The next day he saw Jesus coming towards him and declared, ‘Here is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! This is he of whom I said, “After me comes a man who ranks ahead of me because he was before me.” I myself did not know him; but I came baptizing with water for this reason, that he might be revealed to Israel.’ And John testified, ‘I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him. I myself did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water said to me, “He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain is the one who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.” And I myself have seen and have testified that this is the Son of God.’ The next day John again was standing with two of his disciples, and as he watched Jesus walk by, he exclaimed, ‘Look, here is the Lamb of God!’ The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus. When Jesus turned and saw them following, he said to them, ‘What are you looking for?’ They said to him, ‘Rabbi’ (which translated means Teacher), ‘where are you staying?’ He said to them, ‘Come and see.’ They came and saw where he was staying, and they remained with him that day. It was about four o’clock in the afternoon. One of the two who heard John speak and followed him was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. He first found his brother Simon and said to him, ‘We have found the Messiah’ (which is translated Anointed). He brought Simon to Jesus, who looked at him and said, ‘You are Simon son of John. You are to be called Cephas’ (which is translated Peter). (NRSV).
The ministry of John was certainly fruitful.
As is often the case, however, this fruit was somewhat difficult to identify. Yes, many came to hear him by the Jordan, and he certainly enjoyed a wide-spread reputation as one who spoke on behalf of God. Yet, he ended his days in a prison at the hand of a leader who feared merely people and anything that threatened his power.
Sometimes identifying the fruit of ministry can be a difficult undertaking. Numbers do not always capture the heart and influence of a lifetime of service, prayer, sacrifice, and study.
I wonder how John may have measured his faithfulness to what God called him?
Our passage reveals from the outset that John did more than teach morals and shout: ‘Repent for the Kingdom of Heaven is near.’ He also taught of one who was coming – one who could be described as the ‘Lamb of God’. As he, perhaps over a period of time, began to understand who this expected one was he ‘testified’ to the unveiling that was taking place: John expected one like a ‘lamb’; looked for one on whom the Spirit would descend, and eventually publicly pointed to Jesus as ‘the Son of God’.
And watching closely throughout this process were John’s own disciples.
These seem to form a closer circle around John than simply the ‘crowds’ who listen and undergo baptism. They look more like intentional students of a master than occasional visitors.
But here John loses two of his disciples. Jesus walks by and John points him out with his famous catchphrase: ‘Look, here is the Lamb of God!’ The result: ‘The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus.’ One of these, Simon, becomes what is surely the first Christ-ian evangelist!
These initial disciples of John seem to have listened and learned well. They have absorbed all that he has taught, seen where he points, and now become disciples of Jesus.
John’s later question to Jesus: ‘Are you the one…?’ reveals a man who experienced doubt. But perhaps this was not the end of the story. It certainly was not the summary of John’s ministry for the one who wrote this gospel. Our author, at least, can see that John was a producer of the most beautiful fruit – at least one life given to introducing Jesus.
Simon’s action is surely the greatest of compliments for John. After all, he has become exactly like his master – dedicated to pointing to God among us.