Posted on Wed, Jan 18, 2017
January 14, 2017
2nd Sunday in Epiphany
Gospel Text: John 1:29–42
The Lamb of God
29 The next day he saw Jesus coming towards 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.’
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).
I don't think John the Baptist would have done too well in today’s world of making yourself noticed and known. All the books about “success” seem to tell us we should always be doing things that draw attention to ourselves so that “the right people” notice us. John was always pointing his finger toward Jesus, saying he is the one to follow.
Even when Jesus walked by, John pointed out to his own disciples, that Jesus was the One, he was the One they needed to pay attention to… and at that moment, some his disciples got up, left John and began to follow Jesus.
But when Jesus walked by John and his disciples, John exclaimed, ‘Look, here is the Lamb of God!’ He didn't use the word, “Messiah” which would have been the word people would have expected and WANTED to hear. I wonder what he meant by “Lamb or God?” We can only assume John used this title so that they would understand exactly how John saw Jesus, their Messiah. The only reference they would have had for using the title, “Lamb of God” would be referring to Jesus as the “Lamb” referred to in the celebration of the Passover. As is recorded in the book of Exodus, meaning the lambs blood that was applied to the doorposts of the Israelites, which announced that this family was part of God’s Covenant and should be saved. It could also refer to the lamb that was slain for the atonement of the Jews on the Day of Atonement. The word “Messiah” could have construed a “mighty King David the conqueror” kind of messiah, when the true Messiah was more of a “suffering-servant-king” Messiah.
No matter how you visualized the image of the “Lamb of God,” it included the sacrifice for the sins of God’s people. I am sure from that moment on, when John’s disciples looked at Jesus, the title John uttered, “the Lamb of God,” echoed in their minds. This Jesus of Nazareth, of whom John baptized, would one day suffer and die… for us. For us, we see the “Lamb of God” on the altar every Sunday in the bread and wine.
In this Gospel of John, Jesus' first words appear in the form of a question, an ordinary question with extraordinary significance: "What are you looking for?" (John 1:38). English translations obscure the meaning of the Greek, which is better translated, "What are you seeking?"
But the Gospel of John begins with a question: "What are you seeking?" What are you looking for? What do you need?
It is a question worth wrestling with -- as individuals, as a congregation, as a community -- since our answers will have a great deal to do with what we find as well as with the journey we take to get there. What are you seeking? What motivates you? What is that you really need, not just on the surface, but deep down into the core of your being? What are you looking for? What is the hole in your life that only God the Creator, Jesus the Redeemer, the Holy Spirit the healer can fill?
We often say, almost flippantly, that “God is everywhere,” or “God is in everything.” This is most certainly true, but during our busy day, do we really take time to “see God?” Jesus asks, "What are you seeking?” My question is, if God is in everything, everyone, in all things, what do you see? ‘What CAN you see?’ Sometimes in my minds eye, all I see are the dates and times on my calendar, and therefore, I don't see God at all.
John makes sure we hear the disciples ask Jesus a crucial question, "Where are you staying?" Again, the English obscures the significance of the phrase. The Greek verb is “meno” which means: abide, remain, endure, continue, and dwell, in the sense of permanence or stability. John the Baptist recognizes Jesus when the Holy Spirit remains (meno) upon him (John 1:32).
But in the same way the question, “What do you seek?” pertains to us, the question, “Where do we see Jesus abiding, remaining, enduring or continuing to dwell, before our eyes?” should cause us to stop, look and see.
Where and how do you see God “dwelling” in the world around you? This question will only make sense when our focus moves away from you, me, our personal world, and moves out and away from you. This is a difficult thing to do, because we are so busy with just taking care of family, business, school, care-giving or whatever we find ourselves absorbed in.
I am not so good at this, but I am getting better, take a moment, even at a red light, and look for something beautiful. Turn off the radio, and in as quiet moment as possible, look for something that you find beautiful, and then savor the image in your mind.
At another time, look for someone caring for someone else and watch them, appreciate the time and effort a caregiver takes in caring for someone else. This could be a parent holding, comforting or even changing the diapers of a child. This is often seen in a young adult taking their aged parent to the doctor, for a walk, or just sitting together.
Then, and this may be a little more difficult, open your eyes and look for someone who is hungry, dirty, homeless or suffering. You may need to open a reputable newspaper and see the refugees from the Middle East who are now scattered over a very cold Northern Hemisphere. Or, it may only take a short drive to Kalihi, Aala Park or near Keehi Lagoon and the park over there.
In these people, in these places, in the suffering and the beauty, you will see where God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit reside.
The last couple of days, I have been assisting a friend of our congregation and have spent some time up at St. Francis Hospice up on the Pali. I have been there many times, but this time I went up there to assist someone while I was thinking about today’s crucial two questions; “What do you seek?” and “Where does Jesus abide?” With these two questions in my mind, I could clearly see the sanctity of that place, and the mercy of God demonstrated day in and day out at that small facility and I was brought be to tears. As I brought a very distraught and lonely person into the facility, her eyes of terror turned to eyes of relief and hope. Jesus was there.
Jesus responds to the disciples question with an answer, which is probably the primary message of the Gospel of John, “Come and See.” If you want to know the word made flesh, come and see Jesus. If you want to know what love is like, come and see Jesus. If you want to experience God's glory, to be filled with bread that never perishes, to quench your thirst with living water, to be born again, to abide in love, to behold the light of the world, to experience the way, the truth, and the life, to enter into life everlasting, . . . if you want to know God, come and see Jesus.
When we open our eyes, ears, and heart, the places we will see Jesus, will amaze you. Amen
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