Posts Tagged ‘John the Baptizer’

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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The figure of the right is John the Baptizer, pointing as if silently preaching, Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world (John 1: 29; 36)

“All truly Christian preaching must have the essential content of the proclamation and witness of John (the Baptizer). A true Christian preacher will first prepare the way for the coming of the Lord through the preaching of repentance. He that is no sinner and does not want to acknowledge himself a sinner, has no need of a Savior. But then follows the preaching of Christ, of Jesus of Nazareth, of the Redeemer of the world. Only by and through such preaching is the eternal Light revealed to men.”  Pr. Paul Kretzmann’s Commentary (published 1921) on John 1: 29

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Intro:  The following quote is from St. Gregory’s Sermon, text, St. Matthew 11: 2-10, for the 2nd  Sunday in Advent.  He shows that in our ‘small ways’ we too can be like John the Baptizer with the Message for a friend. The only stat I cite is that the majority of people who join a congregation do so because a family or friend invited them.  Here is eloquent testimony and encouragement to do so, just as Philip said to Nathanael, “Come and see” (John 1:46)

You… who live in the Tabernacle of the Lord, that is, in the Holy Church, if you cannot fill up the goblets with the teachings of holy wisdom, as well then as you can, as far as the divine bounty has endowed you, give to your neighbors spoonfuls of the good word!

And when you consider that you have yourself made some little progress, draw others along with you; seek to make comrades on the road to God. Should one among you, Brethren, stroll out towards the forum or the baths, he will invite a friend whom he thinks is not busy to keep him company. This simple action of our ordinary life is pleasant to you, and if it be that you are going towards God, give a thought not to journey alone. Hence it is written: He that heareth, let him say: come (Apoc. xxii. 17); so let him who has heard in his heart the invitation of divine love, pass on to his neighbors around about him, the message of the invitation. And though a man may not have even bread wherewith to give an alms to the hungry;  yet, what is still more precious  is able to give who possess but  tongue. For it is a greater to strengthen with the nourishment of a word that will feed the mind for ever, than to fill with earthly bread a stomach of perishable flesh.

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From Martin Luther’s Sermon (1534) on the Gospel, 3 year lectionary, 7/15/12:

“…(King Herod Antipas feigns) an interest in John’s preaching, readily admitting: This man really preaches well. For he was afraid of John, knowing that he was godly man and that the whole country stood in awe of him and considered him to be a holy man. But beware, lords are lords, and always seek their own interests above those of other people. As they say, It is not good to eat cherries with lords; they eat the cherries and shower you with the pits; and the favor of lords is as capricious as the weather in April. No lord takes kindly to rebukes, except those of an extraordinarily pious nature who could take it. David, Josiah, and Jehoshapat did suffer the reprimands of the prophets; but the other kings refused it, and had such prophets and preachers beheaded.”

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There is an old saying in congregational and church life:  “Do things twice in a row and it’s a tradition!”  We regard tradition as almost sacred, even among Protestants.  Tradition gains the patina of divine.  There is only one yardstick to see if our man-made traditions are acceptable:  the Bible.  Advent wreathes are not necessary but they do serve a teaching purpose and teaching the truths of God’s Word is always important.  The teaching here?  The Lord entered time as Emmanuel, literally, God with us.  The wreath is a circle and circles have no beginning or end as the Lord God, yet 4 candles, again the Ancient of Days was born an infant entering real-time, the mean time.

Now one of the questions I have fielded is, What do the 4 candles mean?  I answered:  There is nothing in the Bible about it as there is nothing about Advent wreathes. The fellow member questioning me dogmatically stated they stand for…I forgot the answer.  The usual interpretations usually goes this route:  they signify Hope, Preparation, Joy, and Love, or something like that.  On another blog, a Roman Catholic priest, looking at the superficial slappy-happy, sentimental time that Advent/Christmas has become, suggested that the candles should stand for Death, Judgment, Hell, and Heaven!  The last things.  When we look at the lessons, and as indicated on an earlier posting here on John the Baptizer, the priest is not far off the mark.  Pr. Dietrich Bonhoeffer, in his book, The Cost of Discipleship, written in the ’30s in Nazi Germany, commented on the beatitude, “Blessed are those who mourn for they shall be comforted” (Matthew 5:4) and he observed:

“By “mourning” Jesus, of course, means doing without what the world calls peace and prosperity:  he means refusing to being tune with the world or accommodate oneself to its standards.  Such men mourn for the world, for its guilt, its fate and is fortune. While the world keeps holiday they stand aside, and while the world sings, ‘Gather ye rose-buds while ye may,” they mourn.  They see that for all the jollity on board, the ship is beginning to sink.  The world dreams of progress, of power and of the future, but the disciples mediate on the end, the last judgement, and the coming of the kingdom.  To such heights the world cannot rise.”

But why can the Lord’s disciples so mourn?  They have already accepted the just sentence of God’s righteous judgment on their own guilt.  Repentance does not mean feeling really bad about a bad habit or two, but accepting the just verdict is as the thief on the cross repented and accepted the just judgment of God in His Law (see Luke 23:38-40).  “Proper repentance is not a sorrow or a terror or a vow to change, so that we can escape the divine death sentence. Proper repentance is to accept the rightness of the death sentence and to submit to it; to submit to being put to death under the law. And without the real Gospel that is never done.” (Pr. Louis Smith)  The Law kills us.  The Gospel makes us alive through the working of the Holy Spirit.  We must contemplate Death, Judgment, Hell and then, and only then is heaven, the Kingdom come utterly good in the hands of the Lord born of Mary.

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Intro:  This news release was posted at Cyberbrethren.  The source is   United States Council of Catholic Bishops.  During this portion of the Advent season, when the Gospel readings are about John the Baptizer, let us remember why he was killed.  Matthew 14: 3For Herod had seized John and bound him and put him in prison for the sake of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife, 4because John had been saying to him, “It is not lawful for you to have her.”   John taught the sanctity of marriage to the powers that be.    Please note that this statement is signed by inter-faith leaders (Rev. Mark Hanson of the ELCA did not sign it).     The statement was signed by LCMS President Matthew Harrison.

WASHINGTON (December 6, 2010) — Leaders of some of the largest religious communities in the United States have come together to express their commitment toward the protection of marriage as the union of one man and one woman. In an open letter released today, entitled “The Protection of Marriage: A Shared Commitment,” leaders from Anglican, Baptist, Catholic, Evangelical, Jewish, Lutheran, Mormon, Orthodox, Pentecostal and Sikh communities in the United States affirmed the importance of preserving marriage’s unique meaning.

“The broad consensus reflected in this letter—across great religious divides—is clear: The law of marriage is not about imposing the religion of anyone, but about protecting the common good of everyone,” said Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York, newly elected president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) and one of the letter’s signers. “People of any faith or no faith at all can recognize that when the law defines marriage as between one man and one woman, it legally binds a mother and a father to each other and their children, reinforcing the foundational cell of human society.”

The release of this letter comes the same morning that oral arguments on the Proposition 8 case are set to begin. In August, Judge Vaughn Walker had ruled California’s Proposition 8 to be unconstitutional, based in part on the claim that defining marriage as between a man and a woman lacked any rational basis at all, and instead reflected nothing but religion-based hostility to homosexual persons. This ruling has been appealed and its hearing is scheduled for today, December 6.

“Today is the moment to stand for marriage and its unchangeable meaning. We hope this letter will encourage just that,” Archbishop Dolan said. “The Protection of Marriage: A Shared

Commitment” is being circulated nationwide. Downloadable PDF versions of the letter can be found at www.usccb.org/defenseofmarriage/shared-commitment. A backgrounder on the statement can be found at http://www.usccb.org/comm/backgrounders/shared-commitment.shtml

Dear Friends,

Marriage is the permanent and faithful union of one man and one woman. As such, marriage is the natural basis of the family. Marriage is an institution fundamental to the well-being of all of society, not just religious communities.

As religious leaders across different faith communities, we join together and affirm our shared commitment to promote and protect marriage as the union of one man and one woman. We honor the unique love between husbands and wives; the indispensable place of fathers and mothers; and the corresponding rights and dignity of all children.

Marriage thus defined is a great good in itself, and it also serves the good of others and society in innumerable ways. The preservation of the unique meaning of marriage is not a special or limited interest but serves the good of all. Therefore, we invite and encourage all people, both within and beyond our faith communities, to stand with us in promoting and protecting marriage as the union of one man and one woman.

Sincerely yours,

Leith Anderson
National Association of Evangelicals

Dr. Thomas E. Armiger
Dr. Jo Anne Lyon
Dr. Jerry G. Pence
The Board of General Superintendents
The Wesleyan Church

Dr. Gary M. Benedict
The Christian and Missionary Alliance

Glenn C. Burris Jr.
The Foursquare Church

Bishop H. David Burton
Presiding Bishop
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Dr. Ronald W. Carpenter, Sr.
Presiding Bishop
International Pentecostal Holiness Church Ministries

Nathan Diament
Director, Institute for Public Affairs
Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America

Most Rev. Timothy M. Dolan
Archbishop of New York
United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

The Most Rev. Robert Duncan
Archbishop, Anglican Church in North America
Bishop, Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh

Rev. Jim Eschenbrenner
Executive Pastor
Christian Union

Rev. Dr. Stephen A. Gammon
Conference Minister
Conservative Congregational Conference

Rev. Matthew C. Harrison
The Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod

John Hopler
Great Commission Churches

Dr. Clyde M. Hughes
International Pentecostal Church of Christ

Ken Hunn
Executive Director
The Brethren Church

Bishop Harry Jackson
Senior Pastor, Hope Christian Church
Bishop, Fellowship of International Churches

The Most Blessed Jonah
Archbishop of Washington
Metropolitan of All America and Canada
Orthodox Church in America

Dr. Richard Land
Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission

Rev. Frederick J. Moury Jr.
National Conference Chair
Evangelical Congregational Church

Dr. James Murray
Interim Executive Director
General Association of General Baptists

Rev. Samuel Rodriguez
National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference

Manmohan Singh
Secretary General
World Sikh Council – America Region

The Rev. Paull E. Spring
North American Lutheran Church

Dr. Joseph Tkach
Grace Communion International

Rev. Phil Whipple
Church of the United Brethren in Christ, USA

Dr. George O. Wood
General Superintendent
Assemblies of God

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