Posted on Sun, Jan 19, 2014
January 19, 2014
2nd Sunday after Epiphany
Gospel Text: John 1:29-42 – “Eyes and Ears of Faith”
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).
See the how straight forward the testimony of John is about what he witnessed when he baptized Jesus… yet, he is describing something that only God could do… he is describing a true, “God event!” Jesus’ baptism confirmed clearly what God had been promising and preparing John for all his life. And on this day, he completes his mission when he would “proclaim” or “exclaim” as the evangelist writes, “look, there is the Lamb of God!” And then, as if it was a smooth handing off of a baton, two of John’s disciples get up, after following John, and meekly walked over to Jesus and say, “where are you going?” They recognize that their master, John the Baptist, has been faithful to his calling and prepared the way for Jesus, the Messiah, to begin His ministry. It is not as if they are abandoning their master, it is just that John was faithful and obedient to his calling, and it was time for his disciples to continue their faith journey with their new teacher, the Messiah of Israel and the Savior to the Gentiles.
Picture these two disciples walking up to Jesus and saying, “where are you going?” and what they are really saying, “Our master, the one who baptized you, proclaims you as the One who can save Israel, can we follow you now?” The only thing they were most certain about was what they had seen and heard, as Jesus came out of the water, the dove the Holy Spirit, rested on his shoulder, the sky was torn apart and God proclaimed to all who could hear, “This is my Son, with whom I am well pleased, listen to him!” BUT, WHAT DOES ALL THIS MEAN? What is God doing right now? What is the meaning of all they had witnessed?
They had witnessed all of this, but there is no way for them to know the journey that Jesus would now begin to lead them.
John knew that Jesus was the Messiah, but until Jesus stepped out from the crowd to tell John that he must baptize Jesus, he didn’t WHO the Messiah was, as a person. “Messiah” was a special word that carried much anticipation to it. It means, “One who can save (one’s own people).” John’s entire life was filled with anticipation and expectation. As he was baptizing so many people in the river Jordan, I wonder if, as he was quoting prophetic scripture about the Messiah, out of the corner of his eyes, he was always looking for a possible Messiah-like figure…
He wasn't looking for a grand king like person; he knew that the Chosen/Anointed one would be humble, and probably not even noticeable. John let’s us know that the Messiah would not complete the mission of God with a sword, but with his merciful obedience to the promise of our forgiveness fulfilled like a lamb that was sacrificed for the sins of all.
But what would he look like? Who would be humble and possibly very unexpected? God has worked through some amazing people throughout the scripture. Would God send a boy like David was when he slew Goliath? Would he send a woman, like the faithful Judge Deborah? God chose a humble carpenter from Nazareth! “Could any-”thing” good come out of Nazareth?” the snooty Judeans might say…
The most amazing thing about this story is this thread of people having the ears of faith to hear God speaking to them, and reassuring them that what God has promised is true.
The angels came to Elizabeth and Mary, and informed them that the babies they would carry would change the world, and they believed AND REJOICED. John grew up as a prophet of “ANTICIPATION” always with eyes and ears open to God’s words and signs. He lived in the desert, were people say there is little “life,” unless you have eyes to recognize when and where life is. John studied the scripture, it is possible he spent time with the Essenes in Qumran for a year or two, but because he was always anticipating that God was going to do, say and accomplish THROUGH him, his eyes and ears were always looking and listening to any message God might have for him.
Then, the disciples of John, whom we don’t know that much about, through the words of John were compelled to listen to his words about what God was about to do through the One WHO WILL BE ABLE TO SAVE HIS PEOPLE, the Messiah. Then, because they listened and developed a heart of faith and anticipation, when John finally EXCLAIMED, ‘Look, here is the Lamb of God!’ they got up, left John and began to follow Jesus.
John gave them eyes, ears and hearts full of faith and anticipation, but there was no way they could have guessed that the Promise of Salvation would be fulfilled when Jesus obediently and gracefully gave his life for all people. There was a journey of faith experiences the disciples were required to see and hear WITH JESUS, that would begin with Jesus’ baptism and continue to the days they would meet a resurrected Jesus in their dark hiding place.
How are you and I any different than Johns’ or Jesus’ disciples? We read the story of God’s faithfulness and even some of the words Jesus we believe spoke on this very earth about 2000 years ago, and our hearts are moved to faith. Our eyes and ears must also be attuned to anticipation because when we hear the Gospels, our faith is born. Or are we blinded by a cynical heart that refuses to see God in the beauty of Creation, or deaf to the words of life, mercy and forgiveness spoken to us through scripture, hymns, prayers, the stories of children, or the loving words of family or friends? Be at peace, the disciples had many of the same issues.
The truth is, we are no different than Simon-Peter, Andrew and all the others. We laugh at their mistakes because we make the same mistakes ourselves, like them even we, like them may be afraid or even filled with doubt sometimes, Jesus sees through our doubt and empty hearts and still loves us by going obediently to the cross and forgiving us so that our eyes, ears, heart and soul could be filled with the Good News of forgiveness and NEW LIFE.
We have begun a new year, soon we will be conducting our church annual meeting, how can our church, through new eyes and ears be re-born through forgiveness, faith, mercy and great joy of the Spirit, see God leading us in new and wonderful ways? Maybe your ears have been opened and your heart moved to try something new, something that only faith could give you the strength to do… It happens all the time, and because of these changes, lives have been changed… and sometimes even the entire world has been changed… Ask Andrew and Peter! Amen.
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