Today is the second Sunday in the season of Epiphany, a time set aside for us to discover, explore, think about our relationship with Jesus and with God and what better way to think about our own discipleship than to listen and learn from the calling of the first disciples to Jesus’ ministry.
29 The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him and declared, “Here is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! 30 This is he of whom I said, ‘After me comes a man who ranks ahead of me because he was before me.’ 31 I myself did not know him; but I came baptizing with water for this reason, that he might be revealed to Israel.” 32 And John testified, “I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him. 33 I myself did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain is the one who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ 34 And I myself have seen and have testified that this is the Son of God.”[a]
35 The next day John again was standing with two of his disciples, 36 and as he watched Jesus walk by, he exclaimed, “Look, here is the Lamb of God!” 37 The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus. 38 When Jesus turned and saw them following, he said to them, “What are you looking for?” They said to him, “Rabbi” (which translated means Teacher), “where are you staying?” 39 He said to them, “Come and see.” They came and saw where he was staying, and they remained with him that day. It was about four o’clock in the afternoon.
May God Bless to our understanding the words we hear today
Does something like this ever happen in your house? You are sitting in a room, perhaps reading the paper, enjoying a nice cup of coffee or tea and from another room at the other end of the house you hear…
Hey Glennyce come here
What do you want?
I want you to come here!
I want to show you something!
Can’t you just tell me what it is?
No! Come and see
And so begrudgingly you put down what you were doing, set aside that nice cup of coffee and go off to the other end of the house to find out what was so important, and discover a delightful surprise well worth setting the other things aside…and that, in a nutshell is the basics of today’s message. Will you pray with me please?
May the Words of my mouth, and the meditation of all of our hearts and minds be acceptable in your sight O Lord, our Rock and our Redeemer.
I kind of love both of our scripture readings today…Once more we paired the words of Isaiah with the words of the gospel to hear and see again what was promised and how that promise came to be.
But Isaiah’s words are not just words of comfort for a nation of people who are searching and seeking in exile…they are good words for us to take to heart so that we can more clearly hear what comes next in John’s gospel.
What we are hearing in Isaiah today is the reminder that before birth, while we were still in the womb, God knows us and that God has a plan for us. I don’t see this as a pre-destination God has every single second of our lives mapped out for us and there is nothing we can do about it kind of thing. My sense and understanding of this is more along the lines that God is aware of us and God’s plan for us is to have a wonderful and fulfilling life. But God also plans for us to be God’s people, to know and love our Creator in the same way we are loved, and to live out our lives using all the gifts and talents that we are given. It is a reminder to us that we are being called into serving, not something that we always like to be reminded of because I think we get confused about what it means to be a servant of God. We understand that we are supposed to serve God, to love God with all of our hearts and minds and souls, but it goes beyond that and it is that beyond part that we often balk at.
We are at the start of another year in the life of the church and in our own lives as well. It is the perfect time for us to think about our mission and our ministry, not just as “church” but as individuals. It is a time for us to figure out how we are going to be a light for all nations. How are we going to live out our Christianity? How do we live out our call? How do we witness to and testify about our faith? All of those questions bring us to John’s gospel.
Last week we celebrated the baptism of Christ and we heard God’s divine testimony as Jesus was recognized as God’s beloved son. This week we hear the first human testimony as John the Baptist shares with his disciples who he believes Jesus is. The Lamb of God, he tells his followers…the One who is going to liberate the world, the one who is going to deliver the people back to God. He identifies Jesus to his disciples not once but twice and goes so far as to indicate that Jesus, not John is the next big thing, the one to watch, the person to follow.
Two of John’s disciples do just that, they start following Jesus…Jesus who hasn’t really don’t anything of note yet except appear on the scene, but John said he was important so they follow him.
What happens next is maybe one of the funniest and most interesting exchanges in the whole New Testament. Andrew and the other disciple are following Jesus…you kind of get the idea that they have been tailing him all day, into Starbucks for coffee, over to the Co-Op for a News Review, into Generous Joes for lunch…everywhere Jesus goes they go. We are not sure what they were expecting to see, but they are expected something. Suddenly Jesus stops and turns and looks at them and says “What are you looking for?” And their response? Their response to the most momentous and life changing question ever? “Not, we heard you were the Son of God and we wanted to see for ourselves, or John said you were important and we wanted to see why he thought that” Nothing like that. What they say is…Where are you staying? And Jesus quickly replies, “Come and See”
I admit, the first couple of times I read this passage, and even the first few times I preached it I got a little caught up in the apparent cluelessness of the disciples…maybe what I got caught up in was my own, our own cluelessness… Then I read some commentary by George Campbell and his writing lead me to look at this another way. It is not clueless; it is, instead, a reflection of what it means to seek and to follow Jesus. Instead of getting caught up in dogma or theology or complex or easy questions they demonstrate that they are seeking someone, “Jesus himself, to be with him, to know him and to follow him. I agree with Campbell when he says that their simple question is not clueless, it IS a challenge for the church, for us, today to “examine what we are seeking.”
I wonder if we don’t too often get caught up in the yelling from the other room kind of relationship with our faith, with Jesus, with God. We think the answer to life is going to be found in some long, profound, deep theological secret and the reality is that it is provided in the three simple words of Jesus’ answer. “Come and see” … which is both an invitation and a promise.
Jesus invites us to come and see where he lives because he knows that once we come and see for ourselves, once we start living in relationship with him we will be transformed and our Epiphany, our revealing of God will continue the more we understand and see and live in faith. And the more we understand and see and live in faith, the more we are going to be able to live out that promise of servant hood that we heard in Isaiah. The more we are going to understand the plan that God has had from us from before we were born.
So even though I titled this sermon Come and See, I started thinking, maybe today, this week, this year our focus needs to shift away from Jesus’ response of Come and See and we need to focus more on his question of “What are you looking for?”
What ARE you looking for? That is the question that Jesus asked the two men following him then and it is the question that he still asks us. You see, I think that Jesus got tired of those guys following him all over the place because he knew that if they just followed him they were never going to experience anything great. They were never going to understand what it meant to do ministry in the name of Jesus Christ, they were never going to grow in their relationship with God…if they just followed him around it was not going to do any good. He needed them not behind him but by his side, he needed them to come and see so that they could go and do, go and tell, go and serve.
And that is the shift, the challenge that we have before us this year…we need to move from being followers to being doers. ….