Don’t get me wrong, I think John the Baptist is an important character in the Gospel narrative, but seriously, by the time you’ve slogged through Advent, Christmas, and Epiphany 1, it seems like the average Christian should be able to understand his role in the larger story. Do we really need to be spoon fed the whole, Jesus is the Messiah and John the Baptist tells us so motif?
Fortunately, the JBap reprise that we hear from John’s Gospel this Sunday doesn’t end with him recapitulating the baptismal scene. Instead, we get to hear about Andrew and the unnamed second disciple of John the Baptist who actually experience what we’ve now heard time and time again. John sees Jesus, points him out, and says, “there’s the guy, he’s the Lamb of God.” Clearly these guys were cut from good disciple cloth because they believe what their teacher says and they run after Jesus to figure out what he’s all about; creating that classic exchange between Jesus and the two disciples.
Jesus notices them following him, turns, and asks, “What are you looking for?”
Not quite sure what they want from Jesus, Andrew and the other guy shuffle their feet and say, “Rabbi, where are you staying?”
And in classic Jesus style, he simply responds, “Come and See.”
“Come and See.” That seems to be what this story is really about. John immediately repeats the phrase in saying, “They came and saw…” There is perhaps no better way to explain evangelism to the modern listener then through this story. A person, JBap, who had experienced the power of Jesus, shared with his friends what it meant to him. They, in turn, were invited to “come and see,” that is to say, to come and experience Jesus themselves. After spending the afternoon with him, Andrew finds his brother, Simon Peter, and tells him about Jesus, and the cycle begins again.
The key, of course, is that those who have experienced the power of Jesus in their lives are willing and able to share their story with those they care about. As “Peter” would later write, “Always be ready to give an answer when someone asks you about your hope.” Unfortunately, many of us aren’t ready or comfortable with our story of hope, but that seems to be easily remedied through practice and example. Of course, that assumes that leaders, lay and ordained, within the Church are willing and able to share their story of Jesus, and, as my 12th grade humanities teacher told me, “we all know what happens when you spell assume backwards.”