Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Called to Faith

Lectionary Text: John 1:29-42 (NRSV)

We are now well-into the Season after the Epiphany.  This season is book-ended with the Baptism of the Lord and his Transfiguration.  One of the themes is the call of the disciples.  As modern disciples, I will continue to explore how we are called to various dimensions of faith as we seek to grasp a direction from scripture in our lives today.  Last week, we looked at being "Called to Witness" and this week, we will look at being "Called to Faith."

John was the same age as Jesus (according to Luke).
How would you imagine him hanging out today
 with two of his disciples?
Within Sunday's text, we see the echos of the ministry of John the Baptist.  He is the one who baptizes Jesus and "prepares the way of the Lord."  Luke informs us that John is actually a cousin of Jesus.  This makes us scratch our heads a little because today's reading has John stating not once but twice, "I myself did not know him."  Within that culture and time, it would have been incredulous to not have met a relative living in the region. 

We must remember that John's Gospel was written more for doctrine than for historical account.

It is possible that John (the author, not the Baptizer) has him make this claim with intent to the faith rather than relational knowledge.  We see that John the Baptist never follows Jesus as a disciple even though he was a witness to the Holy Spirit's descent upon Jesus.

But in today's text we do see two of John's disciples leave their old master behind and follow Jesus.  As disciples of John, it is possible that they were also witnesses to the baptism of Jesus.  One of them remains unnamed but the other is the fisherman, Andrew.  He is responsible for bringing his more famous brother Peter to faith.  This account varies some from how Mark (the first recorded Gospel) shares it.

What is fascinating to me about this account is how all seem to point to Jesus.  John, who is not a disciple, points to Jesus.  He twice refers to him as the "Lamb of God."  This symbolism is rich in Christian history and you may have heard the Latin translation "Agnus Dei" sung in worship before.

The older tradition of Holy Communion (found in A Service of Word and Table IV in the Hymnal) utilizes this as we sing together:
O Lamb of God, that takest away the sins of the world, have mercy upon us.  O Lamb of God, that takest away the sins of the world, have mercy upon us.  O Lamb of God, that takest away the sins of the world, grant us thy peace.       
Andrew then also points to Jesus as he is the first (in John's account that is) disciple to declare that Jesus is the Christ (the Messiah).  Each seems to be faithful in their own way.

This is similar to us today.   All are called to faith.  We each may respond in ways that are unique to our place and time.  So how do we interpret this for our lives?  And how does our interpretation point to Jesus?  We'll continue to explore this on Sunday as we worship together!

In Christ,


Photo by Brandon via Flickr.com.  Used under the Creative Commons license.

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