"Come and See"

John 1:29-42, 19 January 2014

the Rev. Todd R. Goddard, pastor

West Walworth: Zion and East Rochester United Methodist Churches

 

John 1:29-42

The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him and declared, “Here is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! This is he of whom I said, ‘After me comes a man who ranks ahead of me because he was before me.’ I myself did not know him; but I came baptizing with water for this reason, that he might be revealed to Israel.” And John testified, “I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him. 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.’ And I myself have seen and have testified that this is the Son of God.” The next day John again was standing with two of his disciples, and as he watched Jesus walk by, he exclaimed, “Look, here is the Lamb of God!”

 

The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus. 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?” 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. One of the two who heard John speak and followed him was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. He first found his brother Simon and said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which is translated Anointed). 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).

 

Prayer.

 

John’s witness is powerful.

His power comes from his contacts,

his network,

his disciples.

When John speaks

people listen.

For years

John had been a phenom;

preaching in the wilderness,

educating his followers to

watch and wait for the Messiah yet to be revealed,

and baptizing those who repent of their sins

and previous, deplorable behavior.

Thousands were drawn down to the Jordan

outside of Jericho

in the wilderness

to see,

to witness,

John’s mission

and listen to his testimony.

 

Of the thousands drawn by John,

hundreds agreed to stay and become his disciples.

These followers will become key

in the transition from John to Jesus.

When one became a disciple of a Rabbi back in the day,

they agreed to become yoked to him,

literally, yoked by a symbolic stoll given out by the Rabbi.

To be yoked meant that the disciple was attempting

to learn everything they could about their master

in an effort to become exactly like him.

To be yoked meant they had to be literate,

and only the smartest of the smart were able to read and write.

Values and beliefs were easy to communicate.

The challenging part

that takes years of apprenticeship

is learning how to interpret Holy scripture

exactly the same way as their master.

Education was done by the question and discussion method,

testifying to experience,

researching sacred texts,

and by reporting back to the Rabbi led group.

The disciple becomes a Rabbi in their own right,

when, after years of learning and experience,

their life becomes a mirror image of their master.

Disciples are known,

find their identity,

in their master.  

 

John is teaching his rabbinical students today

and in walks Jesus.

John proclaims Jesus is his greater successor.

He witnessed about the involvement of the Spirit action at Jesus’ baptism

and hearing the voice of God.

John concludes with a testimony:

Jesus is the Son of God.

 

The first step in a life of Christ centered discipleship

is responding to the proclamation and witness.

This is Jesus,

the Son of God.

Follow him.

 

This is where it get’s dicy.

To follow Christ means we have to take off the yoke

we’ve previously been wearing.

We have to walk away

from that which has given us our values,

identity,

beliefs,

and experience.

Just as John’s disciples

would have to leave John to follow Jesus,

so, too, must today’s Christ follower

walk away from everything that has chained their lives in the past.

 

John proclaims “Here is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!”

The sin of which John references

is not only the transgression of Law,

but also the ignorance of God’s grace, redemption, and salvation

that is made manifest through Jesus Christ.

When that sin is removed,

there is only light;

the light of living in the presence of the new Rabbi,

the Son of God.

 

Today, taking off the yoke of John

might be like

changing denominations,

leaving behind uncertainty

or atheism.

Taking off the yoke that binds one to the past

might be like giving up

on a gospel of prosperity and wealth,

or

a belief that politics

or economics

just might save the world.

 

“Come to me, all who are heavy laden,” Jesus says,

“and I will give you rest”

“For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

(Matthew 11:28-30)

 

The second step in a life of Christ centered discipleship

is becoming a part of community,

building healthy, wholesome relationships,

of becoming a part of the living, breathing,

Body of Christ.

 

Simon and Andrew

take off their John yoke

and put on the yoke of Jesus.

First they follow where Jesus is headed.

To become like the master,

one must mimic the master’s behavior.

The Rabbi’s question,

“What are you looking for?”

can certainly work on many levels.

They ask Jesus where he is staying.

“Come and see,” Jesus responds,

with an invitation that has remained consistent

for two thousand years.

“And they remained with him.”

 

Community is nearly a dirty word

to many living in western American culture,

where individual freedoms and rights are celebrated,

where communism is despised and misrepresented,

and where we prize the self-made man or woman.

Yet, the spiritual journey towards Jesus

is one that embraces others;

other disciples on the path,

crowds of people hungry for Jesus’ teaching,

others who suffered from great need:

illness, hunger, homelessness, imprisonment,

the last, the least, and the lost.

Embracing others means

living beyond ourselves

with a commitment to become the servant of all.

 

We do worship.

We do worship well.

We are very practiced at it.

While we may be in community when in worship

many of us come to worship with very personal,

individual needs:

I need to be spiritually recharged.

I need to be forgiven.

I need to be saved.

I’ve heard them all!

 

Communities of Jesus’ disciples that thrive

have learned how to come together

and remain with Jesus until four o’clock in the afternoon,

then go out and apply what they’ve learned.

Survival on worship alone

is unsustainable,

is selfish,

and it leads to death.

Discipleship with Jesus

begins when we take upon ourselves his yoke

and walk out the building

to change the world

just as Jesus would do.

 

My/our recent trip to Nicaragua

renewed in me the importance of being a part of a team,

organized,

energized by a common faith,

working together

for the single purpose

of attempting to live

as a mirror image of our master Rabbi,

Jesus Christ.

Teams learn from each other.

Teams instill confidence,

especially where a lone voice might falter.

Communities of people

bring together wisdom and experience,

through which Christ can work

to accomplish great things.

 

Christianity, by definition, is about

being in relationship,

in community,

first with Christ,

by wearing his yoke,

and secondly,

by being in relationship with other disciples,

working and behaving

to the best of our ability

exactly as Christ would act,

reaching out to the world,

living as servants of all.

 

Living in relationship

is called “missions” in today’s church.

Worship without missions

is a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.

Missions without worship

is like joining any one of the available local service clubs.

But worship, joined with missions,

is where the heart of the Gospel can be found.

At the intersection of worship and outreach

is where ecclesia is located,

is where Church should be found.

The disciple sporting the yoke of Christ

is always found working together with other disciples

- after all, many hands make light work! -

to bring about the transformation of the world

into the kingdom of God.

 

Without outreach,

without missions,

the Church loses it’s relevancy

and becomes the seed planted on rocky ground.

 

Yet, our Gospel for today,

is the perfect example

of the call to return to normal,

coming back to a balanced

spiritual journey;

of taking off the yoke of the world,

joining Simon and Andrew

in taking on the yoke of Christ,

and starting a journey in community

with Christ

and with each other.

 

Dearly beloved,

let our hearts be warmed.

Let us leave our worship today

such that we may join together with Jesus

in the mission fields of our world.

May it be so.

Amen.