Behold the Lamb of God
I wonder if anyone understood John the Baptist when he called Jesus the Lamb of God. Did they associate that name with the paschal lamb whose blood protected the Israelites from the Angel of Death? After Jesus’ death and resurrection, the apostles began to understand that Jesus’ blood, shed on the cross, freed us all from sin and death. Yet here is the Baptizer already acting like a disciple before Jesus has gathered any disciples or even begun to preach. In today’s Gospel, John the Baptist gives us some hints about discipleship.
First, John trusts God with things he does not understand. He says twice that he did not know Jesus, yet he trusts God’s revelation that Jesus would “baptize with the Holy Spirit” (John 1:33). We also may not always understand where God is leading us. If you have lost a loved one, are looking for work when no one is hiring, or are dealing with serious illness, this is the time to trust that God still loves and cares for you.
John also knew that doing God’s work meant that God was working through him. Originally John baptized others as sign of repentance, but he soon came to see that his real work was to make Jesus “known to Israel” (John 1:31). When we try to do what God wants, it is good to remember that God is the one in control and who decides what the result will be. What looks like failure to us can be success in God’s eyes.
John’s third hint teaches us that a disciple shares his or her faith in God. So John testifies that Jesus is the Son of God. While that sounds obvious to us, it took courage to say that to people who would have thought it blasphemy. Even today, when Jesus is known throughout the world, we still need to share our faith experiences so those without faith may be attracted to it, and even those with faith can be encouraged by our sharing. You may be surprised to find that your own faith deepens the more you share it with others. As we point out the Lamb of God to those who don’t know him, we get to know him better ourselves.
Tom Schmidt, Copyright © J. S. Paluch Co.