Second Sunday after Epiphany (Year A)

This Sunday’s Gospel Reading from John 1:29-42 spans sections 27 & 28 in the Harmony of the Gospels. The setting is in Bethany on the East side of the River Jordan and in Galilee. John the Baptist was certain that Jesus was the long awaited Messiah and he was not hesitant to tell others. His witness is


Collect:
Almighty God, whose Son our Savior Jesus Christ is the light of the world: Grant that your people, illumined by your Word and Sacraments, may shine with the radiance of Christ’s glory, that he may be known, worshiped, and obeyed to the ends of the earth; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Parsing the Collect, by Fr. Rob Eaton, Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd, Hemet, CA


Section 27 | John’s Testimony to Jesus as the Son of God

John 1:29-34
29 The next day, he saw Jesus coming to him, and said, “Behold,the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!1 30 This is he of whom I said, ‘After me comes a man who is preferred before me, for he was before me.’2 31 I didn’t know him,3 but for this reason I came baptizing in water: that he would be revealed to Israel.” 32 John testified, saying, “I have seen the Spirit descending like a dove out of heaven, and it remained on him.4 33 I didn’t recognize him, but he who sent me to baptize in water, he said to me, ‘On whomever you will see the Spirit descending and remaining on him is he who baptizes in the Holy Spirit.’ 34 I have seen, and have testified that this is the Son of God.”5

Section 28 | Jesus’ First Followers

John 1:35-51
35 Again, the next day,6 John was standing with two of his disciples,7 36 and he looked at Jesus as he walked, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God!”8¯9 37 The two disciples heard him speak, and they followed Jesus.10 38 Jesus turned and saw them following, and said to them,11 “What are you looking for?”12 They said to him, “Rabbi” (which is to say, being interpreted, Teacher), “where are you staying?” 39 He said to them,“Come, and see.” They came and saw where he was staying, and they stayed with him that day. It was about the tenth hour. 40 One of the two who heard John and followed him was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. 41 He first found his own brother, Simon, and said to him, “We have found the Messiah!” (which is, being interpreted, Christ). 42 He brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him, and said, “You are Simon the son of Jonah. You shall be called Cephas” (which is by interpretation, Peter). 43 On the next day, he was determined to go out into Galilee, and he found Philip. Jesus said to him,“Follow me.”13 44 Now Philip was from Bethsaida, of the city of Andrew and Peter. 45 Philip found Nathanael, and said to him, “We have found him, of whom Moses in the law, and the prophets, wrote: Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.”46 Nathanael said to him, “Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?”14 Philip said to him, “Come and see.”15 47 Jesus saw Nathanael16 coming to him, and said about him,“Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom is no deceit!”17 48 Nathanael said to him, “How do you know me?” Jesus answered him, “Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.” 49 Nathanael answered him, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are King of Israel!”18 50 Jesus answered him, “Because I told you, ‘I saw you underneath the fig tree,’ do you believe? You will see greater things than these!” 51 He said to him,“Most certainly, I tell you all, hereafter you will see heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.”


RCL Readings: Isaiah 49:1-7;  Psalm 40:1-12; 1 Corinthians 1:1-9


Group Dialog:

  1. Perhaps you’ve long known the name of Jesus, and been a long-time church member but do you know him as the Messiah, your savior, and honor him as Lord taking his Word to heart and the Gospel to others?
  2. What are the names of Jesus which offer you most comfort, courage and confidence?
  3. Who introduced you to Jesus? What was the moment that you recognized Jesus as the Messiah and became his disciple?
  4. Without physical form, how can we introduce people today to Jesus?  Who has become Jesus’ disciple because you introduced them to him?

Prayers of the People:

Lives of the Church – Open our eyes Lord, we want to see you plainly. In our diligent study of the Word and heartfelt prayers let us lift our eyes beyond ourselves and temporal concerns to see you for who you are, and trusting with faith in what you have accomplished relinquish to you all our concerns and fears as well as surrender all our passions and possession to follow you. 

LocalLord, help us be aware and consider the plight and condition of those near us. Make us alert to the prompting of your Holy Spirit so that we would be prepared to give a reason for the hope that lies within us.  

Global – Lord Jesus, we know that you have called us to go make disciples. Give us such fascination, fondness and faith that we would not hesitate to obey your commands and do no less than invite our friends to meet you. By our word and deed may we shine the light of life you have ignited within us with love and courage.     

Study Notes:

  1. Historically, the Jews would have understood this to be the pascal lamb in remembrance of their deliverance from the angel of death in Exodus. Jesus however, would become the eternal sacrifice, the propitiation of our sins – not only for Israel but for the sin of the whole world. These two articles have more information about Jesus, being The Passover Lamb (article 1, article 2)
  2. We see the humility of John. As John the Baptist was about six months older than Jesus, we also understand in this passage John’s understanding that Jesus existed in eternity, that is the divinity of Jesus (John 1:1-2).
  3. This doesn’t seem to be doubt or his lack of awareness as in the passage above John told the Sanhedrin that the Messiah was here. Prior to that He himself leaped in his mother’s womb, and at the Baptism he recognized Jesus to be the Messiah, and the dove was a sign of such (vs 33). So in one way John was experiencing an ongoing revelation of God’s plan and a deeper knowing of Jesus’ identity and purpose.
  4. Jesus’ Baptism is in Section 24, John 1:29,35 – less than 50 days before.
  5. Names of Jesus: son of God, Christ, the Lord, the Lamb of God. Remember again the words of the Father at the time of Jesus baptism, (Sec 23 – Mt 3:17; Mk 1:11; Lk 3:22).
  6. That is the second day after John was questioned by the Sanhedrin, probably fewer than 50 days after Jesus’ Baptism (John 1:29,35).
  7. One of these is Andrew (vs 40), the other is thought to be the Apostle John himself. Andrew is the one who finds the boy with the barley loaves and the fish. It may be that his vocational ministry was that of an evangelist.
  8. Remembering that John’s father was a priest, he no doubt had a good understanding of the Messiah (Isa 53:10) and the role of the Lamb of God in reference to the Passover and preservation of the Israelites (Ex 29). The destruction of the temple had happened almost one hundred years before, but they still sought to satisfy the law. Thankfully, within three years Jesus would be crucified and then once and for all satisfy the law.
  9. In the context of this story the Jewish people were active in worship (even without the temple in Jerusalem). In the western culture, particularly west of the Rockies, people are still searching to find the source of life, and freedom from their troubles.
  10. See how with only John’s affirmation these two begin to follow Jesus. These two followers will later become disciples, and then Apostles. Many “church goers” are really followers, but they are not really disciples, not are they making disciples.
  11. It was a volitional act of Andrew and John, Jesus hadn’t even invited them to follow.
  12. These are the first words of Jesus in John’s Gospel. Its a rabbinical approach to invoke growth in the disciple, a powerful question, and a wonderful question for the Sunday visitor.
  13. The night has passed and now Jesus goes to Philip and invite him to come follow him. In phase two of discipleship the primary discipline is one of incarnational ministry.
  14. This was an old cynical saying about the little town.
  15. Philip’s response reminds me of two worthy bits of advice: “hold your judgement” and “live with the question longer”. These are good habits for the learner – by them wisdom and new information can be revealed.
  16. Some versions use the name Bartholomew as they considered it the sur name of Nathanael.  This pdf version of a little book called, Twelve Men that Changed the World by Stanford E. Murrell, Th.D., provides a wonderful biographical sketch of the 12 Apostles.
  17. Nothing wily about him, no guile, he is true-hearted, sincere inquirer.
  18. Jesus’ word of knowledge was enough to convince Nathanael.