Bible Readings: John 1:19-34
Free Resources: Connecting the Dots (Cross+Gen Worship)
Unit Theme (December 31—January 21): Encountering the Messiah
In the Narrative Lectionary, we now move in earnest into the narrative of the Gospel of John. We have made it through the poetry of the Prologue (John 1:1-18) and the story of the Nativity (Luke 2:1-20), and now we encounter John. This John, of course, is not the one who by tradition gives this Gospel its name. This John is not given the title of “Baptist” or “Baptizer” used by the Synoptics. This John, however, like all of the other versions of him, is clear on his purpose: pointing to Jesus as the promised Messiah.
John Pointing to Jesus
Here, John clearly sees his mission as pointing to Jesus, not himself. He makes “straight the way of the Lord” (John 1:23). John is famous (or infamous) and it is safe to assume that, as in the Synoptics, the people of Judea flock to him. Otherwise, why would the Pharisees and Levites come out to interview him? The religious authorities indirectly challenge John’s authority by asking him, “Who are you?” (Anyone else reminded of the Caterpillar in Alice in Wonderland?). But, John answers in the negative, until he proclaims his identity. He is the one whose work it is to point to the Messiah.
John also points to Jesus in the second story in our assigned passage. “Here is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (v. 29). I cannot picture this scene without imagining John lifting his hand and literally pointing to Jesus. In fact, most paintings of John show him doing just this.
The Gospel Pointing to Jesus
The author of the fourth Gospel himself (most likely a male author) declares his intention in writing: “But these are written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name” (John 20:31). This entire Gospel is written to point to Jesus, saying, “This is the one whom God sent! This is the one to whom you can trust your whole life!” Everything written in this Gospel proclaims Jesus.
Are We Pointing to Jesus?
As we are about to move into a new year, many enter a reflective mood. The questions we should ask ourselves, and challenge the disciples in our care are: How are we pointing to Jesus? Do our words and actions, clearly point to the Jesus we encounter in Scripture? In reality, the Sunday after Christmas (the morning of New Year’s Eve) is not your most well-attended worship service. However, the season of (or after) Epiphany is all about encountering Jesus, about learning who Jesus is. We encounter Jesus so that we can point to him. As disciples of Christ, it is our call to grow in faith, pointing to Jesus with everything we do.
Our free resource this week is an activity that can be used as a visual aid, demonstrating the work of John called “Connecting the Dots.” It comes from our Living the Word: Cross+Gen Worship resource.
For more great ideas on how to engage participants of all ages in the story of God’s love, check out our Living the Word series for elementary students, youth, adults, and intergenerational settings!
-Gregory Rawn (Publisher)
Image Copyright: wavebreakmediamicro / 123RF Stock Photo