Reflections on John 1:21-23, 29-34

Passage: John 1:22-23, 29-34 

So they said to him (John the Baptist), “Who are you? We need to give an answer to those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?”  He said, “I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way of the Lord,’ as the prophet Isaiah said. The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! 30 This is he of whom I said, ‘After me comes a man who ranks before me, because he was before me.’ 31 I myself did not know him, but for this purpose I came baptizing with water, that he might be revealed to Israel.” 32 And John bore witness: “I saw the Spirit descend from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him. 33 I myself did not know him, but he who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain, this is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ 34 And I have seen and have borne witness that this is the Son of God.”

Jesus was the fulfillment of prophecy. The book of Isaiah was written about 700 years before Jesus was born. A messiah was promised, and consequently, both anticipated and expected. The Jewish people eagerly awaited the fulfillment of this prophecy. So John the Baptist’s declaration that the promised Messiah had come was a monumental moment. Faith was made sight; the Word became flesh; God incarnate dwelt among them. In short, the wait was over.

What do you do when the wait is over, though? If all you know is waiting, are you able to enjoy the thing once you have it? Or does that muscle memory of “longing” and “anticipating” kick back in and you find yourself waiting for the next thing… not because you don’t appreciate what you have, but because longing is familiar? I am a chronic “what’s-next” longer and lately I’ve been challenged to ask myself what exactly it is that I’m waiting for. I believe that the Spirit dwells within me. So, if eternity/heaven is, in essence, union with God, then wouldn’t our eternity start the moment we first encounter Jesus? I’m no theologian (clearly), but I know that Jesus is not means to an end. He is the end. He isn’t a way to achieve our goal of eternal peace and happiness; union with him is eternal peace and happiness.

I find myself waiting for what’s next– be it on this side of Heaven or otherwise– and I’ve been challenged by this passage to both embrace Jesus as the end goal and view my time with him as such: not as means to an end of something additional I desire, but instead the object of my desire.

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