The few of you who have been reading this blog since I began know it is something of an experiment. People have asked that I post my sermons and I am trying different ways to present them.
When I preach in my two tiny churches, I work from notes in the pulpit, not a text, and so far, I have tried to translate my notes to more of a narrative. For the next couple of weeks, I will simply present my notes in the outline form I use them in. After that, I will try audio and even video. Drop me a note as we go along and let me know which works best for you, and thanks for your patience.
Our focal scripture is John 1: 35-42
35 The next day John was there again with two of his disciples.
36 When he saw Jesus passing by, he said, “Look, the Lamb of God!”
37 When the two disciples heard him say this, they followed Jesus.
38 Turning around, Jesus saw them following and asked, “What do you want?”They said, “Rabbi” (which means “Teacher”), “where are you staying?”
39 “Come,” he replied, “and you will see.”So they went and saw where he was staying, and they spent that day with him. It was about four in the afternoon.
40 Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, was one of the two who heard what John had said and who had followed Jesus.
41 The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon and tell him, “We have found the Messiah” (that is, the Christ).
42 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 ).
Do you think of yourself as a disciple?
The definition of a disciple according to Webster’s dictionary is…
- One who accepts, adheres to and assist in spreading the doctrines of another, such as Christianity
- One of the twelve in the inner circle of Christ’s followers according to the Gospe
Think about that a minute.
- We can be believers without being disciples
- We can be Christians without being disciples
- To be a disciple, we have to accept Christ as savior, and his teachings
- To be a disciple, we have to adhere to that doctrine
- To be a disciple, we have to assist in spreading the good news.
If we are honest, a lot of us are Christians
- But we are, perhaps, not yet disciples
- Why not, do you think?
- Maybe because it is a real commitment (in a world afraid of commitment)
- Maybe because it is hard, takes study, takes work.
- Maybe because adhering to Christ’s work is hard, and we hate to fail
- Maybe because we are uncomfortable witnessing and preaching to others, because we know we ourselves sometimes fall short.
Our scripture today has some interesting perspectives on what it takes to make disciples.
35 The next day John was there again with two of his disciples. 36 When he saw Jesus passing by, he said, “Look, the Lamb of God!” 37 When the two disciples heard him say this, they followed Jesus.
It is after the Baptism of Christ.
- Most scholars think it is immediately after.
- John the Baptist is walking with two of his disciples
- Followers, adherents, spreaders of his ministry calling for repentance.
- Jesus walks by
- And John calls Jesus “The Lamb of God”
To understand the impact of this, we must begin with the Old Testament,
- We are not used to the idea of sacrifices, but to the Jew at the time, sacrifices were a part of everyday Christian life, as common as saying a blessing at a meal.
- The sacrifice of lambs played a very important role in the Jewish religious life and sacrificial system.
- When John the Baptist referred to Jesus as the “Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29), the Jews who heard him might have immediately thought of any one of several important sacrifices.
- With the time of the Passover feast being very near, the first thought might be the sacrifice of the Passover lamb.
- The Passover feast was one of the main Jewish holidays and a celebration in remembrance of God’s deliverance of the Israelites from bondage in Egypt. In fact, the slaying of the Passover lamb and the applying of the blood to doorposts of the houses (Exodus 12:11-13) is a beautiful picture of Christ’s atoning work on the cross. Those for whom He died are covered by His blood, protecting us from the angel of (spiritual) death.
- Another important sacrifice involving lambs was the daily sacrifice at the temple in Jerusalem. Every morning and evening, a lamb was sacrificed in the temple for the sins of the people (Exodus 29:38-42).
- These daily sacrifices, like all others, were simply to point people towards the perfect sacrifice of Christ on the cross.
- In fact, the time of Jesus’ death on the cross corresponds to the time the evening sacrifice was being made in the temple.
- The Jews at that time would have also been familiar with the Old Testament prophets Jeremiah and Isaiah, who foretold the coming of One who would be brought “like a lamb led to the slaughter” (Jeremiah 11:19;Isaiah 53:7) and whose sufferings and sacrifice would provide redemption for Israel. Of course, that person was none other than Jesus Christ, “the Lamb of God.”
So when the two disciples of John the Baptist heard this, they realized that Jesus was something special.
- And they followed him
- And Jesus noticed
- 38Turning around, Jesus saw them following and asked, “What do you want?”They said, “Rabbi” (which means “Teacher”), “where are you staying?” 39 “Come,” he replied, “and you will see.”So they went and saw where he was staying, and they spent that day with him. It was about four in the afternoon.
A lot of times, we don’t understand the importance of small details in the bible, and yet once we do, we get a much deeper understanding.
For instance, We are told it is 4 o’clock
- Jesus was baptized on a Thursday
- And this is the day afterwards.
- Sabbath begins at dark on Friday
- And runs till dark on Saturday
- So Jesus was not just going to show him where he was staying
- He was in effect saying, come, stay with me a while.
- And they all, at the time, realized that is what he was saying.
And notice too, that Jesus asked them a question
- “What are you seeking?” (v 38)
- Not “why are you following me?”
- But what are you seeking?
- What are you looking for?
- Are you a groupie?
- Are you a gawker?
- Or are you looking for something deeper?
They actually don’t answer him
- Or at least it is not recorded.
- Just the awkward “Where are you staying”? question
- But they do end up staying with him for a day
I would love to have spent that day with Jesus.
- Can you imagine the conversation?
- This radical message of love and faith they would have heard?
- The feeling of “this being real and powerful and true?
It must have been terribly powerful
- Because afterwards. One of the two, Andrew, Goes to his brother and brings him to Jesus
- 41The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon and tell him, “We have found the Messiah” (that is, the Christ). 42 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 ).
And from here, over the next short while, Jesus gathers all his disciples around him.
So what does this tell us about becoming, and developing disciples? I think there are some important lessons here.
- We become disciples when we are seeking
- Andrew and the other follower were looking for something.
- John drew large crowds
- Others were there the day Jesus was baptized
- Others saw the spirit descend on Christ
- Others likely overheard John call Christ “The Lamb of God.”
- But only these two were looking, deeply looking
- And only these two followed
- And shared.
This is important for us
- We are not going to become disciples unless we are looking for something
- Unless we accept that we are not enough
- That there is something more
- That only by seeking will we find our way
- If we think we’ve got life all down
- If we think we can figure it all out
- Then we will never be disciples.
- I think there is a reason that Jesus was always kind and gentle to people who came to him seeking – he knows that true seekers will get there.
- So if we want to be a disciple, we have to give up the idea that we’ve “got it down”
- We have to be looking
It is also important for us when we talk to others about God, Christ or Church
- We are not going to make disciples of people who are not seeking.
- We might get them in the door out of friendship or curiosity
- But we will not make disciples of them UNLESS THEY ARE SEEKING.
- That is sometimes contrary to what we think our job is
- To convert.
- But that is not what we are called to do.
- We are called to witness, yes
- To share what God has done for us
- Where we have seen him at work.
- And then we have to allow God to work
- To let seekers seek
- And trust God to reach into their hearts
Disciples don’t become disciples without spending time with God.
- The disciples in scripture were not just seeking
- They spent 24 hours with Jesus
- They immersed themselves in him
- They listened
- They likely questioned
- Scripture read and shared and discussed
We are not going to move from believers to disciples without that same kind of immersion
- Without blocks of time spent with Scripture
- Without time to worship
- Without time in prayer
- Without time with other Christians
- That’s why we have church
- That’s why we have bible studies
- That’s why we have conferences and workshops and retreats.
At some point, for some people, just coming to church is not enough.
- We need something to believe to our core
- We need something to hold to in times of trouble
- We need something that will not fail us
- We need something that can guide us
- We need to DO something with all of that.
- We need to become disciples
And here’s the good news.
- When we are ready, Christ is there.
- He did not hesitate with Andrew and the other disciple
- He never hesitated with people who came to him
- There was always time
- He would always spend the time
- And he is there for us too
We tend to be busy
- We live a “let me check our schedule” life
- But God is not that way
- Jesus is not that way
- If we are ready, he is ready
- His word is always there.
- And as his people, we need to always be there as well.
Will you pray with me?
Dear Heavenly father, we are daily reminded that we need you in our lives. Help us seek you. Help us fold you into our very lives and become more than believers, more than followers, but disciples. Amen.