Dec 17 – 3 Advent
John 1:6-8, 19-28
The Testimony of John
Background: The Gospel of John is different than the other Gospels. This Gospel is rich in imagery and often complex and subtle language. This Gospel stresses the divinity of Jesus against the created world. The Gospel also appears to address the Gnostic focus on special knowledge to understand Jesus’ mission and divinity.
Theme: This passage appears in the portion of this Gospel commonly referred to as the prologue. This section introduces the central theme of the Gospel: the divine Savior (Jesus) has come into the world and has been rejected by many. These verses focus on the nature of the witnesses who will identify the divine among us.
Questions to Ponder
* Please read John 1:6-8, 19-28.
* Place this reading in context; where does it take place, who are the characters, what is the relationship between the characters, etc.?
* Locate “Bethany beyond the Jordan”. Is that location different than other Bethany listed or cited in this Gospel?
* What do you find odd about John’s response in verse 20 to the Levite’s question in verse 19? In your opinion, does John’s response answer their question?
* Why might the Levites as if John was Elijah? Why not ask if John was one of the other major prophets?
* To whom do you think the Levites were referring to when they ask if John was the prophet? [Emphasis added] Who might the prophet be? Why might they wonder if John was the prophet?
* How does John’s quote in verse 23 compare with (1) the original text in Isaiah 40 and (2) other quotes in the Gospels and the New Testament? Why might there be differences?
* What was the function of baptism considering the Levites/Pharisees asserted that only the Messiah, Elijah, or the prophet could rightfully baptize people?
* What do you think John’s claim was about the act of water baptism?
* In the synoptic gospels John is portrayed as John the Baptist against the Gospel of John’s portrayal as simply a witness to Jesus. Compare the distinctions between being referred to as “the Baptist” versus “the witness”.
* What do you think John’s principal role is as witness to Jesus? What claims or statements does John make to support his assertion of being a witness?
* How do you think John’s claim as one who comes before the light (Jesus) to witness to the light becomes our mission today?
* How does the image of John shift the focus of Christians in the 3rd week of Advent?
* How does this passage affect the mission we have as Christians in our current culture and situation?