We Have Found the Messiah
Delivered By
Rev. Jonathan Gruen
Delivered On
January 15, 2017
Central Passage
John 1:35-42a

Rev. Jonathan Gruen
January 15, 2017
John 1:35-42a
The Second Sunday after the Epiphany


We Have Found the Messiah

            “Behold, the Lamb of God!” John the Baptist said (v. 36).  “The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus” (v. 37). 

It doesn’t seem like it took much convincing.  They were ready to follow the Christ, the Messiah who would bring restoration and redemption.  We aren’t given very many details about them.  We only know that one of them is named Andrew and that they were disciples of John.  And then they left John to follow Jesus, which is the way it was supposed to work, right?  John is the Baptizer, the forerunner of the Messiah, the one who prepares the way.  He thunders God’s Law, and people are ready to repent.  He preaches concerning the forgiveness of sin through the One who is called the Lamb of God, and they are ready to follow, not John, but the Lamb.

            John’s brief sermon in v. 36, “Behold, the Lamb of God!” is actually a summary of a longer sermon, one that John gave the day before.  He had said that Jesus was the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!  He also proclaimed that even though Jesus came after him, he ranked above and before him because he was before him.  So even though John was born first and started his ministry first, he knows and confesses that Jesus was before him.  That’s only possible if he understands and knows the eternal nature and highest position of Christ!

            John also had shared with his disciples the account of Jesus’ baptism and said that he saw the Holy Spirit come to rest upon Jesus, which confirmed to him that Jesus is the one who would baptize with the Holy Spirit.  John also proclaimed, “I have seen and have borne witness that this is the Son of God.” (See v. 29-34).

            So, the next day when John says, “Behold, the Lamb of God!”, he’s saying, “Hey, this is the guy I was talking about!  He is the One.  And just as the sacrificial lamb slaughtered by the priest for our forgiveness, so also this Jesus is God’s Lamb, who will make us right with God.  And, he is the Christ.  He is the Son of God.  He gives the Holy Spirit.  Behold, this is the guy!”

            And Andrew and the other disciple follow Jesus.  When Jesus sees that they follow him, there is a brief exchange. Basically he asks them what they want, and they answer by calling him Rabbi and asking where he is staying (v. 38).  In a sense they are saying: “We recognize that you are a teacher.  We want to be your disciples.  So where are you teaching, and how do we sign up?”

            Jesus says, “Come and you will see,” (v. 39) which meant, “Yes, I am a teacher, and yes, you will be my disciples.  Let’s go.”  And go they do.  Now, here’s the part I find really amazing.  We are told, “Andrew first found his own brother Simon…” (we also know him as Peter), “…and said to him, ‘We have found the Messiah’ (which means Christ).  He brought him to Jesus” (v. 41-42).

            Here’s what I find amazing about this.  This is John chapter 1 (the first of 21 chapters).  How many miracles has Jesus done yet?  Zero.  How much did Andrew hear Jesus preach?  Maybe a little, but it can’t be much.  How many disputes with the Pharisees has Jesus already won?  None.  Has Jesus been arrested and has he suffered yet? No.  Has he died?  No.  Has he risen triumphant over the grave? No.  Not yet.  Not at this point, although he will do all those things!

            So when Andrew tells his brother, “We have found the Messiah,” that is true, but he doesn’t yet know how true it is, how wonderful it is, how meaningful it is!  Andrew, you are right, but you don’t even fully understand how right you are, or how Jesus will bring about salvation!  Andrew, you know the truth, and you are already witnessing to others, but you’ve got some growing to do yourself!  Andrew, you ain’t seen nothing yet!

            And it strikes me we’re in a similar boat.  In one sense, we are a LOT better off than Andrew is at this point in terms of seeing the big picture, knowing the whole plan.  Hindsight is 20/20, and we can see what Scripture reveals and understand that Jesus is in fact the Christ, that he is capable of the miracles, that he preaches with authority, that his Law convicts our hearts of sin and immorality, that his Gospel releases us from the captivity of sin and guilt.  We can see in Scripture that Jesus is truly God and truly Man and that he gives himself on the cross, bearing all our sins in his own body on that tree of death for us.  We know too of the Sunday morning resurrection, and the true accounts recorded after Easter when our risen Lord visits his disciples in great power and grace to demonstrate his victory over death and to breathe on them the Holy Spirit.  We see Jesus ascend into glory, and his promise to return rings in our ears as we anticipate that awful and awesome day!

            We are better off than Andrew because sitting on this side of Easter we see victory has been won!  We rejoice in the gift of everlasting life.  We know it is ours because we are baptized with water and the Spirit, joined with Christ, given new life now.  We trust him everyday.  We pray to him everyday.  We see him at work in our lives everyday.  And when we go to our brother or friend, or neighbor or stranger, and say “We have found the Messiah” or “Jesus is Lord” or “He is your Savior,” we can give a whole lot more information than Andrew could.  We can tell the whole story.  We can relay better than Andrew can at this point what it means for us and for all.  We can show with our actions of love and our words of truth that we are indeed disciples of Jesus Christ, true God and true Man, Messiah and Lord.

            So, really, our witness ought to be better and more complete than Andrew’s was then.  But if you think about it another way, we’re still pretty similar to Andrew because we still struggle (don’t we?) to fully appreciate the message.  You see, when we tell someone “We have found the Messiah,” or “Jesus is Lord” or “He is my Savior,” that is true, but even we don’t yet fully know how true it is, how wonderful it is, how meaningful it is!  We are right, but we don’t even fully understand how right we are or what it will be like for Jesus to bring to completion that plan of salvation, and what we will experience when he does.  People of God, you know the truth, you are already witnessing to others, you’ve seen God at work, but you ain’t seen nothing yet!  And you’ve got some growing to do too!

            Consider the struggles we endure, maybe struggles like (let’s call her) Marianne.  Marianne loses her husband to cancer.  She mourns and feels lost.  She frets and worries.  Marianne believes that her husband is in heaven, and that she will see him again because of Jesus.  She is grateful when her church family reminds her that God is with her and that he will help her.  She is thankful when friends check in, but the emptiness is so tangible, the loss so painful, the future is so bleak, she can’t pull herself out of the grief and depression.  She struggles to trust as she knows she should, and this adds guilt to the grief.  She has found the Messiah, but she can’t fully comprehend or appreciate now just how true it is that He has conquered death for her husband and for her.  But here is the promise: God loves her.  And someday when she sees her Redeemer with her own eyes and is there with him and with her husband, then she will fully know.  But for now, she must be willing to grow.

            Consider (let’s call him) Isaac, who is the opposite of popular in high school.  He isn’t bullied per se, but he feels ignored and lonely.  He hates his classes.  His teachers are strict.  His parents don’t seem to pay much attention to him, and he probably wouldn’t like it if they did.  He looks up stuff on his computer that he knows he shouldn’t, and he’s worried about getting in trouble.  He worries that God is angry.  Isaac is trying to figure out life, who he is and what he’s supposed to do.  He goes to church and youth activities.  He knows that Jesus loves him and died for him, but it’s hard enough talking to anyone at all, much less tell them about Jesus.  He feels like a failure of a Christian, especially when you add all his nagging doubts and secret sins.  Isaac has found the Messiah, but he’s struggling to see how that should impact the way he lives.  But here is the promise: God loves him.  And God has ample forgiveness and strength as Isaac learns what it means to follow Jesus, to make disciples, to trust and go.  But he must be willing to grow.

            Consider (let’s call her) Jennifer, an engineer’s wife (so she’s on her own a lot), a soccer mom, a school volunteer, a church leader.  She pours her whole life into her family and into serving in the church and in the community.  But most of the time she has a fake smile because she struggles with a condition that causes chronic pain.  Day in and day out, she hurts.  Doctors throw medicine at her, but nothing works.  She is open about her faith when talking to others, but she has a hard time, a really hard time, praying and encouraging others to pray.  All her prayers for her own health seem unanswered as the pain.  She cries often.  She still believes, but bounces quickly from being accepting of this to angry.  Jesus is the Messiah, sure, and she has a hope of heaven, but what about now?  It is now that she needs help the most.  But here is the promise: God loves her.  God has grace sufficient for her, and his power is revealed to be perfect in her weakness.  And she is able to comfort others with that same comfort.  His strength she can know and his grace she can show, but she must be willing to grow.

            “We have found the Messiah” Andrew tells Peter.  As yet he doesn’t fully know what that means, or what Jesus’ ministry will be like, or how he will win salvation for the world through the cross.  But that doesn’t stop Andrew (does it?) from sharing what he knows to be true, or reaching out to his brother with excitement, or boldly proclaiming that all God’s promises are indeed coming to pass.

            So also, friends, we don’t have to wait to witness until we are healed, or until we find success in life, or until we are done mourning.  We don’t have to wait until we no longer struggle with sin, or until we’ve got it all together, or until we fully understand the faith.  Because even if our understanding is limited, our faith weak, and our life is troubled, Jesus is still the Messiah, the Messiah who found us.

            Yes, it is precisely for sinners that Jesus came, as St. Paul would say, “The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost” (1 Tm. 1:15).  And as Jesus said: “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners” (Mk 2:17).  It is precisely for the weak and foolish that Jesus came, as St. Paul would say, “But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong” (1 Cor 1:27).  And as Jesus said: “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will” (Mt. 11:25-26).

            It is precisely for YOU that Jesus came: the Lamb to bleed and die for your forgiveness; your Savior who walks by your side and hears your every prayer; your Friend who rejoices with you and mourns with you until tears are no more; your Messiah to conquer pain and death for you; your Christ who will return in all his glory to usher in his reign of peace and joy forevermore.  You ain’t seen nothing yet!  Isn’t that Good news?  And isn’t that worth sharing!  Amen.