October 31, 2020

Jesus Calls Disciples

Ecce Agnus Dei, Bouts

By Chaplain Mike

Today’s Gospel: John 1:29-42

there he stood, pointing, pointing
day after day after day
and only sinners came
unwashed to be washed clean
then one day he pointed, hand trembling
gaze fixed on one he saw
pushing us away in his direction
he bid us go, go

and there we stood, wondering, wondering
and glancing back and forth and back again
we began to walk
hesitant, hopeful, eager, afraid
we picked up the pace
with one last look
we saw john turn his back
and we were gone, gone

the one before us stopped, stopped
and watched, and watched us approach
caught between our past
and who knows what
then he asked “why?”
we looked at him like children
both of us said “you”
and he said “come, come”


  1. Can I get some expert opinion as to why John said, “I didn’t know Him” in John 1:31. This is the same John who leaped in his mother’s womb at the sound of Jesus’ mother’s voice.

    My annotated Bible suggests that John didn’t recognize Jesus more than 30 years later, or that he was then unsure that Jesus was really the Messiah because he hadn’t done anything good yet. But the statement comes only moments after John declares that Jesus is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. If John recognized THAT, then what was it that he didn’t recognize?

    • Andy Z, I hope you get some good replies to your question as I would like to know the answer too. Jesus and John were related. Their parents lived close enough to one another at least at one time that Mary could head out by herself to go to John’s parents’ house when Elizabeth was pregnant with John. So, you would THINK that they would have known each other growing up, but perhaps their parents did not reveal all that they knew to their sons. But, in regard to part of what you are asking, I think John said that Jesus is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world AFTER he had baptized Jesus and after he saw the Spirit rest on him like a dove. (I wonder what that means, too?) And yet, there is a passage where it seems that John knows who Jesus is BEFORE he baptizes Jesus because John asks Jesus why he should be baptizing Jesus when he knows that Jesus is so much greater than he is and Jesus tells him to do it anyway (basically). So I find all that baptizing stuff a bit confusing.

    • I would say that the Forerunner, John, is finally fully hit with who Jesus is, and that happened 300 some years before the Third Ecumenical Council. His reaction is the same reaction you see from the disciples after Jesus calms the storm. Who is this man? His reaction is the same reaction as when Saints Peter, James, and John see Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration, glowing in the uncreated light with Moses and Elijah advising him.

      Oh yes, John knew his cousin Jesus, even after 30 years. Oh yes, he knew that the Holy Spirit resting on his cousin was the sign of the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world, and that this confirmed the stories he must have certainly heard from his mother about how he leaped in the womb. But, at the baptism Jesus was not cleansed since he did not need cleansing. It was John who was changed by the waters now sanctified by the Messiah in them. It was John whose eyes were cleansed and spiritually opened and who, like the Prophet Isaiah, realized that he was in the presence of his God and his Lord. It was John who, in a wondering tone, says that he did not know his cousin, not really.

  2. Very meaningful poem!

  3. The second stanza is amaazing- what a picture of how a “witness” functions.