“Show and Tell to a Friend” – John 1:29-42
2nd Sunday after the Epiphany – Life Weekend – January 14 & 15, 2017
We, in the church, are in the Epiphany time of the church year, I like to call it the season of “Show and Tell.” Remember those days in school? Notice how this happens 3 times in our Scripture reading.
John the Baptizer did a “Show and Tell” to his friends, Andrew and John in verse 29, we read, “The next day (the day after Jesus’ baptism) John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, ‘Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!’ ” and in verses 35-36, “The next day (3 days in a row – Is this an example of “the third time’s the charm?”) John was there again with two of his disciples. When he saw Jesus passing by, he said, ‘Look, the Lamb of God!’ ” Note that for John and the disciples who were with him, they had: 1) witnessed the baptism of Jesus; 2) the next day John had pointed to Jesus and repeated to his disciples the importance of Jesus and what had happened at Jesus’ baptism; and 3) now, on the 3rd day, John says it again: “Look, the Lamb of God!” How often are we willing to repeat the “show and tell” of Jesus to our friends?
There’s a ridiculous story told of an angry customer who called the manager of a repair shop. “I asked you to send someone to fix our doorbell,” the man complained, “and you said you would see to it immediately, but it’s been two days and our doorbell is still broken!” The manager replied, “We did send a man, I’m sure!” Then he called to a workman in the back of the shop, “Hey, Dan, didn’t you go around to do that job at 160 Vine St.?” “Yes, I sure did, I went there,” Dan called back, “I rang the doorbell for 10 minutes, there wasn’t any answer, so I decided they must not be home!”
Yes, very ridiculous, and yet I tell it to make an important point. When we “show and tell about Jesus to a friend,” especially to those who are un-churched or inactive and we give up after only trying one or maybe two times, we’re just like the repairman expecting the doorbell to work before it was repaired! God’s Word plainly says: “the mind of sinful man… is hostile to God.” (Romans 5:6-7) Our natural inclination is to reject God and His Word. And yet God continues to bring unbelievers into His kingdom through the repeated invitations of His sons / daughters.
Oh, that we were always filled with the excitement and “I-can’t-wait-to-tell” that we show when our favorite sports team wins “the big game;” or like the young lady who receives an engagement ring; or the grandparents and parents of a new-born baby news” events in our lives.
Notice how excited John was about his invitation to his friends: “Behold / Look!” was John’s repeated message. Would the un-churched and the in-actives in our area be more likely to respond to our invitations if we showed more excitement about God, His Word and His Church?
And did you notice also that John did not point to Jesus as “the One who will make you feel good” / “the One who will make you rich and popular” / “the One who will take all your aches and pains away”– but “Look! the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” John’s excitement, his invitation was about Jesus, who like the sacrificial lambs, would be “sacrificed” on the cruel cross; not promising “ease and comfort” in this life, but “forgiveness of sins” which means LIFE in it’s fullness – regardless of what happens in this earthly life.
This weekend we observe The Sanctity of Life. We know that life can be hard. Sin in the world is the reason. That is why God’s people experience: unwanted pregnancies – terminal illness – chronic disease. They experience the pain, suffering, and difficult decisions that these bring. Is death the solution? There are those who say “yes.” That is why we have: abortion – assisted suicide – euthanasia. It becomes too easy to view people as burdens who would be “better off dead.”
Many in our society think of death as a solution to many of the problems we face and a means of escaping responsibilities: death for unwanted pregnancies; death for the old and sick; death for the suffering or handicapped; death for all those whose lives fail to meet “convenient standards of quality” as presently defined by the majority. This “escape from responsibilities” is cloaked in “fine-sounding” phrases provided by the “Father of Lies” – we hear: “freedom of choice” / “death with dignity” / “kind or merciful death” (euthanasia). There is dangerous talk about “the quality of life,” as if life in this world should have a certain “quality” – free from all suffering or troubles. IN CONTRAST, Christians, who “Look to Jesus, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world,” see “life” differently. The world sees nothing good coming from suffering. IN CONTRAST – Faith sees that the greatest of all good came to us through suffering – “The Lamb of God,” Jesus, faithfully and fully suffered and died in our place – to give us life – “the abundant life” in the midst of suffering!
Esther Parsons, an elderly lady had severe emphysema. Esther had been a widow for many years. Her faith was strong and it sustained her through the long ordeal. She was eager and ready to depart and to be with Christ. Although patient in her affliction, she wondered why God had not yet called her home. “Why am I still here, Pastor?” she would ask; “Why hasn’t the Lord taken me to heaven?” Her pastor answered, “I don’t know, but I DO KNOW that God loves you so much that He sent His Son to die for you upon the cross. Trust in God’s purpose, even though we cannot perceive that purpose now. Look to the cross and believe in Jesus’ love.” Finally, her long struggle ended, and Esther went home to live with Jesus. A few weeks after her death, her pastor was back in the same ICU visiting another member. As he left the unit, a young Asian nurse’s aide stopped him in the hallway. “Are you Esther Parson’s pastor?” she asked. “Yes, I am.” The young lady continued: “I want you to know that I am a Christian today because of her. I never had the chance to talk to her, but I saw her faith. I saw the way that Jesus loved her and the strength that He gave her, and now I am a believer too. I just wanted you to know.”
We live by faith and not by sight, trusting in the promises and purposes of God. From the world’s point of view, the life of an old woman racked with pain and struggling for every breath, doesn’t seem to be worth much. But for those with saving faith in Jesus there is always a purpose and plan, founded in the love of the God who sent His Son to die on the cross for us.
When John, the baptizer, pointed his two disciples to Jesus, “… they followed Jesus. Turning around, Jesus saw them following and asked, ‘What do you want?’ They said, ‘Rabbi’ (which means Teacher), where are You staying?’ ‘Come,’ (Jesus) replied, ‘and you will see.’ So they went and saw where He was staying, and spent that day with Him.” Jesus always welcomes everyone into a PERSONAL relationship with Him. And Jesus ALWAYS HAS TIME for us. (It takes time to develop friendships, time spent together.)
And note the third example of “show and tell to a friend”, we read: “The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon and tell him, ‘We have found the Messiah.’ And he brought him to Jesus.” (v.40-42a) Note the urgency (“The first thing Andrew did”), and the excitement (“We have found the Messiah”). It is so easy to put off the good intentions – and before we know it, time goes by and our intentions never get done.
Such simple invitations: (by John) “Look the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” (by Jesus) “Come and see.” (by Andrew) “We have found the Messiah!” God works through our simple invitations too: “Won’t you come with me?” (to Sunday worship, to Bible Class, to adult instruction classes, to speak with Pastor, etc.)
What would Holy Cross be like if in the next weeks and months each of us would “show and tell to a friend about Jesus?” Who are you befriending in order to “bring them to Jesus?” God can and DOES work through our words and actions of invitation. May God strengthen us again this week as we “show and tell about Jesus to a friend.”
See you in worship this coming weekend – for the 2nd grader Bible presentations and God’s gracious blessings of Word and Sacraments!