Surprising words from John the Baptizer / Second Sunday After Epiphany / January 19th 2014 / John 1:29-42 / Rev. Ted A. Giese
Mount Olive Lutheran Church / Rev. Ted A. Giese / Second Sunday After Epiphany / January 19th 2014 / John 1:29-42 ESV
The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! This is He of whom I said, ‘After me comes a man who ranks before me, because He was before me.’ I myself did not know Him, but for this purpose I came baptizing with water, that He might be revealed to Israel.” And John bore witness: “I saw the Spirit descend from heaven like a dove, and it remained on Him. I myself did not know Him, but He who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain, this is He who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ And I have seen and have borne witness that this is the Son of God.”
The next day again John was standing with two of his disciples, and he looked at Jesus as He walked by and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God!” The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus. Jesus turned and saw them following and said to them, “What are you seeking?” And they said to him, “Rabbi” (which means Teacher), “where are you staying?” He said to them, “Come and you will see.” So they came and saw where He was staying, and they stayed with Him that day, for it was about the tenth hour. One of the two who heard John speak and followed Jesus was Andrew, Simon Peter's brother. He first found his own brother Simon and said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which means Christ). He brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said, “You are Simon the son of John. You shall be called Cephas” (which means Peter).
Let us pray: May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be acceptable in your sight O Lord. Amen.
Grace peace and mercy to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Good Christian Friends. Charles Dickens once said, "I know enough of the world now, to have almost lost the capacity of being surprised by much." It this you? Have you come to expect certain things and mainly you just receive what you expect? Nothing really jumps out of nowhere and surprises you?
The people who came out to see John the Baptizer in the wilderness knew what to expect from him. We heard much of it in the weeks leading up to Christmas. John is stern, full of law; He pins people to the wall with their sins and demands that they repent. His baptism was a baptism of repentances and many of the people in the crowds that came out to be baptized by him were concerned about how their lives were going; some were curious to see what he would say: John treated them all alike and confronted them saying "“You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bear fruits in keeping with repentance. And do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children for Abraham. Even now the axe is laid to the root of the trees. Every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.”
And the crowds asked [John], “What then shall we do?” And [John the Baptizer] answered them, “Whoever has two tunics is to share with him who has none, and whoever has food is to do likewise.” Tax collectors also came to be baptized and said to [John], “Teacher, what shall we do?” And he said to them, “Collect no more than you are authorized to do.” Soldiers also asked [John], “And we, what shall we do?” And he said to them, “Do not extort money from anyone by threats or by false accusation, and be content with your wages.”"
John also pointed to the coming Christ, for John the Baptizer was the one who was to ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, [and] make His paths straight." John the Baptizer was “The voice of one crying in the wilderness," but the baptizer's cry often sounded hard and rough like locusts descending on a field and not like sweet music dripping with honey. As it is recorded for us He was often all law. Today however we see something different, today the raggedy, camel hair-covered wild man of the desert says surprisingly sweet words, word that sustain the Christian, words we sing before we receive the LORD's Supper in our communion liturgy.
Our fire and brimstone preacher, boiling with harsh commentary of the World see Jesus coming and says, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!" John the Baptizer doesn't say, "Look, see the judge is coming now you're gonna get it" John the Baptizer says “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!"
What do people expect from you, what do people expect from you when they find out that you are a Christian? Are they like Charles Dickens? who says "I know enough of the world now, to have almost lost the capacity of being surprised by much." Could they say "I know enough of [Christians] now, to have almost lost the capacity of being surprised by much." Are you a surprise to people? When their life is broken up into bits, maybe even by their own foolishness and sin what do you think they expect from you? Do they expect an "I told you so!" or "You're gonna get it now." Might they actually be surprised by you. Remember Jesus tells us that the person who has been forgiven of many sins, has much love, "But he who is forgiven little, loves little.” What do people expect from you, what do people expect from you when they find out that you are a Christian? Do they expect forgiveness?
Jesus was often a surprise to people. They expected one thing and when they came in contact with Him they got something else. lots of people expected Jesus to be just like them. The Pharisees for instance thought Jesus should be like them, and since they wouldn't associate with tax collectors and prostitutes and drinkers and sinners they expected that Jesus would likewise avoid tax collectors and prostitutes and drinkers and sinners, when Jesus did associate with these people the Pharisees were surprised and they grumbled at Jesus' disciples, saying, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?” By and large, for the Pharisees, Jesus was not a pleasant surprise.
Jesus was often a surprise to people.
Later on Jesus addresses this when disciples of John the Baptizer come wanting to talk with Jesus about His overall suitability to be the Messiah, the Christ, the Saviour. Jesus speaks of expectations when He says, "For John [the Baptizer] came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon.’ The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Look at Him! A glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’” We live in a world of expectations, people are forever drawing conclusions about everything. They think they know Jesus before they read a word about Him, they think they know Him before they hear Him preached, they think they know you too. Jesus said, “If the world hates you, know that it has hated Me before it hated you." And why would anyone hate Jesus? or you because of Jesus? Because they don't know Him and think they know all about Him and the picture they've painted for themselves is not Scriptural, it's not Jesus as we trust Him, the Jesus John the Baptizer speaks of when He say “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!"
It was a while later and Jesus' ministry was in full swing; "Now the tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to hear [Jesus]. And the Pharisees and the scribes grumbled, saying, “This man receives sinners and eats with them.”
So Jesus told them this parable: “What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open country, and go after the one that is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbours, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.’ Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance."
When Jesus asks them “What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open country, and go after the one that is lost, until he finds it?" the logical answer is no man would do that, a rational man would weigh the cost of the lost sheep against the ninety-nine sheep that he has and would cut his losses. The surprise in this parable is that the shepherd goes after the lost sheep. The surprise for us is that we have a Good Shepherd who saves us by becoming a sheep Himself, by becoming in the incarnation the Lamb of God Who takes away the sin of the world, One who comes to you with forgiveness, who finds you broken by sin, caught in the condemnation of the law, One who hears your repentant bleating and forgives you. Jesus doesn't accept your sin, Jesus comes to rescue you from it, Jesus comes to forgive it.
We heard how John the baptizer sternly warned those who came to him saying "Even now the axe is laid to the root of the trees. Every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.” This is a picture of the world; everyone is a tree in the orchard of the world, you are one of these trees. Jesus tends this orchard, as a baptized child of God you are one of His trees: He doesn't immediately pick up the axe and start swinging; Jesus is patient, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and while being pruned is not fun it's meant to help you bear good fruit, Jesus prunes you and He fertilizes your roots with His word, He waters you with the waters of Baptism and with His Supper. Jesus forgives and gives time to you and to me, this is grace and mercy. It is the love of God for you and for me and for everyone, it is the love that God has for the one who thinks God hates them, the one who thinks they are unlovable, and un-saveable. "We love because [God] first loved us." We love because Jesus first loved us: Because He is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the World; Because He takes away my sin, your sin, the sin of the world. This is the great surprise.
The next day again John [the Baptizer] was standing with two of his disciples, and he looked at Jesus as [Jesus] walked by and [again John] said, “Behold, the Lamb of God!” The two disciples heard [John the Baptizer] say this, and they followed Jesus. Jesus turned and saw them following and said to them, “What are you seeking?” And they said to [Jesus], “Rabbi” (which means Teacher), “where are you staying?” [Jesus] said to them, “Come and you will see.” So they came and saw where [Jesus] was staying, and they stayed with Him ... One of the two who heard John speak and followed Jesus was Andrew... [Andrew] first found his own brother Simon and said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which means Christ).
Jesus desires people to know Him, to truly know Him, to come with Him, and to follow Him, to stay with Him. This Lamb of God is for everyone, tell others of His surprising forgiveness, of His love. As one who has been forgiven much, as one to whom Jesus has been patient, be now forgiving to others, be patient with others, be a surprise to everyone, as Jesus has been a surprise to you, when you expected the axe, when you thought you'd be lost forever and yet in the midst of your sin and trouble (to your great surprise) you were saved. Amen.
Let us pray:
Lord have mercy on us, Christ have mercy on us, Lord have mercy on us, “take our minds and think through them, take our lips and speak through them, take our hearts and set them on fire; for the sake of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, Amen.
 "Quotations For The Fast Lane" Compiled by Richard W. Pound, McGill-Queen's University Press, pg 518.
 Luke 3:7-14
 Luke 3:4
 After hearing the sermon the second time Vicar James Preus thought of a joke "Charles Dickens had no Great Expectations"
 Luke 7:47
 Luke 5:30
 Matthew 11:18-19
 John 15:18
 Luke 15:1-7
 Psalm 86
 Luke 13:6-9
 1 John 4:19