Hand-off | John 1:35-39
The next day again John was standing with two of his disciples, and he looked at Jesus as he walked by and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God!” The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus. Jesus turned and saw them following and said to them, “What are you seeking?” And they said to him, “Rabbi” (which means Teacher), “where are you staying?” He said to them, “Come and you will see.” So they came and saw where he was staying, and they stayed with him that day, for it was about the tenth hour. John 1:35-39 | ESV
On the next day (day three, if you’re counting), John had taken his stand there, along with two of his devotees, when suddenly he spies him again – Jesus, walking right by. Staring at him he says to the two, “Look. It’s him. The lamb of God.” The two were paying attention, caught his drift, and set right out after Jesus. After trailing behind him for a bit, Jesus turned around and studied them closely as they trailed him and coyly inquires, “So what are you two after?” Taken by surprise, they replied nervously, “Rabbi (which, by the way, is simply the Jewish way of saying “Respected Teacher”), we just want to know where you’re staying.” Jesus smiles, says, “Come and you’ll find out” as he waves for them to join his company. So they walked along with him and found out exactly where he was staying, and they shared his lodging with him that day – which was a smart thing to do since by their reckoning it was already the tenth hour and the day was waning (we call this 4pm). MAV (Mike’s Authorized Version)
Richard Rohr observes, “Unfortunately, we have an entire generation of educators, bishops, and political leaders who grew up either without much structure, or with a worship of structure—and are building their personal towers of success, and therefore have little ability to elder the young or challenge the beginners onto maturity. They are still beginners themselves. This does not bode well for the future of any church or society.” So much of cultural leadership both sacred and secular is about building a following and business and not just retaining it, but multiplying it. It’s called success. Only an idiot sends his people away. But this is precisely what John does. John had an impact that registered in the pages of a Jewish historian like Josephus and that resulted in a persistent following that decades later could still be encountered on the distant shores of the Mediterranean. But he pointed away from himself. He gave them away. We’ll encounter this in a point blank statement just a ways ahead in the Gospel of John as jealous followers asked about this fledgling Jesus movement that appeared to be stealing John’s thunder in the desert – it was making them look bad before their religious opponents! “He must increase, and I must decrease.” That just won’t make it into most of our business books. It won’t make it into most of our books, period. It’s just not natural. It goes against the ego grain. Who wants to hand-off the ball when you could carry it across the goal line yourself? After a game winning touchdown, who gets hoisted up onto teammates’ shoulders? The ball carrier or the one who handed it off? Do we even know the number on his jersey? Do we keep stats on number of successful hand-offs or the number of personally scored touchdowns? Perhaps we do track successful hand offs. (I’m stepping out onto essentially unfamiliar turf here – me and sports – not so much.) I guess we do in baseball. It’s called RBI’s, right? And so in the field of the kingdom of God, the hand-off is the most crucial, pivotal maneuver – and it’s the one that will be celebrated. Jesus called John the greatest among those born of women – perhaps that’s partially because he was the best at doing the hand-off.
What do you find hardest to “give away” when it comes to function and attention? What do you find easiest? Why?
Lord, chase from my heart the desire to build for myself, to magnify myself, to maximize my own success and achievement; teach me the gentle wisdom of the wild man in the desert; let me excel in the hand-off, in multiplying and magnifying the gifts, talents, and success of others. Through Jesus.
For all of this week’s resources for this new series on Spiritual Disciplines including this week’s DG video, check out the Vineyard website.