The upper section shows John the Baptist, who hoists above his head a scroll upon which is written in Latin: Ecce Agnus Dei, “Behold the Lamb of God.” This is the prophetic description of Jesus Christ, the one who is “The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). John carries a staff in the shape of a cross.
John was a dramatic preacher who predicted that the Kingdom of God was coming soon. He called people to repent and be baptized. When he baptized Jesus, he saw the Holy Spirit descend upon Jesus in the form of a dove, and heard God say “This is my Beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”
“The phrase Lamb of God comes from the Old Testament sacrifices. Sin puts every individual under sentence of death, which is literally separation from God. But in Old Testament times God accepted the death of an animal as substitute for the death of a person. Further sin meant repeated sacrifices. Jesus was to die to give his life once and for all, sacrificed like a lamb for human sin throughout the ages.”
p. 534, Eerdman’s Handbook to the Bible, 1973
The lower section depicts the call of Matthew, a tax collector, to join Jesus’ band of disciples. Matthew went on to write the Gospel of Matthew, his testimony of Jesus’ life.
As Jesus went on from there, He saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax collector’s booth. ‘Follow me,’ He told him, and Matthew got up and followed Him.
Tax collectors were one of the most despised of professions in that culture. They worked for the hated Romans, they gouged people for taxes, and then they skimmed off a large percentage of the tax revenues and lined their own pockets. No self-respecting Pharisee [religious rulers] would ever have dinner with someone as despicable as Matthew. Jesus offers, to Matthew and to you, Grace instead of rebuke, acceptance instead of judgment, mercy instead of recrimination, an invitation to come and be with someone instead of rejection and casting away. Jesus is the One who calls us to Himself in the midst of our deepest trials and worst days of our lives, when everyone else has rejected us and run the other way. Jesus is the Savior who seeks us out and calls us to Himself. Will you rise up and follow Him?
The Purves Window was presented in memory of George Tybout Purves (1852-1901), the sixth minister of First Presbyterian Church of Pittsburgh who served from 1886 to 1892