What does John 1:36 mean?
ESV: and he looked at Jesus as he walked by and said, "Behold, the Lamb of God!"
NIV: When he saw Jesus passing by, he said, "Look, the Lamb of God!"
NASB: and he looked at Jesus as He walked, and *said, 'Behold, the Lamb of God!'
CSB: When he saw Jesus passing by, he said, "Look, the Lamb of God!"
NLT: As Jesus walked by, John looked at him and declared, 'Look! There is the Lamb of God!'
KJV: And looking upon Jesus as he walked, he saith, Behold the Lamb of God!
NKJV: And looking at Jesus as He walked, he said, “Behold the Lamb of God!”
Verse Commentary:
John the Baptist referred to Jesus as "the Lamb of God" (John 1:29). This isn't a reference to a temple sacrifice, but to the days of Passover and Moses. It represents a change in the Baptist's ministry. Up to this point, he had been telling people that the Messiah was coming (Matthew 3:1–3). Now, he tells people that Messiah is here!

The final plague of Egypt was the death of the firstborn (Exodus 11:4–6). Only those whose doors were covered with the blood of a lamb were spared. The preparation for sudden travel and the requirement of blood made a powerful symbol of Jesus' future work on the cross (Exodus 12:5–7, 11). After the judgment, those who stepped through that door were freed from their former slavery (Exodus 12:41).

The instructions given to Moses involved dipping a spongy plant into blood collected at the base of the door. This was then to be touched—or possibly "struck"—on the overhead beam and the two side posts. Whether an explicit goal of the process or not, that would have created a bloody cross on every Israelite door (Exodus 12:21–22).

Everything involving Passover is a metaphor for salvation in Christ. Only those covered by the blood are spared from judgment (Exodus 12:23). Only by going through that door can a person be set free.
Verse Context:
John 1:29–42 describes more conversations, these between John the Baptist, his disciples, and Jesus. It includes the moment Jesus recruits His first two disciples. Jesus is identified as "the Lamb of God," and "the Son of God." The Baptist describes his vision of the Holy Spirit, in the form of a dove, landing on Jesus. This confirms that He is the Messiah. The Baptist seems to tell John and Andrew to go and follow Jesus. They, in turn, introduce Jesus to Peter.
Chapter Summary:
The first chapter of John introduces Jesus as "the Word," from the Greek logos. This chapter clearly describes Jesus as God. After this prologue, the chapter describes Jesus recruiting the first of His disciples, as well as a conversation between John the Baptist and the Pharisees. There are seven names or titles for Christ in this chapter, including "the Son of God," "the Word," and "the King of Israel."
Chapter Context:
The first chapter of the gospel of John equates Christ with God and introduces John the Baptist. The Baptist specifically points to Jesus as the Promised One. Jesus collects the first five of His disciples. In this chapter, Jesus is given seven descriptive names, including "the Word," "the Son of God," and "the King of Israel." This chapter sets the stage for the rest of the gospel, by giving the reader a sense of who Jesus truly is, and why He has come. The rest of the gospel is an exploration of the claims made in this initial passage.
Book Summary:
The disciple John wrote the gospel of John decades after the gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke were written. The author assumes that a reader is already familiar with the content of these other works. So, John presents a different perspective, with a greater emphasis on meaning. John uses seven miracles—which he calls "signs"— to prove that Jesus is, in fact, God incarnate. Some of the most well-known verses in the Bible are found here. None is more famous than the one-sentence summary of the gospel found in John 3:16.
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