This is he of whom I said, After me comes a man which is preferred before me: for he was before me.…
I. IN HIS WORK as the Lamb of God.
1. 'The object offered in sacrifice. The Lamb of God applies to Christ(1) in His personal character.
(2) In His sacrificial character.
2. The object or effect of the sacrifice "taketh away," etc.!
3. The burden removed by the sacrifice: the world's sin.
II. IN HIS PERSON (ver. 30). These words meet us for the third time. The human and Divine natures are exhibited in one sentence. How profoundly the Baptist believed in the pre-existence of Christ.
III. THE MODE OF IDENTIFICATION.
1. I knew Him not. He did indeed know Him, and hence hesitated about baptizing Him (Matthew 3:14). The son of Elizabeth must have known the Son of Mary. The Baptist means that he did not know Him as Messiah.
2. Jesus was revealed to John by the descent of the Holy Ghost.
(1) The sign. The Dove emblematized the consecration of the Redeemer to His Divine work.
(2) The two baptisms — the one in water, the other in the Holy Ghost — the one that Christ might be made manifest unto Israel, and unto repentance for the remission of sins; the other not a sacrament that Christ was to institute for the Church, nor which any priest or minister could give; it was a baptism of regenerating grace — such a baptism as Simon Magus never had although baptized with water; such a baptism as the dying thief enjoyed although not baptized with water.
(Prof. Croskery.)Notice —
1. The evidences of Christ's excellency and Godhead when He came into the world are not cunningly devised fables, but most certain and infallible truths, for John bare record, saying, "I saw," etc.
2. Christ in His solemn entry to His offices was sealed from heaven, that so the Church may learn to embrace Him with all respect. Therefore doth the Spirit descend upon Him in this visible way, and the Father bear witness to Him (Matthew 3), all the persons of the Trinity manifesting themselves on Jordan's bank.
3. Christ is endowed with the Spirit from on high for executing of His offices, and it is made manifest that the Spirit is to be found on Him and sought from Him; for "I saw the Spirit descending from heaven upon Him," where the Spirit, who filleth heaven and earth, is said to descend in respect of that visible manifestation and sign of His presence.
4. The Spirit's descending like a dove, a meek, harmless and affectionate creature, pointed out what Christ is in His own nature to them that come to Him, even meek, harmless, loving, and not dreadful; what He is in the execution of His office, even He in whom the Father is well pleased and pacified, and He who bringeth the good news of assuaging the deluge of wrath, as Noah's dove of the drying up of the flood; and what He is in the operations of His Spirit upon His people, that they are made meek, harmless, and lowly as doves, not like birds of prey.
5. Albeit all Christ's members do receive of the Spirit in their measure, yet it is Christ's prerogative to have the Spirit resting on Him; not only as God is the Spirit of one essence with Him, proceeding from the Father and Him, and so is ever present with Him. But even as man by virtue of the personal union, the Spirit floweth and resteth on Christ, and efficaciously worketh in Him all Divine graces and virtues without measure, and immutably, so that none can come wrong to Him at any time for receiving of His Spirit: Therefore, it is said, "it abode upon Him" (Isaiah 11:2, 3).
6. Christ, in taking on our nature, did so cover His glory with the veil of our flesh and common infirmities that He could not be known by bodily sight from another man without Divine revelation and evidences from God; for, without this, John saith, I knew Him not (Matthew 16:17).
7. The Lord is very tender and careful of His servants, to encourage and confirm them in their calling and message; and will not fail to perform what He hath promised for that effect when He sendeth them out; for, John saith, he saw this sign in a peculiar way, as being to him an accomplishment of that promise given to him; for God had said to him, "upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending," etc., and now it was accomplished.
8. The Spirit resteth upon Christ, and was manifested to be on Him by a visible sign, not only for Himself and to point out His excellency, but for the Church's good, and to certify them that He received the Spirit to communicate unto His people.
Parallel VersesKJV: This is he of whom I said, After me cometh a man which is preferred before me: for he was before me.