“From John to Jesus”
Names are funny things, especially when one is called by name and others, who do not know that name, testify to its validity. In John 1:35-42, John has just baptized Jesus. Later, when John sees Jesus, even among John’s own disciples, he declares, “Look! There is the Lamb of God!” (1:36, NLT) John and his disciples proceed to follow Jesus. Then Jesus responds, asking, “What do you want?”
Jesus’ query suggests that not only does he know who he is, the Lamb of God, but also that others can see that essence upon him; he is a walking salutation! However, what is most ironic about this passage is that John willfully relinquishes his power in order for him and his disciples to follow Omnipotence.
Perhaps our Lenten focus should be on the importance of leadership. The utterance of seven, simple words transfers a whole group’s discipline from one leader, John, to another, Jesus. John’s leadership precedes him, i.e., John cultivates a level of trust in his disciples inasmuch as they take John at his word, believing that he would never lead them into a situation where he would not be standing there with them. John does not prepare his disciples to be followers only to remain so preoccupied with his own leadership that he can no longer follow, even the Messiah.
This Lenten season, let us never forget that John’s act of humility is a marker for us all: we should take seriously that along this journey, we will inevitably encounter the One who is greater than we ourselves. And if it is that our own pride hinders us from taking up the role we once occupied as a follower, then those who follow us may be just as hindered as we are in coming and seeing the Messiah.
Israel A. Durham
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