Every time we gather to pray together over the gospels, the Holy Spirit is present; because we invite Him with a prayer to the Holy Spirit, with which we begin our meetings. There are some days that His presence feels like it pulled up a chair to the table and we could palpably touch Him. As we discussed John 1:35-42, the gospel for this upcoming Sunday, a curious and beautiful reflection was unraveled among us. We all felt the power of it.
35 The next day John was there again with two of his disciples, 36 and as he watched Jesus walk by, he said, “Behold, the Lamb of God.” 37 The two disciples heard what he said and followed Jesus. 38 Jesus turned and saw them following him and said to them, “What are you looking for?” They said to him, “Rabbi” (which translated means Teacher), “where are you staying?” 39 He said to them, “Come, and you will see.” So they went and saw where he was staying, and they stayed with him that day. It was about four in the afternoon. 40 Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter, was one of the two who heard John and followed Jesus. 41 He first found his own brother Simon and told him, “We have found the Messiah” (which is translated Anointed). 42 Then he brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said, “You are Simon the son of John; you will be called Cephas” (which is translated Peter).
- “Behold the Lamb of God”: This moment in history is so pinnacle because it was one of the great prophesies of the completion of God’s covenant. We are told in numerous scriptures of John the Baptist preparing the way for Jesus, the Lamb of God. It was of him that the prophet Isaiah had spoken when he said: “A voice of one crying out in the desert, ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths.’” Matthew 3:3. The men who were called to follow Jesus were truly given the gift of grace and faith by which to follow. It seems after very little prompting they go with Jesus. Christ’s presence must have been unmistakably powerful for the apostles to follow as they did.
- There are so many parts of gospel that seem to be a mystery. Jesus renames Simon “Cephas” or Peter. He knew one day he would be the rock on whom he would build the church. It must have been strange to Peter to be renamed upon meeting Jesus!
- “Where are you staying?” They ask him this later in the day. They are very drawn to him and it would be nice to know exactly what the thought process is that drew them to him and what they were thinking. (It was mentioned that it would be nice to have “thought bubbles” for this and some of the readings for the characters involved!)
- “And they stayed with him that day”: it helps to understand that they spent the whole day with Jesus; they spent hours listening and getting to know him so that they could go deeper into a relationship with him and be able to share him with others. This is an example of an early model of evangelization. When we are called and get to know him, and he “renames” us in a new way, then in our new identity in Christ we can go out and share him.
- “It was about four in the afternoon”; one of our members remarked that so many times in the gospels we see this phrase. We all agreed in the same curiosity that there must be some significance to “four in the afternoon”. After some research, I was able to find that in the way the Jewish hours of the day were numbered according to the Sabbath, this was the 10th hour of the day. The significance of the number 10 in scripture sometimes represents “The Law”, the ten commandments. It is interesting that many important things happened in the 10th hour of the day in scripture.
Our case was about a woman who wrote a powerful article during Advent. She was experiencing a crisis situation in her family with a son who has substance abuse issues. She wrote that her son was traveling to enter a rehabilitation program for his illness. She went into the chapel and was praying as he traveled that he would arrive safely, and go forward with his treatment, and she was experiencing deep anguish over the situation. Her “go-to” prayer was Psalm 23;
The Lord, Shepherd and Host
1 A psalm of David.
The Lord is my shepherd;
there is nothing I lack.
2 In green pastures he makes me lie down;
to still waters he leads me;
3 he restores my soul.
He guides me along right paths
for the sake of his name.
4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil, for you are with me;
your rod and your staff comfort me.
5 You set a table before me
in front of my enemies;
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
6 Indeed, goodness and mercy will pursue me
all the days of my life;
I will dwell in the house of the Lord
for endless days.