The question that arises and is foremost regarding Christianity above all else is, “Who is Jesus?” How this is answered has a lot to do with what we believe. John the Baptist addresses this question to his disciples, who are concerned that Jesus is growing in popularity over and above John. In today’s Gospel, we read that John shares his understanding of Jesus as, the one who “comes from above” and the one who “comes from heaven is above all”; this one “testifies to what he has seen and heard” and he is sent by God to speak “the words of God”; he is also generous in that he “does not ration the gift of the Spirit”; and the Son is loved by the Father and God “has given everything over to him”.
John declares in each of these phrases that Jesus is the Son of God who has come from above, he has come to reveal the truth about the Father and is able to do so because he has seen and has an infinite relationship with him. He preaches the Gospel, the Good News, that God loves us, that he seeks and has always sought, to be in communion with us, his created beings. Jesus has come to reveal the Love of the Father and that his love is unlimited.
The proclamation that Jesus is the Messiah, is not just revealed in the Gospel of John, but each of the three other Gospels, Matthew, Mark, and Luke, as well as the epistles. Jesus, as the Son of God, is also the key to unlocking the Hebrew Scriptures, and we can see how the Torah, the Prophets, and the Writings all point to Jesus as well. Jesus shared this outline of salvation history with Cleopas and the other disciple on the road to Emmaus, such that their hearts were burning within them while Jesus spoke and opened the scriptures to them (cf. Lk 24:32).
John the Baptist gets it. Jesus is the Son of the Living God and he offers a model for us to follow when he shared with his disciples: “He must increase; I must decrease” (Jn 3:30). May we spend some time in quiet reflection today by pondering the phrases John shares with his disciples regarding who Jesus is. Which one calls to you?
“The one who comes from above is above all.”
“The one who comes from heaven is above all.”
“He testifies to what he has seen and heard.”
“For the one whom God sent speaks the words of God.”
“He does not ration his gift of the Spirit.”
“The Father loves the Son and has given everything over to him.”
When we have finished, what is our response to John? Do we disobey or discount that Jesus is who he says he is or do we “accept his testimony” and “certify that God is trustworthy”? If we “accept his testimony”, are we willing to decrease, such that he will increase his influence in our life. Do we believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God?
Painting: Christ Blessing (‘The Savior of the World’), by El Greco, 1600
Link for the Mass readings for Thursday, April 23, 2020