Tuesday, August 3, 2010

John's Gospel - 10

 John 1.24-28

The conversation continues. John, the author, identifies those sent as Pharisees. Why? There is no comment on their identity. Is this simply to set the stage for future conflict between Jesus and the Pharisees? Is that conflict even very prominent in this Gospel? To the question of why he baptizes, John does not give a straight answer - at least not here. He says more about this later but not to this group of Pharisees. And why bother identifying the locale of this rather unsatisfying conversation? I can only assume that things are being set up here for what follows.

Is 'the next day' significant? John identifies Jesus and that with a title. Jesus is God's Lamb. In this, John highlight Jesus' mission as our substitute. He is drawing on OT imagery of atoning sacrifice accomplished at the Temple altar. Jesus is to take away the sin of the world. 'World' here can have several meanings and on top of that it may be that the way John, the author, means it will be different from how John, the speaker, understood it. After all, did John, the speaker, have the Cross in view when he spoke? Did he understand that Jesus, the Word made flesh, would propitiate God's just wrath for sin? I doubt it. He probably understood 'Lamb of God' in a way that did not completely match the reality. His statement would have been true but incomplete - something that describes much of what we say about the Gospel and more.

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