By the Book: John 1:19-23

Welcome! Today I am continuing my By the Book Lectio Divina meditation series with the Gospel of John (today from the New Living Translation). Thank you for joining! 

I recommend starting from the beginning if you’re just joining now, though it is not required. Also of note: I am not a pastor or even a seminarian. I am just a regular Christian putting his two-cents in. Great. Now that we have that out of the way:

Follow along and join me in meditating on God’s word. 

In this first reading, simply read the text don’t start trying to make any intellectual or spiritual insights.

This was John’s testimony when the Jewish leaders sent priests and Temple assistants from Jerusalem to ask John, “Who are you?” 

He came right out and said, “I am not the Messiah.” 

“Well then, who are you?” they asked. “Are you Elijah?” 

“No,” he replied. 

“Are you the prophet we were expecting?” 

“No.” 

“Then who are you? We need an answer for those who sent us. What do you have to say about yourself?” 

John replied in the words of the prophet Isaiah: “I am a voice shouting in the wilderness, ‘Clear the way for the Lord’s coming!'”

Second Reading: meditate on what the text has to say to us

Third Reading: pray and discern how the text calls us to action

Contemplate: spend a time of silence, resting in God’s love. (Set an alarm for 5-15 minutes.)

My Meditation: 

Even in just this section, there is a decent amount to consider. On one hand, I can see the Pharisees being told to come “check this guy out” and make sure he’s not either a legitimate prophet or a false prophet. And then, to almost all their questions, he doesn’t tell them who he is, but who he isn’t! I can see their frustration. Even knowing who he is, I find myself frustrated in him until his last words in today’s section: “Just tell them! Tell them who is coming!” 

But then, if you switch to John’s side, we can see something entirely different: a posture of humility. It’s like the Pharisees keep asking, “Are you important?” 

What is John’s answer? “No.” And eventually, “I’m just proclaiming God is coming.” (#humblebrag?) 

And, obviously as the man who is preparing the way for the son of God, John is very important. It is hard to know who John was baptizing here (which we’ll get into in the next meditation), but it would be interesting to see John baptizing the same sort of people Jesus would baptize, would extend Grace to. I know from the other gospels that John was out in the literal wilderness, but I imagine that he was also preaching to the spiritual wilderness as well. 

Of course, in comparison, John is not the equal of Jesus. He has realized it and tells people, “I’m nothing– look at that guy!” (‘That guy’ being Jesus.) In our culture, it’s easy to see the want for fame as a major part of our hierarchy. We have more major and minor celebrities now than ever before, thanks to the internet. We have “mega churches” with “superstar” pastors. It’d be hard to say that I want to be a prolific writer (four blogs, article writing, and a novel) without receiving a modicum of that same fame. I hope that I can remember that if I got it, the point is to point people to something higher, to someone better. 

My prayer calls me to this humility. Not a false “I’m not good at anything when I obviously am” humility, which goes around a lot in churches. I pray that God gives me the grace to be humble in all that he gives me. 

Thank you for reading! How was your meditation? Please, let me know some or all of your thoughts in the comments below! This blog, with all my others, is supported by my Patreon subscribers. Check out my other blogs and, if you enjoy my work, consider supporting me there. 

Patreon Executive Producer: Cindy Horn

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