Second Sunday after Epiphany January 14, 2018
Text: John 1:29-41 ILCW Series A 18:2045
Theme: A Lamb Is All You Need.
Years ago there was a faithful Christian pastor who followed a splendid custom. Every year on a certain Sunday he would preach a sermon on the theme: “Jesus, the Lamb of God.” So consistent was he that some of the older members had affectionately nicknamed the day as “Lamb of God Sunday.”
On the Sunday morning before he died, he was too weak to enter his pulpit. Seated in a chair, he spoke to his congregation on his favorite theme. Despite the protests of his family, he occupied the same chair for the evening service and again spoke on the theme that had endeared him to the faithful in his congregation.
When he returned to his study later that evening, his daughter asked, “Father, why didn’t you choose a different text for your sermon this evening?” Without hesitation he replied, “My daughter, that is all they need – the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” Living in the very shadow of death, the old gentleman could see more clearly than ever what was the primary need of life: a personal faith in the sin-atoning Savior. That is all they need.
In a society where people think they need the latest i-phone, electronic game, or wave-of-the-future gadget, can the same be said? Where families are torn apart in personal conflict and accusations of racial prejudice divide our people, can it still be said: “That is all they need”? Yes! In fact, it is for these very reasons and more that the Lamb of God is all we need. Why is this true?
I. Look at Him.
Well, ever since the beginning there have been 2 important dates towards which we were headed. The first date is already passed. It began with the celebration of Jesus’ birth. The second date is yet to come. It is Judgment Day, the last day of this world’s existence, when Jesus will come again as the Christ to terminate time and to judge all the people of the world in equity for eternity.
When the first date arrived, God sent a special prophet ahead to get the people ready for the Savior’s coming. We call him John the Baptizer. John identified his purpose in our text when he said, “I came baptizing with water so that He would be revealed to Israel.” John went about his God-given task until the time appointed for the manifestation of Christ’s work here had come.
Then one day that time arrived. John looked up from his preaching and there He was – the One towards whom all history had been moving. The Savior for whom we had been waiting was here. John’s purpose changed right then and there.
Up until that day John’s cry had been, “Prepare yourselves for the Coming One. Repent and be baptized for the forgiveness of your sins.” But no longer was John’s message, “Get ready!” Now his cry became, “Look at Him; He’s here! The One whom you need has come – the Lamb of God.”
As a preacher, I sometimes wonder what this was like for John, for, in a sense, from this point on John’s purpose ended. His preaching, his baptizing the people would soon stop because John’s was a preparatory work. When the Messiah came, there was no more need for John’s work because the only one whom people needed had arrived. John’s career, in that sense, was over. He had reached retirement at the early age of 31. It’s not surprising then that the Lord took him home to heaven in death within 2 years of this account. His job as the Forerunner was done.
But before John left the scene, he had one important thing to tell those around him. Pointing to Jesus he said, “Look! The Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” Such an important, final sermon that spoke volumes to those around him.
To people who understand God and themselves as fallen sinners before Him, the word “Lamb” means something huge. Everything in the worship life of Old Testament times revolved around lambs and sacrifices. It was a lamb and its blood painted on the doorposts of the Israelites’ houses in Egypt that saved them from the angel of death. It was a lamb dying on the altar in the temple which assured the people that God would send someone to atone for their sins. It was a lamb on whose head the priest laid his hands that was sent out into the desert to perish with the people’s sin symbolically laid upon its head. It was a lamb that the prophet said would be led to the slaughter to redeem us to God. To the people before Christ’s time, “Lamb” meant sacrifice for sin, deliverance from death, and return to God through a more powerful One who was yet to come.
So whenever a lamb was sacrificed it was a constant sermon of that important date when the Christ would arrive and make restitution for us with God. The people of the O.T. had been headed towards that date. And now it came when Jesus arrived. “Look on Him!” John said. “Forget me. There’s the Lamb. He’s the One you need.”
What an important message, and not just for O.T. people but for those of every age! A person’s greatest need, no matter the age in which one lives, is to know God through Christ; it is to have a child’s relationship with the heavenly Father that only the Lamb of God can supply because only He can restore us to God. To know beyond doubt that through Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross and faith in Him we are His, that He is ours, and that nothing in life or death can separate us from God again – what greater need could one experience? You see, in matters eternal A Lamb Is All You Need.
Furthermore, what a noble example John shows for us to follow! John proved himself a true servant of God – unselfish, devoted, pointing the right way to others. Surely, John was a preacher after God’s own heart. And we would do well to note it.
What is our purpose as a church? Is it to get as many people in here as we can just for the numbers or prestige or social issues or financial solvency? No. Our business and purpose is to point people to Christ. A beautiful building or programs, although useful, are not what people need. Such things mean nothing for eternity. But a Savior from sin does. Without Him we die eternally. “He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins” (1Jn.2:2). Therefore, He must increase in people’s eyes, and we must decrease because there is one more intersection of history still coming – the end. And without this Lamb taken into the heart, people won’t pass through that intersection safely. A Lamb is all we need. Look on Him.
II. Stay with Him.
When John pointed this out to those around him, it was the end of an era, the end of a career for John. God had completely revealed all these things to John when he baptized Jesus. John wouldn’t have known these things by himself if God had not told him, just like none of us would know any of these truths if God had not revealed it to us in His Word. A person doesn’t know the saving truths about God on his own. Even John had to have it pointed out to him. But once he knew and once he had fulfilled his purpose, it was the completion of John’s work here.
On the other hand it was just the beginning for those who had been around him. They must now go forward, leaving John behind, to follow Jesus. So we read, “The next day, John was standing there again with two of his disciples. When John saw Jesus passing by, he said, “Look! The Lamb of God!’ The two disciples heard, and they followed Jesus. When Jesus turned around and saw them following Him, He asked, “What are you looking for?” (Some of our translations say, “What do you want?” but that doesn’t go far enough. Literally, He said, “What are you seeking?”)
Now, there is an all-important question for life, everyone’s life in this world. What are you seeking? What are people looking for? An education? A good job? Good health? Good family life? Nothing wrong with any of these for all of these are given to us for our present welfare by God. Nothing wrong with any of these unless you’ve left the Lamb of God behind and made these the most important features of your life. When Jesus asked these men that question, they replied, “Rabbi, where are You staying?”
Where are you staying? That seems like an odd response to Jesus’ question about what they were seeking. Not really because they had just addressed Him as “Rabbi.” A rabbi was recognized as a special teacher in Israel. So, by calling Jesus that, they were letting Him know that they were eager to become His pupils, to go with Him wherever He was, to study with Him, to learn from Him, to be trained for life by Him. They weren’t just asking for an hour or two; they were looking to spend their life with Him. They wanted to stay with Him, knowing Him as all that they needed. Jesus’ response: “Come and you will see.”
It never ceases to amaze me – the readiness, the generosity, the kindness with which the Lord Jesus gives of Himself to anyone. There never was a time that Jesus turned anyone away; there never was a time that He was not eager to satisfy the heart that sought His blessing as the Lamb appointed by God.
You know, if you went to any other earthly ruler, would you always find such readiness, humility, and generosity to share their presence with you? Most of the time you couldn’t even get near them because the great of the earth are hedged about with servants, soldiers, ceremony, and safety measures. But not so with Christ. Nothing is easier than an audience with the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. “Come and see,” He invites. Stay with Him. And when you do you will understand the excitement these men had as they ran to share Him with others. He is all you need for time and eternity. God grant it to us in faith for Jesus’ sake. Amen.