Many churches have what they call a “Children’s Sermon” as part of the weekly worship service. For this sermon, the pastor or someone else gathers all of the young children to the front and has a short lesson with them, usually a taste of what will be in the regular sermon. Kids are always a bit unpredictable and the pastor never really knows what will happen next. A few years ago, we were in church and the pastor brought the kids up and began by asking them what they knew about Jesus. There was lots of enthusiastic give and take—they had obviously been pretty well taught. Suddenly, one young boy got very excited and shouted, “Hey! Jesus and God are the same guy!” Our congregation – stunned - broke out into applause. This young man had suddenly got it! Let’s listen to a passage in John’s Gospel that tells us about a time when Jesus’ cousin finally “got” it:
The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! He is the one I was talking about when I said, ‘A man is coming after me who is far greater than I am, for he existed long before me.’ I did not recognize him as the Messiah, but I have been baptizing with water so that he might be revealed to Israel.” Then John testified, “I saw the Holy Spirit descending like a dove from heaven and resting upon him. I didn’t know he was the one, but when God sent me to baptize with water, he told me, ‘The one on whom you see the Spirit descend and rest is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’ I saw this happen to Jesus, so I testify that he is the Chosen One of God.” (John 1:29-34)
In today’s passage, we encounter John the Baptist. By the way, I have on good authority that John wasn’t a Baptist at all. According to my completely unbiased sources he was a Lutheran, although this may be hotly disputed by several Presbyterians I know. Anyway, John saw Jesus and pointed him out as the Messiah to the everyone nearby. He said, “I did not recognize him as the Messiah, but I have been baptizing with water so that he might be revealed to Israel.” Other translations of the Bible say “I did not know Him” or “I did not recognize Him.” Now remember, Jesus’ mother Mary and John’s mother Elizabeth were cousins and close friends. John and Jesus certainly must have known each other growing up and John did recognize his cousin Jesus…but he didn’t recognize Him as the Messiah until that moment. Has this ever happened to you? Have you ever discovered Jesus in a whole new way? When that happens to us, it is the work of the Holy Spirit, not the skill of great teachers. Discovering Jesus is not just a one-time thing. I have been discovering Him for nearly fifty years. How about you?
My prayer for you today is that you will continue to discover Jesus again and again in fresh new ways. Jesus and God are the same Guy…and that’s very Good News!