Behold, the Lamb of God

John was standing with two of his disciples,
and as he watched Jesus walk by, he said,
“Behold, the Lamb of God.”
The two disciples heard what he said and followed Jesus.
Jesus turned and saw them following him and said to them,
“What are you looking for?”
They said to him, “Rabbi” — which translated means Teacher —,
“where are you staying?”
He said to them, “Come, and you will see.”
So they went and saw where Jesus was staying,
and they stayed with him that day.
It was about four in the afternoon.
Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter,
was one of the two who heard John and followed Jesus.
He first found his own brother Simon and told him,
“We have found the Messiah” — which is translated Christ —.
Then he brought him to Jesus.
Jesus looked at him and said,
“You are Simon the son of John;
you will be called Cephas” — which is translated Peter.
(John 1:35-42)

Scripture Study

1:36 John the Baptist’s testimony makes his disciples’ following of Jesus plausible.

1:37 The two disciples: Andrew (Jn 1:40) and, traditionally, John, son of Zebedee. A disciple, called “another disciple” or “the other disciple,” is mentioned in Jn 18:15 and Jn 20:2; in the latter reference he is identified with the disciple whom Jesus loved. There is also an unnamed disciple in Jn 1:35–40.

1:39 Four in the afternoon: literally, the tenth hour, from sunrise, in the Roman calculation of time. Some suggest that the next day, beginning at sunset, was the sabbath; they would have stayed with Jesus to avoid travel on it.

1:41 Messiah: the Hebrew word māśiâh, “anointed one” appears in Greek as the transliterated messias only here and in Jn 4:25. Elsewhere the Greek translation christos is used.

1:42 Simon, the son of John: in Mt 16:17, Simon is called Bariona, “son of Jonah,” a different tradition for the name of Simon’s father. Cephas: in Aramaic = the Rock; cf. Mt 16:18. Neither the Greek equivalent Petros nor, with one isolated exception, Cephas is attested as a personal name before Christian times.

Scripture Reflection

Friends, in our Gospel for today, we hear John the Baptist proclaim, in response to meeting Jesus, “Behold the Lamb of God!”

One of the earliest heresies that the Christian church fought was Marcionism, the conviction that Jesus should be interpreted in abstraction from the Old Testament. But the categories that the Gospel writers used to present Jesus as the Christ were, almost exclusively, drawn from the Hebrew Scriptures.

In John’s prologue, the passage before today’s reading, we read that the Word of God’s covenantal love, which was addressed to Abraham, Moses, and David, has become flesh in Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus is the covenant in person. But throughout Israel’s history, the covenant between God and humanity is always accompanied by sacrifice.

That brings us to today’s reading, where John the Baptist offers one of the most important interpretive keys of the New Testament: Jesus will play the role of the sacrificial lambs offered in the temple, and through a sacrifice, take away the sins of the world.

One reason that people today have such a difficult time appreciating Jesus is that we have become, effectively, Marcionites. To really understand the Christological language of John, we need to understand the great story of Israel.

– Bishop Robert Barron

May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV.