05. The Lamb Of God (1:29-31)

On the morrow, John sees Jesus coming toward him and said, Behold! The Lamb of God, taking away the sin of the world! This is He about whom I said, After me comes a Man who has been before me, for He was preceding me. And I did not know Him; but that He be revealed to Israel, for this reason I came baptizing in water. And John witnessed, saying, I have seen the Spirit coming down as a dove out of Heaven, and He abode on Him. And I did not know Him, but the One sending me to baptize in water, that One said to me, On whomever you see the Spirit coming down and abiding on Him, this is the One baptizing in the Holy Spirit. And I have seen and have witnessed that this One is the Son of God. Again on the morrow, John and two from his disciples stood. And looking at Jesus walking, he said, Behold, the Lamb of God!  (John 1:29-36 )

Since the Lord is innocence itself which is in His kingdom, everything of innocence being from Him, He is therefore called the Lamb… (Arcana Coelestia 3994)

The Lord when in the world was as to His Human innocence itself, therefore the Lord is called the Lamb and the Lamb of God. (Arcana Coelestia 10132)

By lamb is signified innocence, which when viewed in itself is love to the Lord, therefore by lamb in the supreme sense is signified the Lord as to the Divine Human, for the Lord as to that principle was innocence itself. (Apocalypse Explained 314)

We have seen that John the Baptist represents the Lord in that he represents the literal sense of the Word. Because Spiritual Christianity holds to the truth that the Lord is the Word then all things in it are, in their highest sense, representative of Him. So when we read in the Word that John speaks of himself, what we are being directed to spiritually in what is said is what the Word in its literal sense says of Itself. This is also the case of those things said in the Word describing John. The question that flows from this is, What are the characteristics of the literal sense of the Word revealed through John the Baptist as a representative figure of the letter of the Word and so the Lord?

As a general principle the literal sense of the Word conveys knowledge of the Lord and His interactions with the human race when He was in the world. If we are open to the possibility that the Word is Divine revelation whose primary use is to address what’s needed for the regeneration of the human mind, then the figure of John, along with any figure mentioned in the Word, takes on a whole new meaning. Through the representative figure of John, we learn that the literal sense is principally a witness to the light; that it is from God and that the purpose of this witness is that through it all might come to believe (John 1:7). As a witness to the light, we are instructed that John, or the literal sense is not the light but that it points to the true light. In other words, the understanding gained from a purely literal reading of the Word which deals with people and events in the world is not the Divine Truth or spiritual light. Spiritual light is something deeper within the letter that has reference to spiritual realities and not to the historical people and events that are found in a literal reading of the Text.

When John says, he is not the light, we are being taught that the literal sense, the natural places, events, people, and times that make up its narrative, is not where its Divinity is found. The Divine Truth, which is the true light, produces a deeper level of meaning that sits hidden within the literal sense and serves as a kind of clothing that conceals the spiritual sense within it. Yet the historical garments represented by John that make up the literal meaning of the Word are absolutely essential. Without this level of meaning the natural mind has nothing to hold on to from which it can enter into the deeper meaning of the Word. John, the literal text, prepares the way of the Lord through preparing the mind to receive the true light or what is understood by the internal or spiritual sense of the Word. And as the figure of John represents the surface meaning of the Text, so the figure of Jesus Christ in the Text represents the Word as to its spiritual sense.

We learn that John is sent from God (John 1:6). What is sent forth from God must be holy and if holy, must be Divine. So how are we to understand the statement that John is not the light? If John is the Word as to its literal sense and the Word is Divine right down to its very letter then surely John or, the letter, must also be Divine?

When engaging with the Divine Text, it’s essential to recognize that the form it takes in the letter from the arrangement of letters or the sequence of words and even the natural meanings and associations that each carry, is the Divine style and as such represents the fullness of the Lord in the world. This style is such that every word has both a natural and a deeper psychological or spiritual meaning and it is this spiritual meaning within the natural surface meaning that gives the letter of the Word its Divine quality. It loses this quality for the reader when this is not recognised or acknowledged so that the only interpretation accessible is a natural one, where the characters and events are understood solely within a historical context. This literal, historical understanding lacks the quality of spiritual light, as it fails to illuminate the mind regarding spiritual matters.

To enter into the spiritual meaning of the Word it needs to be acknowledged by the reader that it is in fact spiritual and that this deeper level of meaning exists within it. This acknowledgement holds that everything in the Word corresponds to some current spiritual reality within the world of our mind. So, when the Word recounts what John says it corresponds to the message of the letter of the Word more generally. When the figure of John points to the Lord as the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world it teaches us that the literal sense of the Word, when understood spiritually, points to the Lord, who represents the internal sense of the Word, as the lamb of God.

This has to be the case if we are to remain consistent in our reading of the Text for if the figure of John carries a spiritual meaning, then the principle must also be applied to the figure of Jesus. If John represents the external aspect of the Word, then the Jesus must also be a representative figure that applies to some aspect of the Word. The literal sense points us to the light of the internal sense of the Word and it is this that the term Jesus, which means Jehovah Saviour, refers to. When the letter of the Word uses the term Jesus it is pointing us to its internal sense. So, where John represents the letter of the Word, Jesus represents the spiritual meaning which can deliver us from the hellish grip of those affections and thoughts that bind us to a sense of self that is grounded in the loves of self and the world.

When we look to the Word as a guide for governing our mental life by using its truths to examine the quality of our thoughts and affections, we discover that the active patterns of feeling and thinking which we take for our ‘self’ doesn’t reflect what is good and true. But it is this state of conscious self-examination that opens the way for our understanding of the Word to be transformed and along with it our sense of self, and so our life. This is because self-examination with a view to the removal of evils from our external affections and thoughts, clears the way for the light of truth to begin to shine forth from the Word with greater intensity.

The message of John the Baptist or the external aspect of the Word, challenges us to clean up our outer life and in this sense is the preparer of the way for the coming of the Lord as the internal sense of the Word. For it is the affections and thoughts which are grounded in the loves of self and the world into which our sense of self is invested, that cloud our perceptions and prevent us from seeing the Lord in the Word. Repentance is a prerequisite to transformation in the spiritual life. This state of repentance or metanoia is represented by the baptism of John. To immerse oneself in the truths of the Word with a view to applying them to life is what opens the states of spiritual life in a person. It is also the forerunner of the opening of the spiritual sense of the Word which is what Spiritual Christianity understands by the second coming of the Lord. So to see the internal sense of the Word as the lamb of God, our minds have to be restructured through the removal of attitudes that place the self first. This only occurs as we make obedience to the Word and its precepts the most important thing in our life. To do this is to love the Lord above all else, because to love the Lord is to live from the Word.

Let’s now turn to the reading from John’s Gospel to see how the things we have been discussing are illustrated in the Text. It opens with…

On the morrow, John sees Jesus coming toward him and said, Behold! The Lamb of God, taking away the sin of the world!

The phrase, On the morrow… is perpetual and is known to be such by us in the negative turn of phrase, tomorrow never comes. Here we recognise that correspondentially the morro refers to what is continually approaching. This refers to the nature of those things to do with the Lord and spiritual life. If we are engaged in the spiritual life, we are continually drawing closer to the Lord and will always be doing so. In this state of drawing closer to Him we are being led into ever deeper and more profound ways of beholding Him as the Word. So the statement in our text, On the morrow… alerts us to idea that what is being described in what follows is a spiritual principle which is in continuous operation and so will never cease. And what is this principle? It is this; it is that John [that] sees Jesus coming toward him…

Let’s take this statement and transpose our understanding of its natural elements for its spiritual ones. John, we have seen, is the literal sense of the Word. We also understand that John is repentance or washing or the cleaning up of the external plane of our mental life in obedience to the Word. When it is occurring in us, that is, when we are engaged in this spiritual discipline, we come to see or understand, for seeing spiritually is understanding the approach of Jesus. By Jesus we understand the internal sense of the Word which has the power to save us.

Now, because we are talking about states of perception or revelation from the Word, by the word toward, as in Jesus coming toward John, is spiritually understood as an opening of our spiritual faculties by which we are given to perceive the Lord in the Word. There is a drawing together in our mind’s understanding of the relationship of the external and internal senses of the Word. The Lord being the Word doesn’t actually approach us as such. This idea of approach is a term that applies to an object moving through space and as the Lord is not in space, so it must correspond and describe a state of revelation or spiritual perception in which He is becoming more visible in our understanding of the Word.

When we take all this and put it together the statement, On the morrow, John sees Jesus coming toward him… spiritually becomes; It is a spiritual law that as we live in obedience to the literal sense of the Word so its internal meaning can be revealed to us… The revealing of this level of meaning is what saves us. This is captured in John’s statement…

“Behold! The Lamb of God, taking away the sin of the world!” (Greek “…the one lifting the missing of the system (cosmos)”)

A solid commitment on our part to the Word as the ground for our spiritual growth and development has a transformative effect. Through it we are given new thoughts by which new heavenly affections can be expressed. We have seen that John and Jesus represent aspects of the Word. Thus, the term the Lamb of God being a reference, in the literal sense to Jesus, must also represent some inner aspect of the Word.

To see this, we need to elevate our thinking out of the natural meaning of the words to what they mean spiritually. Everything said in the Text literally draws out a question as to its true meaning spiritually. For example, what does this reference to, …the sin of the world mean? The first thing we need to grasp is that sin is not a product of the world out there but rather sin is a condition found within the human mind. You’ll recall we explored this previously. We saw then that sin means to miss the mark, whereby the mark for human beings is a life of genuine love, mercy, compassion and goodness grounded in loving the Lord and the neighbour.

At its root sin arises from a confirmed belief that we are the source of the life that we feel in ourselves. To live from this belief is to deny that the Lord is the One and Only Life. It is to love our self, or another way of saying this is to love the feeling of being an independent autonomous entity more than anything else. Spiritual Christianity teaches that the mark is to live from love to the Lord and love towards our neighbour. When we do this, we live in the life we are created to be. The world out there doesn’t miss the mark or sin in this sense, people do, we do. So the sin of the world refers to the sin or, the missing of the mark in the inner world of our motivations and thoughts. The actions that proceed from the misaligned sense of self that we all invest our life into is what generates the “sins” of external life.

Without a spiritual dimension to our lives in which we are looking to cultivate a practice that is based on loving the Lord and the neighbour through identifying and looking to the Lord to have what’s opposed to this removed, we simply miss the mark. The condition of an unregenerated natural mind is a world of sin and death spiritually speaking. Our inner world needs lifting if we are to find the mark. Our motivations, affections and thoughts all need lifting if we are to be freed from sin. This idea is found in Greek manuscript in its use of the airo (ah’ee-ro) but it’s not given emphasis in the English translation of our Bibles. The emphasis given in our Bibles is on the idea of taking away, as in, The Lamb of God taking away the sin of the world. The Greek certainly carries this meaning, but its primary meaning is that of lifting and so when we use this idea and replace the word sin with the more literal translation of missing, the Text is transformed into…

“Behold! The Lamb of God, lifting the missing of the world.”

So we see that the term Lamb of God refers to something in the inner sense of the Word that is able to lift us out of our lower world of sin or missing the mark, of being driven by selfish motives and a concern for ourselves. It is what is able to lift us into a higher world, a world made up of higher affections and thoughts that are grounded in genuine forms of love and wisdom.

Now, everything in the Word corresponds to some aspect of the inner world of our minds. Animal life in the Word corresponds to the affectional life of our minds, just as plant life corresponds to the things of the intellectual, perceptive aspects of our minds. Gentle domesticated animals correspond to gentle loving affections whereas wild ferocious animals correspond to evil affections that look to tear and destroy life.

We use such terms in our language, sly as a fox, as ravenous as a wolf, gentle as a dove, etc. Such phrases are found in all languages and point to a time when thinking from correspondences was more a part of human thought. It is clear from this that the phrase, the lamb of God refers to a gentle affection and, because it is used in reference to Jesus, it refers to an affection that the Lord offers us from His Word which, if lived from, will be implanted into our life as the basis for a new sense of self. He offers us this so that we are no longer driven by the need to preserve, protect, maintain, and defend that false sense of self which only believes in itself.

The Lamb that comes to us when we look to the Word as the source of our life, is an affection for the Word itself and a desire to make it one with our life. The Lamb is a symbol of love, the Lord’s own love for the human race and when this takes its form in the human mind it does so as love to the Lord which is a desire to live from the Word and make it the centre of our life. When this is love is on the throne of our life, we are lifted from the world of missing the mark and enter more fully into the heavenly life.

And he showed me a pure river of water of life, bright as crystal, coming forth out of the throne of God and of the Lamb. In the midst of its street and of the river, from here and from there, was a tree of life producing twelve fruits: according to one month each yielding its fruit. And the leaves of the tree were for healing of the nations. And every curse will no longer be. And the throne of God and the Lamb will be in it; and His slaves will serve Him. And they will see His face; and His name will be on their foreheads. And night will not be there; and they have no need of a lamp or a light of the sun, because the Lord God will illumine them. And they shall reign to the ages of the ages. (Revelation 22:1-5)

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