The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him and said, "Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world. He is the one of whom I said, 'A man is coming after me who ranks ahead of me because he existed before me.' I did not know him, but the reason why I came baptizing with water was that he might be made known to Israel." John testified further, saying, "I saw the Spirit come down like a dove from the sky and remain upon him. I did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, 'On whomever you see the Spirit come down and remain, he is the one who will baptize with the holy Spirit.' Now I have seen and testified that he is the Son of God."
1. Last Sunday of the Epiphany, we were in Bethlehem with Jesus, the Wisdom Incarnate, when He manifested to the wisdom from the East, across the Jordan. The following day of the Baptism, we were in the Jordan, when God the Father manifested Jesus as His Beloved Son, with whom He was well pleased.
This Sunday we are once again with Jesus, as He comes to be manifested by John the Baptist in Bethany, across the Jordan.
2. We see how John the Baptist, “sent from God” (1,6), reveals Jesus to the Jews by word and deed. He baptizes people “that he might be made known to Israel.” He, then, orally testifies to Jesus as “the Lamb of God” and “the Son of God” – the titles, predicated of Jesus in the Early Church.
When Jerusalem interrogated him “Who are you?” he clearly stated, “I am not the Messiah.” He, now, demonstrates, in utter humility, the Messiah, “Behold ...”
John, furthermore, identifies Jesus as the permanent Bearer of the Holy Spirit, “I saw the Spirit come down like a dove from the sky and remain (‘meno’in the Greek Text to mean ‘to remain, stay, abide, dwell’) upon him.”
3. From this Gospel scene, we now move on to the Early Christianity. The non-Christian followers of John the Baptist try to exalt him at the expense of Jesus. They do not follow Jesus but jealously object to those who follow Him (as reflected in 3,22-26).
The sacred writer of the Fourth Gospel opposes these aggrandizements of the Baptist and wishes to convert them. Hence he shows from the very words and deeds of John the Baptist that Jesus is the only Messiah. He shows the stark difference between Jesus and the Baptist and the subordinate role of the latter: “He was not the light, but came to testify to the light” (1,8); “The one who is coming after me ranks ahead of me because he existed before me” (1,15); “the one who is coming after me, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to untie” (1,27).
4. Thus we see how John the Baptist and the writer of the Fourth Gospel testify to the same truth concerning Jesus. Jesus is the Lamb of God. He is the suffering servant of the Lord, whom He formed as His servant from the womb in order to save both Israel and nations (Isaiah 49), and who is led like a lamb to the slaughter as a sin offering, to give his life as an offering for the sin of his people (Isaiah 53).
In the Aramaic of the day, ‘talya’ meant ‘lamb’ and ‘servant.’ Hence Jesus is both Lamb and Servant of God, on the precise model of the Suffering Servant of God, depicted in the Oracles of Isaiah.
Jesus is also the pre-existent Son of God and permanent Bearer of the Holy Spirit. This truth is told at a time, when some thought the Baptist to be the Messiah.
5. The history has suffered much from false messianic and Jesus claimants, who are numerous. They have been claimed, either by themselves or by their followers, in some way to be the reincarnation of Jesus or the Second Coming of Christ.
Some of the older ones are: John Nichols Thom (1799-1838) a tax rebel who adopted the claim of Messiah after a period in a mental institute and was killed by British soldiers; Arnold Potter (1804-1872) who died in an attempt to ‘ascend into heaven’ by jumping off a cliff; Hong Xiuquan (1814-1864) who claimed himself to be the younger brother of Jesus and committed suicide; Jones Very (1813–1880) who claimed to have become the Second Coming of Jesus after he suffered a nervous breakdown; and Jacobina Mentz Maurer (1842-1874) who was shot to death by the Brazilian Army.
Some from our times are: George Baker (1880-1965) who until his death claimed to be God; Yahweh ben Yahweh/ ‘God, Son of God’ (1935–2007) who allegedly orchestrated the murder of dozens of persons and was sentenced to 18 years in prison; Wayne Bent (born 1941) who was convicted on December 15, 2008 of one count of criminal sexual contact of a minor and two counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor in 2008; Shoko Asahara (born 1955) who declared himself the Lamb of God to take upon himself the sins of the world and carried out in March 20, 1995 the Sarin gas attack on the Tokyo subway and has been sentenced to death; Maurice Clemmons (1972–2009) responsible for the 2009 murder of four police officers in Washington state and referred to himself in May 2009 as Jesus; Jim Jones (1931–1978) who organized a mass murder suicide at Jonestown, Guyana on November 18, 1978 and shot himself after the murders were done; Marina Tsvigun (born 1960) who claims herself as the new messiah and her husband Yuri Krivonogov as John the Baptist; David Koresh (1959–1993) who proclaimed that he was the final prophet, the Son of God, the Lamb and was found dead with 54 adults and 21 children after the raid by FBI; Alan John Miller (born 1962) who claims himself to be Jesus reincarnated and his current partner Mary Suzanne Luck as the returned Mary Magdalene; and Oscar Ramiro Ortega-Hernandez (born 1990) who in November 2011 fired nine shots with a rifle at the White House in Washington D.C. believing himself to be Jesus Christ sent to kill U.S. President Barack Obama whom he believed to be the antichrist.
6. All these messianic or Jesus pretenders who made the world suffer have suffered personally from ‘messiah complex’ (also known as ‘Christ complex’ or ‘savior complex’). It is a state of mind in which an individual holds a belief that he or she is, or is destined to become a savior. The symptoms of this mental disorder closely resemble those found in individuals suffering from ‘grandiose delusions’ or ‘delusions of grandeur’, those who wrongly hold themselves at an extraordinarily high status in their mind. This form of delusional belief is most often reported in patients suffering from bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.
7. The writer of the Fourth Gospel used his pen in order to perpetuate the truth concerning Jesus. Preachers preached this truth. Martyrs gave their life to this truth. Today we need to propagate this truth by word and deed, as John the Baptist once did.
Radio Veritas Asia (RVA), a media platform of the Catholic Church, aims to share Christ. RVA started in 1969 as a continental Catholic radio station to serve Asian countries in their respective local language, thus earning the tag “the Voice of Asian Christianity.” Responding to the emerging context, RVA embraced media platforms to connect with the global Asian audience via its 21 language websites and various social media platforms.