John the Baptist saw Jesus coming towards him and declared, ‘Here is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! This is he of whom I said, “After me comes a man who ranks ahead of me because he was before me.” I myself did not know him; but I came baptizing with water for this reason, that he might be revealed to Israel.’ And John testified, ‘I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him. I myself did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water said to me, “He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain is the one who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.” And I myself have seen and have testified that this is the Son of God.’
The next day John again was standing with two of his disciples, and as he watched Jesus walk by, he exclaimed, ‘Look, here is the Lamb of God!’ The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus. When Jesus turned and saw them following, he said to them, ‘What are you looking for?’ They said to him, ‘Rabbi’ (which translated means Teacher), ‘where are you staying?’ He said to them, ‘Come and see.’ They came and saw where he was staying, and they remained with him that day. It was about four o’clock in the afternoon. One of the two who heard John speak and followed him was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. He first found his brother Simon and said to him, ‘We have found the Messiah (which is translated Anointed). He brought Simon to Jesus, who looked at him and said, ‘You are Simon son of John. You are to be called Cephas’ (which is translated Peter).
John the Baptist said: After me come a man who ranks ahead of me.
In our modern society so many people have invested themselves with a sense of importance that is out of proportion with the reality of the lives they live. In earlier centuries our society was defined by a sense of hierarchy and subservience. This was often uncaring and unjust. The majority lived according to the whims and fancies of those whose power was rooted in monetary wealth. Surely there is no-one who would wish to return to such days. But … has the wheel turned too far? We are now living in a world where we are constantly bombarded with messages of entitlement. We are encouraged to recognize and bolster our sense of self-importance, even if that is at the expense of those weaker than ourselves.
In today’s reading we see John the Baptist publicly acknowledging his role as the fore-runner. His ministry was short; his ministry was remarkably successful. We read of the large numbers who flocked to hear his call to repentance. It would have been so easy for John to have seen himself as the ‘main event’. As the crowds flocked around him he might have been expected to view his ministry as being so important that giving way to the unknown man in the crowd would have been anathema to him. But, that was not what happened. Instead, John the Baptist was constantly looking for the one who would supersede him: The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!
As well as presenting us with the humility of John the Baptist, today’s reading also gives an account of the call of the first disciples. Ordinary men who had been moved by John’s message recognized that, in Jesus, something even greater was at work. They spoke with Jesus and, more importantly, they listened to his teaching and they followed him. Scripture gives us no sense of those first disciples putting their worldly affairs ahead of God’s call. Like John the Baptist, they set all aside to follow the only one who had the right to place himself before all others, Jesus, the Christ.
Today we are called to reflect upon our response to God’s call in our lives. Are we so self-obsessed that we are only prepared to espouse a faith based on our ‘right’ to follow the path we choose? Or, are we prepared to be amazed that the true King considers us to be so important to him that he continues to call us to be his disciples? Let us pray that we might set self aside and follow wherever Christ may lead us, today and every day.
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