Sunday 20 October 2013

John 1:19-34 - Who is the Messiah?

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Today we're reading John 1:19-34. John the Baptist must have greatly troubled the religious authorities in Jerusalem. They sent a powerful delegation to question him, much as they would with Jesus over the next few years. Priests, Levites and Pharisees came together, the old authorities and the new combined.

He told them very clearly that he was not the Messiah, nor Elijah (though Jesus later says he was) nor the Prophet (probably implying Moses). Note that Elijah and Moses were seen with Jesus during the transfiguration.

And John told them plainly that his role was to prepare the way for the far greater one who was soon to come. And when Jesus did come, although John didn't recognise him directly, he said that "the one who sent me to baptise told me that the coming and remaining Spirit would be the one".

The other things John tells us about Jesus is that he is Elohim's Lamb (a sacrifice offered not by mankind but by the Most High himself), that he will take away sin, that he will baptise with the Holy Spirit and that he is Elohim's chosen One.

So we see here Jesus finally revealed. John has not only announced that the kingdom of heaven is here and called them to repent and baptised them with water, he has also identified the Messiah and announced his presence. And although the gospel writer doesn't mention this (but the other gospels writers do), the fact that Jesus was baptised by John shows how closely the Messiah identifies with the people. So closely that he shares in their sign of repentance and their act of baptism.

Jesus is the promised One, he identifies with us and shares in our experiences, and he offers to baptise us in the Holy Spirit. That is all we really need to know about him. So already John has outlined the good news for us and has now introduced us to the nature of Jesus. So much in just 34 short verses!

The scene is now set. If we are to follow Jesus and represent him in our broken world, we need to begin by understanding who he is. And John has told us quite plainly.

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