3rd Sunday of Advent
Isaiah 61:1-2,10-11 II:
6 There was a man sent from God, whose name was John.
7 He came for testimony, to bear witness to the light, that all might
believe through him.
8 He was not the light, but came to bear witness to the light.
19 And this is the testimony of John, when the Jews sent priests and
Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, "Who are you?"
20 He confessed, he did not deny, but confessed, "I am not the Christ."
21 And they asked him, "What then? Are you Elijah?" He said, "I am not."
"Are you the prophet?" And he answered, "No."
22 They said to him then, "Who are you? Let us have an answer for those
who sent us. What do you say about yourself?"
23 He said, "I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, 'Make
straight the way of the Lord,' as the prophet Isaiah said."
24 Now they had been sent from the Pharisees.
25 They asked him, "Then why are you baptizing, if you are neither the
Christ, nor Elijah, nor the prophet?"
26 John answered them, "I baptize with water; but among you stands one
whom you do not know,
27 even he who comes after me, the thong of whose sandal I am not worthy
28 This took place in Bethany beyond the Jordan, where John was
- (v.6) John was abruptly presented. If we already knew about John (never
called "the Baptist" in the Fourth Gospel) from the Synoptics, we would
envision him in the wilderness of Judea at some place near the Jordan River.
Yet in this Gospel we have not been told where John is.
- (v.8) The public appearances of Jesus open with the witness of John the
Baptist to the paschal Lamb of God; his appearances will close with the
witness of the unnamed beloved disciple, as the pascal Lamb is dying on the
cross on Passover eve. John gives us a set of three panels side by side
bearing pictures of the Lamb in the center and the two witnesses on either
- (v.23) Even when John makes a positive statement "I am the voice ...", it
is, indirectly, a negation. The opening hymn proclaims Jesus as "the Word"
(1:1); John is merely "a voice!". He cries out, but only to prepare a way
"for the Lord"; he is not "the way" that Jesus will declare himself to be
- (v.27) Even though John serves the Lord, heralding Christ and leading many
to repentance in preparation for Christ, he disclaims a servant's role,
namely untying the master's sandal. This negation prepares for the
self-revelation that Jesus will make about himself in this Fourth Gospel.
At the Last Supper, Jesus will assume a servant's role, laying aside his
garments to wash his disciples' feet (13:5)!
One Main Point
John is clearly important - he was sent by God - but he is important
precisely as a witness. This emphasis probably reflects some
misunderstanding of the Baptist at the time this Gospel was written.
- Have you ever been mistaken for someone else? Why was John mistaken for
- Is Jesus still present in the world as someone "whom" the world "does not
recognize?" How would you point him out?
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A synthesis by the Vietnamese Christian Life (Dong Hanh) Community