Second Sunday After The Epiphany January 14-15, 2023
“A Most Important Question” John 1:29-42
Rev. John R. Larson Ascension Lutheran Church Littleton, Colorado
Never send a guy to the doctor alone. They never ask the right questions. When they get back home you’ll ask, “What did your doctor say about this?” “What did they say about that?” Remember what we talked about? You said that you were having trouble with sleeping, and your bowels, and you have that pain that just doesn’t seem to go away. Remember? What did your doctor say? “Well, I forgot to ask them.” “I’ll ask next time.” No, they won’t. Never send a guy to the doctor alone. They don’t know how to ask the right questions.
There are some questions that are really important in life. There are some questions that demand answers. In our reading from John there are some questions that some folks had for Jesus. They are the good ones.
Jesus had just been baptized by His cousin, John. John, who had done the baptism, relayed what he had seen and heard, “I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him. I would not have known him, except the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, ‘The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is he who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’ I have seen and testify that this is the Son of God.” (John 1:32-34)
John had disciples – followers, learners. In fact, initially he had many more disciples than Jesus. But he didn’t want to keep them. He wanted all of them to follow Jesus. John said of Jesus, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.” (John 1:29) Then he goes on to say, “This is the one I meant when I said, ‘A man who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.” (John 1:30)
And, with such pointed words John lost two of his disciples to Jesus. “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.” (John 1:35-37)
And now we get to the question raised in the reading – it is a most important one, Jesus looks at those two and says – “What are you seeking?” (John 1:38) Why are you coming to me? What are you looking for me to do?
Over the last week or so, we have had millions of people seeking the face of God, and His mighty actions, on behalf of Damar Hamlin, a football player on the Buffalo Bills, who collapsed on the football field during a Monday night game on January 2. I was quite amazed that people on national TV prayed with deep emotion for that young man. People who hadn’t prayed for anything for a long time sought the merciful and miraculous hand of God. Some people who said, “I’m not a religious person” got religion during those worrisome moments on that Monday evening.
Jesus asked those two, Andrew and the other who was not given a name, “What are you seeking?” What a good question. Seeking after God is a good thing. Psalm 63 begins, “O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.” In Jeremiah 29 God says, “You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart,” (Verse 13) Jesus says, “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” (Matthew 6:33) And, of course, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.” (Matthew 7:7-8)
How would you answer that? “What are you seeking from God?” Peace in the soul? Trying to find the answer to what is your purpose to life? Or maybe, “What am I trying to get out of life?”
I believe what you are seeking has everything to do with another question, “Who are you seeking?” The “what” we want in life is tied to the “who” we seek in life.
The other day, on regular talk radio, the whole question about God and prayer came up – related to the Damar Hamlin injury. I like that folks are discussing religion but I’m finding that so many keep God nameless and faceless. He is a “higher power”, someone that is mighty and quite kind, but we can’t get too specific about Him.
The what you are seeking must become the who you are seeking. We seek God’s final answer to the problems of our soul and the challenges on our life when we seek Jesus.
We seek Jesus, the very revelation of God to us. The book of Hebrews says of God’s final utterance through the coming of His Son, “In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son.” (Hebrews 1:1-2) In John 14, with some clarity, Jesus talks about who He is. Jesus says, “If you knew me, you would know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.” Philip said, ‘Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.’ Jesus answered, ‘Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father.’” (John 14:7-9)
What you are seeking becomes who are you seeking. John told his disciples who Jesus was, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.” Maybe he was pointing to Jesus as the Passover Lamb from the Old Testament who saved the Israelites from a certain death when the angel of death was coming to Egypt. But the blood of a lamb, applied to the door of your house brought redemption. Covered by the blood of the lamb, the angel of death passed over your house. Or maybe John knew Isaiah 53 that says this about the Suffering Servant, “He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth.” (Verse 7) Paul, in the New Testament says about Jesus, “Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed.” (I Corinthians 5:7)
The good questions that are raised in this reading are “What are you seeking?” It really leads to “Who are you seeking?” And it concludes with, “What does this mean to me and to others?”
First, the coming of Jesus was meant for each of us, personally, to bring us to a saving faith. We seek Him and He seeks us. He came to us, brought us to faith, washed away every dirty sin and promises that we will be with Him forever in heaven. John the Baptist knew that he couldn’t bring any of that stuff to people, but he knew that Jesus could. Pointing to Jesus he said, “Behold, the Lamb of God.”
Secondly, we get to share this Jesus with others. Listen to the natural progression of what happened in the life of those first followers, “Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, was one of the two who had heard what John had said and who followed Jesus. 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.” (John 1:40-42a) The most important question of who Jesus is to us – our Savior, our Master, our friend – is just as important a question for others to answer.
Over the past few years many new faces have made this congregation theirs. And I know how you started coming here – a friend of yours invited you – or you invited them. Like Andrew to his brother Simon Peter – “And he brought him to Jesus” – you did that to another, or another did that to you. The most important question – “who is Jesus to you?” is also the most important question to everyone else, as well.
There are a ton of questions out there concerning Damar Hamlin. Will he ever be able to play football again? Is it wise? Could it be harmful? But I have a feeling that he will make a wise decision when that time comes. At 24-years-old, he had already made it a personal goal to give back to his community by providing gifts to children. Recently he said, “I feel like that’s God talking to me. I really feel like that’s what my purpose is. That’s why He put me here.” That young man already has some pretty good answers to some big questions.
Some important questions were asked today. What are you seeking? Who are you seeking? Who can you bless? May Jesus and His Holy Spirit guide our answers. Amen!!