In the Gospel of John, like in the other gospels as well, the figure of John the Baptizer is deeply significant. But here in this gospel, the story and witness of John is interwoven into the magnificent 18 verse prologue. The first section of the gospel then moves onto the testimony that John offered about the one who was coming after him as he made a straight path for the Lord. When we first meet both Jesus and John together, John declares that Jesus is the ‘Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.’ He then concludes his witness by declaring that the Spirit of God has descended upon Jesus and that he is the very Son of God. So when we get to our passage for today – John 1, verses 35-42 – we already have heard much from John the Baptizer.
We are introduced to two of his disciples, and he again points them to look at and follow Jesus, because he alone is the Lamb of God. In the other gospels we meet the first disciples of Jesus and know only that they are common fishermen who leave behind their professions in order to follow after Jesus. But here we see that they already had a teacher and master in John. But John demonstrates his strength of character and conviction by directing his rightful followers to the true master, Jesus. “When the two disciples heard him say this, they followed Jesus.”
And what happens to John the Baptizer after this? He simply disappears from the Gospel story. He has done all that he needed to do. He has prepared disciples to make them ready to meet the Lord. He introduces them to Jesus, the son of God – and then he steps away to allow them to be formed by their new master.
This holy detachment immediately bears great fruit. We are told that one of the two was Andrew, who goes to find his brother Simon Peter to introduce him to the Lord as well. First he shares with Simon all that he knows about Jesus, but then he brings him to meet the Messiah personally.
What extraordinary figures to guide us as disciples of Jesus in this new year!
Sunday 2, Year B.