The Second Sunday of the Year (14 January 2018)
Lectionary readings: 1Sam 3:3-10. 19; Ps 40; 1Cor 6:13-15. 17-20; Jn 1:35-42
Theme: Jesus, the Lamb of God
What strikes me about this gospel narrative is the use of names and titles. It begins with naming John whom we know as the Baptizer. The two with him are ‘disciples’ who are not named. John sees Jesus and points him out with the title “Lamb of God”. The ‘disciples’ (still not named) leave John and follow Jesus. Jesus speaks his first words in this gospel: “What do you seek?” They answer him with another title ‘Rabbi’ meaning ‘Teacher’.
We then learn that one of the ‘disciples’ is Andrew. Interestingly enough he is designated as being the brother of ‘Simon Peter’ whom we have not met. Andrew tells Simon (now we are introduced) that they have found the ‘Messiah’ known in Greek as the ‘Christos’, the anointed one.
Andrew brings Simon to Jesus and Jesus looks at the man who is Simon the son of John and gives him his title: Cephas, Peter or Rock.
‘Titles’ can often take away the humanity of the person and raise them to something that enhances their ego and gives them power especially over other mere mortals. In this passage ‘titles’ designate a calling. John is the one who prepares the way by baptizing with water as he attests to in verses 31-34 where he gives Jesus his true identity: ‘Son of God’.
The disciples are followers or learners in the ways of God first with John and then with Jesus whom they recognise as ‘Rabbi’ but after spending time with Jesus attest to the fact that he is the ‘Messiah’ the anointed Saviour of God.
Why does John call Jesus the ‘Lamb of God’? The first time he uses the title is in verse 29 and he gives his reason for that: “who takes away the sin of the world”. We are meant to recall the paschal lamb of Exodus 12 and to follow this through to Jesus’ death which John puts at the time of the slaughtering of the paschal lambs. The second time John uses this title is to point out to his disciples who Jesus is, about whom he has already spoken.
McKenzie: Dictionary of the Bible (1965) p.491 says that this title refers to Is 53:7 one of the ‘Songs of the Suffering servant of the Lord’ which is also quoted in Acts 8:32 and Jn 19:36: all of which point to Jesus.
McKenzie further points out that Joachim Jeremias has suggested that the original Aramaic word talyᾱ’ means both lamb and servant. He says that the original statement was: “Here is the Servant of God”.
So ‘titles’ in the kingdom of God are about being a servant, pointing the way to Jesus away from ourselves and showing Jesus to others. As Sirach says in 2:1: “My son (daughter) when you come to serve the Lord, prepare yourself for trials”. Our answer with Jesus is: “I delight to do your will, O my God; your instruction lies deep within me” (Ps 40:9).
For Reflection and Discussion: 1. At the beginning of this New Year what is your answer to Jesus’ question: “What do you seek?”
Bibliography: King, N. The New Testament, (Great Britain: 2004); McKenzie, J.L. Dictionary of the Bible (New York: 1965); The African Bible, (Nairobi: 1999).
This week’s Sunday Gospel Commentary was prepared by
Bernadette Chellew, ,Durban, South Africa
Bat Kol Alum 2008
Email address: email@example.com
[Copyright © 2018]
PLEASE NOTE: The weekly Gospel commentaries represent the research and creative thought of their authors, and are meant to stimulate deeper thinking about the meaning of the Sunday Scriptures. While they draw upon the study methods and sources employed by the Bat Kol Institute, the views and conclusions expressed in these commentaries are solely those of their authors, and do not necessarily represent the views of Bat Kol. Questions, comments and feedback are always welcome.
Bat Kol Institute for Jewish Studies, Jerusalem
“Christians Studying the Bible within its Jewish milieu, using Jewish Sources.”