Jan. 17, 2011
John 1:29-42

Of the four gospels, John presents what we call the “highest Christology.” From the outset, the Gospel of John presents Jesus as “…the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1). No mention is made of Mary and Joseph. No shepherds came from the hills to behold the baby Jesus, and no wise men came from afar to worship Him with gifts. While John recognizes the humanity of Jesus, this gospel writer wants us to understand very clearly, “Jesus is the Logos” (Word), and this Word is God.

Yet, there is a problem with certain people’s recognizing this. We can understand the enemies of Jesus not seeing. The revelation of God seemed to make them more entrenched in the old traditions and more averse to Jesus’ claim to be the Messiah. What is more complex is trying to understand why some of those who would be disposed to follow Jesus did not respond immediately to this revelation of God.

Take some of the disciples of John the Baptist. Throughout the gospels, this John makes clear that he is the forerunner pointing to Jesus as the Lamb of God. In spite of eccentricities, John the Baptist seems to be a charismatic, captivating figure. As sometimes happens, some folks become drawn to the messenger rather than the message. “Isn’t John wonderful,” you can almost hear people say. “I know he dresses funny and eats a strange diet, but he’s so courageous and self-assured.” Without intending, John the Baptist had developed his own congregation.

This problem needed to be faced. Jesus was God. People were to follow Jesus, not John the Baptist. So immediately after the prologue, the Gospel of John addresses this problem. John 1:29-42 deal with who Jesus is—and through the figure of John—who we are in relation to Jesus.

In John 1:29-34, John the Baptist makes clear his confession of faith. Alluding to the baptism of Jesus, John says he saw the Spirit of God descending from heaven. Twice John points out that this Spirit “remained” on Jesus. Jesus was different from other charismatic figures. The Spirit did not make occasional appearances in the life of Jesus. The Spirit and the Son were inextricably intertwined.

Picking up one of the emphases of John’s Gospel, Jesus was “abiding” in the Spirit, and the Spirit was “abiding” in Jesus. This was a strong argument for the uniqueness of Jesus. Through the revelatory event of the baptism, God had confirmed that this Jesus “…was with God and was God.” John the Baptist expresses his own deep conviction in John 1:34, “And I myself have seen and have testified that this is the Son of God.”

John 1:35-42 continue the theme by focusing on how two of John’s followers became disciples of Jesus. John the Baptist sees Jesus walk by and exclaims, “Look, here is the Lamb of God.” With those words, these two men leave John to follow Jesus. The conversation between the two and Jesus seems a little strange. “What are you looking for?” Jesus asks them. “Rabbi, where are you staying?” the disciples respond. In other words, these two men answer the question of Jesus with their own question. “Where am I staying?” Jesus then says, “Come and see.” All we know is that after that, they spent all day with Jesus. We finally learn the two men are Andrew and Simon Peter.

In the story, what happened that day to bring them to follow Jesus is not important. What is important is they followed, and as did John, they became witnesses. Andrew’s testimony to his brother is the key, “We have found the Messiah” (John 1:41).

People have different ways in which they find “the Way.” The particulars of each of our stories are different. What is important is we discover the only One who can give meaning to our stones. To that “Lamb of God,” we then spend our lives as a witness.

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