2nd Sunday after Epiphany
January 15, 2017
Grace, mercy, and peace be and abide with you all in the name of our living Savior Jesus. The basis for the sermon is today’s Gospel text from John chapter 1.
My dear friends,
Well, last week’s sermon sure hit a “hot button!” People really liked hearing about the answer to the question “What happens when you die.” So…to keep the question ball rolling…I’m going to give you quiz. Don’t “OH” me! You may write the answers down if you like, or you may just “think” the answers to the following questions:
- What is the capital of Kentucky?
- Solve for X if X2 – 25 = 119.
- The Greek poet Homer was said to have suffered from what physical impairment?
So how did you do? The answers are Frankfort is the capital of Kentucky.
In the equation X2 – 25 = 119, X would equal 12. Homer, who wrote both the Iliad and the Odyssey, was blind. That wasn’t too bad, was it? My guess is that you didn’t struggle too much with those questions or stress out too much, right?
But life is full of questions, isn’t it? We are confronted daily with questions that we eventually have to answer, and all questions are not created equally. Some are easy to answer and some are quite hard. “What’s for supper tonight” is an easy question in life. “How much money do we have left in our checking account?” can be a harder question. “You’ve never smoked pot before? Do you want some?” can be an even harder question to answer. Questions come at us from every angle, and we are called upon daily to provide the best answers and to live with the consequences of the answers we provide.
In our text for today, there are three questions that pop up and the way we answer each one is also critical. The first question that had to be answered was “who is that?” The second question, the one asked by Jesus, was “what are you seeking?” And finally, Andrew and a fellow disciple asked, “where are you staying?” These are the questions of our text, and they are the questions that we too take up today.
The first question is one that was implied. John the Baptist was baptizing at Bethany (verse 28) when he happened to see Jesus pass by. When John saw Jesus he knew exactly who He was from the get go. “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” If the people wondered who that guy was, there was no doubt about the answer; John the Baptist had identified and spotted the Lamb of God, and then gave testimony about Him. If someone asked, “who is that?” then those around had been given the answer – it was the Jesus, Lamb of God – the Son of God.
So how do people answer the same question today in regards to Jesus? “Who is that?” Sadly, there is no unified answer like the fact that Frankfort is the capital of Kentucky. Today if you tell people that Jesus is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world, you’re likely to hear, “well, that’s your interpretation.” It would be like saying that your answer to 122 – 25 = 119 is your “opinion.” People hold a variety of interpretations and opinions regarding Jesus. He is a good teacher or their guilt-free buddy or a prophet or the main character from some old book that grandma and grandpa talk about or a figment of imagination that has fooled billions of people throughout history. Don’t think that’s true? Go on-line or take a walk through any major bookstore, go to any college campus or even visit our local high schools and you’ll literally find dozens of incorrect “interpretations” of who Jesus is.
As orthodox Christians, we know that John the Baptist’s answer was correct. “Who is that?” It is Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. He served as the perfect sacrifice for our sins. He was God in human flesh; perfect in every way who came to this earth for one reason – to be that sinless sacrifice. He is the perfect Passover Lamb whose blood was shed so that the people of God might be free from death. The parallels between Jesus and the lamb of sacrifice from the Passover event of Exodus 12 are striking. The blood of both saved people from death, both were without blemish or defect, and both were killed so that others may live.
The second question of our text was asked by the Lamb of God. Interestingly enough, when Jesus asks, “what are you seeking?” those are the first words He speaks in John’s Gospel. That is a good question. What do people seek or want from Jesus? Again, it depends on who you ask.
Some see Jesus as a vending machine. You pray to Him, He spits out whatever blessing you asked for. Wrong answer. Some think Jesus brings cheap grace. In other words, we can do whatever the heck we want, and Jesus is going to forgive us anyway, so we can have the best of both worlds! Wrong answer. Tragically, some think that Jesus isn’t anything…just some mythic figure that people who go to church talk about. Ultimately, these are the wrong answers…tragically wrong answers.
When Jesus asks us, “what are you seeking” we have to really take that into consideration. What ARE you seeking from Jesus? More importantly, what do we need from Jesus? What we want, what we need, is someone who can provide us with eternal life. What we want and need is forgiveness from the midst of our sinful nature. We want hope. We want and need hope in the face of addiction, identity breaches, uncertainty, and death itself. We need hope for this life and the promise of a life to come. And if that’s what you’re seeking…Jesus provides that. Eternal life, peace, hope, forgiveness, love – all these and so much more come to us in Christ and we believe this not because we have to but because we want to. What we truly need is what only God through Christ can provide. While others look in so many hollow places and in so many shallow ways to find a substitute, a way to fill their void of hopelessness, the answer – the real answer – is we want and we need Christ and Him crucified and risen again for us and for our salvation.
Finally, we hear the question from the disciples “where are you staying?” At least that is what the English translation says. But “stay” implies temporary. In Greek that word may also mean “dwell,” which implies permanence, and as His modern-day disciples we too ask where does Jesus dwell? Those without faith doubt He dwells anywhere. Because they doubt the resurrection they would say that Christ “dwells” in a stone tomb someplace. Again, wrong answer. Jesus dwelled on this earth. He dwells in heaven at the right hand of the Father. He dwells in His Word. He dwells in the Sacraments. He dwells in our hearts. He is exactly where He promised He would be.
What questions are you wrestling with today? I doubt it has anything to do with geography or algebra. Self worth? Self esteem? Health ? Career? Financial concerns? Parenting issues? Relationship stuff? I don’t know all your questions any more than I have all the answers; no one on this side of heaven does. But here’s what I do know.
Who is that? It is Christ the Lord, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. What are you seeking? We seek the hope and peace and love the Lamb brings. Where does He dwell? He dwells where He said He would – in the Word and in the Sacraments. And by faith He dwells in our hearts. Now those are the correct answers today and always, even if you didn’t know Frankfort is the capital of Kentucky.