John the Baptist’s ascetic practices of self-discipline and prayer
distinguish him as one who sought union with God. His intimacy
with God leads to his discernment of being chosen for a
holy task: to prepare the way for “a man who ranks ahead of me
because he was before me.”
In the Fourth Gospel, Jesus’ baptism—with its descent of
the Spirit on Jesus—identifies Jesus as the one for whom John
has waited. In this Gospel, we read of no kinship with Jesus
or foreknowledge of Jesus by John. Twice in this passage John
states, “I myself did not know him.”
So John steps onto the stage as narrator to report the account
of Jesus’ baptism and its significance: ”I myself have seen and
have testified that this is the Son of God.” We cannot overemphasize
the importance of John’s testimony. By the time Jesus
begins his public ministry, John has many followers. He has
become well known because of his fervent preaching of repentance
for sin. Furthermore, John gives people a way to move
closer to God through a baptism that combined symbolic cleansing
from sin with anointing for holy living.
Thus when Jesus appears, John carries great spiritual
authority with the people. His acknowledgment and endorsement
of Jesus as the Lamb of God carries a lot of weight with
his own followers and the general community. As we see in
the next verses, John’s testimony intrigues two of his disciples
enough that they follow Jesus and study with him for the day.
Like John, we too can testify publicly to what we know
about Jesus. We need not know the results; we simply rest
assured that God will use it for good.
O Holy Mystery, give me vision to see you at work in the world and the courage to proclaim your presence. Amen.
The theme of God’s calling all believers to a life of ministry runs through all four of this week’s scripture passages. We discover that God’s call always requires a response! The Isaiah passage, one of the Servant Songs that points to Jesus, reminds us that God is the one who pursues and calls. The psalmist exemplifies the call to give witness when God shows up and is found to be faithful. In the opening of his letter to the church in Corinth, Paul reminds us of his own calling and then goes on to emphasize that all are called by God and set apart for ministry. And in John’s Gospel, we receive an example of testifying to God’s presence in our lives and the important calling of bringing others to Jesus.
• Read Isaiah 49:1-7. How has God taken the initiative to work in your life and call you to faith? What mission has God given you?
• Read Psalm 40:1-11. List the ways that God has been faithful to you in showing up and answering your prayers. How have you given witness to God’s faithfulness?
• Read 1 Corinthians 1:1-9. What gifts has God given you to fulfill your calling to ministry?
• Read John 1:29-42. How might you cultivate the discipline of “mindfulness” in your spiritual life?
Respond by posting a prayer.