Thursday, January 12, 2017
Reflections on Sunday's Readings, 2nd Sunday After the Epiphany: Behold! The Lamb of God!
An introduction. A simple word or two to prepare the crowd,those ready to listen, to greet the one who is to speak. For one who makes his way in the world as a preacher, teacher and leader I am aware that introductions are important. Handled well, they make those who listen attentive to the one who speaks. Handled poorly and you are bound to wind up either missing your mark or having to spend a great deal of energy getting back on track.
So, how would you do it?
How would you introduce Jesus?
Most of us presume, when we choose to talk about Jesus, that we have some common ground with the person listening. There is at the least a root assumption that when we mention Jesus, Moses, Mohammed, Buddha that the person listening can at least get on board with the basics. Acceptance or rejection depend more on what the listener and speaker bring to the moment, and less upon overcoming, "....excuse me....WHO!?!"
To the crowd following John the Baptizer around, we have to understand, they don't know Jesus. Some may have borne witness to the Baptism. Some may have been paying attention when the sky tore open, when the Spirit descended on Him like a dove. Some may have heard the voice.
But not everyone...and besides this is the beginning of the Gospel. Time and space, in John, recognize the Word made flesh, but the crowds are a ways off yet from having that Christophany. So, when John sees Jesus, twice, and says "Behold! the Lamb of God!"
Will that be enough of an introduction to get the ball rolling? Not the first time, it seems. On top of that ascription, John speaks of how Jesus is the one who "ranks ahead" because he "was before me." I know what that means and I find it confusing to hear.
The second time, we see greater success: "Behold the Lamb of God!"
A lamb, in the Greek implying a yearling without blemish, is one intended for the Passover or for sacrifice. A lamb, The Lamb.
John is pointing to the One Promised, to the One Who Will Stand in the Breech. John is heralding THAT one...and it is then that two disciples hear, heed and then ask to follow the one John introduces.
Sometimes, and effective introduction BEGS the question, instead of ANSWERING them. And then Jesus gets to say, "Come and See." Then, with our hearts and attentions tuned in, we begin to be able to pay attention in ways that too much detail tends to obfuscate.
So deep is the conviction that this Lamb is Messiah? Andrew, one of the two (and one we will come to refer to as "First-called") will go and find his brother, Simon in order to tell him...."We found him."
That is enough of an introduction for Simon to hear and go....
...and that is how we are introduced to a man who will now be called Peter.
It's all about introductions...and the challenges we face in being open in just the right way so that the people we introduce and those to whom we introduce them get the best shot at a good start and an abiding connection.
So, how would YOU introduce Jesus?