“You sent to John, and he has borne witness to the truth…but I say this that you may be saved. [John] was a burning and shining lamp… But the testimony which I have is greater than that of John…for the works which I am doing bear witness that the Father has sent me.” John 5:30-47
An important figure in Advent Sunday readings is John the Baptizer, prophet and forerunner of Jesus. John was sent to prepare the way for the coming of the Lord, calling people to repentance. Many were confused, but John was clear. He was not the Messiah, but another was coming who was greater.
Our Lord himself speaks of this in our daily reading from the Gospel of John. Jesus acknowledges that John was a witness to the truth. In this way, John was a burning and shining lamp. But as John testified to the coming of Jesus, the Son of God was greater than John, for Jesus bore witness to the Father who sent him. Similarly, the Father bore witness to the Son! And still, there were those who would not recognize and receive the only begotten Son of God. Jesus says, “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness to me; yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life.”
The Scriptures are not our Savior, but as Luther said, they are “the manger in which the Christ child lays.” It is Jesus Christ who is our Savior. The Scriptures, like John, bear witness to the Savior—in every page and chapter and verse! We read the Scriptures to hear what they testify about Christ Jesus, just as we listen to the words of John the Baptizer because he points us to the Messiah, the Christ. We read the Old Testament, the Psalms, the Epistles and the Gospels asking, “How does this proclaim Christ?” And we are never disappointed!
Our Lord closes with these words, “If you believed Moses, you would believe me; for he wrote of me. But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe my words?”
Lord our God, open our hearts and minds to the Holy Scriptures, that we may see Christ and know Christ, your only Son adored! Amen.
Prepared by David Wendel, North American Lutheran Church