St. John's & Zion Lutheran Churches

Be Epiphany Christians

Sermon on John 1:29-41

Text: The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! 30 This is the one I meant when I said, ‘A man who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’ 31 I myself did not know him, but the reason I came baptizing with water was that he might be revealed to Israel.”
32 Then John gave this testimony: “I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him. 33 I would not have known him, except that the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, ‘The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is he who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’ 34 I have seen and I testify that this is the Son of God.”
35 The next day John was there again with two of his disciples. 36 When he saw Jesus passing by, he said, “Look, the Lamb of God!”
37 When the two disciples heard him say this, they followed Jesus. 38 Turning around, Jesus saw them following and asked, “What do you want?”
They said, “Rabbi” (which means Teacher), “where are you staying?”
39 “Come,” he replied, “and you will see.”
So they went and saw where he was staying, and spent that day with him. It was about the tenth hour.
40 Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, was one of the two who heard what John had said and who had followed Jesus. 41 The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon and tell him, “We have found the Messiah” (that is, the Christ).

Today, we continue our Epiphany look at Jesus. As we study the events of these two days, we learn more about our Savior in John the Baptist’s testimony about whom Jesus was and why he had come to the earth. We, also, learn more about Jesus as he interacts with two of John’s disciples. As we see Jesus to be the world’s divine Savior, we are encouraged to BE EPIPHANY CHRISTIANS. Let what you see and hear affect your everyday life. How can we do so? There are two ways mentioned in our text. We can 1. Appreciate Jesus’ Mission and 2. Imitate Jesus’ Love.

Our text begins as John saw Jesus walking toward him. When he saw him, John said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” The next day, John said the same thing to two of his disciples. Here, in these few words, we have a wonderful summary of the gospel, a summary of Jesus’ mission here on the earth. Let us take this message apart so that we might more fully appreciate the mission of Jesus.

First of all, John says, “Look!” We might say, ‘Pay attention to what I have to say,’ or ‘Direct your attention over here.’What John has to say is of utmost importance and well deserves the full attention of his hearers. He directs his hearers away from himself to Jesus. We see this from the words of verse 30, “This is the one I meant when I said, ‘A man who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’” John realized his role. He was not the Christ. He was not the Savior. His role was to prepare the people for the Christ’s work. Part of this preparation was to focus the attention away from himself to Jesus.

After John got their attention, he called Jesus “the Lamb of God.” This title would have been especially meaningful for his listeners. They had grown up with the Old Testament system of sacrifices. They annually celebrated the Passover feast. Both of these had a common element, which was a perfect lamb being put to death. It could not have a spot or any sort of blemish or any kind of imperfection. In both cases, the lamb was put to death so that others might live. In the Passover, the lamb was slaughtered and its blood was put on the doorframes of the houses of the Israelites, when they were in slavery in Egypt. The Angel of the Lord passed over the homes where the blood was present. Wherever the blood was not found, the firstborn son in that household died. The lamb’s blood saved them. This was also true with the sacrifices. The lambs were put to death as a penalty for the people’s sins. God accepted this sacrifice in payment for their sins.

However, the Lamb that stood before John was not just any person. This was “the Lamb of God,” that is to say, ‘the Lamb sent from God.’ He was sent to carry out God’s purpose. Jesus, the Lamb of God, as pictured by all of those Old Testament sacrifices, was perfect. He was without any blemish or imperfection. The imperfection that is being spoken of here is sin. Jesus Christ was perfect in every way. Never once, not even in the slightest way, did he sin. He always followed his Father’s will. This Lamb of God was sent to carry out his Father’s purpose.

That purpose is clearly spelled out for us, namely, he is the one “who takes away the sin of the world.” The word in the Greek that is translated “take away,” has the idea of ‘take up and carry off.’ He took up our sins and carried them off. It has the idea of substitution. He took up, picked up our sins and placed them on himself. Paul had this same sort of idea when he wrote in 2 Corinthians 5:21, “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” Jesus picked up our sins and carried them off to the cross to pay our entire debt.

Note whose sins Jesus paid for! He took away the sins of the world. It was not just for one type of person or one nation. It was for the whole world. We can make it even more personal. When we see Jesus with the eyes of faith, we can say, ‘Look, the Lamb of God who took away my sins.’ ‘Jesus came to the earth to pay my debt that I owed because of my sins: my lack of love, my lack of trust, my lack of generosity.’ When we realize what we are by nature and what we deserve because of our sins, then we begin to appreciate Jesus’ mission here on the earth. Jesus came to take away the sins of the world. Jesus came to take away my sins.

The second time that John the Baptist said that Jesus was the Lamb of God was in the next day. This time, he was speaking directly to his disciples. Implied in John’s pronouncement was the command to the disciples that they follow Jesus and learn from him. Perhaps, they had heard the message the day before and did not act upon it. John repeats the message as any faithful witness to the good news ought to persist.

So, we read in verse 37, “When the two disciples heard him say this, they followed Jesus.” They were going to learn more about him. Then, we read in verse 38, “Turning around, Jesus saw them following and asked, ‘What do you want?’ They said, ‘Rabbi’ (which means Teacher), ‘where are you staying?’” The disciples were not being evasive in response to Jesus’ question. They wanted to be in his company, to learn from this teacher, to understand the full significance of what John had said.

Jesus took advantage of their curiosity and said to them, “Come and you will see.” “So they went and saw where he was staying, and spent that day with him.” In the next verses, we learn that Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, was one of the two disciples. In the Gospel of John, we learn that he was the other disciple.

Jesus, out of love for them, invited them to come and learn more. He did not look on this as an inconvenience, rather as an opportunity. Here we can learn to imitate Jesus’ love for others. There are many opportunities that God gives us every day to tell others about his love for them. It may be in the form of a child with a question about how something works or why something is the way that it is. It is far too easy to push aside the child’s question, to ignore them, or give them a short answer. Rather, as we imitate Jesus’ love, we can say, in essence, “Come and see.” Together you can explore God’s love and power in creation.

An opportunity might come in the form of a friend or a relative that is seeking the answer’s to life’s questions. ‘Why are we here?’ ‘Why did this happen to me or someone else?’ ‘What is beyond the grave?’ Again, we might be tempted to quickly change the subject and talk about something that is not as likely to ruffle feathers, like the weather or sports. Rather, may God help us to take advantage of this opportunity to say to them, “Come and see.” ‘Come and meet the one who has the answers to life’s questions.’ ‘Come and hear about his love for you.’ God gives us many opportunities to imitate Jesus’ love and to say to them, “Come and see.” Indeed, when we see Jesus, the Lamb of God, who has taken away the sins of the world, we cannot help but say to others, “Come and see.” ‘Come and see what Jesus has done for you and me.’

We can see this enthusiasm in our text. In speaking of Andrew, it says, “The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon and tell him, ‘We have found the Messiah’ (that is, the Christ).” He was so excited that he had to tell someone else. May it be that, as we are reminded again of what God has done for us in saving us from an eternity in hell, that we are filled with such enthusiasm to tell others. Indeed, the more that we appreciate Jesus’ mission, the more we will be moved to imitate his love for others. Then, we are being Epiphany Christians. Amen.