This Sunday, We Learn 5 Things About Jesus

User’s Guide to Sunday, Jan. 15

‘But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become the children of God’ (John 1:12).
‘But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become the children of God’ (John 1:12). (photo: Frank William Warwick Topham, ‘A Thank Offering,’ 1884 / Public domain)

Sunday, Jan. 15, is the Second Sunday in Ordinary Time. Mass readings: Isaiah 49:3, 5-6; Psalm 40:2, 4, 7-8, 8-9, 10; 1 Corinthians 1:1-3; John 1:29-34.

As Ordinary Time opens and the official Christmas cycle is now done, we must ask, “Who is Jesus Christ? Who is this savior who has been born for us?” In today’s Gospel, John the Baptist’s words are brief, but they are packed with Christological teaching. We learn at least five things about Jesus.


He is Prefigured 

“John the Baptist saw Jesus coming toward him and said, ‘Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.’” 

In Genesis 22, Abraham’s son Isaac, a promised son, had wood laid upon his shoulder and was made to carry it up a hillside, the same hillside where Golgotha would one day be found. He was to be laid on the wood and killed. Sound familiar? 

Of course, Isaac is a prefigurement of Christ. Nervously, he asked his father, “Where is the lamb?” God provided a ram caught in the thicket that day, but that ram pointed to Christ. But the question, “Where is the lamb?” wafted on the breeze and was repeated down through the generations. 

Now, standing on the banks of the Jordan, John the Baptist answers Isaac’s question, “Look! There is the Lamb of God.” 


He Is Preexistent 

“He is the one of whom I said, ‘A man is coming after me who ranks ahead of me because he existed before me.’” 

Jesus was born six months after John the Baptist, yet John says that Jesus existed before him. John is teaching us here of Christ’s preexistence: Before assuming a human nature, Jesus existed eternally with the Father. “He is before all things” (Colossians 1:16), “He was in the beginning with God; all things were made through him” (John 1:2), “and Jesus says of himself, ‘Before Abraham was, I AM’” (John 8:56).


He Is Preeminent 

“I did not know him, but the reason why I came baptizing with water was that he might be made known to Israel.” In effect, John is saying, “I exist for him. My purpose is to reveal him.” 

He must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:30).

Jesus is greater than John or any prophet or world leader. Jesus is the Groom; John is the best man.


He Is Powerful

“John testified further, ‘The one who sent me to baptize with water told me, ‘On whomever you see the Spirit come down and remain, he is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’” 

The baptism of John could only announce repentance and call for it. 

It could not truly wash away sins — but the baptism of Jesus can.

 Even more, it confers the Holy Spirit. In Jesus’ baptism, we are given new life, sin is taken away, and grace upon grace is given to restore, renew and refashion us. It equips, empowers and enables us; it sanctifies, gives sonship and seals us with the Holy Spirit. 

Scripture says, “But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become the children of God” (John 1:12).


He Is the Presence of God 

“Now I have seen and testified that he is the Son of God.” 

Jesus would say elsewhere, “To see me is to have seen the Father; the Father and I are one” (John 14:9). As the Son of God, he manifests the Father. He is the presence of God in this world. He shares fully in the one divine essence and, as Son, shows us the Father. 

He is the presence of God among us.