January 16, 2005 - Epiphany 2
1: 29 The next day John saw Jesus coming towards him and said, "There is the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world. 30 It is he of whom I said: A man comes after me who is already ahead of me, for he was before me. 31 I myself did not know him, but I came baptizing to prepare for him, so that he might be revealed in Israel."
32 And John also gave this testimony, "I saw the Spirit coming down on him like a dove from heaven and resting on him. 33 I myself did not know him but God who sent me to baptize told me: 'You will see the Spirit coming down and resting on the one who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.' 34 Yes, I have seen! and I declare that this is the Chosen One of God."
• 35 On the following day John was standing there again with two of his disciples. 36 As Jesus walked by, John looked at him and said, "There is the Lamb of God." 37 On hearing this, the two disciples followed Jesus. 38 He turned and saw them following, and he said to them, "What are you looking for?" They answered, "Rabbi (which means Master), where are you staying?" 39 Jesus said, "Come and see." So they went and saw where he stayed and spent the rest of that day with him. It was about four o'clock in the afternoon.
40 Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter, was one of the two who heard what John had said and followed Jesus. 41 Early the next morning he found his brother Simon and said to him, "We have found the Messiah" (which means the Christ), 42 and he brought Simon to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said, "You are Simon, son of John, but you shall be called Cephas" (which means Rock).
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The authorities wondered: "Who is this who on his own initiative has begun to preach?" At that time, various Jewish groups "baptized," or bathed, as a means of purification and to hasten the coming of the Messiah.
The Messiah is the name the Jews gave to the expected Savior. They also expected the Prophet, but it was not clear whether or not the Prophet would be someone other than the Messiah. It was believed that the prophet Elijah would reappear before the Messiah's arrival (Mk 9:11).
There is the Lamb (v. 29). In the language of the Jews, the word "Lamb" can mean both servant and lamb. Jesus is the Servant of God spoken of by the prophets, who was to sacrifice himself for his brothers and sisters. He is also the true Lamb that replaces the Paschal Lamb (Mk 14:12).
A man comes after me (v. 30). In history, Jesus appears after John, but being the Word of God, he existed before all creatures. He also precedes, that is to say, all including John the Baptist are guided by his light.
• 35. DISCOVERING JESUS
This Gospel is the work of John the Evangelist who should not be confused with John the Baptist. John the Evangelist was one of the first two disciples to follow Jesus (v. 39).
John, concerned about helping us understand the profound meaning of Jesus' actions, dwells on details to which we would not immediately pay attention. For example, the Bible begins with the poem describing Creation as happening in seven days, and because John sees Jesus' work as a new creation, he describes the beginning of Jesus' public ministry as happening within a week (seven being a symbolic number) (vv. 29, 35, 43 and 2:1).
On the first day John the Baptist affirmed: there is one among you whom you do not know. We see how, during the week, John the Baptist was the first to discover Jesus. Then later, John, Andrew and Simon also discovered him. The last day of the first week will be at the wedding in Cana, where Jesus will let them discover his glory.
What are you looking for? (v. 38). John did not forget these first words Jesus spoke to them. We want to know who Jesus is, but he asks us what our inner dispositions are: because we will gain nothing through finding him unless we are disposed to submit ourselves to him.
These two disciples began to live with Jesus. With time, they would discover that he is the Teacher, the Messiah, the Son of God. So, too, with us. We progress in this knowledge of Jesus Christ as we go on our journey through life.
John the Baptist was without jealousy; he had encouraged his disciples to follow Jesus, and later the first two brought others. Likewise, we come to Jesus because of another person who spoke to us of him, or involved us in an apostolic task.
These two disciples recognized Jesus. It would be more exact to say that Jesus recognized those whom the Father had entrusted to him. Thus he recognized Nathanael when he was under the fig tree (v. 48). Among the Jews, this expression referred to a teacher of the Law engaged in teaching religion, since ordinarily they taught under the shade of a tree. In the same way, Jesus recognized Simon whom the Father chose to be the first Rock of the Church (Mt 16:13).
You will see the heavens opened. See Genesis 28:12.
[The Community Christian Bible]
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1. We declare what we know, what we have experienced. John, not knowing Jesus as other than cousin, finally came to see him in a larger light. It is difficult to be recognized in your own hometown or family. This speaks well of John's openness. The question is now transferred to you and me. How open are we to seeing others in a new and larger light. Will we only see them as they have been to us or will we catch a glimpse of who they might become. As with the word "namaste", will the divine in me honor the divine in you?
2. The day after the baptism and dove scene we have John standing around. This feels unusual for John, whom I visualize as having great elan vital. I almost see him as being stunned and wondering what now. Around John we see Jesus circling, coming again and again. Each time John simply says, "There is the Lamb of God." I don't know whether that was said questioningly, bemusedly, wonderingly, affirmingly, confusedly or some other way.
How do you say, "Jesus is the Lamb of God." Just try repeating that line as honestly as you can and see if there is a shift that goes on and if you end up saying it differently at the end than you do at the beginning.
3. Use your imagination. Where do you see Jesus leading those followers of John? Did he continue to lead them around John to hear him say, "There is the Lamb of God" in a variety of ways to open them to the nuances of the statement? Did the rest of the day consist of prayer? Was instruction given in recruiting others? Did they witness other signs of Jesus before the public one at Cana? Where would you want Jesus to lead you for a day? Remember it would be a far different and intense day than you may imagine, but it is still important to identify where you think you might most fruitfully be led by Jesus. It may be somewhere within your own comfort zone of your natural inclinations. It may be into a very awkward, for you, situation. Where do you think Jesus would lead you that you might spiritually and relationally grow? Well, what's keeping you from striking out and going there today?