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Here is the Lamb of God!

This is the sermon I preached Sunday at St. Timothy Lutheran Church. The gospel was John 1:29-42.

I want to take a minute to clarify something. There are several people named John in the New Testament. John the Baptist is not the same person as John, the author of the Gospel. I will be very specific as I refer to each in my sermon.

Jesus’ baptism again??? Didn’t we just read about John the Baptist baptizing Jesus last week? Here it is again? Jesus’ baptism is in all four gospels, but in John’s gospel, we don’t see John the Baptist actually baptizing Jesus. He’s more of an onlooker to what was happening. We are seeing John the witness, not John the Baptist. In the reference to Jesus’ baptism in today’s gospel, God and the Spirit are the actors. The purpose of the baptism isn’t as much to encourage Jesus and prepare him for his mission, but to reveal Jesus as the Lamb and Son of God.

We have a kinder, gentler John the Baptist in today’s gospel. He is not shouting “Repent!!” as in the first three gospels. The whole reason for his baptizing mission here is “that [Jesus] might be revealed…” How apropos in this time of Epiphany. In the Greek language of the New Testament, the word for “reveal” is the same as the root of the word “Epiphany.” 

The first word out of John’s mouth is, “Here.” It is a form of the “see” in the original Greek. It could be translated as “Looky here!” In the fourteen verses of our gospel reading, words connected to seeing occur eleven times.

John the Baptist declares, “Here is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” “Lamb of God” directs listeners to the Old Testament. It evokes both the image of God’s servant in Isaiah and the Passover lamb, however, there is no lamb in the Old Testament who takes away sin on the Day of Atonement.  The main lamb in the Old Testament is the Passover lamb, which has nothing to do with sin! 

The sin John the Baptist talks about is not personal, moral failure. It emphasizes the world’s collective brokenness, the kind of sin that is baked into the world’s systems. 

In today’s gospel, the Holy Spirit remains. Jesus is the permanent bearer of the Spirit, and his life carries the quality, knowledge and power that implies. The Spirit does not have a “come and go” relationship with Jesus or any of Jesus’ followers, ourselves included.

John the Baptist recognizes Jesus as the “Son of God.” This acknowledges Jesus’ unique relationship with God and his ability to reveal God in ways never before available.

John’s activity is not in baptizing Jesus, but John is actively seeing, declaring, testifying, watching and exclaiming to anyone who will listen about who Jesus is. He does not call people to follow himself, but points to Jesus. Two of John the Baptist's disciples follow Jesus and he doesn’t try to stop them. 

We could discern this passage as a bicycle wheel. At the very center is Christ revealed. Everything emanates from him. The spokes are the various means used to reveal him. The tire is all those who hear the gospel. We have already seen John’s involvement as a witness to Christ, with a spoke of seeing, another of declaring, another of testifying and so on.

John’s disciples follow Jesus. The language is simple, yet profound. Jesus asks, “What are you looking for?”  They say, “Where are you staying?” Jesus responds, “Come and see.” They stayed with Jesus. We have found the Messiah. 

We have a model of witnessing in John’s gospel. John bears witness to Jesus. Two of his disciples are pointed to Jesus. These two learn firsthand by staying and abiding with Jesus. One of the two witnesses to his brother about Jesus as the Messiah. The brother comes to Jesus. The wheel of faith widens.

Our world is a mess. Just look at the lives of those we know and love. Some of our children have experienced divorce, know those who are ill or suffering in other ways. Just listen to the news or read the paper and we see this world is not such a pleasant place. Jesus’ two questions and his invitation name what is still at the heart of being Jesus’ followers today. What am I looking for, and what are others looking for when we/they come to church? Where is what I am looking for staying? Where might I find what I’m looking for? Come—leave where you are now. See-open yourself to new insights, new ways of being in the world. John’s gospel invites us to come and see again and again, even to the resurrection. Then we are to tell others what we have seen. Amen.


Fred B. Craddock, Preaching Through the Christian Year A

David Ewart,

Erick Fistler and Robb McCoy,

Rob Myallis,

Gail R. O’Day, The New Interpreter’s Bible: Luke, John



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