"Psalm 23," John August Swanson. Used by permission from the artist.
Image © by John August Swanson. Artwork held in the Luther Seminary Fine Arts Collection, St. Paul, Minn.
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A Voice in the Wilderness
John 1:19-34 Commentary
by Gilberto Ruiz
The image many of us have of John the Baptist comes from his memorable depiction in the Synoptic Gospels (Matt 3:1-12; Mark 2:2-8; Luke 3:1-20).
He appears in the desert as a fiery prophet, an Elijah-like figure who wears clothes made of camel’s hair, eats grasshoppers and honey, preaches a message of repentance, and baptizes all who take his message to heart.
The Baptist we find in John 1:19-34 is a bit different, however. His introduction in verse 19 says nothing about his dress, his food, his message of repentance, or his baptizing activity. It focuses on his “testimony.”
The word “testimony” (Gk. martyria) refers to speech about what one has seen and finds prominent use in legal settings (both ancient and modern). Fittingly, a trial motif that runs through John’s Gospel (with Jesus being the one put on trial) is introduced in verses 19-28 with the arrival of priests and Levites sent to interrogate the Baptist.
They are sent by “the Jews,” a term the Fourth Gospel often uses for Jewish religious authorities based in Jerusalem, as it does here. Verse 24 specifies it was the ...
| Bible Text
Summer 2020 Readings
2020-21 Readings (Year 3)
The narrative lectionary is a four-year cycle of readings. Read more.
Narrative Lectionary 109: A Voice in the Wilderness
December 29, 2013
Join Profs. Rolf Jacobson, Craig Koester, and Kathryn Schifferdecker for "I Love to Tell the Story," a conversation on Year 4 of the narrative lectionary. This podcast covers the text for Dec. 29, 2013: John 1:19-34. Accompanying reading: Psalm 32:1-2.