Scripture: John 1:19-28
Key verse: (20b) “I am not the Messiah.”
Reflection: It is said that the great 20th century reformed theologian, Karl Barth, had a copy of the piece of art called the Isenheim Altarpiece hanging above the desk where we he wrote most of his theological works. The altarpiece is a triptych with a crucifixion scene in the middle, but it is another figure in the frame that led Barth to put the piece above his work space. The figure is John the Baptist, and he is there in his typical posture: with one finger, he points to Jesus on the cross, and with his eyes, he looks out at viewers of the work. He draws us in, and draws our attention to Jesus. “This,” he seems to say, “this is what is important. Look here.”
Barth hung this picture above his desk so that he could remind himself of the posture he wanted to take as a theologian – that of John the Baptist. He wanted to be one who points to Christ, and not to himself.
So often, it is easy for us to forget that this really is the fundamental posture all Christians are called to assume. As we go about our work, and the daily activity of our lives, we hope to point to the one who redeems, the one who forgives, the one who restores life. Being a Christian is really a profound de-centering. Life isn’t all about self-promotion, self-gain, self-protection, self-first, self-fill-in-the-blank. Instead, we are called as witnesses, who invite others into an encounter with the God who loves all of us.
Like Barth, like John the Baptist, we all point to Jesus in our living and speaking in different ways. Stop to consider the day – or even week – that stretches out before you as you read this. What gifts would you be willing to share with others today that might draw their attention to the love that has claimed them?
Prayer: O God, give me a moment of pause, and help me to consider my habitual thoughts and actions, so that I might reorient my life towards you, with your help. Amen.
Author: Anna Dickson
[Scripture quotations are from New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved].