23 February 2012

John 1:29-34

"And I myself have seen and have testified that this is the Son of God" (v. 34)


One of the issues confronting the early Christians and reflected here in John's Gospel concerns the relationship between John the Baptist and Jesus. It is likely that the Gospel was written in a situation where some Christians still saw themselves as followers of John the Baptist, or descendants of those who were. John the Baptist was clearly an important figure in the stories about Jesus and all four Gospels link Jesus closely with John. But what was the link and where did John fit into the bigger picture? 

John's Gospel portrays John the Baptist as someone who is not important in his own right, but as a witness to the one who was far more important than he was, someone still to come - Jesus. The writer establishes this right from the start, lest there be any doubt, with the explanation that, "He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light. The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world." (John 1:8-9

Maybe the story reflects, as do some of Paul's letters (eg 1 Corinthians 1:10-17), that there was a danger in the Early Church as there has always been and still is, that people sometimes show allegiance to particular individuals, ecclesiologies, theologies or parties. This can get in the way of what really matters, following Jesus who is the Christ, the light of the world (John 8:129:5). 

John the Baptist is not the person to follow, as he himself makes clear. His role is that of a witness, and a very strong one, to Jesus. His testimony couldn't be much stronger than what is quoted in verse 34, "I myself have seen and have testified that this is the Son of God." 

To Ponder

What things are there about you that get in the way of your witness to the good news about Jesus, the light of the world?

How can you focus on the things that really matter and not distracted by or committed to things that are not very important?

Bible notes author

The Revd David Gamble

David Gamble is a Methodist minister currently serving as conference officer for Legal and Constitutional Practice and was president of the Methodist Conference 2009/2010. He is married to Liz and they have three adult children.