Collect and Readings for Second Sunday of Epiphany – Isaiah 49.1-7, Psalm 40.1-12, 1 Corinthians 1.1-9, John 1.29 -42
The Prayer for today
Almighty God, in Christ you make all things new: transform the poverty of our nature by
the riches of your grace, and in the renewal of our lives make known your heavenly glory;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of
the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
This week, as we continue to think of Christ being shown, or revealed, to the world, there is another of the ‘servant’ readings from Isaiah. Set apart before birth, the servant has been brought into being to gather up Israel and bring her back into a right relationship with God, not through a dynamically successful campaign which the world might recognise and expect, but actually through worldly foolishness – failure, suffering and rejection.
Not only that, but as the plan unfolds it spills out of its original boundaries to include the possibility of salvation for the entire world. Gradually the prophet is starting to understand the scale of God’s intended action.
We pick up the echoes of the Gospel pictures of Jesus in the reading from Isaiah: the pre-natal cherishing, the light for the world, the redeemer, the homage paid by kings and important people. They are echoes that the people of Israel would have noticed, and they reveal Jesus as the One who fulfils the Old Testament writings in a most remarkable way.
John wants to tell everyone about it. It says a lot about John that he is able to direct his own disciples to Jesus. Probably with hindsight, the Gospel writer has John describing Jesus as God’s Passover Lamb’. With all the significance of sacrifice and the way to freedom which that suggests. Though he had been preparing them for this, it could still have been a moment to indulge the human instinct to be possessive, critical, and defensive, yet in John we rather sense excitement and great enthusiasm.
In John’s Gospel the emphasis is not so much on Jesus going out to find his disciples as them going to find him, and bringing one another along. We are aware of the attraction of this itinerant teacher and holy man, with his remarkable gift of discernment and wisdom. Can this really be the promised and long-awaited Messiah? It will really only be time spent in Jesus’ company that will enable these followers to decide about the truth of Jesus’ identity.
And as Paul writes in his letter to the church in Corinth, the same is true for all those who seek Jesus, whatever time or place they live in. As we spend time in Jesus’ company we will find that it shows, and then others, spending time with us, may recognise the truth that Christ is living in us.
Some things to reflect on:
· What can we learn about evangelising from today’s Gospel?
· How does John’s way of narrating Jesus’ Baptism differ from Matthew’s? What do both accounts agree about?
Rev’d Fiona Robinson