Archive for January 24th, 2007

A Reflection of the Light

Wednesday, January 24th, 2007

Today’s scripture: John 1:19-34 (NRSV) (The Message)

As you read, consider: What might God be saying to me? Summarize your thoughts in a sentence or two.

My thoughts (Theresa Benson):

Let’s take a look at the group of people who came to see John the Baptist and what was going on in Bethany.

In many traditional Christian interpretations, it seems that Jesus and the Pharisees are often pitted against each other; in fact, on one Christian website it says “most of the Pharisees were enemies of Christ.” I have a feeling, however, that the Pharisees Jesus was frustrated with may have been unrepresentative of the entire group.

The word Pharisee comes from the Hebrew p’rushim, meaning “explainers.” Of the three main Jewish sects at the time (Pharisee, Sadducee, and Essene), the Pharisees had some pretty progressive ideas for their time, including one that said, “God gave all the people the heritage, the kingdom, the priesthood, and the holiness.” According to Jewish scholars, the Pharisaic position is best summed up by the statement: “A learned [outcast] takes precedence over an ignorant High Priest.”

The Pharisees tended to be middle-class, and they had the masses for their allies. They were said to hold the greatest authority over the congregations, so that everything to do with worship took place according to their instructions.

They waited for the Kingdom of God, consoling themselves in the meantime with study of the Law. “He who takes upon himself the yoke of the Torah, the yoke of the worldly kingdom and of worldly care, will be removed from him.”

So.

How appropriate that it’s this group of popular and progressive leaders that makes the trek to see what’s happening. Can’t you just see their trip almost as a metaphoric bridge between the strict Judaic traditions of the time and Jesus?

And they ask John, “Who are you?”

This is his big break — he has the ear of a group of people with tremendous influence in society, they’re expectant and trying to figure out what’s going on. What if he were to play his “politics” right and just maybe hint a little bit that he might be who they’re looking for?

Nope, not John.

He doesn’t even puff himself up a tad bit, either, instead saying he’s not worthy to untie Jesus’ sandals! Now, come on! Admitting you’re not “The One” is one thing, but telling these guys, the popular ones, the powerful ones, that you’re the lowest man on the totem pole!? Why not say, “No, I’m not Him, but I’m his right-hand man — he and I go way back.”

John knew his purpose and knew how important it was that he fulfill it as God wanted him to. When they asked him, in essence, “If you’re not him, why bother with the whole water-baptism thing?”, he didn’t skip a beat.

And this is the guy God chose to give first witness to Jesus and the Holy Spirit. A person who was humble but confident in who he is, who chose God over fame, who knew his purpose and lived to fulfill it regardless of the personal and professional sacrifices he might have to make.

What an inspirational example of how to live and give witness to Jesus and the Spirit in our own lives!

Thought for the day: What can I do to be a witness to Christ like John was? How can I let God shine through my life today?

Today, let’s join together in prayer for: Pastor Jeff Miner.

We encourage you to include a time of prayer with this reading. Use the item above as a starting point, or consider the guidelines on the How to Pray page.

"Be still, and know that I am God." Psalm 46:10
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