Last week, we heard the story of Jesus’ baptism by his cousin John the Baptist. Today, we come at the story from a different angle – we hear about the baptism from John’s perspective. Listen to his words as we read the Gospel of John, chapter 1, verses 29 through 42:

John 1: 29-42          

The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! 

This is the one I meant when I said, ‘A man who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’ 

I myself did not know him, but the reason I came baptizing with water was that he might be revealed to Israel.”

Then John gave this testimony: “I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him. 

And I myself did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, ‘The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’ 

I have seen and I testify that this is God’s Chosen One.”

The next day John was there again with two of his disciples. 

When he saw Jesus passing by, he said, “Look, the Lamb of God!”

When the two disciples heard him say this, they followed Jesus. 

Turning around, Jesus saw them following and asked, “What do you want?”

They said, “Rabbi” (which means “Teacher”), “where are you staying?”

“Come,” he replied, “and you will see.”

So they went and saw where he was staying, and they spent that day with him. It was about four in the afternoon.

Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, was one of the two who heard what John had said and who had followed Jesus. 

The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon and tell him, “We have found the Messiah” (that is, the Christ). 

And he brought him to Jesus.

Jesus looked at him and said, “You are Simon son of John. You will be called Cephas” (which, when translated, is Peter).

Here ends this reading of the word of God for the People of God. Thanks be to God. Amen.

Prayer: Let the words of my mouth and the meditations of all of our hearts be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, our Rock and our Redeemer. Amen.

Jesus’ ministry became official once he was baptized. He had the stamp of approval from God – God’s Holy Spirit descended from the heavens like a dove and alighted on Jesus. Jesus was “one” with the Holy Spirit, signifying to John the Baptist and those gathered on the shores of the Jordan River the Messiah was officially here—Jesus the Christ made his debut.

John was thrilled. The one he was waiting for had arrived… I guess his parents never told him to keep an eye on Jesus, his cousin from faraway Nazareth. John started to share with his followers the “Good News” about Jesus, so some of John’s disciples rushed to check out Jesus.

Once Andrew and Simon Peter met Jesus, they were transfixed. They saw for themselves that they needed to drop everything and start following Jesus. They could immediately tell Jesus was the one – they had an Epiphany that they were in the presence of the Lord.

Jesus was baptized, and was ready to go. He was prepared for the work ahead and ready to call his first disciples. Jesus was prepared to proclaim the reign of God is near, for people to repent and believe in the Good News.  Andrew and Simon Peter jumped ship from John and came to follow Jesus. They had been preparing to meet the Messiah with John, and so they were ready to follow Jesus as soon as he made his appearance.

I go to a yoga class on Wednesday morning. At the beginning of each session, the teacher tells us to set our intentions for the class – we tell ourselves what we are prepared to get out of forthcoming hour….stretching, relaxing, calm.

It is relatively easy to be prepared for how you are going to spend the next hour. But, it requires work to prepare for bigger events and transitions. In January, in the beginning of the year, we are invited to make resolutions, to set goals, and to prepare for the next year. The YMCA’s parking lot fills up, smoothie sales explode, and Aldi starts selling exercise equipment. Many people try to shape up and lose weight. Some people set goals—I will read more, take more walks with the dog, and eat fewer potato chips. But, alas, many of us quickly fall short of our new resolutions.

In the midst of this season, as we transition away from the chaos of Christmas and settle down for our long winter ahead, I suggest we look in our hearts for what God is preparing us for.  Are we prepared to listen to God’s voice and guidance in our lives? Are we paying attention to God’s call on our lives? Are we prepared to be surprised, and perhaps like Andrew and Simon, to do something new and different than what we expected?

We don’t know when or where the Holy will break into our lives. We may suddenly be invited by God to take on a wholly new thing. God may be nudging us to start singing in the choir. God may be tugging on our shirts and telling us to start volunteering at the Daily Bread food pantry. God may be pushing us to get our background checks done so that we can become Sunday school teachers. God may be calling us to join our Outreach team and start inviting everyone we come across to join us at Trinity.

Even before we are born, God has a plan for our lives. God knows our innermost thoughts and knows the words we will say before our tongues form them. God has a certain things God wants us to do.  Our work as people of faith is to listen to God’s direction – the nudges, the outright commands, the leading – and then follow the paths God lays before us. Our work is to prepare for God’s instructions and to become ready for when God calls us to do things.

John the Baptists was called to prepare people to welcome the Messiah. His ministry was to invited people to repent of their sins, to symbolically wash them away in the Jordan River, and invited them to prepare for the Kingdom of God to break into the world. John didn’t know when the Messiah would appear. John may have not even known if the Messiah would come in his lifetime. But, his work of preparing himself and preparing others commenced even though he knew not the time or the place of Jesus’ arrival.

Let us search our hearts, listen for God, and prepare to receive and follow God’s commands and direction to us. Let us be like those first disciples, Andrew and Simon Peter, who were prepared and ready to go when Jesus showed up. Let’s be prepared and ready to God when Jesus shows up and God calls us to serve God.

Let us be ready and prepared. Amen.