Rev Hilary Howarth and Pastor Chris Holmes

Thought for the Week – 26th January 2020

John 1:29-42 – The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him. John said, “Look! The Lamb of God! He takes away the sin of the world! 30 This is the one I was talking about. I said, ‘A man who comes after me is more important than I am. That’s because he existed before I was born.’ 31 I did not know him. But God wants to make it clear to Israel who this person is. That’s the reason I came baptizing with water.”

32 Then John told them, “I saw the Holy Spirit come down from heaven like a dove. The Spirit remained on Jesus. 33 I myself did not know him. But the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, ‘You will see the Spirit come down and remain on someone. He is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’ 34 I have seen it happen. I am a witness that this is God’s Chosen One.”

35 The next day John was there again with two of his disciples. 36 He saw Jesus walking by. John said, “Look! The Lamb of God!” 37 The two disciples heard him say this. So they followed Jesus. 38 Then Jesus turned around and saw them following. He asked, “What do you want?” They said, “Rabbi, where are you staying?” Rabbi means Teacher. 39 “Come,” he replied. “You will see.” So they went and saw where he was staying. They spent the rest of the day with him. It was about four o’clock in the afternoon. 40 Andrew was Simon Peter’s brother. Andrew was one of the two disciples who heard what John had said. He had also followed Jesus. 41 The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon. He told him, “We have found the Messiah.” Messiah means Christ. 42 And he brought Simon to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said, “You are Simon, son of John. You will be called Cephas.” Cephas means Peter, or Rock.

Sorry, it’s a long passage, but important to have it all to reflect on. It may seem strange that I have highlighted a particular verse, especially when there is so much going on – Jesus called “The lamb of God” by John and what that might mean to us and the call of the first disciples, but I think this verse may have significance too.

John (the writer, not the Baptist) had to be economical with words when he was writing his account of Jesus’ life. What to include or what to leave out? I believe there is great significance in all he chose to include – and I feel that is the case with this verse. Why tell us what time it was, is that really necessary, is it important? I feel perhaps it is. John tells us the exact moment this meeting with Jesus took place. It must have meant that much too him, possibly the moment when his first meeting with Jesus changed his life for ever, and he wanted to record the time it happened.

Many people can remember the moment when Jesus changed their life forever – perhaps at a Billy Graham or Soul Survivor event or during a church service. My story was of a gradual recognition of who he was, and is, but a moment of having to say “I believe you are who you claim to be.” Equally, many others can’t point to a single incident. Rather than a flash of light and an instant realisation of who Jesus was, it may have been a gradual awareness over days, months or even years – that maybe particularly true if you grew up in a church family and it was always part of your life. Each road into a relationship with Jesus is equally valid. The important thing is not when it happened, or how it happened but has it happened? Equally it is not so much about when you began walking with Jesus, but are you walking with him now? If we were asked to, could we say what God is doing in our lives right at this moment?

There are many who perhaps made an initial response to Jesus many years ago and their love has deepened in the intervening years, for others after an initial burst of enthusiasm and commitment they have made little spiritual progress. John the writer of the gospel, it seems to me, can point to the exact time when he became a disciple of Jesus, and after that experience followed Jesus faithfully all the rest of his life. May that be the story of our lives too.

Prayer: Lord, I may be able to point to the exact time I became a Christian or I may not. Really that isn’t important. What matters is that I have accepted your love and know you are present in my life each and every moment of every day. I love you and thank you for what you have done for me, in me and through me. If I have wandered away from you, bring me home, I pray. Amen.