The Second Sunday after Epiphany
January 19, 2020
“Come and You Will See!”
The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! This is the one I meant when I said, ‘A man who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’ I myself did not know him, but the reason I came baptizing with water was that he might be revealed to Israel.” Then John gave this testimony: “I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him. 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.’ I have seen and I testify that this is the Son of God.” The next day John was there again with two of his disciples. When he saw Jesus passing by, he said, “Look, the Lamb of God!” When the two disciples heard him say this, they followed Jesus. Turning around, Jesus saw them following and asked, “What do you want?” They said, “Rabbi” (which means Teacher), “where are you staying?” “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. Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, was one of the two who heard what John had said and who had followed Jesus. The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon and tell him, “We have found the Messiah” (that is, the Christ). (NIV1984)
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
Have you ever taken a tour of the Florida Everglades— in an airboat? I have! It is a uniquely exhilarating experience! You’re skimming across the water in a flat bottom john-boat with a V-8 engine and a propeller mounted on the back. It is loud! It is fast! And it is oh so much fun! As you are skimming across the water you suddenly see a patch of raised dry ground directly in front of you. You wait and wait and wait thinking that the guy driving the boat is going to swerve. Nope! He goes right up and across that patch of dry ground and you continue your tour. At what are probably pre-selected spots he slows down the boat and turns the engine off. Then he starts to point out all the flowers and all the fauna and all the critters you probably would not see anywhere else. And yes, that is when the alligators come out! It is amazing to see an alligator in its natural habitat. So, if you are ever in south Florida I strongly encourage you to take a tour of the Everglades— in a flat bottom john-boat with a V-8 engine and a propeller mounted on the back.
Have you ever been to Sturgis, South Dakota— during Bike Week? I have! It is phenomenal! There are literally thousands upon thousands of Harleys everywhere you look! The sights, the sounds and the smells are such that if you are a fan of Harley’s I would definitely encourage you to come and see for yourself what Sturgis, South Dakota, is like during Bike Week.
Have you ever taken a trip to Mount Rainier in western Washington? I have! It is well worth the time it takes to get there. As you slowly drive the road that leads you up the side of the mountain to a lookout point called Paradise, the drive is nothing short of majestic. You see the valleys and the rivers and the waterfalls along the way. When you get to paradise and look up at the peak of Mount Rainier, well, there just aren’t enough words to describe what your eyes are seeing. So, if you ever get into the Seattle area take a day to drive to Mount Rainier. It is definitely worth the time!
Right about now you might be wondering why I am bringing all of this out this morning. The reason is actually quite simple. When we are excited about something or when something is important to us, we have a tendency to want to share it with others, don’t we? In fact, sometimes we simply can’t keep quiet— we have to share!
The ultimate example of this is found right here in our sermon text for today. This morning let’s study this familiar portion of Scripture under the theme: “Come, and You Will see!” What will we see? We will see two things. First, we will see who Jesus of Nazareth is. Second, we will see what Jesus of Nazareth now wants us to do.
If someone says to us, “Come to Sturgis during Bike Week,” we know exactly what we will see. We will see thousands of Harley Davidson motorcycles. If someone says to us, “Come take a tour of the Everglades with me,” we know exactly what we will see. We will see birds and plants and critters that we may have never seen before in real life. But, if someone says to us, “Come and see Jesus!” what will we see? John the Baptist gives us a very clear, a very concise and a very complete answer to that question right here in our text! Shortly after John had baptized Jesus in the muddy waters of the Jordan, shortly after Jesus was anointed with the Holy Spirit, shortly after God the Father made it absolutely clear that Jesus of Nazareth is His dearly beloved Son— John the Baptist once again saw Jesus coming toward him and said to the people, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.”
When someone invites us to “Come and see Jesus!” they are not inviting us to see just another ordinary human being. They are not inviting us to see just a great teacher or just a powerful prophet or just an excellent example of how we are to live our life. When someone invites us to “Come and see Jesus!” they are inviting us to see “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world”— including our sin!
In order for us to truly grasp the depth of these words, my friends, we need to try and put ourselves in the sandals of the people who first heard John proclaim these words. When a descendant of Abraham heard John the Baptist refer to Jesus of Nazareth as the “Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” those words immediately painted a vibrant picture in their mind. The lamb occupied an extremely important role in picturing God’s Plan of Salvation for this world. There was the Passover Lamb whose blood was painted on the doorframes of the houses of God’s people in Egypt to save their firstborn from the angel of death. For hundreds upon hundreds of years, God’s people feasted on the Passover lamb to remind them of how the Lord their God graciously rescued His people from slavery. (See Exodus 12) For hundreds upon hundreds of years, the priests who were serving first at the Tabernacle and later at the Temple in Jerusalem would sacrifice a lamb every single morning to atone for the sins that God’s people had committed the night before. Then in the evening they would sacrifice another lamb to atone for the sins that God’s people had committed during that day. (See Exodus 29:38-41) And ever since the days of the prophet Isaiah God’s people were taught that the “Suffering Servant” of the Lord, the Promised Messiah, would be “led like a lamb to the slaughter” as He willingly suffered and died to pay the punishment that we deserve for our sins. (See Isaiah 52:13-53:7)
That beautifully rich Old Testament background enables us to understand exactly why the Holy Spirit led John the Baptist to point to Jesus and proclaim, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.” Whenever we are invited to “Come and see Jesus!”— whether it is by our parents, our pastor, our friends, or by Scripture— we are being invited to focus our attention on who Jesus of Nazareth is— the “Lamb” who was sent from God to “take away” our “sin”!
While those words seem very simple, in the Greek they are packed with meaning. The word that is translated here as “take away” very literally means “to take up, to take away, to remove, or to conquer.” It is also interesting to note that the word that is translated here as “sin” is a singular word. Since we human beings have a tendency to downplay or excuse at least some of the individual sins that we commit, the Holy Spirit has John focus our attention on the “sin” of the world — as in the “sinful condition” of the entire human race. As the sacrificial “Lamb of God” Jesus does not simply “take away” some of our sins. As the sacrificial “Lamb of God” Jesus does not simply “remove” most of our sins. As the sacrificial “Lamb of God” Jesus does not simply “conquer” our “most serious” sins. No, my friends, as the sacrificial “Lamb of God” Jesus “takes away,” Jesus “removes,” Jesus “conquers” our “sin”— the entire “sinful condition” with which we were born, the entire “sinful condition” into which we have sunk deeper and deeper with each and every individual sin we have committed against the God of heaven. That is why the Holy Spirit had John openly identify Jesus as “The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.”
“Come and you will see!” Every time you and I hear that glorious invitation the goal is for us to see who Jesus is. At the very same time, however, the invitation “Come and you will see!” gives us an opportunity to see what Jesus now wants us to do! Here in our text the Holy Spirit reminds us of two things that Jesus, the Lamb of God, wants us to do. First, look at verses 35-39. John writes, “The next day John was there again with two of his disciples. When he saw Jesus passing by, he said, ‘Look, the Lamb of God!’ When the two disciples heard him say this, they followed Jesus. Turning around Jesus saw them following and asked, ‘What do you want?’ They said, ‘Rabbi’ (which means Teacher), ‘where are you staying?’ ‘Come,’ he replied, ‘and you will see.’ So they went and saw where he was staying, and spent that day with him.”
The first thing that Jesus wants us to do, my friends, is to simply spend some personal quality time with Him. How do you and I spend time with Jesus now that He has ascended into heaven? That is not a difficult question to answer, is it! We spend time with Jesus every time we take a few minutes out of our daily schedule to read a portion of His holy Word. We spend time with Jesus every time we fold our hands and talk to Him in prayer. We spend time with Jesus every time we attend one of the Bible classes here at church. We spend time with Jesus every time we gather with our brothers and sisters in the faith to worship our Savior God here in His house. We spend time with Jesus every time we approach His altar to receive His true body and blood in the Sacrament of Holy Communion. In reality, the “Lamb of God” graciously gives us many opportunities to spend some quality personal time with Him. In reality, the “Lamb of God” reaches out to us over and over again and says, “Come and you will see!” The only real question is: How often do we gladly make use of the opportunities we have to spend some time with Jesus and how often do we look at the “Lamb of God” who suffered and died to “take away” our “sin” (Pointing to the cross) and say, “Sorry Jesus, but I’ve got a lot of things to do. Maybe I can spend some time with you next week, okay?”
The second thing Jesus wants us to do is highlighted in the closing verses of our text. John writes, “Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, was one of the two who heard what John had said and who had followed Jesus. The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon and tell him, ‘We have found the Messiah’ (that is, the Christ). And he brought him to Jesus.”
Once we have spent some quality personal time with Jesus, once we have seen and enjoyed and appreciated the wonderful truth that Jesus is the “Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world,” then Jesus wants us to invite others to come and see! Where do we begin? We begin where Andrew began! We begin with the people we know and love the most— our family!
Yes, my friends, Jesus wants us to make sure that we bring our children to Sunday school and to church so that they can spend some time with Jesus on a regular basis. Our children need to grow in their understanding of who the “Lamb of God” is and what He has done for them. (Pointing to the cross) Yes, Jesus wants us to invite our friends and our neighbors to come to church with us so that they can spend some time with Jesus. They also need to see who Jesus is and what He has done for them. Yes, Jesus wants us to give generous offerings to support the work of His kingdom both here in our own community as well as all around the world so that others may come and see who Jesus is and what He has done for them. “The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon and tell him, ‘We have found the Messiah’ (that is, the Christ). And he brought him to Jesus.” That’s what Jesus now wants us to do!
If I know that someone is a fan of motorcycles— especially Harleys— I would encourage them to go to Sturgis, South Dakota, and see Bike Week for themself. If I know that someone is a fan of the great outdoors I wouldn’t hesitate to invite them to take a tour of the Florida Everglades. In much the same way every single person you and I know, every single person you and I see, every single person on the face of this earth needs Jesus. As Christians it is both our joy and our privilege to follow the example that is given to us here in our text. Therefore, my friends, point people to Jesus and say, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” Go to your family and friends, — especially those who do not know that Jesus is the Messiah— and simply do what your Savior wants you to do. Say to them “Come and you will see!”
To God be the glory!