John 1:29-42a (Second Sunday after the Epiphany—Series A)
“Point to Jesus”
Lutheran Church of Our Redeemer, Enfield CT
January 19, 2020
Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God our Father, and from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.
Our text is the Gospel Lesson from John 1:
29The next day, [John] saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. 30This is the one of whom I said, ‘A man is coming after me who is superior to me because he was [always] before me.’ 31And I did not recognize him, but on account of him I came baptizing with water so that he might be manifest to Israel.” 32And John bore witness saying, “I have seen the Spirit coming down out of heaven as a dove and he remained on him. 33And I did not recognize him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘The one upon whom you see the Spirit coming down and remain on him, this one is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ 34And I have seen and I have borne witness that this one is the Son of God.” 35The next day, John was again standing there along with two of his disciples 36and looking intently at Jesus walking by he said, “Behold, the Lamb of God.” 37Now his two disciples heard him saying this and they followed Jesus. 38When Jesus turned and saw them following, he said to them, “What do you seek?” And they said to him, “Rabbi”—which means Teacher—“where are you remaining?” 39He said to them, “Come and see.” So they went and saw where he was remaining, and they remained with him that day. It was about the tenth hour. 40Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter, was one of the two who had heard John and had followed him. 41He first found his brother Simon and said to him, “We have found the Messiah”—which means Anointed. 42He brought him to Jesus.
When young children see something new, different, or unusual, they will often, in their excitement, point at it. Depending on what has caught their attention, pointing might not be appropriate. As parents, then, we tell our children, “Please don’t point. It’s not polite.” Today, however, I’m going to encourage you to point as much as you can. As the daily opportunities arise, point to Jesus!
Pointing to Jesus is what the forerunner of the Savior, John, does very well. In Christian art, John is often portrayed pointing. In some images he has an extra-large hand and pointer finger! It is John who points out and points to Jesus, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” John himself was pointed to Jesus by God the Father who had told him, “The one upon whom you see the Spirit coming down and remain on him, this one is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.” At Jesus’ baptism in the Jordan, John saw exactly that, the Spirit coming down out of heaven as a dove and He remained on Jesus. John confessed, “I have seen, and I have borne witness that this one is the Son of God.”
John, who was pointed to Jesus, then continued to point his disciples to Jesus. “Looking intently at Jesus walking by he said, ‘Behold the Lamb of God.’” What was the result of this pointing to Jesus? John’s two disciples followed Jesus. They became Jesus’ followers. Then one of those two, Andrew, before he did anything else, went and found his brother, Simon. He pointed Simon to Jesus—“We have found the Messiah!” So Andrew brought Simon to Jesus.
Just look at all the pointing going on! And it is all appropriate pointing because it’s all pointing to and pointing out Jesus, the Son of God in human flesh, the Savior of all people: “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!”
That is what Jesus has taken on human flesh and blood to accomplish for all humanity. He came among us as true God and true Man, one Christ, in order to rescue all people from their sins and the punishment of eternal death and hell. The Bible tells us, “For the wages of sin is death” (Rom. 6:23 ESV). And death is more than simply the physical death that we will all experience at the end of earthly life (unless the good Lord returns first!) Death is also eternal separation from God—forever. The full ramifications of that are pretty incomprehensible since we have never experienced a moment without the presence of God who is truly active in His creation as He preserves all people and rules over His creation with His almighty power. To experience the complete lack of God’s presence and help and mercy and grace and love—to endure hell, the place where God is not—is the proper payment for your sins and mine.
To be saved from this horrible punishment, all people need to trust in Jesus as their Lord and Savior from sin, death, and hell. Perhaps you read in the latest edition of the New England District News that our congregation is smack in between the number 1 and the number 7 most post-Christian cities in the entire country!—Hartford-New Haven (#7) and Springfield-Holyoke (#1). In round statistics, about 90% of people in the Springfield-Holyoke area surveyed had not read the Bible within the last week. Almost 50% had not prayed in the last week. A full 11% don’t believe in God, period. What does this tell us? Folks don’t seem to take understand that sin leads to eternal death and hell. Folks don’t know that Jesus is the only Savior from their sins and death.
So, John pointed to Jesus. Andrew pointed to Jesus. Now it’s your turn. People in our community need to know who Jesus Christ is and what He has done for them as their Savior. They won’t know unless Christians like you point Him out and point to Him with your words and actions. The apostle Paul writes by the power of the Holy Spirit in Romans 10, “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. . . . For ‘everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’ How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!’” (Rom. 10:9–15 ESV).
You, like John and Andrew, have “beautiful feet.” You know Jesus Christ by faith because you have been baptized into His death and resurrection for the forgiveness of sins and rescue from death and the devil. You are the only ones equipped to point to Jesus with your words and actions and so declare to those in need of salvation, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” Jesus was the One who lived a perfect life so that all people might receive credit for His righteousness. Jesus was the One who suffered hell itself on the cross and died our death so that all humanity might receive complete forgiveness of sins and eternal life rather than eternal death. “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God” (Eph. 2:8 ESV). It is a gift for all people because all people, whether they think so or not, need what Jesus Christ gives freely—forgiveness of sins, eternal life, new life, abundant life.
For the past month, our Sunday morning Bible class has focused on tools to equip us as God’s people to be the ones who point to Jesus the Savior. As a Christian, you can be sure that you already know enough to tell people about Jesus. You simply tell others what you know, or rather, who you know—Jesus. Since it is God Himself who calls us to be His witnesses to point to Jesus the Savior, you can be certain that He’s going to give you the support and strength to do it by the power of the Holy Spirit. Remember also that it is not your task to create saving faith in Christ in another person’s heart. That’s the work of the Spirit through the Word. Your task is simply to show people Jesus, “Look, the Lamb of God!”
What are some ways that you and I can point people to Jesus, the Son of God, their Savior? First and foremost, come alongside a friend, a coworker, a neighbor and invite them to “come and see.” Bring them here to the place where Jesus meets with His people as He comes among us through His Word and Sacrament. Invite them to come and see Jesus here in His Word, in the hymns and liturgy, in the people of God themselves who speak words of peace and greetings in love.
Pray for that person who does not yet know Jesus by faith. Pray that the Holy Spirit would be given opportunity through the hearing of the Word by that individual so that they might be brought to faith and new life. Don’t be afraid not only to pray for but to pray with someone as they have need. There is no harm in asking, “Can I pray with you right now about your illness, your fear, your __?” That’s pointing to Jesus as you demonstrate your trust in Him who hears and answers the prayers of His Christians.
Listen to others. Hear their concerns, their fears, their needs. Share how Jesus has helped you in similar moments. Show them the comfort of the Word of God. Point them to Jesus in the Scriptures, in those passages that help and strengthen you. Share the Good News of what the Lamb of God has done for you. Be a model of the faith in your words and in what you say and do.
What the people of our community need is you, the people of God, pointing to Jesus while living life by looking to the Lamb with faith and trust and joy. This trusting gaze will show in your lives this coming week. People will notice. How many lives will be touched by those of us here today? How many eyes will see evidence of something in us that causes them to wonder? How many opportunities will we have these next seven days to say, “Look to Jesus, the Lamb of God! Come, and see Him”? God will use your heart’s gaze, your soul’s fixation on Jesus, to proclaim to the people in your lives, “Behold, Jesus loves you, forgives you, and gives you eternal life!” Amen.