2nd Sunday after the Epiphany, year A (preached 1/15/17)
first reading: Isaiah 49:1-7
second reading: 1 Corinthians 1:1-9
gospel reading: John 1:29-42
Last week as we read about the baptism of Jesus his encounter with John the Baptist was front and center. This week, we get to hear the declaration of John, “Here is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” But John and Jesus don’t actually speak in our text this morning. John talks about Jesus, and Jesus talks to others.
When Jesus does speak, he speaks to two of John’s disciples – who based on John’s testimony, decide to “check Jesus out.” It’s THIS encounter I want to focus on this morning.
John was with two of his disciples when they saw Jesus. John again called Jesus the “Lamb of God.” As a result, those two disciples followed Jesus. Jesus sees these two following him, so he asks, “What are you looking for?”
Instead of answering Jesus, they ask him a question in return: “Where are you staying?” At this Jesus answers, “Come and see.”
Jesus’ question “What are you looking for?” and moments later, his answer to them, “Come and see,” form the foundation of what it means to be a disciple of Christ.
Each one of us can be asked, as we walk through these doors on a Sunday morning, “What are you looking for?” The question is a good one. It get to the heart of why we’re here. How many of us, me included, have Sundays when we get up, get dressed, get in the car, pull in the parking lot and plant ourselves in the pew, without thinking “Why?” or “What for?”
What ARE we looking for when we follow Jesus? What ARE we looking for when we worship?
And when we really think about it, is what we’re looking for what we actually find? Is the Jesus of our dreams the Jesus of reality?
I think sometimes not. I think sometimes we expect Jesus to be a lot more “macho.” I think sometimes we expect Jesus to be a lot more “successful.” And when I say “we” I’m not just talking about you and me, I’m talking about Christians everywhere and throughout history.
Sure, we DO have a vision of Jesus victorious over the cross, the King of heaven, the one who we confess shall come again to judge the living and the dead. But he is also the same God/man who walked and talked, ate, slept, cried and died.
Jesus is no superman or Rambo. He didn’t come to earth to beat other people down, or to give us earthly riches, power or prestige. As one of my former pastors used to say, “God is not our heavenly Santa Claus.”
Jesus ascended into heaven and sits at the right hand of the Father, only AFTER being betrayed, beaten and killed on the cross. Jesus is the God/man who DIDN’T save himself – and by NOT doing so, has saved each one of us.
So… if we follow him or come to worship so we can be powerful or successful or find answers to every question we have in life, we will NOT find what we’re looking for.
if we’re looking for a savior who can carry us, who will be our companion and strength and guide through all of life, whether we succeed or fail;
if we’re looking for a savior who will gift us with heaven despite our sin and failures, who has prepared a place for us not because we deserve it, but because he is LOVE;
if we’re looking for a place to gather where we can be accepted as a saved sinner/saint, and accept others as the same…
well then – to that Jesus says, “Come and see.” This is discipleship in a nutshell.
Jesus said, “Come and see,” and those two men “came and saw.” And once they “came and saw” they started to witness, “We have found the Messiah.”
Following Jesus, being a disciple, is as simple and as hard as that. We follow, we see, and we witness to what we have seen.
Scholar Robert Kysar highlights this order. “The risk of the journey (come) necessarily precedes the experience of seeing.”¹ It’s true. We who follow Jesus ARE on a journey – a journey of faith where we don’t know what’s around the corner, even if we DO know the ultimate destination.
We come along for the ride with this savior, not knowing exactly where we’re going or what will happen. We often can’t see where God has been working in our lives to get us through things, how we got from point “A” to “B” until we get to point “C.” Discipleship is an amazing act of trust given to us through faith.
Following – being a disciple – coming and seeing, then leads to witness.
Andrew (one of the men who “came and saw”) responded by searching out and saying to his brother, “We have found the Messiah,” and then “brought [him] to Jesus.” Our calling as disciples, once we have come and seen, is to give that invitation to others.
We hear “come and see.” So, we “come, and see.” Then we tell others to “come and see.”
No matter what our station in life, our mission as disciples is the same. Tomorrow we will honor The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. A man of courage, who preached the love and JUSTICE of Jesus, who knew his life was constantly in danger and yet kept preaching Jesus’ gospel of equality and loving neighbor anyway. Today we read about the call of some of the first disciples, who would also preach to many, and whose testimony we still hear.
Thousands heard their words – yet our call – yours and mine – is the same as theirs. We may not have the audience or the influence they did and still do, but our call is just as important as theirs.
It is the call of the disciple who preaches to hundreds as well as the disciple who shares with just one – telling the love and forgiveness of Jesus for every person –
“We have found the Messiah.”
“Come and see.”