“The Son of Man was revealed….” In my prayer on the scriptures appointed for today, this snippet from the 1st letter of John is what jumped off the page at me. “The Son of Man was revealed.” It almost has a game show quality to it doesn’t it? It’s as if we’re watching “The Price is Right” and Bob Barker has just asked Rod Roddy to reveal to us what is behind door number one. What are we going to see? What is going to be revealed? In the gospel lessons yesterday and today, John the Baptist is the equivalent to our Rod Roddy. John is revealing the Messiah, the long hoped for deliverer of Israel, the one spoken about by the prophets. John says “Here is the Lamb of God!” What do you suppose the reaction is of those who are in ear shot of John’s proclamation? We don’t immediately know, although we hear John expound a little bit more in yesterday’s gospel lesson. He says, “’I myself did not know him; but I came baptizing with water for this reason, that he might be revealed to Israel.’ And John testified, ‘I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him. I myself did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain is the one who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ And I myself have seen and have testified that this is the Son of God.” This poor, homeless, itinerant rabbi of questionable lineage, from the wrong side of the tracks: THIS is the Son of God.[i]
In today’s lesson, John is standing with two disciples and we hear him proclaim to them as Jesus is passing, “Look, here is the Lamb of God!” We can almost see the two disciples look at each other, shrug and in curiosity start to follow Jesus….although at first, at a distance. Where is going? This future king of Israel must have a decent place to stay somewhere around here? I’m sure his royal vestments which he’ll put on when he overthrows Rome must be in his closet there. Where is this “Lamb of God” going? Jesus turns and sees them following and asks a key question: “What are you looking for?” I want add my own emphasis on the word ‘you.’ What are YOU looking for? Naively, we hear them answer, “Rabbi, where are you staying?” Jesus answers simply, “Come and see.” And for these disciples and a few other nefarious characters who join them, the saga of blown expectations begins.
Now, we all know that Jesus delivered some pretty amazing stuff or else we wouldn’t be sitting in this Chapel today. But imagine the amazement or perhaps bewilderment of those who witnessed this “word made flesh,” as the gospel writer puts it. I identify with the passage from the Chapter 11 of Matthew’s telling of the gospel where after all this hoopla, John the Baptist finds himself in prison, his future dwindling like his hope and he wonders, “How did I end up here? Why hasn’t God delivered on his promises of deliverance? Have I led all these people astray in proclaiming Jesus as the Messiah? Am I going to be ‘that guy,’ and go down in history as a false prophet?” In a bit of irony, John sends two of his disciples to ask Jesus, “Are you REALLY the one? Are you REALLY going to be able to ‘deliver?’ Should we wait for someone else?” Jesus replies, “Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have good news brought to them. And blessed is anyone who takes no offence at me.”[ii] Rome has not been overthrown, but Isaiah’s prophesy has been fulfilled![iii] What Jesus delivers defies the expectations of those around him. Deliverance looks different than what they were imagining. In my own experience, Jesus has lured me in with an expectation, but has changed my life in a manner that I in my humanity could never have imagined. Maybe this rings true for you also. How has Jesus blown your expectations out the water? How is it, at this time and place in your life, you find yourself sitting in this chapel? What are your circumstances and where is Jesus in your life? Maybe you’re not quite sure yet. Maybe there has been a Rod Roddy or even a John the Baptist in your life that has pointed out to you this poor, homeless, itinerant rabbi of questionable lineage, from the wrong side of the tracks and said “Here is the Lamb of God.” And you’ve have shrugged and started to follow…..although at a distance at first. Maybe, in your prayer life you’re asking the question of Jesus, “Where are you staying?” Jesus is answering, “Come and See.”
Please support the Brothers work.
The brothers of SSJE rely on the inspired kindness of friends to sustain our life and our work. We are grateful for the prayers and support provided to us.