“Wow, that was so cool the way you did that.” “Congratulations, you worked hard for that promotion.” “I can’t believe it. Words escape me.” “I can’t believe I am able to meet you in person. I am so nervous and excited right now I don’t even know what to say. Can I have your autograph?” “Sir, it is an honor and privilege to be introduced to you. You have done so many great things for this country.” “Wow, the things you have written have changed my life. I can’t believe I can have my book signed by you.”
What would you say if you met (or when you have met) someone famous, influential, or powerful? I’m sure you could come up with all kinds of praise for the person’s accomplishments or influence. What about God? How well do your compose your praise for God? How often do you pass over, “Jesus loves me.” like it is old news? Why do we get more excited about going out for brunch after church than receiving his body and blood in his Supper? I am more excited about a tasty drink than the refreshing promises give at my baptism. You are amped to read sports article so you can talk that with you co-workers but can probably don’t read your bible with the same enthusiasm to share it.
We remain largely unaffected by the message of Jesus Christ, our Savior. Where is the passion? Where is the fire? (I am sorry to those here that are not Christian because this sermon is really for believers. But perhaps you’ve seen, Christians who are largely unaffected by the message they hold onto and my guess that it makes joining us seem boring to you). We’ve all seen someone who is passionate about what they believe in (in the best way passion can be shown). It is attractive.
A man named John had that passion. There are two John’s in our portion from the Bible today. One is the author of the book; he is a passionate follower of Jesus. The other is known as John the Baptist. John the Baptist’s purpose and passion in life came from God and God alone. His job was to point to Jesus. He would direct hearts who were losing their attraction and focus on God to a Savior, a long-awaited promise fulfilled. He does that in the section we read today.
29 The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” I wonder if John paused here to wait for a reaction. Perhaps John was lost in the profound awe of Jesus walking by like an art enthusiast staring at a wall of an art gallery. I imagine some of those who John was talking to thought, “Ok, that’s fine. Now get back to what you were saying.”
30 This is the one I meant when I said, ‘A man who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’ Jesus is greater than John. 31 I myself did not know him, but the reason I came baptizing with water was that he might be revealed to Israel.” The whole purpose was to point to Jesus. The truth transforms. “Look, he takes away all the sins of the entire world, including yours.”
John could have made this up about anyone walking by. How did he know? 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.” The empirical, refutable, yet true testimony of an eyewitness is the basis for the claim. Jesus is the guy. He is it. “Look at that Lamb of God. He takes away your sins.”
But that doesn’t give me the “get up” that I want. My boredom with the profound truth that Jesus is the Lamb of God who takes away my sins is dangerous. Then I am attracted to things that draw out these emotions. They will never truly fill me up like God can. Like an addiction, I am being filled up with all the wrong things. This is why charismatic Christianity is popular, because it uses emotional manipulation techniques.
If the amazing truth that the Son of God took away your sins doesn’t wow you anymore, there is not something wrong with the word, but with you. Perhaps it is that you don’t spend enough time in awe at his amazing grace, mercy and work on your behalf.
Have we become so calloused that simply speaking the name of God produces nothing in our hearts? I am so prone to this. I read, study, pray, and connect others on a regular basis but most of the time skip over the mention of his name with no reaction, no falling to my knees in acknowledgement, no praise, not adoration, no words of joy or love, no leaping at the mere ability to utter his wonderful name without being struck down because of my own unworthiness.
Here's the beauty of the truth. It is not affected by how you feel about it. Let me explain. How are you feeling today? Do your feelings affect the fact that the color of my robe is white and the carpet is red? No. So John proclaimed the truth, “Look, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” This means your sin is removed whether you feel it or not. Whether you have been a good Christian or a bad Christian, filled with zeal or bored over God’s grace. You are still saved. That is not old news, boring, or some headline to be brushed to the side. It is exciting, invigorating, and profound beyond what we can imagine.
This truth does something. 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!” Were these two in the crowd the previous day? If so, it took a while to sink in. If not, they acted immediately. This truth has transforming power. 37 When the two disciples heard him say this, they followed Jesus. The truth does something. They didn’t wait but followed. 38 Turning around, Jesus saw them following and asked, “What do you want?” I would be taken a back. “I am not exactly sure. I was told you were the one who takes away sins. Is that true?”
They want only to be near Jesus. 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. John (this is not John the Baptist but John the author) tells the hour in which it happened. It doesn’t tell us the name of one of the two disciples but I have a hunch it was John. Who else would be able to recall such detail and why would he relay it? John remembers the exact time. Why? It made an impact. Jesus invited them to come. “Jesus, the Son of God, the Lamb of God, the one who takes away sins, invited me to come with him.” Wow! Jesus invites you in. He brings you close. This is amazing.
So amazing that the other can’t help himself. 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). The first thing Andrew does was go and tell. That shows passion at work in him.
This is at work in you too. This is every time we gather here in church. This is every time we have the Lord’s Supper. This is every time we see a baptism. It is a miracle. It is profoundly amazing!
The more you spend time in awe of God and everything he has done for you, it will excite you, transform you, and it will embolden you to witness for him. Look, the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world, including yours. Amen