Sermon — Pr. Tony Sikora — Who? What? and Where?

January 19, 2014

Sermon Text: St. John 1:29-42

 

Grace, mercy and peace be unto you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  AMEN!  Our text for this morning’s sermon is taken from St. John’s gospel account the first chapter.

Beloved in the Lord,

Steadfast Sermons GraphicThe Word became flesh and dwelt among us.  He came unto His own, but His own did not receive Him.  To know Him, to receive Him is to have everlasting life.  Humanity cannot know Him unless He is revealed.  Who is He?  Where is He from?  What does He do? Why should I follow Him?  Epiphany answers those questions. Epiphany is all about the revealing of the Christ.  It is the divine unveiling of the heart of God for fallen sinners.

Thus in our Epiphany season “a star shall arise out of Jacob”.  The sun, moon, and all the stars praise Him.  Wise men follow God’s star and worship, not a child in Herod’s household, but the Son of Mary in Bethlehem.  God’s Word and God’s Star revealed the King of the Jesus.

Dripping with Jordan waters, the Son of Mary, now fully grown, steps up and steps out as the heavens split, the Spirit descends, and the voice announces, “This is My beloved, Son with whom I am well pleased.”  First creation spotlights Jesus as a child. Then the Father declares His favor as He fulfills all righteousness. Today, another voice directs us to Jesus.  Everything about Epiphany is pointing us to Jesus; the Stars in the sky, the Father above, and now John the Baptist.  “Behold the Lamb of God.”

That you may know Him, John has been sent to baptize with water.  That you may receive Him, John proclaims, “Behold!”  That you may follow Him, the Savior invites you along.  “Come and See.” Epiphany is the revelation, the divine unveiling of Jesus Christ. Come and see!   Come and see the wondrous works He does for you and for me and for the world.  Come . . .and see!

Hearing John with the two disciples we follow John’s finger and take up the narrow path of Jesus.  But Jesus doesn’t wish us to follow blindly.  “What do you seek?” is the question put to our hearts.  It is a good question, a searching question, a question we should ponder as we go where He goes.  What do you seek?  Why are you here? Where are you hoping to go?  What are you hoping to get? What is your heart’s desire?

As fallen creatures we often neglect to examine our hearts. We don’t really want to examine our hearts.  Either we assume we’re okay – after all we’re told repeatedly to love ourselves.  Or we know all too well that we’re not okay – and we don’t really want to hear about it, see it, or pay too much attention to it.   But if we do examine our heart and ask ourselves these questions we’ll find that we want things other than what Jesus is giving us.  We want affirmation. Jesus calls us to repent.  We want vengeance.  Jesus teaches us to forgive.   We want to feel good about life.  Jesus says we are to bear the cross.  We want God to be on our side.  Jesus calls us to follow Him – to be on His side.  What we want is often contrary to what God wants for us because by nature we are just like our forefather Adam, who wanted to be like God, wanted the wrong fruit, and so ate from the wrong tree.  We’re no different.  And being no different we too eat from the wrong tree.  We want sin. We seek after the easy way.  We try to justify ourselves – which is not easy at all – in fact is impossible – but we still want to try.  We hope to get to heaven – but our hope is too often more a simplistic wish – one based on being good enough.  “I hope I’m good enough to get to heaven.”

So Jesus asks, “what do you seek.”  We have to answer this question and we have to be honest, with Him and with ourselves.  No hiding behind fig leaves.  No jumping into the bushes hoping Jesus passes us by.  The two disciples in our text answered Jesus, “where are you staying.”  They answered a question with a question of their own.  What does this mean?  It means they wanted to be wherever Jesus was.  That’s a good answer to a tough question.  Jesus responds, “come and see.”

And so He invites you as well.  “Come and see!” John’s testimony has pointed Him out.  Jesus is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.  There are things to see, with the eye. There are things to hear, with the ear.   There is Jesus to behold.

Epiphany is about the unveiling of Jesus as the Messiah.  The Messiah has not come as a Lion but rather as the Lamb.  Thus everything we see and hear in the gospel of John is really an extension of the Baptist’s sermon – Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!”  For every step Jesus takes, every city Jesus enters, every miracle Jesus works, all unveil before our hearts how Jesus is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.

And how He is the Lamb and how He takes away sin are chief for us and for our salvation.  He is the Lamb and not the Lion. He has come to be led to slaughter  rather than to stalk His prey.  He has come to offer His flesh rather than tear the flesh of others.  He has come gently and meekly going about doing good to all, rather than ferociously and terribly inciting violence and war and bloodshed.  No, as the Lamb of God who takes away sin, it is His blood that is to be shed for you and for me and for the world.  He receives the violence of a violent world.  He bears the sins of a sinful generation.  He suffers the torments of a people under the curse.  He goes.  He endures. He suffers.  He bleeds.  He cries out for our forgiveness.  He is abandoned by friend and Father.  He is wounded for our transgressions.   He is bruised for our iniquities.   The chastisement for our peace is upon Him.    And by His stripes we are healed.

Yes, beloved, come and see.  Come and see where the Messiah is headed.  Come and see the wondrous works of the Lamb. Come and see the God who immerses Himself into sin, death, and hell, to save all humanity from the cursed load. Come and see the Love of God poured out for you and for me and for the world.  Come and see where He stays, where He is nailed to the tree, suffers, dies, and takes away the sins of the world. Come and see your Messiah.

 

The two disciples followed Jesus.  They stayed where He stayed.  Thus is should be for us.  The savior invites us to “come and see.”  With the two disciples we Christians follow and we behold. The savior is no longer on the cross.  That is not where He remained.  He is no longer in the tomb.  The Holy One of God was not given to see decay.  Jesus did not remain dead. But on the third day Jesus stepped out of the grave like you and I step out of bed in the morning.  He rose from the dead.  He defeated sin.  He plundered the grave.  He vanquished the forces of Hell.  The Lamb defeated the lion who prowls about.

The two disciples followed Jesus and sought to be where He remained.  To be where Jesus remains, is to be where Jesus promises to be for us and for our salvation.  Remaining with Jesus is to remain in His Word, to be hearing His Word, receiving His baptism, feasting at His table.  Faith hears His voice, goes where He goes, does what He does, trusts what He says.  Faith seeks to be in His company, gather with His people, receive His divine gifts.

In this life there are many difficulties and afflictions, faith sometimes waivers, weakens, and grows weary.  The good we want to do that we don’t do.  Our sinful nature gets the upper hand at times. The evil we don’t want to do that we do.  The devil and the world torment us and tempt us away.  Yet, faith returns to Jesus. Christians repent and confess and believe the Gospel.  Faith refuses to hide behind the fig leaves and abandons the bushes.  Faith is confident that Jesus is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. Taking the world’s sin, He’s taken my sin and your sin. He’s not come to be a Lion.  Not yet.  The Lion of the Tribe of Judah is not yet.  He is later, on the last day, for unbelievers.   For us, and for always, Jesus is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.

Beloved in the Lord, The two disciples followed Jesus and stayed where He stayed.  Staying with Jesus the Baptist’s sermon echoed in their hearts and by the Spirit’s power they believed Jesus was the Messiah.  Andrew was one of those disciples.  Andrew received the Word.  Receiving the Word he received Jesus the Word made flesh and dwelling among us.  Receiving Jesus he could not help but tell his brother, Simon.  Simon hears.  Simon comes to see. Coming to Jesus and seeing Jesus Simon also sets himself to be where Jesus is.  Simon becomes Cephas.  Cephas means Rock – Peter.  John’s sermon is bearing fruit.  Jesus is drawing sinners to His side.  He seeks after you as well.  Hear the sermon.  Believe the Word.  Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the World.  He is for you.  Being for you He is also for them.  Come and see.  Come and listen.  Then go and tell.  “We’ve found the Messiah.” Go and Invite.  “Come and See.”

The Word became flesh and dwelt among us.  Whether it’s a star, the Father from Heaven, John from the waters, or you to your neighbor, may the Epiphany of our God ever proclaim – “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.”  AMEN!

 

The peace of God which surpasses all understanding keep your heart and mind through faith in Christ Jesus.  AMEN!


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