The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! This is the one I meant when I said, ‘A man who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’ I myself did not know him, but the reason I came baptizing with water was that he might be revealed to Israel.” Then John gave this testimony: “I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him. And I myself did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, ‘The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’
I have seen and I testify that this is God’s Chosen One.” (NIV)
Why are you doing what you do? Is your profession a calling? Is your work something you planned from the beginning or something that just kind of happened by coincidence or certain doors being opened for you? Or something that needs done and there is only you to do it? Everyone has a story of how they ended up doing what they are doing and why they are still doing it. I talk about my story as a ‘twisty-turny path that led me straight where I needed to be.’ I’ll tell that story sometime, but not today. Today I want to stick with John’s story.
John is quoting John the Baptizer telling his “Why.” He is baptizing in the Jordan, calling people to repentance for one reason… to prepare the way for the one ‘who takes away the sin of the world.’ John tells us so in verse 31: ‘I myself did not know him, but the reason I came baptizing with water was that he might be revealed to Israel.’ He is getting people warmed up to hear Jesus. In a way, he puts himself and Jesus in a ‘good cop/bad cop’ scenario. John ‘roughs people up’ calling them to account for their sin in preparation for Jesus to come on with the deal designed to open them right up; healing, feeding, grace and mercy.
John’s baptism is good. It brings forgiveness. It restores the connection with God. It gives hope. But it is for now. It will need to be done again. Jesus’ baptism is better. Not because it is ‘Christian.’ That didn’t exist yet. Because it was eternal. Jesus’ baptism changes a person in a way that cannot be undone. It is like baking bread. The flour, water, yeast and oil go in the bowl and get all mixed up and they can never be separated out into their individual parts ever again. That’s what real contact with God does. It changes a person forever.
John’s eye-witness account is given like testimony in court. He swears to the veracity of his words. They are true. You can count on it. Jesus is the center of it all. Jesus, as representing the Christ, is the center of it all, to be more specific. Jesus born of Mary would be nothing special if it weren’t for the Christ Spirit in him. Well, ‘he would be no more special than any of the rest of us’ is what I should say. Jesus IS something more than the rest of us though, and yet he is one of us, born that we might know God more clearly through him. He is God’s designated emissary come to earth that we might recognize that God is with us always, and more than that, God is in us as well. There is a spark of the divine in each of us as we are created in the image of God.
And this is God’s gift for today… see that you have a spark of the divine in you. If you have been down on yourself lately, look only for the spark of the divine in you. It is there. I promise. Look for it and you will find it. Focus on it and it will bring healing to all the broken parts of who you are. Or maybe you are in deep conflict with someone else. Look specifically for the spark of the divine in them. Don’t lose your focus. It is easy to get distracted by all the things in them that make you nuts. But when you are looking at those things, you cannot find that spark. Find it. Focus on it. It is there. It will bring you to a resolution. Maybe it will be reconciliation. Maybe it will be a permanent severing. Maybe it will be something in between, but certainly there will be forgiveness and understanding that was never possible before.
Blessings on your day,
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.