Pointing to the Lamb of God (John 1:29-42)

Bethlehem Lutheran Church, Lebanon, OR

Second Sunday after the Epiphany + January 15, 2017

Text: John 1:29-42a

 

Jack Friday in Dragnet was famous for saying, “Just the facts, ma’am.”  Whenever they would interview a witness, it undoubtedly happened that they would trail off into personal experiences and opinions about the suspect.  But what is needed from a witness is just the facts.

 

John the Baptist is that kind of witness.  Just the facts: “Behold, the Lamb of God!” “This man ranks before me, because he was before me.” “I baptized with water.” “I saw the Spirit descend and remain on him.” “This is the Son of God.”  It’s not important what John thought of Jesus, or if John could give a testimony about what Jesus did for him.  These facts are enough to make John the right kind of witness for God’s purposes—“that He might be revealed.”[1]  John’s ministry is no-frills with nothing to attract you to himself.  As John the Evangelist wrote, “He himself was not the light, but came to bear witness about the Light, that all might believe through him.”[2]  John was just a voice crying in the wilderness and a finger pointing to the Lamb of God.

 

It’s important who John is pointing to also.  Jesus is the One God has appointed to save the world.  Nobody and nothing else can be the Lamb of God, the true Passover sacrifice, the ram caught in the thicket which God provides.[3]  Jesus is the Savior of the world because only He takes away the sin of the world.

 

It’s important for us to get this right too, because there are others who masquerade under the name Jesus.  There’s the ecumenical Jesus who comes with the message that we should forget about our different readings of the Bible and embrace all things spiritual.  There’s the feel-good Jesus who encourages with out-of-context Bible verses and promises to help us be better people.  Then there’s the Jesus who is the worst kind of friend to have—a yes man.  He just pats us on the back and affirms us in every choice we make, even if that choice is to leave church in favor of more free time on the weekends.

 

The trouble with all of these false Jesus pictures is that none of them takes away sin.  They all leave us in our sins.  They make a mockery of God’s righteous judgment and turn the crucifixion and resurrection into an obsolete fairy tale.

 

John’s office was to proclaim Jesus to be the Lamb of God.  He himself did not know Him, but nevertheless He was God’s witness.

Only the Jesus whom God sends is the genuine article.

Only He take away sin

This is His chief aim—to make us whole and right before God.

Then everything else falls where it may, our mind and body restored.

 

Jesus continues to be the same Lamb of God who is proclaimed by us.

There’s no need to set up a fancy, side-door Jesus who gets people in the door through something completely unrelated.  This is not how people come to know Jesus.  It might be how they get to know Christians, but these things don’t contribute to saving faith.

 

The Lamb of God is proclaimed simply by pointing to Him and saying who He is and what He does.

 

This Jesus, the Son of God is the Messiah, the one who takes sins away.  He gives my conscience peace by His absolution.  He gives me confidence in my baptism that even death cannot steal me away from Him and the Kingdom He’s promised.  His Body and Blood give me strength to face my trials because He endured suffering and death and overcame them.

 

And hearing that, the Spirit will work faith when and where it pleases God (John 3:8).  No tricks, no gimmicks.  You and I are merely witnesses who are known by God and used by God to point to Jesus.

[1] Reveal comes from the Greek root of the word epiphany.  The season of Epiphany is about God giving epiphany of His Son as the Savior of the world.

[2] John 1:7-8

[3] John 19:14-18, Genesis 22:10-14