John 1: “Come and See”

“Come, And See”—John 1: 29-51

By Kristen Rae Nelsoncome to Jesus pic

Millard Community Covenant Church, Jan. 15, 2017

“The Wizard of Oz” was always one of my favorite movies as a child—minus the flying monkeys.  The story of Dorothy and her friends Scarecrow, Tin Man, and Lion on their trek to find what they have always wanted spoke to something deep inside my heart.  With the continued success of the movie well past its prime, it’s safe to say that it speaks to all of us.  Dorothy and her friends are searching for things—and what they search for are things that all our hearts can connect with.

As we watch Dorothy trek through Oz to find her way home, we feel the twinge in our hearts as well to find that one place where we truly belong and are loved.  As we look at the Scarecrow as he longs for a brain and for true intellect, we find our own hearts longing for answers to the big questions in our lives, and for meaning.  As we observe the Tin Man in his quest for a heart, and for true love, we wonder if there really is such a thing—love, and self-giving.  And as we cheer on the Lion as he sheepishly wishes for courage to fight his enemies and walk through the darkest parts of life, we too wish for a light in our darkness, a strength in our weakness, and a rock on which to stand.

 

Just like Dorothy and her friends, we are all searching.  Searching for life’s meaning, searching for truth, searching for forgiveness, searching for love, searching for guidance.  We are all on a trek, walking down the “yellow brick road” of life, searching for something, for someone.  Many of us haven’t put our finger on it yet, but we know deep down inside that there is something, someone, missing.  We go day to day looking for fulfillment, looking for love and grace, looking for a meaning to life.  We carry the extra baggage of emotions, of frustrations, of broken hearts, of addictions, of empty promises.  Our hearts cry out for meaning, for purpose, for the One who can free us from our own prisons of selfishness and sin.  We might not know it, but we are searching for Jesus.

 

John the Baptist and his disciples—as well as all of Israel, and really, the entire world—were also searching.  And they were waiting.  Their hearts were longing for the Chosen One, the Messiah—for Jesus.  As we encounter the text in the Gospel of John, we see John the Baptist out in the desert, east of Jerusalem, preaching and baptizing in the Jordan River.  Day by day, he proclaimed that the Chosen One was on His way, that the Messiah was coming.  He called the people to repentant hearts, to living lives prepared for the Lord.

And then, one day as he is out baptizing, John sees Jesus walking towards him.  Our good friend John can’t help himself—he’s completely overcome with emotion and excitement.  He reacts with deep-felt joy.  Do you remember in Luke’s Gospel, way back when Mary, the mother of Jesus, went to visit her cousin Elizabeth (who is the mother of John the Baptist) after being told by the angel that she would bear a Son?  Luke records the meeting of these women, both who are experiencing miraculous pregnancies.  When Mary draws near to Elizabeth, John leaps in his mother’s womb with joy.  Even in the womb, John is prophetically and joyfully declaring that the Savior is near!  He can’t help himself—the presence of the Messiah, of his Savior, overwhelms him.  And so, as John sees Jesus coming towards him in on the banks of the Jordan River, he shouts with joy—twice in two days!—“Look!  There is the One whom we have been searching for!  There’s the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world!” 

 

“The Lamb of God”.  There’s a lot of different titles that John could have used to describe Jesus.  The Prince of Peace, the Lord of Lords, the Son of God, the Light of the World, the Christ, the Messiah, Lord.  But John chooses this title—“The Lamb of God”.  I wonder why?

Could it be that John was remembering the Passover lamb—the lamb that was prepared on that first Passover night in Egypt, its blood smeared on the doorposts of the Israelite people, saving them from death?  The blood of the Lamb saves us from death.

Or could it be that John was thinking about the lambs sacrificed in the temple as atonement sacrifices?  The blood of a spotless lamb sacrificed, its blood sprinkled on the altar for forgiveness of the sins of the people.

Possibly, John was thinking of the suffering lamb described by Isaiah the prophet.  In his prophecies about the Messiah in Isaiah 53, Isaiah described Him as a lamb led to the slaughter, but who remained silent.  Was this what John was eluding to when he said, “Look!  The Lamb of God!”?

Whatever John was thinking, God gave him the wisdom to know who Jesus was.  And so, as he shouted out joyfully, “Look!  The Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world!”, John’s disciples responded with the same joy and jubilation.  They knew what John’s words meant.  They knew who the “Lamb of God” was.  They knew the significance of the presence of the Messiah.  And they did what any of us would have done—they ran to Jesus.

 

It would have been easy for Jesus to just let them follow Him, getting lost in the dust that His sandals kicked-up as He walked on the dusty road.  It would have been easy for Jesus to simply usher them behind Him with a gesture of His hand and a whip of His garments, as a haughty King would usher to his subjects.  But Jesus, wonderful Jesus, did just the opposite.  He noticed the men following behind Him—men whose hearts were longing and searching for God, and He invited them into relationship with Him.

“What do you want?” He asked them.

And they responded by asking a simple question, “Rabbi, Teacher, where are you staying?”

“Oh friends, I’ll do better than tell you.  I’ll show you.  I’ll invite you to walk with me.  I’ll invite you to learn from me.  I’ll invite you to be changed by me.  I’ll show you what you’re searching for.”  And He said, “Come, and you will see.”

 

I have a friend who recently moved to a beautiful area of the country.  Because of its “vacation-like” destination, her extended family has made it their mission to travel to her often and visit, taking in the sites.  And so, on her days off, she travels to different landmarks, museums, parks, and recreation areas to “scope them out” for future family visits.  When she finds one that seems like a good fit for her family, she will often call her mother and exclaim with excitement, “I’ve found it!  The perfect place to visit!  You have to come and see!”

 

Imagine the joy that those disciples had after spending the day with Jesus, the Chosen One, the Messiah.  Imagine the relief in their hearts as they heard His words, listened to His teaching, and observed how He lived His life.  Jesus was the answer to their questions.  Jesus was the One to fill the void in their hearts.  Jesus was the One whom they had been waiting for, the One whom they had been searching for.  Jesus was the “Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world.”

It was only natural, then, in the joy and relief of that moment, that Andrew rushed to tell others who he had found, what he had heard.  It only made sense that Andrew went to find others who were searching, like he had been, and brought them back to the One whom they had been searching for—Jesus.  “Come, and see!  We have found the Messiah!

 

Have you found the Messiah?  Have you heard Him say, “Come, and see?”, as He gestures to you to walk with Him, to listen to Him, to be in relationship with Him?  Has he looked at you and called you by name, as He did with Simon Peter?  Have you experienced the power of His forgiveness, the strength of His love?  Have you sought, and found?

Then friends, it’s time to find others who are searching, and tell them to “Come, and see!”  It’s time to live by John and the disciple’s example, and to tell the good news of the Lamb of God alive, with us, in relationship with us.  It’s time to put aside our fear, our lack of confidence, our confusion, our shyness, our stubbornness, or our “slowness of tongue”, and to point others to Jesus.

You don’t have to be anyone but yourself.  You don’t have to be slick or learned or a good communicator.  You just have to care.  You just have to point to Jesus.  You just have to reveal the good news that all our hearts are longing to hear—the good news that the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world has come.

Today, Christ ends our search.  The Messiah has come.  Our search is over.  Hallelujah!  Amen.

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