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Desert drama

by davesandel on January 4th, 2020

Desert drama

Saturday, January 4, 2020

The next day John was standing with two of his disciples, and as he watched Jesus walk by, he said, “Behold, the Lamb of God.” John’s disciples turned and followed Jesus. “What are you looking for?” Jesus asked. They asked him, “Rabbi, where are you staying?” And he said to them, “Come and you will see.”

– From John 1

So much story between two days. John’s public words of welcome to Jesus, Jesus’ baptism and blessing from heaven, the congregation held in awe as the two embrace, the crowd disperses and then … what? Jesus goes his way and John goes his? John’s disciples follow him and Jesus is alone?

There was evening and there was morning – first day of the whole new world.

And the next day, as if standing on a street corner as Jesus passes by alone, John says to his friends, “Behold, the Lamb of God.” Will John stop preaching now that he has baptized Jesus? Does he encourage his disciples to leave and follow Jesus? Will John himself follow Jesus? If not, why not?

Sun Myung Moon, my former teacher, thought that John and Jesus failed to work together, and that this was the crucial breakdown in what Rev. Moon saw as God’s plan to bring physical salvation to humanity through Jesus. That’s interesting, to say the least. But it’s not how most of us read the New Testament.

I have questions, not answers. When I read the Bible, when I read this story, I prefer to spend my time imagining myself into the story. I could have been one of those two disciples of John. One of them was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. The other …


I scuffled my feet for a moment in the dust when John looked at Jesus. Then John looked at me. “Well, Davey, go and see what you can see. Jesus is right here. Get going.” And I did. Andrew and I walked right up to Jesus, the man whom John as much as said was our Messiah. We looked each other in the eye and I had no idea what to say, so I just asked him, “Where are you staying?” I felt foolish. Who cares where he was staying?

But he said something wonderful. “Come and see.” You can decide what you think about all this for yourself. When he spoke I felt more free than I had since childhood. Just being here with Jesus, breathing the same air and sweating the same sweat gave me a new sense of my own goodness. God made everything glorious, and he made me.

I began to realize how unnecessary it was for me to understand these things. And when I let God break down the “cubicles of reasoning” in the office of my mind, I found myself following Jesus into light and into darkness, into joy and into sorrow, far beyond my understanding into peace.

In his New Testament called The Remedy, Timothy Jennings paraphrases 1 Peter 1:23: “You have been recreated in mind, heart and character: not from a defective self-centered template but from the perfect, eternal, immortal original – the living and everlasting character of God himself!”

He is jealous for me, loves like a hurricane, I am a tree

Bending beneath the weight of his wind and mercy.

When all of a sudden, I am unaware

Of these afflictions eclipsed by glory,

And I realize just how beautiful You are,

And how great Your affections are for me.

 This re-creation was happening to me right now, as I watched Jesus and followed him. I no longer scuffled my feet. My back straightened up. Everything I saw and everything I heard lent themselves to the certainty that I had been re-made from a new (as old as creation itself, but new to me) model, from “the perfect, eternal, immortal original.”

And we are His portion and He is our prize,

Drawn to redemption by the grace in His eyes,

If His grace is an ocean, we’re all sinking.

And heaven meets earth like an unforeseen kiss,

And my heart turns violently inside of my chest

I don’t have time to maintain these regrets

When I think about the way that he loves us

Right there with Jesus, standing in the sand, I knew how much I had always been God’s child.

Lord, in your mercy, in your love for me, doves erupt from the field and surround me, flying. No fear, Father, only awe as I too am lifted up and sing with your white birds of heaven. All new, all made new. In your mercy, hear our prayers.

“cubicles of reasoning,” from “The Unanswered Question in Thomas Merton’s ‘Fire Watch,’” by Ross Labrie in Christianity and Literature, Vol. 52, No. 4 (Summer 2003), p. 562

David Crowder Band, “How He Loves”, from Church Music album, 2009




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