The Gospel reading (John 1:6ff) today is probably the original beginning of the fourth Gospel. If we look at the Gospel of Mark, the similarities are obvious. Most telling is the verb used in each case: ‘ginomai.’
At a later point, an ancient hymn about “The Word” was woven in by a second contributor resulting in the Gospel we have today. The Gospel now begins with contrasts. The Word is contrasted with John.
The Word (we heard) is with God and the Word is God. The Word is the creator of life and light.
John on the other hand is an ‘anthropos’ (translated as man, but meaning a human being) sent by God to witness to the light...
The contrast between John and Jesus could not be clearer. Both are sent (apostle in Greek) by the Father, but Jesus’ origin is different from John’s.
There is a second contrast as well, the one in our reading today. Listen carefully.
1. The Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, “who are you?”
2. There was a man, sent from God whose name was John.
Both are sent, but they come from different places. One is heaven sent, another comes from the city Jerusalem which is “His (Jesus/God) own people who did not accept Him (Jesus/God).” In the Fourth Gospel, “Jews” is a theological term. Like “world” it has a negative connotation, because it reflects unbelief.
We know his name is John and he is a Witness. They do not know the truth so they ask “who are you?” The expression “in the dark” means to be ignorant. The one who does not believe in Jesus is literally in the Dark. Jesus is the Light and those who believe in Him walk in the light. The blindness of unbelief is darkness.
John is sent by God to testify (martyr) to the Light so that all might believe. The Fourth Gospel is making clear that Jesus was greater than John. In the Fourth Gospel he is not even called the Baptist, he is just John, and his role is a witness. John says that he is not the Messiah, he is not Elijah, he is not the prophet---he is the Voice.
Historically and theologically that is important. It gives us insight into the past. But there is also the need to hear this word and interpret it today. What is God saying to me and you? I think that each of us must see our own story written here; you and I, like John, are humans sent by God to witness and testify.
I am the voice and so are you.
We are sent by God, but we are always at risk to embrace the spiritual “Jerusalem,” the city of doubt and cynicism. The unfaithful harlot who crucifies the Messiah. The tool of the demonic….
You and I are not the Light and we are not the Messiah. In a sense that is what the Garden of Eden is really about, right? I want to be King and rule in God’s place. That is the true meaning of sin: I choose what I want.
There comes a point in time when we have to come to that realization that “I am not the Messiah. I am not the Light. I am darkness in need of light.” It is a moment of clarity: “If I am not the Messiah, then who is?”
The reason the church exists is to point to Jesus. Our primary purpose is to testify to Him so that all will believe.
DO you understand “who you are?”
Do you understand what you have been sent to do?
Are you doing it?