2nd Sunday of Epiphany – Sermon 109
Prayer to start
May the words of my lips and the thoughts of our hearts be graciously received for the Glory and Honour of our Lord Jesus Christ
This is a story you may have heard –
That in the beginning was the Word
And the Word became flesh, and lived as man
The most astonishing thing since the world began!
John the Evangelist tells Jesus’ story,
Says He lived among us, we – Herald His Glory,
And to no one has God ever truly been shown,
But His Son among us made Him known.
John the Baptist came and said I’m a voice, a word,
That calls in the desert, ‘Prepare for the Lord.’
And in seeing Jesus he knew Him as the One
Who would baptize with the Spirit, God’s only Son.
Jesus called His disciples, said ‘follow me’
And they recognized something in Him, it seems.
And here is the first theme that matters to John;
How do we today, recognize God’s Son?
Getting to know Jesus – is the most important thing we can do – in our lives – so its important we know who He is
John knew who He was – because he was told – How will we know Him?
Let’s see if our readings – help
Point 1 Seeing Jesus
Listen to me you coasts and Islands – pay heed you peoples far distant -…… God will appoint you a light to the nations – …His salvation shall reach earth’s farthest bounds –
Here in – Isaiah’s second servant song – we have the prophecy of Jesus’ coming – the story from before His birth – to His mission –
He – will be called from His mother’s womb – have to wait – hidden by God’s hand – until the appointed time – His task is great – He will face discouragement – will be despised and hated by nations – yet served by kings – and in God – He will find the strength to succeed –
God’s Glory – will be seen – through His – life and work – He will be given the task of a shepherd – to restore God’s people – and bring them home to Him –
Paul – in our NT lesson – tells us how important Jesus is – to His church – In these first nine verses – he mentions Jesus no less than nine times –
He speaks of His Authority – character – grace and peace – of the great enrichment He provides – His witness – expectations – confirmation – and fellowship –
He is the pivotal presence that we must all turn to–
Through Jesus we will be kept blameless and strong – till the time of His return – blameless because of what He has done for us on the cross – strong because of the Spiritual gifts – He will pour out on us – through the Holy Spirit –
But perhaps the most telling declaration – comes from John’s gospel – through John the Baptist –
Here we see the first public appearance of Jesus –
John – points to the key things that Jesus has come for – His death – and the bringing of the Spirit –
Jesus is the One on whom God’s Spirit rests – He is the One who will baptize not just with water – like John – but with the Holy Spirit – and only after the temple – (our human hearts) – have been purified by Jesus – through His death – will the Spirit be given
Point 2 The Lamb of God-
When John the Baptist saw Jesus walking towards him – he gave Him a special name – “There is the Lamb of God, He said, Who takes away the sins of the world”
Paintings –(and stain glass windows) of John the Baptist often show a lamb with him – and John pointing to it –
To us it might seem a bit of a strange title – after all – Lamb’s are helpless creatures – and have a knack of getting into trouble –
But for Jews the Lamb has a special significance – because God has given the lamb a special place – in their history –
The Lamb is one of the animals used to symbolize forgiveness of sins – and it plays an important part in the Passover meal because it was used in their deliverance from Egypt –
When God sent the final plague – it was the blood of the lamb – that was wiped on the doorpost of the Jewish homes – to allow the Angel of Death – to Passover them – without taking the life of their first born –
As one commentator put it – In every household – that night – there was either a dead lamb or a dead first born –
By linking Jesus with the sacrificial Lamb – John is telling us – that the things in life – that matter most – come with a cost –
and too often – we have forgotten the value of sacrifice –
Sacrifice is central to the Christian experience – Jesus is the great sacrifice – as John wrote in his first letter – “This is how we know what love really is – not that we have loved God – but that He loved us – and sent His Son as a sacrifice – to atone for our sins – if God thus loved us – my dear friends – we also must love one another”
In any relationship – it’s the sacrifices we make for each other – that make the love so much stronger –
The a Passover Lamb is without blemish – Jesus is without sin –
The Passover Lamb protected the Jewish households in Egypt – God offers us protection from the effects of our sin – through Jesus –
The Passover Lamb died in the place of the firstborn – Jesus died in our place on the cross –
Through the cross we see the true nature of our sinful condition – and how through Him we can be reborn in love and life –
Through His suffering – love and gift of forgiveness – He reaches down to the deepest point of our need – and deals with the things that keep us captive and imprisoned – guilt pushes us to hide and keep our sins private – Jesus releases us form that guilt and frees us from its bondage –
He has overcome the worst the world can offer – defeated death – and shown us that His love can never be taken away –
He is our rescuer – our redeemer- who paid the price with His life saving death
Point 3 – Reaction of the disciples
But if we want Jesus to rescue us – it has to be done His way –
Listen to this poem by Shel Silverstein;
“I walked through the wildwood and what did I see – but a unicorn with his horn stuck in a tree-
Crying someone please help me – before its too late –
I shouted , ‘I’ll free you” – He shouted back, “Wait!”
How much will it hurt? How long will it take?
How hard will you pull? How much must I pay?
Must you do it right now – or is Wednesday OK?
Have you done this before? Do you have the right tools?
Have you graduated from horn-saving school?
Will I owe you a favour? And what will it be?
Do you promise you will not damage the tree?
Should I close my eyes? Should I sit down or stand? Do you have insurance? Have you washed your hands?
And after you’ve freed me – tell me what then – can you guarantee I won’t get stuck again?
Tell me when – tell me how – tell me why – tell me where –
I guess that he ‘s still sitting there!
Are we still sitting there wondering – should I or shouldn’t I – accept Jesus’ help
Jesus calls us to turn away form our old nature and turn to Him –
The disciples didn’t waste any time – and neither should we
But – Letting go – and letting God do the rescuing – means we have to face some important truths about our lives and our relationship with Him – it needs working at day by day – through worship – through bible reading – through prayer –
we may feel we are still very far from the person God wants us to be –
what we need to remember – is that Jesus is not finished with us yet – when we let Jesus into our hearts – day by day – moment by moment with infinite skill and patience God’s love and grace will work through our lives to bring it to the perfection He longs us to reach –
We will reach Him in the end – if we are willing to put God in charge –
And – as the disciples found out – when you go looking for Jesus – what you find – is that He’s been looking for you – and you remember that day forever
Conclusion Seeing God for ourselves
Someone once described John’s gospel as a pool in which a child can paddle and an elephant can swim –
An exhibition of God in Jesus – and a story of – His offer of love – and man’s refusal to accept it –
Let’s not repeat those old mistakes – its time for a new beginning –
Jesus wants more than – for us to be aware of His presence – He wants us to meet Him and make Him our goal –
(when the disciples got to know Him their lives were transformed) –
Do we know who Jesus is? Do we know who we are looking for? –
When the disciples asked where He might be found –
Jesus’ answer was simple – “come an see”
prayer to finish