Sunday, 12/ 11/11
We have a reading from Chapter One of John’s Gospel. It is one of the most mysterious passages in all of Scripture. Let’s look at it slowly.
John said he was sent from God to testify to the light. In saying he was sent from God he was saying that his whole life was a mission. The purpose of that mission, as he described it, was to testify to the light so that all might believe in the light.
By saying he was sent to testify to the light we presume he meant he was to testify to some person who was worthy of the all-embracing title “The Light.”
One day Jesus came quietly and joined all the others who waded out to be baptized by John the Baptist. The next day John spoke of that historic confrontation. He said, “I did not know him. Even though the reason I had come baptizing with water was to make him known, I didn’t know him.” But after Jesus came up from the water a dove came down and settled on him, and from that John knew that Jesus was the Messiah.
Later in this Chapter One we read how John had been told that when he saw the Spirit come down and remain on someone that would be the one for whom he was sent. Let me quote just what he said in verse 31 of this chapter. He said, “I did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, ‘On whomever you see the Spirit come down and remain he is the one who will baptize with the holy Spirit.’”
There he said, “The one who sent me told me.” Now, you might think I am crazy about this, but I have wondered just how did the one who sent him go about telling him to look out for the Spirit coming down on someone. I mean, did God’s words come to him in a dream, or did they come as a voice from the sky, or what?
I believe that when we meditate on the Scriptures we are supposed to let our minds wander over possible explanations for mysterious happenings. That’s what I did. Listen to my flight of imagination.
On a day like any other day in the thousands John had spent alone in the desert his attention was caught by a green hillside that was out of place in the dry landscape. When he came closer to that patch of green he saw a lovely white lamb resting on the grass. He stood, amazed by the beautiful scene, then as he watched, he saw a dove flutter down from nowhere and not only touch on the lamb, but come to rest on the lamb.
He took that to be a sign from God telling him that would be the way he would recognize the Messiah. If it had happened that way it would explain why when he pointed out the Messiah, instead of saying, “Behold the Messiah!” he said, “Behold the Lamb of God!!”