Read John 1:15-34
15John testifies concerning him. He cries out, saying, "This was he of whom I said, 'He who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.'" 16From the fullness of his grace we have all received one blessing after another. 17For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18No one has ever seen God, but God the One and Only, who is at the Father's side, has made him known.
19Now this was John's testimony when the Jews of Jerusalem sent priests and Levites to ask him who he was. 20He did not fail to confess, but confessed freely, "I am not the Christ."
21They asked him, "Then who are you? Are you Elijah?" He said, "I am not." "Are you the Prophet?" He answered, "No." 22Finally they said, "Who are you? Give us an answer to take back to those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?" 23John replied in the words of Isaiah the prophet, "I am the voice of one calling in the desert, 'Make straight the way for the Lord.'"
24Now some Pharisees who had been sent 25questioned him, "Why then do you baptize if you are not the Christ, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet?" 26"I baptize with water," John replied, "but among you stands one you do not know. 27He is the one who comes after me, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie."
28This all happened at Bethany on the other side of the Jordan, where John was baptizing.
29The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, "Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! 30This is the one I meant when I said, 'A man who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.' 31I myself did not know him, but the reason I came baptizing with water was that he might be revealed to Israel."
32Then John gave this testimony: "I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him. 33I would not have known him, except that the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, 'The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is he who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.' 34I have seen and I testify that this is the Son of God." (NIV)
The Apostle John moves quickly from his introduction to introducing John the Baptist. Now the place where John was Baptizing was probably a hard day’s journey from Jerusalem. John gives us a final picture of who Jesus is in the beginning of this section. Verses 15 – 18 tell us of the wonder of Jesus and that he is the one who is God, the “one and only” (Vs 18) which is translated only begotten. The word can also mean “specially beloved.” John tells us that no one has seen God except Jesus who is at the Father’s side. John is very upfront in the beginning of his Gospel that his writing is about Jesus, Son of God and God himself.
John then tells us briefly of John the Baptist’s ministry. He was baptizing at Bethany on the other side of the Jordan. This is a place that not the same place as Bethany where Lazarus, Martha and Mary lived. They lived just outside of Jerusalem near the Mount of Olives. About a 3 to 4 mile journey from Jerusalem.
John is detailing the very first days of Jesus’s ministry. Day 0 is the encounter with John the Baptist and the priest and Levites who came to question John the Baptist about what he was doing. John answers their questions rather cryptically. To some he is direct with a “no” answer. Deeper questions he answers with Scripture. He says he is not Elijah who is supposed to come announce the Christ’s coming, but then he answers that he is fulfilling that role as a “voice in the wilderness saying ‘make straight the way for the Lord.’”
Day 1 of Jesus ministry is found in Verse 29 when Jesus comes to the Jordon where John is baptizing. In the next reading we will see the remainder of Jesus’ first week of ministry in the calling of his disciples. But here John again declares who Jesus is. The Apostle John, unlike the other Gospels wants the reader to know right away who this Jesus is. This difference is probably related to the late writing of John’s Gospel and Jesus has been preached in many places.
That leaves the question, do we believe this about Jesus, that he is the One and only and that he is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. This is the ultimate question we face in our lives. There can be no ambiguity. It is either yes or no. Now our yes does not mean that we have full understanding, but that we are beginning the journey to understanding and perfection.
Is this a choice you have made? Do you think about that choice every so often to confirm it? Do you live your life as though you believe it? Often our actions are the biggest indicator of what we believe.
Blessings and Peace