BIBLE READING: John 1:29-42
The Rev Jennifer Johnson suggests that a better name for John the Baptiser would be “John the Finger”. And I have begun to think that that would be a good description of John. In the religious art depicting John we see him pointing or gesturing towards Jesus – or a lamb. The mood tends to be one of amazement or submission.
There is John pointing at Jesus and saying here he is! Jesus the Lamb of God. This passage if filled with names for that Lamb. So we have John the Baptist saying, “Behold” (Look at that), and we have John the Gospel writer as well saying, “Look! Look at him as Son of God, as Rabbi, as the Messiah, as the one who baptises with the Holy Spirit. Look. Look. Look.” And if the names aren’t enough to make you do it, consider the action in the story. John the Baptist points and speaks, and two of his disciples follow Jesus.
Everything John says and does in this passage is about pointing people away from himself to Jesus. John’s message is in effect, “This isn’t about me. It’s about HIM. Yes! There he goes. He’s the one. Him. Lamb of God.”
“Don’t look at me. Look there. Over there. See? The Lamb of God.” Maybe we’re blinded – maybe we just don't see. Maybe we need to Behold! The Lamb of God
One thing you have to admire about Jesus’ apostles. They get who the finger points to. They drop John and go to see what Jesus is about. The four o’clock mentioned suggests these men likely stayed the night with Jesus, and that time motivates Andrew to become the pointer as he finds his brother Simon and tells him about (points him to) Jesus. Both Andrew and Simon become Jesus’ followers.
This is the classic image of evangelism. Its our role to point to Jesus too! To go and find our family friends and neighbours and tell them about Jesus – pointing to him as the Lamb of God who takes ways our sin! We are just like Andrew and before him John the Baptist.
But I am left wondering. John preached. John baptised. John pointed. But John did not follow. He seemed so sure at first, but later he asks from prison, “Are you the One?” Why? Was it because he, like others, expected a political Saviour? Its true it was his job to prepare the people of that day (and us) for Jesus Christ, but why does he have to be on the fringe of Jesus’ ministry? Why couldn’t have he been one of his disciples? If he’s so important that all four Gospels mention him, how come John the Baptist has such a tiny role once Jesus gets up and running? Why didn’t he hang out with Jesus, and if he did, how come the Gospel writers don’t record it?
The Hardest Question - Why didn’t he follow his own finger?
Acknowledgement: Rev Jennifer Johnson