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Epiphany 2A Sermon
John 1: 29-42
January
19, 2020

 

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John 1:29-42

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! This is he of whom I said, “After me comes a man who ranks ahead of me because he was before me.” I myself did not know him; but I came baptizing with water for this reason, that he might be revealed to Israel.’ And John testified, ‘I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him. 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.” And I myself have seen and have testified that this is the Son of God.’*
The next day John again was standing with two of his disciples, and as he watched Jesus walk by, he exclaimed, ‘Look, here is the Lamb of God!’ The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus. 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?’ 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. One of the two who heard John speak and followed him was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. He first found his brother Simon and said to him, ‘We have found the Messiah’ (which is translated Anointed*). 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*).

May the grace, mercy and peace of God be with us in the name of our risen Lord and savior, Jesus Christ; Amen.

There are theories as to what kind of teaching models are most effective for students to learn by. In Christian education, there is a recent theory that has driven the Sunday schools of many churches, including this one for a number of years. It is called, “multi-intelligences theory.” In a nutshell, this theory reports that all of us gravitate toward one form or way of learning which helps us to not only remember facts but also to integrate the lesson into our lives – which is, after all, the goal of learning Bible stories and themes, to integrate God’s story into our story. Some of us are traditional and do well with lectures – or sermons – others are more hands on and learn through art projects; others through music, and still others through acting out the stories. This theory is the basis for the Workshop Rotation model where Sunday school classes spend a few weeks on one story or theme rotating between workshops where students experience the story through these different media. Not every student gets as much out of each workshop as others might, but each of them should during at least one of the weeks connect with the story in a personal way.

In our gospel lesson today, John the Baptist piques the interest of some of his disciples by twice telling them to look at Jesus – the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. Being good Jews, each of them would have connected his witness with their experience of the Passover meal, a yearly ritual where all Jews participate in the deliverance from bondage. At the original Passover, a perfect lamb without blemish was slain by each family, it’s blood spread over their doorpost so that the angel of death would pass-over their house and spare the first-born child. Then the lamb was roasted and eaten entirely, shared with neighbors if need be. Through this activity, God delivered them from their slavery in Egypt. As the lamb of God, Jesus is God’s gift that delivers all of humanity from slavery – not to the Egyptians, but to sin. In John’s gospel, sin is best described as being separated from God. So, Jesus is that which was slain so that God’s people might experience God’s presence, power and love in a way that we can connect with God no matter how we learn best.

Now, Jesus didn’t know anything about multiple intelligences theory, but he did know that people needed to make a personal connection if their lives were going to be changed by his ministry. He utters those three words that are on the front of your bulletin – the words that you and I have certainly said in excitement after experiencing something special in our lives: Come and See. “Where are you staying?” they ask him: “Come and See!” he answers. And in a few verses another will ask if anything good can come out of Nazareth, and the answer will be once again, “Come and See!”

Jesus graciously invites these people to witness the work of God in and through his ministry – in the themes of Epiphany, he invites them to be enlightened by God who sent him to remain with them for a time. The verse that follows Jesus’ invitation to Come and See tells us that they did go and see where he was staying, and they remained with him that day. Actually, “remain” is the Greek word, “meno” which is often translated in John’s Gospel as, “abide.” They went and abided with him that day. Later in this Gospel, Jesus will invite his listeners to abide in him, just as he abides in us. “If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my father’s commandments and abide in his love. I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and your joy may be complete.”

As the church, we have all been called together to “Come and See” what the Lord is doing, and to be part of that loving presence in the world. By living out of our experiences in the presence of Jesus, in our words and deeds we are living invitations that others come and see what the Lord is doing in our lives, so that they can experience it as well. Notice that this invitation comes at the very beginning of John’s Gospel – these invitees have not undergone any kind of thorough training or orientation. They are told by an excited witness, John the Baptist, about what God has revealed to him – that Jesus makes a difference in our lives.

My friends, Pastor June Wilkins and her husband Bob Abdou, have an interesting home. They are both big fans of The Beetles, and followers of pop-culture from the 1950s through the 1980s. They have a Beetles room in their house and hundreds of puppets, but the real gem is their basement. It has been featured on Dom Tiberi’s, “Out of Bounds” segment and has thousands of toys from television shows from the 50s through 70s. When I first saw it I was blown away … imagine three narrow grocery store aisles with items covering every square centimeter of space, including the walls and ceiling!!
When June was talking about it with a group of pastors, I told them, “This is unlike anything you’ve ever seen. Imagine what it looks like, and when you get there, it will exceed your expectations.” Some of those pastors did get a chance to check it out, and one of those pastors looked at me afterward and said, “Ralph, you were right … I would never have believed it if I hadn’t seen it!”

Look, here is the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. Look, the one who exceeds any expectations of love, peace and joy for our lives. Here is the one who bids us, “Come and See” the place where he resides, and then abides with us … the one of whom we may have heard many incredible things, but when we experience him ourselves, it far exceeds our expectations. Jesus is the one who encounters us in such a way that we can experience him as each of us is able … and he is the one who invite us to abide in the presence his love. Thanks be to God! Amen.