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Archive for January 19th, 2014

Text:  John 1:29-42, especially the italicized verses

29 The next day (John the Baptizer)  saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, 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 before me, because he was before me.’ 31 I myself did not know him, but for this purpose I came baptizing with water, that he might be revealed to Israel.” 32 And John bore witness: “I saw the Spirit descend from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him. 33 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 baptizeswith the Holy Spirit.’ 34 And I have seen and have borne witness that this is the Son of God.”

Jesus Calls the First Disciples

35 The next day again John was standing with two of his disciples, 36 and he looked at Jesus as he walked by and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God!” 37 The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus. 38 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?” 39 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. 40 One of the two who heard John speak and followed Jesus was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. 41 He first found his own brother Simon and said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which means Christ). 42 He brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said, “You are Simon the son of John. You shall be calledCephas” (which means Peter).

John’s vocation pointed by preaching and teaching the Word of God to the Christ. A pastor told me that on one Sunday morning, Good Shepherd Sunday, they had in the sanctuary as an illustration an actual lamb. This pastor was noted for creativity in the liturgy.  The pastor commented about having lamb in the sanctuary, ‘Boy, did he ever stink!  Never again.’  I am sure glad the Lord did not and does not so think about His people:  don’t want them in here, never again, they stink.  Oh, we do and that’s the reason we come together, to be cleansed in His Word, repented and forgiven in Him. 

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
    He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
    He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness
for his name’s sake
.  The Lamb of God is also the Good Shepherd. Lamb and Shepherd are two aspects of the one Office of Christ.  He bore our sin as the Lamb of God and so leads His people as the Good Shepherd of His flock..  The slaughtered lamb is the wounded Shepherd.
and with his wounds we are healed 

The Lamb of God did not stink but He was baptized so He would stink with the foulness of a zombie flesh eating, vampire blood-sucking, breaking bad world.  He had no need for washing the stain of sin from His body and soul. John witnessed that Jesus was baptized, fully immersed into the sin of world taking it away with every step He walked, that we walk in Him.  Fully immerse so that, with every Word He spoke, we speak His Word, with every prayer He uttered that we pray, with every morsel He ate that we be fed, with every tear He cried that we are washed, with every drop of blood He shed so that we are made whole.  Feed my sheep, the risen Lord commanded Peter three times.  “That stinks to high heaven” and so the Lord of heaven came down to wash His sheep three times in the Name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. He feeds us His Body and Blood, the Word of God, the Word of grace and peace through His forgiveness.  John’s vocation pointed by preaching and teaching the Word of God to the Christ.  The Lord called John the Baptizer to baptize and point to the Lamb of God. Jesus is the baptized Lamb of God.  He still is.  

“For the Holy Scripture declares that the sin of the world does not lie on the world, or St. John’s sin on St. John, or St. Peter’s on Peter, for they are unable to bear it.  The sin of the world lies on Christ, the Lamb of God.  He steps forth and becomes a vile sinner, yea, sin itself (2 Cor. 5: 21), just as if He Himself had committed all the sin of the world from its beginning to its end.  This is to be the Lamb’s office, mission and function.”

The Lord, the Holy Spirit inspired men to write the Scriptures to point to the Lamb of God. Later on in John’s holy Gospel, Jesus teaches,  …The Scriptures are the Word of God in the words of God He inspired human authors to write. We can count on His Word to point us to our Savior and away from the quicksand of our thoughts about Christ causing us to fall. Luther:  “This is a key element especially to the devil, as he seeks wasy to tear us away from the Word (of God), and then , apart from the Word leads us away from the Word, and then, apart from the Word, leads us to think our own thoughts (about Christ,apart from the Bible, see for instance Mohammed and Joseph Smith or liberal theologians).  for then (the devil)  knows has won and we have lost” (Luther). The star led the Magi to Jerusalem as these pagans logically thought the King of the Jews must be born in the capital, in the Temple of Israel, but it was finally the Word of God in the words of God in Micah, which states that the king is born in the least of the cities of Judah, Bethlehem.  “The Word is a trustworthy star, and it guides them straight to Christ.  Without and apart from the Word, they would not have found Christ the King.” (Luther)

 Paul wrote that Adam was the type of the one to come. There are many types, examples, in fact the Old Testament can be regarded as filled with the promises and the types of Christ to come,so that the Lord’s Church be challenged, encouraged and strengthened.  So Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians that the journey of his freed people Israel through the wilderness is an example or types of Christ.  When the people of Israel cried out for water, the Lord told Moses to hit the rock with his staff and water came forth.  For they drank from the spiritual Rock that followed them, and the Rock was Christ. The Bible is about Jesus Christ, from when the Lord clothed the fallen Adam and Eve because they were ashamed with the nakedness of their sin till when He baptized us and so clothes us in Jesus Christ, our christening robe. 

The Lord baptizes His Church, His Body to point to the Lamb of God, following Him,  abiding in His Word and so He feeds us His Word.  The two sections of today’s Gospel both commence with John’s sermon: Behold!  The Lamb of God. In the first section is his witness to Jesus’ Baptism.  In the second section is John’s witness to the Lamb of God to John’s disciples.  Andrew and the other disciple wanted to know where Jesus was staying, or abiding.  They followed Him. They wanted to know where the Lord was staying, abiding.  They wanted to spend time with Him, the Word of God made flesh and so Andrew invited his brother Simon, or as Jesus named him, Cephas or rock.  They wanted their words and life to point to the Lamb of God.  This was a new orientation in their lives.  What do our lives point?  The compass point of the world always points inward.   The compass of His Word which makes the Church points out to Jesus Christ.  We live in the disorientation of a world concentrating on the idolatry of the self.  The Lord baptizes and calls His church to point to the Lamb of God.  We need His orientation day by day.  The picture above is the altarpiece painted by Mattheas Grunewald for the hospital chapel of Saint Anthony’s Monastery in Isenheim, Alsace (then part of Germany), where monks ministered to victims afflicted with the disfiguring skin disease known as Saint Anthony’s Fire, which was common in the middle ages. Monks, hospital staff, and patients at St. Anthony’s would have related in a very personal way to the ravaged body of Christ as it appears in the central Crucifixion scene of the closed altarpiece.  It shows John the Baptizer with a big long finger pointing to the Crucified. He doesn’t point at us to say how bad you are.  He does not point to himself to say how good he is, and the words  in Latin behind John are his own sermon, He must increase and I must decrease.  The altarpiece has hinges and then can open up and be changed to the Nativity and the resurrection.  Those so afflicted were being reoriented. We do too as we are found and do not get lost. Others are to be sought in this lost world for which He died and you are part of that world. The Lord has so that we may abide in His Word and point, Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.  In the Orthodox Church the bread of Holy Communion is called the Lamb.  From the Lamb we receive His Body and His blood, fed the word of life.

 John’s vocation pointed by preaching and teaching the Word of God to the Christ.

The Lord, the Holy Spirit inspired men to write the Scriptures to point to the Lamb of God.

The Lord baptizes His Church, His Body to point to the Lamb of God, following Him,  abiding in His Word and so He feeds us His Word. IN the Name of the Father, and of the +Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

 

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