2nd Sunday after Epiphany (A)
January 15, 2023
Grace, mercy, and peace from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
The text that I have chosen for this morning’s sermon is the Gospel from Saint John, which was read a few minutes ago.
When Jesus arrived at the Jordan River to be baptized by John, He probably wasn’t anything special to look at. I don’t mean that He was ugly; I mean He looked like all the other Jewish men of His time. He didn’t arrive on the scene with the angels who sang about His birth nor did He have a halo or special glow. It’s no wonder then why so many people were put off by what they saw. When He went home to Nazareth to preach in the synagogue the people got angry because He was just Jesus, the son of Joseph and Mary, the one whose brothers and sisters still lived in Nazareth, who certainly shouldn’t act like He’s something special. He was just the local boy who got too big for His britches. John the Baptist tried to get people to see who Jesus was and while it sometimes worked, but most of the time it didn’t. John says, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” and the people said, “Nah, that’s just Jesus.”
All these later, has anything changed? Jesus is respected by some, admired by some. He offends some, angers some, and some don’t give Him a second thought. It’s not an exaggeration to say that most of the world sees Jesus as maybe talented but not special. John says, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” and the world says, “Nah, that’s just a normal guy.”
When John says, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” what do you see? Do you see just a man? Do you see the man you believe is the Savior, but who doesn’t affect your life very much? Or do you see the Lamb of God who took your sins away? See the Lamb of God who gave up everything, including His life, for you. See the Lamb of God who was the sacrifice demanded by God to fix your broken hearts, souls, and lives. See the Lamb of God who gave His blood for you on the cross and continues to do so at our altar. See the Lamb of God who, unlike every other sacrifice ever killed, was raised from the dead so that you will be raised to eternal life. The Son of God didn’t become the Lamb of God to give you advice on how to have your best life now or to help you be a good person. He became the Lamb of God to transform you, a lost sinner, into a faithful disciple who follows Him everywhere.
We don’t know what Andrew and John thought about Jesus that day when their teacher John the Baptist announced Him as the Lamb of God. And for them the word of John was enough to get them to go after Jesus. It’s then that Jesus asks them, “What are you seeking?” Not who, what. And when Andrew replies, “Teacher, where are you staying?” he’s saying that he doesn’t know what they’re looking for, they know only that it can come from Jesus. By the end of the day Jesus had convinced them that He is the long-awaited Messiah. The Holy Spirit gives faith to their questioning hearts and sets them on paths they never expected to walk. How could they know that being disciples of Jesus meant suffering, death, and hardship? How could they know that their lives would never be the same? It wouldn’t have mattered if they did because the Holy Spirit led Andrew, John, and all the other disciples to trust Jesus unconditionally.
We don’t always know where Jesus is going to lead us, but in faith we follow. You’re a disciple of Christ, and it isn’t always going to be easy. Discipleship is a life of sacrifice and a self-denial. Jesus says, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” Take up your cross of suffering for the faith. Take up the cross of renouncing your sins, the sins you enjoy and don’t always regret. Take up the cross and follow the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. Faithful discipleship is enabled by your faith in the Lamb of God. You can trust Him implicitly because He is the Lamb of God who died for your sins and will guide you through the woes in your life. And while we may not always be faithful disciples, by His grace we’re forgiven and restored as His disciples.
One of the greatest joys that comes from being a disciple is found at the end of the Gospel. John writes, “Andrew first found his own brother Simon and said to him, ‘We have found the Messiah’ (which means Christ)’ [and] he brought him to Jesus.” The first thing Andrew does after being brought to faith is tell someone else about Jesus. He races to find his brother Peter and I think we can accurately assume that John went and told his own brother James. Next week we’ll hear how Philip went and found his skeptical friend Nathaniel. And why did they go find their brothers and friends? They want them to know what they know! They may not have known what they were seeking when they first followed Jesus, but by the time the day was over they knew He was the Savior. The Messiah had come! The one they had waited for their entire lives had finally come. How could they not share what they had heard and seen? Andrew knew that as Jesus provided what he was seeking, Jesus would provide what Peter needed.
I know that we live in a nation when we’re encouraged to keep matters of our faith private. You believe what you want and let others believe what they want. Don’t try to change anyone’s minds so you don’t come across as intolerant or unloving. What would’ve happened had Andrew and John had this attitude? What would it say about them if they knew who the Savior was but didn’t tell anybody else? What would have happened if they thought no one cared or would listen? As disciples our attitude needs to be the same as Andrew and John’s! They went and shared Jesus with utmost urgency and we do too! When you know the Good News, you share the Good News! You know, or you should by now know, that Jesus will provide what our friends and neighbors need. I don’t know if those around me are seeking something or if they don’t even realize they’re missing out on something. It doesn’t really matter. You were lost, you were hurting, you were trapped in your sin, but someone pointed you to Jesus and you found what you needed. People are lost, they may not know it, but they are and it’s our blessed joy to point them to Jesus the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the whole world, including theirs. Oh, that we had that urgency to seek out the lost! What would this world be like if Christians shared their love of Christ Jesus with others? What would Emmanuel look like if we talked to our unbelieving neighbors and friends or talked to those who have fallen away from our church and become inactive? What would this world be like if we constantly pointed to Jesus and said, “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world”? It wouldn’t change everyone, but those who believed would be saved so that they too would share Jesus with those they know and love. It’s what disciples do! You have the Good News! Don’t hide it, let it show and soon you’ll be bringing others to meet Jesus for themselves.
“Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” A short sermon, and yet it is one of the best and most powerful ever preached. One sentence pointed Andrew and John to Jesus and the same sentence tells us to look at Jesus, to follow Him, to become a disciple, and then share Him with others. Jesus didn’t look much different than other Jewish men, but you know looks can be deceiving. He is the Lamb of God who died for you and who know calls you to be His disciple. May God bless you with an extra portion of His Holy Spirit as you follow Jesus and then race to tell others that you have found the Savior.
Now the peace which surpasses all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen