Seeing Jesus coming towards him, John said, ‘Look, there is the lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world. This is the one I spoke of when I said: A man is coming after me who ranks before me because he existed before me. I did not know him myself, and yet it was to reveal him to Israel that I came baptising with water.’ John also declared, ‘I saw the Spirit coming down on him from heaven like a dove and resting on him. I did not know him myself, but he who sent me to baptise with water had said to me, “The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and rest is the one who is going to baptise with the Holy Spirit.” Yes, I have seen and I am the witness that he is the Chosen One of God.’
Something that I come across with people both seeking faith and rejecting faith is the need to 'know'. How to achieve the sense of certainty that allows one to sit back and be sure. Well it's not going to happen. Not from anything you will ever be able to hold in our hand or in our head. And this is a good thing because we should not be seeking a sense of certainty, rather, a sense of mystery.
John of the Gospel...meet John.
The John of Old Testament prophetic, spirit driven zeal speaks out of the Gospel of mystic revelation.
Rather than the plea for reassurance from the confined darkness; John has his Baptist speak words of labyrinthine prophecy, echoing a leap of faith made in the dark comfort of the womb.
The turning of John's words; signs and wonders; befores and afters; knowings and unknowings - recognises the true mystery of who Jesus truly is.
Recognition that faith truly serves mystery.
'There he is. And I don't even know who 'he' is.'
Mystery and humility.
We expect John to know.
A cousin; a visitation.
Forgetting that, by tradition, the Holy Spirit whisked John into the desert not long after he could walk. Was part of that retreat from the world intended to embed in John the memory of that preternatural encounter?
To allow that leap of recognition within the womb to be his talisman, a lodestone that blazed so brightly that so many others were drawn to the light of anticipation?
The thousands gathered together on the banks of the Jordan. Gathered in anticipation of the Messiah, the Chosen One, Seeing the light so strongly in John's eyes and voice that some thought John was surely the One. That maybe he just didn't know.
John did know that within him, he held a reflection of the Spirit's desire. A desire that was coming to fulfillment.
Humility and mystery.
Not John; never John.
Always the One who was 'before'.
Before life; before birth; before time.
Known only, and ultimately, in the Unknowing.