Today’s Scripture Focus: John 1:29-42
“Who are you?” That’s what the authorities want to know about John because of his reputation as a “baptizer”. Baptism was something done for those converting to Judaism, but John baptized Jews. What gave him the authority to do this? When questioned, John makes clear who he is not: Messiah, Elijah, or the Prophet. These were three people foretold in Israel’s scriptures who would usher in a new day for God’s people. John’s message of repentance fit with this theme. If he were not one of these, then who was he? John identifies himself simply as a voice preparing the way of the Lord. If Jesus is the Word, then John is the Voice.
On the very first day of Jesus’ public ministry, John begins his role as the Voice by pointing Jesus out and proclaiming “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world” (there’s that word again). John’s hearers would have thought of the innocent Lamb led to slaughter as foretold in Isaiah 53, a passage identified with Messiah (“Anointed One”). Although there’s no account of John baptizing Jesus in the fourth Gospel, we have the Baptizer’s testimorny of seeing the Holy Spirit descend “as a dove” and remain on Jesus, identifying him as the one for whom John has been getting everyone ready. John was proclaiming Jesus as Messiah.
The next day (another phrase unique to John and harking back to Genesis 1), John again shouts out “Look! The Lamb of God!” To whom was John calling out? We know John had a group of followers—disciples—who viewed John as a rabbi or teacher, traveled with him, and assisted him in his ministry of baptism. Disciples staked their lives on the teaching of their master—they had to be very sure they were following someone who was telling the truth. So, if John continued to point out an even greater teacher—one whom John claims he is not even worthy to serve as a slave—perhaps it is time for John’s disciples to change rabbis.
While the other Gospels give accounts of Jesus seeking out followers, in John’s account the disciples seek out Jesus. The first two are Andrew and an unnamed disciple, most likely John the Apostle himself. Leaving John the Baptist, they investigate Jesus, who invites them to “come and see”. They saw, and never turned back. Immediately, they invited others to come. John the Baptist plays a part in the first five chapters of John’s Gospel. Each time he is mentioned, he is using his influence to point others to Christ. How about you? Others will be paying attention to you this week—will you be a voice for the Word to your followers?
- Go around the table and share prayer requests. Have someone lead in prayer.
- Let everyone who would like to share anything exciting from their week.
- Ask these three questions. Let as many answer each one as they would like.
We all have followers – people with whom we interact and whom we influence. Add up how many people you will likely speak with this week (family, friends, co-workers, social media, grocery store, etc). Do you have more followers than you thought?
Is there anything in today’s scripture that especially speaks to you?
What questions would you like to ask about today’s scripture?