National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC/Samuel H. Kress Collection 1939.1.291

John the Baptist points to Jesus (not shown) in this panel from Pisa, Italy, painted by the Sienese artist Lippo Memmi in about 1325. John’s Latin scroll reads: Ecce Agnus Dei, “Behold the Lamb of God.” The Synoptic Gospels present John as a powerful preacher who urges his followers to repent and prepare for judgment day. The Gospel of John’s lengthy description of the Baptist focuses instead on his subordinate role as a witness to Jesus. When the Baptist utters the words “Behold the Lamb of God” in the Gospel of John (1:36), he is directing his own disciples to go follow Jesus. According to the Fourth Gospel, Jesus obtained at least two of his first disciples this way.