EPIPHANY 2– 011605-: Isaiah 49:1-7; Psalm 40: 1-12; 1 Corinthians 1: 1-9; John 1: 29-42 – Resurrection, F’bg, VA
Grace and peace to you from Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. Amen.
When you heard the gospel read a few minutes ago, did you sense that God is asking you to “do” something specific? If so, what one word would you use to describe what God asks you to do?
In the gospel the evangelist, John makes some specific claims about John the Baptist. These claims do not include the things that Matthew, Mark or Luke claim about John.
There is no mention of camel hair clothes, no honey and locust diet; and no suggestion of a family relationship between Jesus and John the Baptist!
Rather, the writer, John tells us that John the Baptist is a “pointer” - a revealer – a witness. Indeed, the gospel reveals that John the Baptist simply came to bear witness to the light, Jesus.
Moreover, it describes how John knew – how John knew who Jesus is!
There is no doubt according to this gospel that John the Baptist’s sole purpose in life is to introduce Jesus –God’s Son – to others. Taking that to the next logical step – what would be our purpose?
It seems to me that each of us has an inborn desire to witness. Why, we are constantly telling others about what we have heard and seen.
We Christians refer to this desire as being called to witness. In fact, the call to witness is a theme in three of today’s readings.
Like Israel: Israel is called to witness – to be a light – for all the nations; Paul is called to be an apostle and witness to the gentiles; John the Baptist is called to witness to Jesus!
John’s audience in our gospel reading is…us.
He is witnessing to us as Jesus walks toward him that Jesus is “… the Son of God who takes away the sin of the world.’
John says that he is not guessing that Jesus is God’s Son. Rather, the Holy Spirit revealed it to him.
John tells us that he saw it with his own eyes.
No wonder John feels compelled to tell others; he is living out his call to witness to what he has seen.
Then, the following day, John is standing with two of his disciples when again, he sees Jesus coming toward them, and he tells the two, what he knows…what he knows about Jesus.
That is all it took! When the two meet Jesus they immediately leave John in the dust to follow Jesus!
Does John mind? Absolutely not; he had fulfilled the purpose to which he was called!
This story about witnessing reminds me of the Nike slogan a few years ago – the one that urges us to Just Do It!
Just Do It! Just witness - don’t get side trapped by worry about bringing people to faith – that is not our job. Just Do It – just witness.
Just Do It! Witness – invite – bring - people to see Jesus.
Just Do It! Say the words, Come and see.
However, in this reading there is something that is puzzling.
It is puzzling that
when Andrew witnesses to his brother, Simon,
Andrew takes the credit for finding Jesus!
Sometimes we do too.
We take the credit when we see Jesus in the Word and Sacrament.
We tell others to come and see what “we” have found.
However, even when we use the “wrong” language – as Andrew did – what is important is that we Just Do It! – we just say the words, “Come and see.”
In truth, Jesus is always the one who finds us. Jesus finds us wherever we are, especially when we are suffering.
Then… the Holy Spirit stirs us to faith.
Afterward, our faithful response – our calling – is to Just Do It - tell others and bring them to see Jesus!
It is amazing how eager we are to tell others the least little thing that we have discovered.
We eagerly share with others when we are impressed with a new brand of soup, or soap or bread…or about our gluten-free diet!
We tell others about the advantage of living in our neighborhoods.
Why then, are some reluctant to tell others about Jesus? Jesus, who is of life and death importance – Jesus who means freedom from sin and death?
Do I hear someone out there thinking (!) that you are not reluctant to tell others about Jesus? Do I hear you thinking (!)that you simply do not have the opportunities to tell others about Jesus?
Well. I think we can all create opportunities. As did the mother, who was preparing pancakes for her two young boys.
Soon the two started arguing over who would get the first pancake.
Seeing the perfect opportunity to teach them something about Jesus - and patience - she said, “Jesus would say, let my brother have the first pancake.”
After a moment of silence, seven-year-old Brian turned to his three-year-old brother, Kevin, and said, “Kevin, you be Jesus!”
Brian did learn something about Jesus.
In addition, his mother did witness to Jesus.
Like her, we create opportunities for witnessing.
Because, the truth is that witnessing is far easier than two brothers learning patience while pancakes are baking.
Actually, witnessing to others about Jesus is as easy as telling others about Resurrection Lutheran Church.
Last June I learned about Resurrection Lutheran Church and you, its members, by coming and seeing. By talking to you and by attending some of your social activities.
When I want to tell others about Resurrection the easiest way I know is to Just Do It! Like I did a few weeks ago by acting like Andrew - and bringing some friends who were visiting us from PA to Come and See.
In fact, as Christians we “are called” to be “Andrews.” Remember, after meeting Jesus, Andrew went immediately to get his brother and brought him to see Jesus.
One by one, each new disciple brought another to see. And that one brought another – and so on.
Until, finally the circle includes us: you – and me.
Our reading suggests that witnessing is essential to the life and growth of the Church…and yes, it is simple.
It is as simple as telling others what you are comfortable saying about Jesus and then “simply” bringing them to see.
And they will see Jesus here: in the Word, the Sacraments, the prayers, the hymns, the way that we are the Body of Christ together in this place.
Yes, witnessing to Jesus is as easy as that Nike commercial slogan, Just Do It!
Remember, we “are
called” by our baptism to be witnesses; to Just Do It!
– Just Do It!
I pray that God through the Holy Spirit will strengthen each one of us so that we may indeed witness – that we may indeed say the words, Come and See!
Say Amen. (Amen.)