Monday, October 21, 2013

Beginnings - John 1:20-51 (Part 2)

This is part 2 of my paraphrase of AB Bruce's classic: The Training of the 12.
These five men are all natives of Galilee drawn to the banks of the Jordan by the teaching of a remarkable man tasked to be the forerunner of Christ. John the Baptist had spent his youth in the desert as a hermit, living on locusts and wild honey and wearing camel’s hair clothing. He now appeared among men as a prophet of God. His message was, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” In a short time, people came from the surrounding regions to see and hear him. Most of those who came to hear his preaching left just as quickly, but a few were deeply impressed, and, confessing their sins, were baptized in the waters of the Jordan. Of those baptized, a small number formed themselves into a circle of disciples around John the Baptist. At least two, and probably all of the five who met here Jesus were  originally followers of John. Their conversations with John the Baptist had awakened  a desire to see Jesus and had prepared them for believing in Him. In his communications to the people around him, John made frequent allusions to the One who would come after him. He spoke of the coming One in language designed to awaken great expectations. He called himself a mere voice in the wilderness, crying, “Prepare the way for the Lord.” Another time he said, “I baptize with water; but there is one coming after me whose shoe lace I am unworthy to untie.” This great one was none other than the Messiah, the Son of God, and the King of Israel. John’s preaching was designed to result in exactly what happened: the disciples of John leaving him and going over to Jesus. This passage lets us see that  transition at its very beginning. It does not appear that these men immediately left John’s company at this time to become regular followers of Jesus. But a relationship is now beginning which will eventually become discipleship. The bride is introduced to the Bridegroom and the marriage will come in due season to the joy of the Bridegroom’s friend.

It is amazing how easily and simply the mystic bride, as represented by these five disciples, becomes acquainted with her heavenly Bridegroom! The account of their meeting is so simple that it would only be spoiled by a commentary. There are no formal introductions: they all introduce each other. John the Baptist did not formally introduce even John and Andrew to Jesus; they just introduced themselves. When John saw Jesus and said, “Look the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” it was the involuntary utterance of one absorbed in his own thoughts, rather than the deliberate speech of a person directing his disciples to leave and go over to Jesus. The two disciples, on the other hand, were not obeying an order, but were simply following the dictates of the feelings awakened within them by everything they had heard John say about Jesus. It was natural for them to seek out the One in whom they were so profoundly interested. All they really needed to know was that this was Jesus. They were as anxious to see the Messianic King as the world would be to see a popular celebrity.

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