Is it the baptism of water or the Holy Spirit that we want? by Revd Alex Pease John 1:29-42

John 1:29-42  John’s disciples follow Jesus

What is the most important: the wedding or the marriage?

I get a lot of brides who give me the impression that it is the wedding which is most important.  They are prepared to spend hours and hours in preparation for their special day….as if their life is going to be constantly repeating that ceremony, but then they make no preparation at all for the colossal change that marriage will bring.

Equally, which is more important baptism with water or baptism with the Holy Spirit? Is it John’s baptism or a relationship with Jesus which really matters?

We all know that a baptism is meant to be a sacrament: a visible sign of an inward grace.  It is intended as the surface point to show what is going on in the spiritual world underneath.  As I say at baptisms, a baptism is like an iceberg, there is more to it underneath than on the surface.

And for many that is precisely what it is; as it was for Andrew in this passage from John’s gospel.  Andrew and one other had been following John the Baptist but John (like the ceremony that he performed of baptism) pointed to Jesus; pointed to the Messiah; pointed to the Christ.

But then Jesus himself comes on the scene…..

CS Lewis writes in his book Miracles: ’There comes a moment when the children, who have been playing at burglars, hush suddenly … was that a real footstep in the hall? There comes a moment when people who have been dabbling in religion, suddenly draw back, supposing we really found him? We never meant it to come to that! Worse still, supposing he had found us? So it is a sort of Rubicon. One goes across; or not. But if one does … one may be in for anything’

Jesus asks an important question verse 37 when Andrew approaches him: ‘what do you want?’

What do you want?

Has the act of baptism, the following of John provoked in the two followers of John, a want for the real thing, a want for what the ceremony points towards, a want for Jesus….?

Jesus gently does not require them to answer that penetrating question there and then and allows them to ask the simple question ‘where are you staying?’

He simply says ‘come and see’ verse 39.

After these two disciples of John the Baptist have spent the day with him, then one of them, Andrew, goes off to find his brother to say ‘we have found the Messiah!!!!!!!!’

That brother was Simon; who is known to the world as St Peter, the founder of the church.

But what happened to the other disciple of John the Baptist?

We don’t know.  But it is at least possible that he did not follow Jesus, perhaps he was excited by the religious ceremony, by the public repentance and baptism in the Jordan of John the Baptist, but the Jesus the one that the ceremony of baptism was pointing towards, was too much for him……..

Which of these two disciples are we; are you?

Do we love the ceremonies: the buildings, the culture of our ancient religion or do we love the one that all these surface things are pointing towards?

Do we really love the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world?

Or do we love the sense of identity that church membership and attendance at ceremonies and rituals brings us.  Do we think that these surface things change our hearts, make us righteous, magically, by going through the motions, without us opening our hearts to Jesus himself?

Or are we like Andrew, whose heart is changed by an encounter with Christ, so much that we are willing to tell our relations and friends: ’We have found the Messiah!!!’


John 1:35-42

The First Disciples of Jesus

35 The next day John again was standing with two of his disciples, 36 and as he watched Jesus walk by, he exclaimed, “Look, here is the Lamb of God!” 37 The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus. 38 When Jesus turned and saw them following, he said to them, “What are you looking for?” They said to him, “Rabbi” (which translated means Teacher), “where are you staying?” 39 He said to them, “Come and see.” They came and saw where he was staying, and they remained with him that day. It was about four o’clock in the afternoon. 40 One of the two who heard John speak and followed him was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. 41 He first found his brother Simon and said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which is translated Anointed). 42 He brought Simon to Jesus, who looked at him and said, “You are Simon son of John. You are to be called Cephas” (which is translated Peter). 

 The Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version. (1989). (Jn 1:35–42). Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.


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