John 1:29-34 Levitical Foreshadowing

29 The next day he saw Jesus coming towards him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! 30 This is he of whom I said, ‘After me comes a man who ranks before me, because he was before me.’ 31 I myself did not know him, but for this purpose I came baptizing with water, that he might be revealed to Israel.” 32 And John bore witness: “I saw the Spirit descend from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him. 33 I myself did not know him, but he who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain, this is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ 34 And I have seen and have borne witness that this is the Son of God.”

Levitical Foreshadowing

I have been doing some reading of the Pentateuch recently and in the Moody Commentary entry on Leviticus it says how the book helps us to understand Jesus’ life.  The sacrifices of the Pentateuch paid for the sin of Israel.  Each individual had to bring a sin offering to pay for their sin.  The wages of sin is death.  The death of an animal foreshadowed the death that Jesus would die.  The animals had to be sacrificed repeatedly in the tabernacle and the temple in order for the people to draw near to God.  Now God draws near to the people and provides his own Son as a sin offering. 

The Son pays the price for sin in his death.  That means that the death he dies is the death that we should die.  There is a lot of blood and horror in Leviticus and the Pentateuch and there is a lot of horror at the cross.  Blood is thrown over the people, the altar and poured with alarming frequency.  We are alarmed because most of our interaction with lambs, cattle, and poultry is shrink wrapped in the supermarket.  My children are surprised and horrified when they realize that chicken nougats are made from chickens.  The Passover Lamb spent time eating, drinking and sleeping in the family home.  It’s easier to see the price the lamb pays under those circumstances.

Jesus was born to take the price and bridge the chasm between a holy God and humans stained by evil.  Beyond that, all of creation is restored through the death and rebirth available in Christ.  The question is how seriously do we take the concept of the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world?


Father God, you bought us at great cost.  You removed the horror of our sin by having the ghastly consequences taken by your son.  Your Son was obedient and perfect, but he was a man like us walking the shores of the Jordan.  Help us to have a relationship with your Son which is overflowing with gratitude because we are more aware of our condition without you.


  1. How does John describe Jesus?
  2. What is the biblical meaning of a lamb?
  3. How does Jesus fit John’s description?
  4. How do people today think of lambs?
  5. How can the symbol of Jesus as Lamb be further developed by Jesus’ followers?

About Plymothian

I teach at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. My interests include education, biblical studies, and spiritual formation. I have been married to Kelli since 1998 and we have two children, Daryl and Amelia. For recreation I like to run, play soccer, play board games, read and travel.
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20 Responses to John 1:29-34 Levitical Foreshadowing

  1. Karas says:

    The way John describes Jesus here as the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world has always been one of my mom’s favorites, which has made me think about it. It really is an amazing title. A lamb was a pure and innocent sacrifice for the sins of another, one whose spilled blood could cleanse another’s sin. Jesus did exactly that, except He was all the more pure and innocent, and so much greater than a lamb. Today people not thinking of biblical lambs probably think of lambs as either very helpless and needy or maybe cute and fun to pet (that’s for the city kids). I think one way to develop the idea of Jesus as a lamb is to bring it up when a lamb is introduced, whether at the petting zoo or on the farm. We can just use it as a way to start this conversation.

  2. Janice Lee says:

    1. John describes Jesus as the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.
    2. John is referring to the biblical meaning of the Passover lamb, the unblemished sacrifice whose blood would cover and pardon us from God’s wrath.
    3. Jesus fits John’s description by being our sacrificial lamb. Jesus’ perfect life and death covers us in His righteousness so that we can be forgiven if we believe in Him.
    4. People today think of lambs as dumb, stubborn, and helpless animals.
    5. The symbol of Jesus as Lamb can be further developed by understanding how the prophetic symbol began at Passover. The Israelites and all of us no longer have to sacrifice animals as sin offerings to God because Jesus is the ultimate sacrifice who gives us a direct connection to God.

  3. Sara Cavitt says:

    1) John describes Jesus as the Lamb of the world who takes away the sin of the world. He is describing Jesus as the Savior of all mankind.
    2) People used to slaughter lambs as a sacrifice for their sins. They sacrificed so that their relationship with God would be restored. So lambs represent sacrifice.
    3) Jesus fits John’s description in that He is the sacrifice of all people and our sins.
    4) I do not think that many people today associate lambs with sacrifices, simply because we do not perform lamb sacrifices today. When thinking of lambs, people may think of cute and cuddly animals found at a farm or petting zoo.
    5) We can remember the horrific death that Jesus suffered on the cross, which should cause us to be eternally thankful! It should also remind us that without His death on the cross, we would have no hope.

  4. Sarah Deurbrouck says:

    1. How does John describe Jesus?
    John describes him as the Lamb, being the Sacrifice, perfectly able to do so. And John even says he is the One to take away the sins of the world. John knows that Jesus is able and will complete the task the Father has sent him to accomplish. He also describes him very bluntly as the Son of God. I wonder what John thinks of when writing “Son” of God? It’s still a strange concept to me….We are not talking about a strictly biological relationship. Yet we know that Jesus proceeds from the Father, whatever that quite means….I am curious what John thinks of when he says the Son of God. And how does that play out in our salvation and Calvary. Clearly we know it is a glorious, sufficient and perfect relationship. I suppose it is something only fully known by the Father.
    2. What is the biblical meaning of a lamb?
    Sacrifice. It was first given at Passover as a symbol for the Lord’s redemption in the Exodus. In Leviticus it is seen as a sacrifice given as a sin offering.
    3. How does Jesus fit John’s description?
    Just as a lamb took away the sins of the people of Israel, so Jesus takes away the sins of the world (yet permanently). Hebrews 9:24-28 describes how Jesus gives a better sacrifice, a permanent and final sacrifice.
    4. How do people today think of lambs?
    I suppose they think of stupid creatures that wander the farmlands or remote areas.
    5. How can the symbol of Jesus as Lamb be further developed by Jesus’ followers?
    I think it is important to see and know that the God of the Old Testament is the God of the New Testament. I am guilty of dichotomizing the two, that the God of the Old Testament was harsh and required much unnecessary blood and the God of the New Testament lovingly sent his son to peacefully settle our sin problem. False. God requires justice and a sacrifice just as much in the New Testament as the Old Testament. The sacrifices of the Old Testament are no less gruesome than Christ’s sacrifice in the New Testament. We just need to know that the Perfect Lamb came in the New Testament, to set up the new testament with his people.

  5. Mary says:

    1. John states that Jesus is more important than he is; he is their sacrificial Lamb! He is the Son of God who takes away the sin of the world.
    2. A lamb was used as a sin sacrifice. The lamb gave their life in exchange for a guilty person and the blood of the lamb covered the sin of that person from God’s wrath. I believe the person had to place their hand on the head of the lamb while they cut it’s throat, symbolizing their sins being transferred to the lamb. I can only imagine how awful and emotional that would have been.
    3. This one is answered in the above question.
    4. People today think of lambs differently I suppose, some think of them as cute and cuddly pets, others think of them as good meat. Definitely not as a sin sacrifice unless it is within a biblical context.
    5. The symbol of Jesus as Lamb can be further developed by Jesus’ followers by being humble and obedient servants of the Living Lord, being silent before our persecutors (Isa. 53:7), and by living a life that is free of sin.

  6. Jenna says:

    1. John describes Jesus as “The Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world!”
    2. John was probably referring to the Passover lamb, which the people ate every Passover in remembrance of what God had done for their ancestors in Egypt. On the first Passover, the Lamb’s blood had protected each family from God’s wrath; every subsequent Passover that the people celebrated was a reminder that sin has consequences and that God’s standard was perfection (pictured in the spotless lamb).
    3. We know that Jesus was the perfect “Lamb” sent from God to take away our sins by His death on the cross!
    4. Lambs are associated with innocence, helplessness, meekness, and weakness.
    5. Jesus, when He was killed, willingly submitted to God’s will as He was “like a lamb that is led to slaughter” (Is. 53:7). In the same way, we can also submit to God’s will like a trusting lamb.

  7. Rachel Thrash says:

    John describes Jesus as the Son of God and the lamb of God.
    In the Bible, a lamb is an animal that is raised and killed for food. Jesus lived and died as a sacrifice for others, like a lamb. Today, lambs are viewed as cute, cuddly little animals. It was not only the the death of a lamb that was a sacrifice, their milk and wool were also sacrificial. In the same way, Jesus whole life was a sacrifice for us.

  8. Amy McCashen says:

    1. John describes Jesus as “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world.”
    2. A lamb is innocent. A lamb, a spotless lamb, represents perfection. Many times through Scripture, a lamb (or ram, or goat) is killed in the place of our lives. The blood of a “spotless” lamb covers the sin of the people living in the Old Testament time.
    3. Jesus fits Johns description because He is the “Lamb” sent by God (His Father) to die in out place to take away our sins.
    4. Today, people think of lambs as cute, fluffy animals you count before bed. They think of lambs as weak and helpless creatures that need someone (ie. shepherd) to guide and take care of them.
    5. Jesus’ disciples furthered the symbol of the lamb by connecting it to the Passover. When the Isrealites were enslaved in Egypt, God told the people to put lamb’s blood over the threshold and door posts of their home to protect them from the Angel of Death who was going to kill all the first-borns in Egypt. Because of the blood outside their homes, the Isrealites were saved from the final plague. Jesus was our Passover lamb! I think the celebration of Passover leading up to the death of Jesus helped the disciples make this connection.

  9. Lacy says:

    1. John describes Jesus as “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world,” and also comments that Jesus was before him, though we know from Scripture that they were born around the same time and that John’s public ministry began before Jesus’.
    2. In the Bible, a lamb (especially an unblemished lamb) is indicative of a sacrifice that would appease God’s wrath for the people’s sin. The most well-known of the many Old Testament sacrifices is the Passover lamb, whose blood covered the Israelites’ doorways so that the angel of death wouldn’t strike their homes.
    3. Jesus is the ultimate sacrificial Lamb because his death fulfilled the punishment for sin (death) permanently, leaving none for those who are covered by it. John is also correct in acknowledging that Jesus came before him, because Jesus, being God, is eternal. (“In the beginning was the Word.”)
    4. People today think of lambs as a symbol of innocence and gentleness.
    5. Jesus’ followers today can use this mental picture to address the fact that Jesus, though he was punished for the sin of the world, was completely innocent himself.

  10. Kathleen says:

    1. John describes Jesus as the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.
    2. The Biblical meaning of a lamb in this context is referring to the Passover lamb. In the Old Testament blood had to be shed for sins to be forgiven.
    3. Jesus fits this description because he lived a sinless life and His death was a perfect sacrifice to cover the sins of the world.
    4. I think people see lambs as a quiet animal. There are also viewed as weak.
    5. I think that people do not understand the history of the Passover in the Old Testament. Since we do not have to make sacrifices today for our sins to be forgiven, many people do not know the symbolism of the Passover and Jesus death.

  11. Rachel says:

    John describes Jesus as both the Son of God and the Lamb of God. In biblical times, a lamb was an animal who’s entire life was a sacrifice for man. Jesus fits this description because His is the perfect sacrificial life and death for the salvation of all mankind. People today think that lambs are cute, innocent, and cuddly. We can understand Jesus as the Lamb of God when we look to His life for our sustenance and His death for our atonement.

  12. Chelsea P. says:

    Jesus is described as the sacrificial lamb. He takes away the sins of the world. Describing Jesus as a lamb may sound kind of soft and wimpy, but we must remember what the purpose of the lamb was for; it was to be slaughtered and offered to God in order to take away sins. Jesus took on humanity and was slaughtered on a cross for us. It doesn’t seem like something that an all-powerful God would chose to do. Yet, he chose to be humble. May we chose to follow our Savior’s lead and live a life of humilty and servanthood.

  13. Ashley says:

    1. John describes Jesus as the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.
    2. The lamb is the humble and submissive animal that is sacrificed under the law. Jesus is called the Lamb of God because he takes the punishment of our sins upon himself.
    3. Jesus fits John’s description of himself because the Spirit of God descends upon him.
    4. People today think of lambs as weak animals who are dumb and unable to put up a fight.
    5. The symbol of Jesus as the Lamb can be developed by us as we take it upon ourselves, as one with Christ, do sacrificially give of ourselves as he gave of himself.

  14. Rebekah Thompson (Bekah) says:

    1. He declares Jesus to be the Lamp of God who heals and forgives. The one who called him, the one who gave him purpose behind his baptism. He describes Jesus as being the one who had the dove descend from heaven to. Jesus is the man that is the Son of God.
    2. The passover lamb, pure,perfect, without blemish, without fault, the best of all the flock.
    3. He is the sacrificial lamb without blemish being brought to be slaughtered so that all those who believe and follow him could live.
    4. Beautiful, small, meaningless creatures.
    5. It can be explained further in the sense of the passover lamb. How in their (lamb) perfection, their purpose of existence was to make the flock surrounding them better; to in the end be sacrificed to save the people.

  15. nataliaria says:

    John describes Jesus as the Lamb of God, whose work and role on the earth is beyond even John’s. The biblical understanding of a lamb was as something that suffered and died in the place of the people; lambs were sacrificed on the altar, providing atonement for Israel’s sins. Additionally, lambs were known for their innocence and gentle nature. Jesus fulfilled John’s description completely; the Son of God died on the altar of the cross in order to make atonement for the sins of all mankind, and restore unity between God and man.

    I believe that the common portrayal of lambs is of animals who are unintelligent, mute, and generally appreciated for their cuteness and functionality as Easter decorations.

    An understanding of Jesus as the Lamb of God can be developed by His followers as we meditate on His willingness to submit completely to the will of the Father for His life and death, and as we glory in the freedom, power, and salvation we receive as a result of His obedience.

  16. Austin Brose says:

    John describes Jesus as the savior come, the lamb of God, and the messiah. The lamb, in the biblical sense, is meant to be a symbol of innocence. It is the symbol of a sacrifice too, of the spotless perfect lamb being slaughtered to appease Gods wrath. Jesus fits Johns description by fulfilling the perfect spotless sacrifice that washed away our sins. People today think of lambs as timid and weak. Jesus’ followers can further develop the symbol of Jesus as the lamb by accepting Christ as a perfect, innocent, blameless, person who had to take on the entire worlds sin on his shoulders for us.

  17. Beth Coale says:

    Read it.

  18. Nick says:

    John describes Jesus as the “Lamb of God.” In the Old Testament, a lamb was an animal that would be offered as a sacrifice to God, in place of the people. The lamb would perish so that the people wouldn’t have to perish. Jesus fit John’s description by taking the place of the lamb and dying on the cross for our sins. He perished so that we wouldn’t have to perish. Like the lamb of the OT, Jesus’ blood covered our sins and transgressions. When I think of a lamb today, I think of a farm animal that I would see in my old neighborhood (I lived in a rural community with many different kinds of livestock). I don’t view the lamb as something that I would sacrifice to God for my sins, because that has already been done for me. We can develop the symbol of Jesus as the lamb by remembering His work for us on the cross and look to follow Him with our lives.

  19. Michael Huber says:

    I think Jesus can be thought of as a lamb becuase of the necessary atoning animal sacrifices that Israel offered before God to account for their sin. Like the lambs of the OT, so Jesus come to take away the sin of man. I find it beautiful that we can talk about Christ both in terms of him being the lamb and the shepherd.

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