The Second Sunday after Epiphany; Year A (1/15/2016)

Texts:Isaiah 49:1-7 Psalm 40:1-11 (8) 1 Corinthians 1:1-9 St. John 1:29-42

Prayer of the Day: Holy God, our strength and our redeemer, by your Spirit hold us forever, that through your grace we may worship you and faithfully serve you, follow you and joyfully find you, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen.

1:29 The next day [John] saw Jesus coming toward him and declared, “Here is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! 30 This is he of whom I said, ‘After me comes a man who ranks ahead of me because he was before me.’ 31 I myself did not know him; but I came baptizing with water for this reason, that he might be revealed to Israel.” 32 And John testified, “I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him. 33 I 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.’34 And I myself have seen and have testified that this is the Son of God.”

35 The next day John again was standing with two of his disciples,36 and as he watched Jesus walk by, he exclaimed, “Look, here is the Lamb of God!” 37 The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus. 38 When 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?” 39 He 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. 40 One of the two who heard John speak and followed him was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. 41 He first found his brother Simon and said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which is translated Anointed). 42 He 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).

St. John 1:29-42, New Revised Version Bible (C)1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America.

Come and See

The Toastmasters Club is famous for helping people become proficient at public speaking. A friend once spent some with them, and came away with one conviction: the most important parts of a speech are the first and the last things said. Setting aside the very last words Jesus speaks in St. John (a bizarre exchange with Peter — read it at John 21:20-23), his (almost) last words are “follow me” and his first words are located here in this week’s Gospel lesson.

John the Baptizer is with his disciples, carrying out his central responsibility. (“I came baptizing with water for this reason, that he might be revealed to Israel.”) As they are standing together one day, John watches Jesus walk past them. He declares to his followers: “Look, here is the Lamb of God!” And it works! His two disciples hear John’s words, and begin following Jesus.

The very first words Jesus speaks in John’s Gospel form a question for these two disciples of John: “What are you looking for?” And then, when they ask where he is staying, Jesus makes the first of many declarations in John’s Gospel. He says, “come and see.”

Come and see. The first invitation to a new life of faith. The first invitation to become part of this great story God is beginning to tell in Christ. The first invitation to draw near to Jesus, and in doing so draw near to the power and presence and promise of the good news.

These disciples do just this, of course. Not only do they come and see where Jesus is staying: they stay with him. And what is the result? They become convinced he is the Messiah. And they join him in inviting others to come and see. Andrew steps up as the first Christian evangelist: he immediately finds his brother, Simon, and invites him to come and see Jesus. Simon will never be the same. And neither will the history of the Christian movement.

Come and see. If we join Andrew and Jesus in extending this invitation today, what will people see if they come? What kind of witness will our lives, and our churches, give to the transforming, gracious presence of Christ in our midst? That’s the challenge. If we invite them to come and see, it is essential that what they see is Christ.

I am writing today at Rainbow Trail Lutheran Camp, in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains of Colorado, about an hour west of Cañon City. A group of us are creating the Bible study to be used this summer at Rainbow. Through this study we’ll invite each other to consider what we need to do in order to love God, neighbor and self in everything we say and do. It is going to be a challenging study. It will help campers and staff alike to re-evaluate what faithfulness looks like, and how we can offer a strong witness to the world. And just maybe, it will give us something to show to anyone who comes our way. God willing, perhaps they will see our desire to love God, neighbor and self in everyone we say and do.

Come and see. Please consider joining us in extending this invitation. And in living so that others have something valuable to see. The love of God, moving through us, and touching the world. That’s something worth seeing!

David J. Risendal, Pastor

Exploring This Week’s Gospel:

  1. What is John’s role in salvation story of our faith?
  2. How does he accomplish this with his followers? With others in his day?
  3. How does Andrew continue the work John has begun?

Connecting with This Week’s Gospel:

  1. Who might I invite to “come and see?”
  2. If they come to me, or to my church, what are they likely to see?
  3. What do I need to do to make sure what they see is the love of God in Christ?