Second Sunday of Epiphany John 1 29-42
There are three distinctive themes in today’s Gospel reading. Firstly, the revealing of who Jesus was, secondly, the invitation from Jesus to ‘come and see’ and finally, the institution of the missionary work of the church.
The day after the baptism of Jesus, John the Baptist saw him coming towards him and declared. ‘Here is the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world’. Once again John is pointing people away from himself, and pointing them to Jesus; and again the following day
John was with two of his followers and he saw Jesus and said ‘Look, here is the Lamb of God’. To describe Jesus this way would have reminded them of the promises in the Scriptures. Just before Abraham was going to sacrifice his son Isaac, the boy asked his Father where the sacrificial lamb was. Abraham replied ‘God will provide a lamb for a burnt-offering my son.’ The Passover lamb is eaten to celebrate the freedom of the Israelites from slavery. Isaiah talks about the suffering servant being ‘led as a lamb to the slaughter,’ and three years later Jesus was to die on the cross at the third hour, the exact time the temple priests would sacrifice a lamb for the forgiveness of sins.
John knew who Jesus was and the effect of his words led his two followers to leave him and follow Jesus.
As ever with seekers, they are met by the one they seek. Jesus turns to meet them and asks. ‘What are you looking for? ’ in other words ‘What are you seeking?’ It is a question worth wrestling with - as individuals, as congregations, and as communities - since our answers will have a great deal to do with what we find as well as with the journey we take to get there. What are you seeking? What motivates you? What is that you really need, not just on the surface, but deep down into the core of your being? What are you looking for? These are the first recorded words spoken by Jesus and worth looking at in depth.
Jesus does not seek to impose an idea, a theology or a doctrine. He wants people to follow him of their own free will. He asks us to look into our hearts and become aware of our desires, that which we are looking for.
‘What do we really want from our lives?
What are we really looking for?
Jesus poses his question to two of John's disciples, who, having just learned that Jesus is the Lamb of God, are determined to follow him. Before the story moves very far we will learn that others also are looking for Jesus, but for very different reasons. The crowds are seeking to have their bellies filled with a little more bread, while the religious authorities are seeking to kill him. One group seeks life, the other, death. These two disciples, for their part, want something different than either the crowds or the authorities. They want simply to be with Jesus. The two men rather taken by surprise and not knowing what they want, ask another question.
Where do you live?
They are not asking Jesus for the location of his tent, or the address of the house at which he is visiting; they want to know about the enduring, permanent, eternal, undying dwelling place of this Lamb of God. Where are you staying? Where can we find you? Where shall we go to be with you, to receive what you have to offer? Where can we be in the very presence of God?
Jesus' question is one we might ask this morning. What are you seeking? In a culture dominated by the acquisition of things, the search for "stuff," the exchange of questions between Jesus and his would-be followers provides an opportunity for us to explore a variety of possible responses. The two men do not want theories, they want to be with him, stay with him, by going with him they indicate that they want to let themselves be touched by his life, who ever he was. In answer to their question, Jesus simply says ‘come and see’. He gently invites them, and he gently invites each one of us, to ‘come,’
Come and see – come and live your life with me. Notice he does not say come and spend an hour with me once a week. The two men follow Jesus, see where he lives and choose to dwell with him. Again, the English translation obscures the significance of the phrase. The Greek verb is meno: and means abide, remain, endure, continue, and dwell, in the sense of permanence or stability. John the Baptist recognizes Jesus when the Holy Spirit remains (meno) upon him After Jesus provides bread enough to satisfy a crowd, with plenty left over, he cautions the people to work not for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures (meno) for eternal life He promises that he will abide (meno) in those who abide in. Wherever Jesus stays (meno), people have the opportunity to believe. In the Gospel of John and in his letters he uses the word meno 63 times. Words and events in the gospels are frequently symbolic. John the writer of this gives gospel tells us the precise time: It was 4o’clock in the afternoon. He is showing that Jesus is grounded in a particular time and place he is rooted in history. It would be for him a date time and place that he would never forget. It was when he met Jesus for the first time. It was the day his life changed for ever.
We are told that one of these two men was Andrew, Simon’s brother, the second remains anonymous but is thought to be the writer of this gospel of John. We can only speculate and surmise but what we have to do is follow Jesus and dwell with Him. In order to do that we will have to let go of the search for power, wealth and reputation that our culture tends to impose.
Look what happens after dwelling with Jesus. Andrew goes to find his brother Simon, telling him ‘we have found the Messiah.’ Messiah means ‘the anointed one, the Christ.’ Before dwelling with Jesus, the two disciples had called him Rabbi or Teacher, now he is the ‘Anointed One’ the one chosen by God to bring liberation and freedom to the people.
What happened during his time with Jesus that made Andrew now call him Messiah? Did Jesus speak of his vision? Did he tell them he was the Messiah? That remains their secret, but we can imagine they were enveloped in an immense inner peace. The very presence of Jesus and his love for them, his words of truth and love brought them a new joy, and new freedom, a new hope.
Andrew is attributed to being the first missionary.
He went and brought his brother Simon to Jesus,
It was Andrew, who found the small boy with the loaves and fishes, later he would bring a group of Greeks to Jesus.
It is often said that the Church in the west is in crisis. There is a shortage of priests, a shortage of money, but solving this problem will not cure the crisis.
What the Church needs is a dose of Andrews. It needs people who will dwell with or abide with Christ and then go a bring others. It needs people who can say to others ‘come and see.’ See my life transformed, see my church and the people in it transformed, come and see Jesus. The church is not short of people and it could grow to astronomical proportions if it did what Andrew did. The world-wide church grew from 12 disciples who were with Jesus, believed him and who wanted others to know him. It is that simple.
Later this year there will be opportunity for us to invite others to come, to a Lent Course giving an overview of the bible, and to an Alpha type outreach where all we have to do is say -
Come, come and see.