The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him and declared, “Here is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!. . . .And I myself have seen and have testified that this is the Son of God.” – John 1:29, 34
I have a friend who once thought she might want to embrace the Jewish faith. She went to a rabbi to talk about this. After listening to her for awhile, the rabbi asked her, “Do you believe in Jesus?” She said that she kind of thought she did. The rabbi said, “I don’t think Judaism is for you.” This came as a great surprise to my friend, who hadn’t until that moment understood the difference in faith traditions.
One of the great blessings for me in participating in multi-faith discussions is that it helps me clarify my own beliefs. Lots of other faith traditions do honor Jesus. Often he is seen as a great prophet, a teacher among teachers, and his words and actions are revered. No one but us Christians, however, view him as the only Son of God.
In my own relationship with Jesus I went from believing completely in his divinity to thinking of him much as my friends of other faiths do, as a man very connected with the divine spark within. That was in my twenties and early thirties. These days I once again affirm that he is greater than any prophet. Though he is human he is also one of the persons of the Holy Trinity, the Son, the Incarnate God. This is what defines me as a Christian. When I want to know who God is and what God desires of me, I look to Jesus.
I can tell you that it is the Gospel of John, especially the prologue, that best articulates my understanding of Jesus these days. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God. . . . All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What came into being through him was life, and the life was the light of all people.” (John 1:1-4) This, better than either of the Creeds, speaks my view that God was always the God of the incarnation, that Jesus always was going to be born, that the essence of Christ is the essence of God.
What I cannot tell you is how I got back to that conviction. I cannot say what changed for me, except that it happened quietly, over a long period of time, and part of it happened while I was writing icons in prayer.
John the Baptist pointed to Jesus and said, “Behold. Here is the Lamb of God, whom I know to be the Son of God.” Some of his disciples went after Jesus, asked to learn from him and wound up following his new Way. Others remained with John. John himself did not become a disciple of Jesus; he continued to teach and baptize in the manner in which he always had. Apparently it isn’t compulsory in God’s chosen ones to follow Jesus as soon as you recognize him.
What can we say with certainty, then? For me it boils down to this: encourage prayer and meditation. God will find any opening in human consciousness that presents itself to God, and then God will start changing awareness and opening the soul to love. Incrementally, over the long haul, like waves on a shore where the tide is coming in, God makes God’s self known. What can I do to help? Share what I know, I guess. Share my current understanding. I can’t really say, “behold the Lamb of God,” because I don’t know what that means. But I can say, “I myself have seen and have testified that this is the Son of God.”
Icon by Laurie Gudim
Laurie Gudim is a writer and religious iconographer who lives in Fort Collins, CO. You can view some of her work at Everyday Mysteries.