2nd Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year B – 17th January 2021 — Gospel: John 1: 35-42
Individual’s Personal Testimony
Jesus didn’t launch his kingdom through preaching to large crowds at an evangelistic campaign or by mass mailing. His ministry in John’s Gospel began quietly with two of John the Baptist’s disciples (Andrew and probably John). John the Baptist testifies about who Jesus is to them. Following his verbal index finger, they left John and went after Jesus to find out for themselves who Jesus is. The two disciples are welcomed by Jesus and afterwards Andrew first found his own brother Simon and brought him to Jesus. Probably, John also later told his brother, James. They all got excited about who Jesus was and that excitement spilled over into telling their relatives and friends, so they too will “come and see” this man from Galilee and be changed by that experience. Their personal experience facilitated them to address Jesus with a variety of titles. The primary motif then is the revelation about Jesus’ nature, which he gradually begins to unfold to individuals. Spending time with Jesus transforms them, as seen in the change in title they use to refer to him.
John the Baptist is the first testimony and points to Jesus as the “Lamb of God” (Jn 1,36). This title focuses on Jesus as the supreme and final sacrifice for sinners as pointed in OT. On the basis of hearing this testimony, John’s disciples determined to follow Jesus. At first they call Jesus as “rabbi” (Jn 1,38) which means “teacher,” an honorary title that students would use to address their teacher. But after their experience with Jesus, Andrew refers to Simon about Jesus by the more significant title “Messiah” (Jn 1,41). This title emphasizes that Andrew has come to see Jesus as the fulfilment of Jewish messianic expectations. When Simon comes an intimate encounter occurs. Jesus then looked at him and said, “You are Simon the son of John; you shall be called Cephas.” Here the focus is not so much on the meaning of the name, but rather on Jesus’ authority over people and his power to change them into what he wants them to be so that he can use them for his sovereign purposes. Just as the first two disciples’ experience of Jesus changes from mere followers to devotees, Peter’s experience with Jesus leads to a transformation of his identity, from Simon to Cephas/Peter.
Like the revelation of God on Mt. Sinai that climaxes in God’s covenant with Israel, the disciples’ personal encounter with Jesus establishes intimate relationship and transformative experience. Jesus shares in the divinity of God, although he has taken on the human condition. He is the Lamb of God who heals the broken, sinful relationship between God and humanity. He is the Messiah who accompanies Jesus’ disciples and the marginalized at all times to “come and see”.