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Look - the Lamb of God!

18th January 2007

It's not me!

John 1:19-25
Now this was John’s testimony when the Jews of Jerusalem sent priests and Levites to ask him who he was. He did not fail to confess, but confessed freely, "I am not the Christ."
They asked him, "Then who are you? Are you Elijah?"
He said, "I am not."
"Are you the Prophet?"
He answered, "No."
Finally they said, "Who are you? Give us an answer to take back to those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?"
John replied in the words of Isaiah the prophet, "I am the voice of one calling in the desert, ‘Make straight the way for the Lord.’"
Now some Pharisees who had been sent questioned him, "Why then do you baptise if you are not the Christ, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet?"
"I baptise with water," John replied, "but among you stands one you do not know. He is the one who comes after me, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie."
This all happened at Bethany on the other side of the Jordan, where John was baptising.

The religious establishment sent people to question John (whom we call the Baptist) pushing him to claim to be the Messiah, but he make it absolutely clear that he was no such thing. Then they asked him what his authority was for doing what he was doing - they didn't recognise him as a prophet sent by God. He hadn't been to Bible College, after all. He had no Batchelor of Divinity degree. John quoted Isaiah 40:3 as his answer, but he did so humbly, making it clear he was not the Messiah.

All who prophesy, or preach, or lead churches need to make it clear that we're nothing special - it's Jesus that's special.

Not many religious leaders claim to be divine. And most of those who do are rightly regarded as charlatans or crackpots. John was a good man, and he had much to teach about the kingdom of God. And many of us expect no more when we go to a church meeting than that - some teaching about the Kingdom of God, given by nice people, and maybe some friendly conversation and a cup of coffee afterwards.

But the day after the religious authorites of the day had come and gone, Jesus appeared there.

It's Him!

John 1:29-33
The next day John saw Jesus coming towards him and said, "Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! This is the one I meant when I said, ‘A man who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’ I myself did not know him, but the reason I came baptising with water was that he might be revealed to Israel."
Then John gave this testimony: "I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him. I would not have known him, except that the one who sent me to baptise with water told me, ‘The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is he who will baptise with the Holy Spirit.’

When John said "Look, the Lamb of God!" - he was pointing Jesus out to his followers. What a moment! After centuries of waiting for the Messiah - He was here! He just walked straight in to the meeting that John was leading. And John said "LOOK! THIS is the Messiah!"

When you attend church (if you do) do you expect your leaders to point out Jesus to you? Or is that beyond your expectations? Maybe you just want a bit of religion? A feeling that there is truth, and a sense of what is right, and a bit of gentleness and love in the world? But - in a good church - the leaders will point you to Jesus Himself! Because He is REAL, and He is ALIVE and He is HERE through His Holy Spirit!

Also, John admitted that he wouldn't have recognised Jesus if God hadn't revealed Him. And that's one way we're all the same. The church can help, as John did, but we also need God's help to find Jesus for ourselves. If you're one of the millions who are seeking Jesus, but haven't found Him yet, pray. Ask God to reveal Jesus to you. He will.

John called Jesus - the Messiah - "The Lamb of God". For a fuller explanation of this, see Exodus chapter 12. The sacrifice of a lamb during the first Passover, and the shedding of its blood, caused God to pass over the Israelites when He visited death on the Egyptians. In the same way, God passes over us - forgiving our sins, and so not visiting eternal death on those who believe in the atoning blood of Jesus. Jesus is our perfect Passover Lamb. Paul wrote:

1 Corinthians 5:7
...Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed.

We don't read about anything changing much that day. This surprises me, but maybe there was just too much to take in, too much to think through. People needed to ask themselves "Do I believe that Jesus truly is the Messiah?" Because if He is, then everything changes. There'a huge difference between looking for God and finding Him, between religion and Christianity, between wanting truth and encountering the One who is The Truth.

But the next day, for at least two people, everything did indeed change:

John 1:35-37
The next day John was there again with two of his disciples. When he saw Jesus passing by, he said, "Look, the Lamb of God!"
When the two disciples heard him say this, they followed Jesus.

Andrew and his friend were religious people. They were looking for the truth, looking for a way for their sins to be forgiven, looking for meaning and purpose in life, for some understanding of right and wrong. And there are millions of people in the same position today. They were followers of John, a great religious leader, and a powerful speaker. But John wasn't the Messiah, and he'd freely admitted as much. More than that - he pointed to Jesus and said "Look, the Lamb of God!" for a second time.

Maybe Andrew and his friend hadn't been there the first time. Or maybe they needed more than one explanation of who Jesus really is, before it really touched them. Either way, they responded this time. They moved on from following a religious leader, to following Jesus HIMSELF. This is the most radical, most important change in anyone's life: the change from being a religious person to being a follower of Jesus Christ.

What do you want?

John 1:38-40
Turning round, Jesus saw them following and asked, "What do you want?"
They said, "Rabbi" (which means Teacher), "where are you staying?"
"Come," he replied, "and you will see." So they went and saw where he was staying, and spent that day with him. It was about the tenth hour.
Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, was one of the two who heard what John had said and who had followed Jesus.

The first thing that we read about their conversation was that Jesus asked them what they wanted.

Has it occurred to you that Jesus cares about what you want? So many people seem to think that being a Christian is all about dying to self (and, in a sense, it is - I hope to talk about that another time, but for a taster, see last week's column) but Jesus does actually want to make you happy and fulfilled!

He asked the same thing of the blind beggar, Bartimaeus:

Mark 10:49-52
Jesus stopped and said, "Call him."
So they called to the blind man, "Cheer up! On your feet! He’s calling you."
Throwing his cloak aside, he jumped to his feet and came to Jesus.
"What do you want me to do for you?" Jesus asked him.
The blind man said, "Rabbi, I want to see."
"Go," said Jesus, "your faith has healed you."

You might think that Andrew and his friend's answer was more appropriate, more spiritual. But here's the great thing: Jesus said "yes" both to them and to Bartimaeus. Both had answered honestly. And Jesus wanted to help them. He loves to bless those who love Him:

John 10:10
...I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

John 14:27
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

John 16:24
Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete.

But listen to their answer: (verse 38) "Teacher, where are you staying?". What did they want? They wanted to be with Jesus. Of course, we want other stuff too. We want health, and enough money. We want our children to be happy and successful. We may want a nice holiday next year. We probably want a good meal tonight. Of course. But what Andrew and his friend wanted most of all was to be with Jesus. To spend time with him. To learn from him. And to have him as a friend.

No matter how busy you are, pray you never lose (or you discover) that deep desire to be with Jesus!

And Jesus gave them their desire. They got to spend a day with Him. And then they spent three and a half years on the road with Him, and they saw and heard some amazing things. And now, they're spending eternity with Him! Why? Well, one answer is that their deepest desire was to know Him.

We have found the Messiah!

John 1:41-42
The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon and tell him, "We have found the Messiah" (that is, the Christ). And he brought him to Jesus.
Jesus looked at him and said, "You are Simon son of John. You will be called Cephas" (which, when translated, is Peter).

If you've truly encountered Jesus for yourself, then surely you'll want others to encounter Him, too. The first thing Andrew did was to find Simon and tell him "We have found the Messiah". And he brought him to Jesus.

Simon's inital reaction to Andrew "getting religion" is not recorded. LIke many others, he may first have been highly sceptical, or atagonistic. The good news about Jesus does seem too good to be true. And it can take time for us to accept that it really IS true. But sooner or later, Simon came to see for himself.

And when Simon met Jesus, Jesus told him who he was and who he would become. Because we change when Jesus is involved in our lives. Jesus knows exactly who you are. You may not really know for yourself, but He can tell you. And He can give you insight into what you can become.