Preparing the Way

Our call is to prepare the way for Jesus, much like this construction workers.

Second Sunday After Epiphany | January 19, 2020

Isaiah 49:1-7 • Psalm 40:1-11 • 1 Corinthians 1:1-9 • John 1:29-42

29 The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! 30 He is the one I was talking about when I said, ‘A man is coming after me who is far greater than I am, for he existed long before me.’ 31 I did not recognize him as the Messiah, but I have been baptizing with water so that he might be revealed to Israel.”

32 Then John testified, “I saw the Holy Spirit descending like a dove from heaven and resting upon him. 33 I didn’t know he was the one, but when God sent me to baptize with water, he told me, ‘The one on whom you see the Spirit descend and rest is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’ 34 I saw this happen to Jesus, so I testify that he is the Chosen One of God.”

35 The following day John was again standing with two of his disciples. 36 As Jesus walked by, John looked at him and declared, “Look! There is the Lamb of God!” 37 When John’s two disciples heard this, they followed Jesus.

38 Jesus looked around and saw them following. “What do you want?” he asked them.

They replied, “Rabbi” (which means “Teacher”), “where are you staying?”

39 “Come and see,” he said. It was about four o’clock in the afternoon when they went with him to the place where he was staying, and they remained with him the rest of the day.

40 Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, was one of these men who heard what John said and then followed Jesus. 41 Andrew went to find his brother, Simon, and told him, “We have found the Messiah” (which means “Christ”).

42 Then Andrew brought Simon to meet Jesus. Looking intently at Simon, Jesus said, “Your name is Simon, son of John—but you will be called Cephas” (which means “Peter”).

John 1:29-42 New Living Translation (NLT)


Last week was The Baptism of our Lord. We looked at the scripture from the gospel of Matthew. This week’s scripture is the next day from John’s gospel. John, as usual, gives us a little different perspective than the synoptic (meaning “seeing together) gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke. John doesn’t describe the baptism directly, but through John the Baptist’s testimony we understand that he has recently baptized Jesus.

Last week I asked the question, “Why did Jesus need to be baptized?” John wanted to know and Jesus told them it was required because that’s what God required. John baptizes Jesus – and like the other accounts we know that Holy Spirit descends like a dove. John relays to the crowd that God the Father told him that “The one on whom you see the Spirit descend and rest is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.” John the Baptist now knows that Jesus is the Messiah – the Chosen One – the One written in the prophets. It is this Messiah that will save the people from their sins – it is this Messiah that is the Lamb of God who will take away the sins of the world.

John knows that his part in the gospel story is coming to a close. He is the forerunner to Jesus – he is the one who is designated to prepare the way for Jesus. He has been doing this and now reveals to the Jewish people that Jesus is the fulfillment of their prophecies.

The next day after the above day, John is standing with his disciples – perhaps they weren’t there the day before – but again he declares as Jesus approaches…”Look! There is the Lamb of God.” They immediately leave John the Baptist and go to follow Jesus. They are the first of the disciples. Did you ever think about how John the Baptist felt – losing his own disciples to another teacher? Apparently word spread quickly that Jesus was the promised Messiah – but they also recognized Him as a teacher – for they called him Rabbi. Two days after his baptism and Jesus has already started developing a following.

I find it interesting in all this that John the Baptist revealed to those around him that Jesus was the Messiah. He had been preparing the way for Jesus. He knew that he was simply the forerunner – the message bearer that the true light was coming into the world. Once he declares Jesus as the Lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world, John the Baptist fades from the limelight.

John the Baptist did a great job in testifying to the light. That is what we are supposed to do. We are now solidly in the season of Epiphany. This season’s theme is to follow the mission of Jesus. We learn that Jesus speaks much of building the Kingdom of God. John the Baptist knew that for Jesus to get the glory – to give glory to the Father in heaven, that he must decrease.

This conversation happens in chapter 3. Both John the Baptist and Jesus are baptizing and John’s disciples are upset because more people are going to Jesus. John knows his place – that he is simply preparing the way – that he is not the Messiah. John is not jealous of Jesus’ success – something that can’t be said of the Pharisees. John replies to his disciples:

He must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less.

John 3:30

And that’s how it should be with us. We are not the Messiah – even though there are times we get a Messiah complex. We are called to prepare the way for Jesus – make the highway straight – to call people to repentance – to call people toward God’s salvation – to call people toward Jesus – and then get out of the way. God calls us to be humble. I was going to say like Jesus, but in this case…we can learn something from John the Baptist. He must increase. I must decrease. Amen!

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