Gospel of John #18
John 1: 29-34 (the biblical text is reproduced below this post)
In today’s passage, John the Baptist — who has been preaching in Israel — recognizes Jesus as the Lamb of God. John is able to identify Jesus because of a vision: the Spirit descends on Jesus like a dove (v.32).
The dove, denoting innocence and purity, remains upon Jesus Christ. John the Baptist provides baptism by water (for repentance and forgiveness), while Jesus offers a baptism by the holy spirit signified by the dove . This baptism will be available to all.
What does baptism by the holy spirit mean? The dove represents your own purity of heart, innocence, and receptivity to the Spirit. The dove remains with you: holiness in life–sincerity, joy, freedom–are available. Pain may come and go, but suffering need not be protracted and agonizing.
This baptism by the holy spirit depends on John’s baptism by water — since repentance (or turning toward God and away from evil) is the precondition for spiritual gifts. Or, put another way, though the dove may descend upon you, you will likely swat it away if evil or a lack of forgiveness dominate your consciousness.
The dove represents a capacity of vision and to be guided by the Soul through intuition, prayer/ meditation, and other symbolic means. We are offered another compass for navigating life besides human convention and the value systems of the world. This compass — or dove — leads us on paths for our fulfillment, so long as we learn its habits and ways.
Note: The word “remain”, here, is a Johannine motif, indicating a quality of spiritual life. If we remain in God — if we abide in God — we are hidden from the world, in a sense, because we are contained within a bigger mystery of existence, which may not be clear and obvious to others. By abiding in God, we are patient and constant, while sometimes spontaneous and changeable, if circumstances require.
Question: Where is the dove present for you? What do you make of the Lamb imagery in relation to the dove?
29 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! 30 This is he of whom I said, ‘After me comes a man who ranks ahead of me because he was before me.’ 31 I myself did not know him; but I came baptizing with water for this reason, that he might be revealed to Israel.” 32 And John testified, “I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him. 33 I myself did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain is the one who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ 34 And I myself have seen and have testified that this is the Son of God.”