John 1:35 The next day John again was standing with two of his disciples, 36 and as he watched Jesus walk by, he exclaimed, "Look, here is the Lamb of God!" 37 The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus. 38 When Jesus turned and saw them following, he said to them, "What are you looking for?" They said to him, "Rabbi" (which translated means Teacher), "where are you staying?" 39 He said to them, "Come and see." They came and saw where he was staying, and they remained with him that day. It was about four o'clock in the afternoon. 40 One of the two who heard John speak and followed him was Andrew, Simon Peter's brother. 41 He first found his brother Simon and said to him, "We have found the Messiah" (which is translated Anointed). 42 He brought Simon to Jesus, who looked at him and said, "You are Simon son of John. You are to be called Cephas" (which is translated Peter).
John the Baptiser is described by the Roman historian Josephus as “a good man (who) had exhorted the Jews to lead righteous lives, to practice justice towards their fellows and piety towards God , and so doing to join in baptism” (Antiquities 18:116-118). I am struck by an essential quality of his goodness – John’s willingness to step out of the spotlight.
In John’s day, the quality of a rabbi was demonstrated by the number of followers he had. The more disciples you had – the greater you were as a rabbi. The Bible passage above describes John pointing out another rabbi as being a better teacher, and allowing his students to follow Jesus. John is willing to commit the equivalent of rabinnical suicide! This is the sign of a healthy self esteem. John is able to affirm the work of another without the need to tear this work down.
Here lies a challenge for us all: to learn to affirm the gifts in people around us, instead of being threatened by them. This will only happen when we have discovered that we are loved unconditionally by God. Once I know that I am loved by God, I have no need to grasp at the love of the people around me. Instead I am set free to give love.
Prayer thought: “O Lord: allow me to know that I am loved, so that I am set free to give love”.
The first Sunday after Epiphany
7. The Son of God
The Scripture passage for the day is drawn from Reuben Job and Norman Shawchuck, A Guide to Prayer for Ministers and other Servants, (Nashville, The Upper Room 1983), 52.
This reflection is from my own devotional exercises for the day.