our hymn of appeal, and while we sing it, a couple you, a family you, a one somebody you, down this aisle, to the front, and to the pastor, “Here I am, pastor. I make that decision tonight. And I want the Lord Jesus to come into my heart. I want to take Him as my Savior.” Or “We want to put our lives here in this church.” As the Lord shall press the appeal to your heart, make it now. Make it tonight. Make the decision where you’re seated now. And in a moment when you stand up, stand up coming, do it, while we all stand and sing.
BEHOLD THE LAMB OF GOD
Dr. W. A. Criswell
A. John the Baptist born to say one sentence (John 1:36)
B. What would you have said?II. The sin of the world
A. David Livingstone
B. Doctrine of total depravity
C. Nothing in itself is wrong (Romans 14:14)
1. The problem is the sinIII. The Lamb of God
A. There is an antidote for sin
1. The new way
2. The new heart
3. The new life
B. What Jesus does for us now and in the life to come