January 19, 2020 | Pastor Tim Dean
Our reading today from the Gospel of John today made me think of a compass.
We meet John the Baptist again. Except in the Gospel of John, the figure of John is not so much the Baptist, as he is the Witness. He points to Jesus.
Our reading starts with John literally pointing to Jesus: “Here is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” John discusses his role of baptizing so that Jesus is revealed.
Then the next day, John again points out Jesus, but this time he shows two of his own disciples. “Look, here is the Lamb of God.” (1:35) And those disciples begin to follow Jesus, and not John. They realign their compass toward Jesus.
A few verses earlier in this wonderful chapter, the author describes who John is. John “came as a witness to testify to the light…. He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light.
It’s interesting in the fourth gospel, John is not shown baptizing Jesus. He talks about baptizing, but there is no mention of repentance or the kingdom of God, like other gospels. Instead, John is there to witness, reveal, testify – or what I imagine – magnetically align with the Lamb, the Son, the Word, the true light. John is the compass who points true north, to Jesus.
The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world
John’s purpose is our purpose this Epiphany, dear friends. We are not the light, but we are to bear witness to the light. We are like little magnets who point to the big magnet, Jesus.
The gospel invites us: will we be like John the Witness and point to where we see and experience Christ?
Maybe the words “witness” or “testimony” are hard for us to get our minds around, let alone say. We often think of court testimony.
But if we follow John’s lead, it’s something different, more vibrant and dynamic. It is to tell in one’s own words where Jesus and his love are present. It is to be enveloped in the ocean of God’s love, and describe to someone else where it is.
point to Jesus through our ordinary, daily lives, without even saying a word
But sometimes it is necessary to use words, to give voice to where we have experienced the presence and life-altering love of Christ.
Pastor Driesell shares these examples from people she has met:
“It was when my brother was dying I realized, I saw, I sensed, a comfort, a peace, a transcended word.
“Or it was one lonely night on a military ship far out at sea, far away from everything I knew… I was feeling so small against the vast sky and the endless clusters of stars and galaxies when I became aware of a presence, a connection, an assurance.
“Or it was my first year of college. In a moment of deep confusion and doubt I admitted to myself I couldn’t believe anymore—not the things I had grown up believing—and it was the surprising assurance in that moment that love had not abandoned me.” (The Rev. Pam Driesell, day1.org, 1-19-14)
These are examples, from people like you and me, that point to Christ and his abiding light and love. John the Witness gives us the courage to share in our own way, what abundant life looks like and feels like.
Maybe one of these examples resonates with your story, or maybe you would point to other ways that God has shown up in your life.
In your call to be a parent. In something that has inspired you to speak with honesty and courage. In your work to provide a warm meal and a smile to someone who is lonely.
We are called to point to where Jesus is
The Lamb whose death and resurrection has bridged the separation between God and creation. The Son who shows God’s glory as a human being. The Word whose love conquers hate.
Today, this week, every week, we are invited to speak and act as pointers. We are not the Light, but we are here to share our “little” lights.
“This little compass of mine I’m gonna let it spin….” Doesn’t really have quite the same ring, does it?
But this is what we are called to be and do—point to our “true north,” the Lamb of God, the Word living with us.
Here is Jesus. Come and see!