Saturday, January 14, 2017

Epiphany 2

Epiphany 2 - Series A
15 January 2017
Isaiah 49:1–7
1 Corinthians 1:1–9
John 1:29–42a

God Reveals His Glory in Christ and His Cross
The Lord, the Redeemer of Israel” calls forth “his Holy One” (Isaiah 49:7), Jesus, the Christ, “from the womb” of His mother (Is. 49:1). The incarnate Son of God is revealed as the Savior, for not only Israel but also “as a light for the nations” whose salvation reaches “to the end of the earth” (Isaiah 49:6). 

John came “baptizing with water” (John 1:31) to reveal Jesus as “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29) and who glorifies His God and Father by His atoning sacrifice upon the cross. When Jesus was baptized in the waters of the Jordan, the Holy Spirit descended “from heaven like a dove” and “remained on him” (John 1:32). By our Baptism, we are anointed by the same Spirit, adopted by God the Father and “called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 1:9). Therefore, we “are not lacking in any gift,” but we can trust Him who promises to sustain us to the end, “guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 1:7–8).

Collect for the Day: Almighty and everlasting God, who governs all things in heaven and on earth, mercifully hear the prayers of Your people and grant us Your peace through all our days; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Hymn of the Day: 402 “The only Son from heaven

When the song of the angel is stilled,
When the star in the sky is gone,
When the kings and princes are home,
When the shepherds are back with their flock,
The work of Christmas begins.

To find the lost--To heal the broken--To feed the hungry--
To release the prisoner--To rebuild the nations--
To bring peace among brothers and sisters--
To make music in the heart. [1]

So, who is this Jesus? And how can I know him?  How mighty you answer such questions? In this season of Epiphany, we are on a quest, a journey, a mission. To discover Jesus.  The disciples of John come seeking answers. Jesus will disclose for us answers concerning Himself.

Discovering Jesus the Christ.
1.       He is the Son of God.
2.       He is the Messiah.

1.       He is the Son of God.

A.      Christ ranks above any of the prophets such as John. John is quite clear. “He confessed, and did not deny, but confessed, “I am not the Christ.”   They asked him, “What then? Are you Elijah?” He said, “I am not.” “Are you the Prophet?” And he answered, “No.”( John 1:20-21)

B.      John said, “He was before me.” (v. 30, Christ’s pre-existence.) Jesus has the power to take away sins. Consequently, John calls Jesus “the Lamb of God”. This description of Jesus is unique to John’s Gospel. There is a difference between John and Jesus. John recalls the evidence that he witnessed as proof of Jesus’ stature and significance. “And I have seen and have borne witness that this is the Son of God." - verse34

John is a model for evangelists--and disciples--in every age, including today. He points toward the One who is salvation rather than drawing attention to himself. He even watches two of his own disciples leave him and follow Jesus.

One of the challenges of discipleship is not to lose sight of the true center and focus of our ministry: Jesus. It's easy for our focus to become "all about us" or “all about the building”, or “all about the program”.  Above all, it is not about loss, right?

True, we want to grow. To gain. To expand. And yet, we hear that discipleship costs. What losses are we willing to suffer for the sake of the gospel? Making a plan for your life does not work. You don’t control your life. Plan as we may, we are not the architect of our destiny. John’s message ring true, “He must increase…I must decrease.” – John 3:30   C. S. Lewis said it this way: “True humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less.”[2]

C.      We need a Savior who tenderly approaches us in our needs but who also has the divine power and love to raise us up through our problems. This is why Jesus came into this world. “Behold, right in front of you, is the Christ, bearing and removing the SIN of the world.” This is Jesus’ ongoing activity. He continues to shoulder the world's sin. John bears witness. Jesus will carry the world’s sin Himself to the cross of Calvary. This was John’s consistent theme. His message never changed.  It remains your constant prayer, “O, Christ, Thou Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world, have mercy and grant us Your peace.”   

Transition: As the Son He came into this world as the Father’s chosen one. The Messiah.
2.       He is the Messiah.

A.      John revealed the priestly office of Jesus to Israel.  (v. 31)

1.       John said, “For this purpose I came baptizing with water. “ (v.31) John preached repentance. He preached the urgency of the kingdom of God. He preached the forgiveness of sins.

2.       The purpose of Christ’s coming was “that He might be revealed to Israel” (v.31) and later to you. Think of it this way…179 years ago there was no church in Adams County. There was no Christian community.  And yet, there was a man, sent by God.  His name was Jesse Hoover. He ventured into our neighborhood with the message of Jesus Christ.  That message continues to this day in the way in which you network with your family, neighbors, and the people with whom you engage. You might be the only Bible a person ever reads. Continue to share Christ. Connect with them. Gossip the Gospel. Become a sermon in shoes!

B.      The priestly office of Jesus consisted in offering Himself up as the Lamb of God in your place. “Behold the Lamb of God…” (Vv. 29, 36)

When John identifies Jesus, he calls Him "the Lamb of God." Lambs were used for the Passover sacrifice, which remembers the liberation and deliverance of the people by God.  "As the Passover Lamb, Jesus liberates the world from slavery to sin by bringing the world into new and fresh contact with the presence of God, so that human alienation from God can end."[3]

John does not say that Jesus is sort of like the Lamb of God. He is the Lamb of God. His mission defines His essence. We cannot be sort of like Christians. We must be Christian. The mission defines our essence… our lives, full-time, all the time. Until the Father gathers us home, we live in the sacrifice of the Lamb. And in it you are saved… you are forgiven… you are loved.

How this liberation and deliverance from alienation happen is the story of the Gospel. It is the heart of the gospel message. It defines you. It’s what makes this life that you live significant, important and yes, relevant. It you wish this world to be the good you hope it to be it must find its essence in the person and work of Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.

Words- 992
Passive Sentences –7%
Readability – 80%
Reading Level – 4.6

[1] Poem by Howard Thurman
[2] Mere Christianity, Book 3, Chapter 8, “The Great Sin,” Kindle location 1665

[3] John Commentary by Gail R. O'Day, Susan E. Hylen by permission of Westminster John Knox Press. Copyright.

No comments: