Sermon :: January 15, 2017
29[John the Baptist] saw Jesus coming toward him and declared, “Here is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! 30This is he of whom I said, ‘After me comes a man who ranks ahead of me because he was before me.’ 31I myself did not know him; but I came baptizing with water for this reason, that he might be revealed to Israel.” 32And John testified, “I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him. 33I myself did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain is the one who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ 34And I myself have seen and have testified that this is the Son of God.”
35The next day John again was standing with two of his disciples, 36and as he watched Jesus walk by, he exclaimed, “Look, here is the Lamb of God!” 37The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus. 38When Jesus turned and saw them following, he said to them, “What are you looking for?” They said to him, “Rabbi” (which translated means Teacher), “where are you staying?” 39He said to them, “Come and see.” They came and saw where he was staying, and they remained with him that day. It was about four o’clock in the afternoon. 40One of the two who heard John speak and followed him was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. 41He first found his brother Simon and said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which is translated Anointed). 42He brought Simon to Jesus, who looked at him and said, “You are Simon son of John. You are to be called Cephas” (which is translated Peter).
Let me paint a little picture of what a typical morning looks like for me: I get up with the kids, make some coffee (for me, not them), get them some breakfast (and eat a little myself if there’s time), and then I begin looking. Looking for clean clothes and a matching pair of sock for kids, looking at pictures the girls doodle while they wait to get ready, look at the mess my son makes with whatever he happens to be eating (bananas are the worst and they’re his favorite), and looking for that thing I need to remember to give to somebody if I can just remember what and who it goes to. Then, after the kids are at daycare, and I warm up the coffee I poured for myself and didn’t have time to drink, I catch up on the news and find that just about everybody is looking for something – looking for a suspect, looking for an easy way to lose some weight, looking for an answer to a social problem of our time, and looking for a smart way to use resources. It seems we’re all looking for something – acceptance, community, love, security, comfort, peace, and purpose.
It seems beautifully fitting, then, when Jesus’ first words in the gospel of John are, “What are you looking for?” When he’s faced with some new people who might want to check him out, he doesn’t give them a list of his credentials or show them a notarized form stating that he was, in fact, the Son of God as John claimed he was. He asks them, “What are you looking for?” The soon-to-be disciples want to know where he is staying – they want to be with him, they want to be near him. And his response is not to tell them, but to show them. “Come and see” he tells them.
Come and see. “What are you looking for?” and “Come and see.” This is how Jesus begins his baptized ministry in the gospel of John. And I have to believe that these are the phrases Jesus is still speaking to his followers. We all come from different places, different backgrounds, and different systems of belief. I know enough of you to know that we have come from different churches and that we are all in different places in our life of faith. Some of us have been doing this Christian thing our whole lives, some of us have been pretending and going through the motions our whole lives, and some of us are just getting started, unsure of what it all means. And, to each and every one of us, he asks the question, “What are you looking for?” And to each of our answers he responds, “Come and see.”
Come and see that Jesus is who he says he is. Come and see that Jesus is both God and human. Come and see what an abundant life looks like (not a wealthy life, but an abundant life). Come and see that love doesn’t require you to change first. Come and see. Come and see.
This is how Jesus calls his disciples, this is how Jesus calls us, and I can’t help but believe that this is a good way to spread the gospel to the world around us. Instead of arguments and clichés, we offer invitation. “What are you looking for? Come and see.” This phrase means a lot; it means we don’t have all the answers. It’s an invitation to witness what God is doing through broken people like you and me. It’s a confession that we aren’t perfect, that we don’t have a theologically bulletproof answer to every question we have, but that we trust the birth, life, death, and resurrection of Christ has lasting impact on the world today. Come and see the baby in the manger. Come and see the world changed. Come and see the Son of God. Come and see the cross. Come and see the open grave. Come and see.
And I think the most powerful words in this gospel are what is not said. Jesus does not command his would-be followers to get their messed up lives together before following. He doesn’t tell them to come and agree with everything he says. He doesn’t tell them to come and not question anything. He doesn’t tell them to come and says they’ll never be challenged or convicted. He invites them to come on a journey with him. He simply says, “Come and see.”
That’s what we are doing here, each and every week. We are coming to see the power of God, we are coming to remember the birth, life, death, and resurrection of Christ, and we are here to see the Holy Spirit at work. And that’s the invitation we offer to the world around us. Come and see; not us and our accomplishments, but Jesus, not a group of perfect people who have it all together, but a group of sinners made saints by the love and grace of God. Come and see Jesus at work.
It perhaps goes without saying that responding to this invitation is not easy. This life offers us very few easy answers. But God gives us love that has no limits or ending. As we experience this call to discipleship, and as we offer it to others in the name of Jesus, we will experience a vast journey together. You will be challenged and consoled. You will work and you will rest. You will serve as the hands and feet of God and you will be served by God through others. You will be disappointed and you will be elated. But most of all, most of all, you will be embarking on a journey and you will find what you’re looking for in Jesus.
We will always be looking for something, and I’m pretty sure my faith in Jesus will not help me find a matching pair of socks for my kids every day, but I believe the journey of life will always find its answers in God. And Jesus is the way we see and experience God, the lens through which the invisible God becomes visible. And this Christ, this Jesus guy, invites us into a deeper relationship, a deeper love of God and the world, each and every day. He never tell us to change first, but in the presence of love, real, authentic, unconditional love, change will always occur. So now I ask you, what are you looking for? And to your answer Jesus responds, “Come and see.” Amen.