Lectionary, Year A, Epiphany week 2
- Text: John 1:29-42
Although John’s gospel account does not include the infancy narratives that provide accounts of how God came to dwell with humankind, the first chapter uses metaphors and allusions to provide readers with the Christology of the Incarnation.
The first part of John 1 portrays Jesus as the Eternal Word that “camps” [skenoo] with humankind. In the latter half of the first chapter, through the narrative rhetoric of John the Baptist and the first disciples, the text shows the incarnation of divinity among the daily lives of his creation.
What I see is a pair of chiastic structures where the outer envelopes and the centers highlight the identity of Jesus. In the outer envelopes Jesus is the “Lamb of God,” the “Son of God,” and the “Messiah.” In the center portions is described how first, John the Baptist recognizes the divinity of Jesus, and then how Jesus reveals himself to his first disciples. The word meno translated as remain and stay tie these two parts together. This also looks forward to John 15 and the same word used there, frequently translated as abide.
What I take from this is that God isn’t going anywhere. He dwelt physically among humankind in the person of Jesus, but his Spirit remains with us today.
When we see the world around us we often ask the same question of God, “Where are you [staying]?” His response is the same today as it was then, “Come and you will see.” Where does he take the questioners today? I believe it is to his people among whom the Spirit continues to abide.
I first thought verse 42 seemed almost like an afterthought, but upon reflection it seems key to bringing together this pericope. Maybe Peter was asking a similar question. The gospel writer is perhaps telling us that his question was heard [Simon] and as a result Jesus became the source of stable identity for him [Cephas – “rock”]. Sure, Peter’s thoughts and actions would waver and stumble through his life journey, but his trust in Jesus would remain true to the end.
How do you read this passage? What speaks to you?