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1-19-20 Sermon

Epiphany - John 1:29-42

Dear LORD, in each generation you call people to follow you, and carry the message of Your redeeming grace to those around us. Thru the power of your Holy Spirit, open our hearts and minds to your call, teach us to listen and seek your leading. Make us eager to respond to your call, and gratefully carry on the work of your church in our world. This we ask, in Your holy name. Amen.

When John the Baptist saw Jesus coming toward him to be baptized he uttered some remarkable words: “Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world!” It would be some time before Jesus would warn his disciples that he’d suffer and die as the Paschal Lamb sacrificed for sin of humanity. Jesus was fresh out of Joseph’s workshop.

He had made no enemies, issued no controversial teachings, nor ruffled any royal feathers. The Gospel of John is written as theology rather than history. John wants us to know the reason why Jesus came into the world. He uses tremendous imagery in this first chapter of his Gospel

“the Word became flesh,”

“the bread of life”

“the light shines in darkness.”

But no image carries greater power than, “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.” When John asks us to “behold the Lamb of God” we are cross-referenced to the majesty of the CHRIST in Revelation 5: “Worthy is the Lamb to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honor, and glory, and blessing.”

You and I desperately need to understand that majesty in our own lives. In this day when nothing is holy, we need more than ever before knowledge of the one whose very essence was holiness.

Remember the scene in Matt 14 when impetuous Peter tries to walk on the water? Peter starts to walk out on the water to Jesus but takes his eyes off of Jesus and becomes terrified and begins to sink.

And that truly is what happens to us—maybe even on a daily basis. When we focus on our problems, our frustrations, our limitations, our wealth, we remove Jesus from the life we’re living. You and I have resources for achieving amazing things if we include Jesus the Lamb of God.

Our God is big enough to handle any problem we encounter when we keep our attention fixed on him rather than upon the immediate circumstances. We need CHRIST to whom both physical illness and emotional pain are manageable. We need a CHRIST who can make us think in terms of being victors rather than victims.

“Behold the Lamb . . .” John says and we need to do just that. We need to look to the One who can deliver us. We need to behold the majesty of CHRIST.

But there is more: “The Lamb who takes away the sins of the world.” We are all summoned to contemplate Jesus’ majesty. We are also challenged to consider his mercy.

The majestic CHRIST “humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross,” so that we might be redeemed. In all of creation God shows us his powerful hand, but at Golgotha God gives us his heart. The cross-showed the world the love of God. The cross-changed the world forever because it bridged the gap between a holy God and unholy humanity. We see CHRIST in majesty but also in his mercy.

There is one thing more to be said. We have considered CHRIST’s majesty and his mercy. We also need to consider his ministry for our lives. Notice that John says, “Behold the Lamb who takes away the sins of the world.” does not say the sins of the church or the sins of middle-class Americans. “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.” There is enough saving power in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus CHRIST for the entire world… if only the world knew.

If only our next door neighbor knew. If only our families knew. The world needs to know--our friends and neighbors need to know--that they have given something far bigger than a state lottery.

They need to know that they can have an eternal victory over sin and death. An eternal love relationship with God through Jesus CHRIST is theirs--and ours--simply for the asking. We—like John the Baptist are those who are called to tell about the Lamb of God. We are not sent out to condemn the world, but to tell the saving message of the great love God has for His people.

We are those who are called to help others to see beyond the size of their problems to One who is big enough to overcome any problem. We are to finish the work begun by our LORD 2,000 years ago--the work of reconciling the world unto God.

Leonardo Da Vinci had started a sketch on canvas. sketched the outer lines, starting to fill in some of the details when he stopped and asked a student to finish the work he had started and said, “I want you to finish the work that I have started.” The dumbfounded student mumbled that he could never do it well enough.

Da Vinci reassured him, “Does my example inspire you to do your best?” the student nodded. “and besides, I am right here beside you if you should need help.” That is CHRIST’s message to us.

“Behold the Lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world.”

See him in all his divine majesty.

See him in his unconditional mercy.

See him in his all encompassing ministry to the world, a ministry to which he calls you and me to complete.

May his example inspire us and his presence empowers us until the entire world knows that the victory has been won.