Lenten Lectionary Two: Testify

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The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! This is the one about whom I said, ‘He who comes after me is really greater than me because he existed before me.’ Even I didn’t recognize him, but I came baptizing with water so that he might be made known to Israel.” John testified, “I saw the Spirit coming down from heaven like a dove, and it rested on him. Even I didn’t recognize him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘The one on whom you see the Spirit coming down and resting is the one who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ I have seen and testified that this one is God’s Son.” (John 1:29-34)

At the seminary, in the outstandingly beautiful new library, sits the desk of Karl Barth. Barth is one of my favorite theologians, so I used to sit beside it (we weren’t allowed to touch it for fear that we would spill coffee on it or something) and study or write papers. Just above the desk was a painting by Matthias Grünewald, featuring Jesus hanging on the cross. Just beside Jesus is this artistic work is John the Baptist, who is pointing at Jesus. A friend of mine came in to the library one day while I was studying and said “Man, isn’t that exactly what we’re supposed to do? Point to Jesus.”

That line has stuck with me ever since, and it really rang true for me in today’s Gospel lesson. “I have seen and testified that this one is God’s Son” says John. That’s not a bad job description for all of us!

To see and testify requires to notice something. I can’t go to court and testify about something with which I have no experience. John has seen something in Jesus, in this case he has seen the Holy Spirit descend upon Jesus like a dove, and for John that means something. John has seen the Son of God at work in the world. John has seen what a special and unique person this Jesus of Nazareth really is. John has something to testify about.

What would you testify about Jesus if someone were to ask? In what ways have you seen Jesus at work in the world? In what ways has Jesus shown himself to be the Son of God in your experience? What stories would you tell about the ways Jesus has been a part of your life?

A former professor at the seminary used to ask us students every day a simple question, which I have stolen and ask our youth group kids as often as I can: “What’s Jesus up to in your life?” As often as I am able, I try to take a few moments in my journal and answer that question. What’s Jesus up to in my life? I need answers to that so that I can testify to others about this Son of God who is always showing up for me, always redeeming me, always making me whole.

So my friends, what’s Jesus up to in your life?

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