I baptize you with Water – John 1 6 28 – Meaning and Commentary

1. Introductory prayer

I calm down and I feel the presence of God in me. I ask for the grace of the Holy Spirit to open the word of God, I accept it and allow it to fulfill my mission in me, in order to become more and more what I am in Holy Trinity. Then I ask God for this prayer, in my own words, or with those that are here…

Advent is waiting for the coming of the Lord. This does not mean that He is not among us. The Lord is with us today, in many ways. How can we recognize Him? When we try to put Him in a box, in a drawer, we close the possibilities that the Lord opens for us. Lord, let me shrink, following the example of John, let me put you at the center. You alone can show me the way to the freedom that is in you, good and merciful God.

2. Reading – Listening:  – I baptize you with Water – John 1 6 28 – Meaning and Commentary

6 There was a man sent from God whose name was John. 7 He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all might believe. 8 He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light.

John the Baptist Denies Being the Messiah

19 Now this was John’s testimony when the Jewish leaders[b] in Jerusalem sent priests and Levites to ask him who he was. 20 He did not fail to confess, but confessed freely, “I am not the Messiah.”

21 They asked him, “Then who are you? Are you Elijah?”

He said, “I am not.”

“Are you the Prophet?”

He answered, “No.”

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22 Finally they said, “Who are you? Give us an answer to take back to those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?”

23 John replied in the words of Isaiah the prophet, “I am the voice of one calling in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way for the Lord.’”[c]

24 Now the Pharisees who had been sent 25 questioned him, “Why then do you baptize if you are not the Messiah, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet?”

26 “I baptize with[d] water,” John replied, “but among you stands one you do not know. 27 He is the one who comes after me, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie.”

28 This all happened at Bethany on the other side of the Jordan, where John was baptizing.

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3. Thoughts on the Gospel – I baptize you with Water – John 1 6 28 – Meaning and Commentary

The prologue to the Gospel of John says that the Word is present in everything and shines like a light in the darkness for every person. The search for God is born again and again in the heart of humanity. John the Baptist testified to the discovery of light in people’s lives. Many thought he was the Messiah! (Jn 1:20), so in the prologue, we read: “He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light.”

The Jews wanted to know who John was, baptizing people in the wilderness and attracting crowds. They sent priests and Levites to question him: Who are you? John’s answer is strange. Instead of telling them who he is, he tells them who he is not: “I am not the Messiah!” He then adds two more negative answers: neither Elijah nor the prophet. Both of these persons play a prominent role in the messianic hope. During this time, Elijah is said to have returned to bring the hearts of the fathers back to the children and the hearts of the children to the fathers. In other words, He would return to restore human solidarity (Mt 3: 23-24, Sir 48:10). The prophet is said to have completed the work begun by Moses. The people saw him as the long-awaited Messiah (Exodus 18:15), but John rejected these messianic titles because he is not the Messiah.

Later, however, it was Jesus who said that John the Baptist was Elijah (Matt. 17: 12-13). How can we explain this statement? In fact, there were different explanations regarding Elijah’s mission. Some said he would be the Messiah as the new Elijah. In this sense, John was not Elijah. Still, others said that Elijah’s mission consisted of preparing the way for the coming of the Messiah. In this sense, John was Elijah. In the dialogue between John, the Pharisees, and the priests, we see the catechesis of the community from the end of the first century. The questions of the priests and Pharisees about the importance of John the Baptist in God’s plan are questions of the community. Therefore, Jesus ’answers, as written by the evangelist, are also addressed to them.

John said only what he is not. The priests and Pharisees, however, wanted a clear answer. They wanted to know who he was and what his place was in God’s plan. John’s answer is the phrase of the prophet Isaiah, quoted by all four gospels: “I am the voice of one calling in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way for the Lord.”(Jn 1:23). At this point we see how the early Christians, in the spirit of the experience of the crucified and risen Christ, read and understood the Old Testament (2 Tim. 3: 15-17).

In Christian communities at the end of the first century, there were those who knew only of John’s baptism (Acts 18:25; 19: 3). When they met other Christians who had already received the baptism of Jesus, they wanted to know what it meant. There were many types of baptisms in those days. Baptism was a form by which a person accepted a particular message and undertook to carry it out. They confirmed this decision with baptism (purification or bath). For example: with John’s baptism, the person received the message proclaimed by John. With the baptism of Jesus, she received the message of Jesus, giving him the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 10: 44-48; 19: 5-6).

“But among you stands one you do not know.” This statement of the evangelist refers to Jesus, who is present in the crowd. As John wrote his gospel, Jesus as the Risen One continued to be present in communities and among people, especially among the poor with whom he identified. Even today, He is among us in many ways. Often, however, we do not recognize Him.

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4. Meditation – thinking

About everything I have read and what has touched me, I am thinking now. I let my thoughts also touch my heart. Think:

  • From which drawer in my life does God wants to jump into freedom? Who is God to me? Who is Jesus Christ to me?
  • f I allow God not to be in one of the drawers where I imagine Him, what door can He open for me? How could I describe the feelings and thoughts that overwhelm me when I am in this space where God has invited me? I surrender these feelings and thoughts to the Lord.

5. Personal Prayer

In the next moments of silence, I talk about this with Jesus. I tell him what I think, what I feel, what I want. I ask him for the grace that I need for … (make your conversation with God).

6. Contemplation – Quiet moment with God

Now I let silence be in me. I am simply present in God, as He is quietly present in me. Perhaps from this silence, I hear God’s speech, which invites me perhaps in thanksgiving and worship or to open myself and accept him in my path life and work, maybe He gives me the courage to continue searching for…

7. Action

When I walk into a personal relationship with God, he changes me, makes me more loving, and encourages me to the concrete action, which is….. (write down your insights for concrete action).

8. Prayer at the end

Lord, you want to show me how the desert can change if I let you enchant me and lead me to freedom. Because your Love lasts forever. Thank you, Love. Thank you for always inviting me anew to go to the landscape you are inviting me to. Thank you for being there with me.

9. Review of my prayer meditation or reflection

This is my view on what was happening in me at the time, I spent praying. In my reflection, I can help myself with the following questions:

  • How was I feeling when I started praying?
  • What happened during the prayer?
  • What feelings and thoughts could I detect in myself?
  • How did I feel about the revelations, which I had during my prayer?
  • What did I learn about myself, about God, about his attitude towards me and others, and me to him and others?
  • How did I finish my prayer?
  • What did I receive for my everyday life?
  • In the end, I can write the lessons, findings, and insights. I can write also, where I had problems, they may have great value in learning about my relationship and myself with God. They can also help to find a more appropriate way of prayer for me.
  • Then I thank the Holy Trinity. If I pray with my family or in the community, friends, I can share with them what I felt in this prayer. With a prayer for one another, you can support yourself throughout the week.

Lectio Divina meditations are published and adapted with permission from the Jesuits home – ignacijevdom.si

Text from the Bible – New International Version (NIV)

Let us remain close in the same prayer! May the Lord bless you abundantly!