Let us pray: Dear Savior, just as the Spirit came upon You mightily at Your baptism, cause Him to come mightily upon us today. Cause Your Word of wisdom and forgiveness to change our hearts by the Spirit’s power. Cause Him to open our eyes to the life of holiness and goodness that You give us through faith. For then, all life’s fears will be displaced with comforting certainty. Amen
GRACE MERCY AND PEACE ARE YOURS FROM CHRIST, THE LAMB OF GOD!
TEXT: John 1: 29-41
Fellow Redeemed Sinners:
One of my favorite expressions, which I have often quoted to many of you, is: The Lord makes things clear over time. It’s simple. It’s true. And because it is so simple and true we often overlook that fact. We impatient humans want immediate answers to any and all of life’s struggles. In our modern age of instant answers, just “google” it, we can usually receive immediate answers, as well. And so, we become impatient and upset when God doesn’t jump to our beck and call. We pray: “God, tell me if I should take this job?” Or, “Lord, I’ve just met a lovely lady and I want to know whether she’s the one.” Or, “Jesus, I’ve got cancer and I want to know whether it is curable or fatal?” To questions like that, “Google” doesn’t have any answer. And the Lord usually doesn’t have an instantaneous answer, either. So, instead, we are forced to cultivate the fruit of the Spirit, the one called: patience. And when we do, The Lord makes things clear over time.
Our lesson contains various strands of thought and various strands of seemingly disjointed information about the early ministry of Christ. But, of course, they are not disjointed. And to understand how they fit together, we need to remember that adage:
THE LORD MAKES THINGS CLEAR OVER TIME
St. John the Baptist has already anointed Jesus into His prophetic ministry by means of baptism. We talked about that last week. Then Jesus went off into the wilderness to allow Himself to be tempted by Satan over a period of 40 days and 40 nights. At the end of that temptation, Jesus had already won the first of His many victories over Satan. He won it for us! For He never gave into any temptation and by faith in Him, His victory can now become your victory, too.
Meanwhile, John and some of his disciples have been approached by a delegation from the Sanhedrin, the Jewish ruling council. They know the prophetic truth about the Messiah, at least they comprehend some of it. And they demand to know whether John is the Christ, the Messiah, the Chosen One of God. John answers: “No” to their question. And then he adds: “I baptize with water, but among you stands one you do not know. He is the one who comes after me, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie.” And then that delegation leaves unfulfilled. They wanted immediate answers. And God’s response was: The Lord makes things clear over time.
Well, the very next day, John sees Jesus coming toward him. He says to his followers: “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! This is the one I meant when I said, ‘A man who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’ I myself did not know him, but the reason I came baptizing with water was that he might be revealed to Israel.”
Dr. Luther once said that the phrase: “Look the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world” is perhaps the sweetest sentence in the Bible. He was right. Christ is the long-foretold Passover Lamb Whose blood blots out all sin. Not just mine, or yours, or America’s, but the total sin of the entire world. He was God’s loving sacrifice, God’s loving gift to us. He was the One Who would make us right with God, Who would make the pathway to heaven clear, illuminating it with His holiness and love. When Christ came to John to be baptized, John didn’t really “know” Him. The cousins had been separated for the past 30 years. But, once Christ was baptized and the Spirit descended upon Him visibly in the form of that dove, John knew! And now John testifies to that fact. He points his followers to Christ, alone, as the way of salvation. Yes, for 30 long years, John was aware of his cousin. He had to have had a pretty good idea of Who cousin Jesus was. But, because John was a sinner, just like us, doubts still must have arisen in his mind. But with the advent of the Father’s heavenly voice and the Spirit’s visible presence, those doubts were now gone. John now knew! He was certain. He had proof. “I have seen and testify that this is the Son of God.” Yes, the Lord makes things clear over time.
Up until Christ’s baptism, the Spirit remained basically passive in Jesus. Or, as Jesus later phrases it to His mother Mary, “My time has not yet come.” But, now the time had come for Christ to assume His prophetic office of announcing God’s forgiveness upon lost sinners through faith in Him. Now the Spirit kicks into high gear and fills Jesus with and unswerving devotion to us. Nothing could deter Jesus from His work of buying us back from sin, Satan, and death. Not even a bloody cross. Yes, the Lord made all of that clear over time, didn’t He?
The day after that first encounter, John is with two disciples and again spots Christ. The glorious truth that God’s eternal Son stands within their vision prompts John to exclaim again: “Look, the Lamb of God!” And those two disciples got the message. They turned and began to follow Christ instead of John. Those two disciples were: John, the writer of this account, and Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. They had followed John over the past few months because they had a deep need to be right with God. They knew their failings and their sinfulness. They knew they needed forgiveness.—Forgiveness that only God’s Son, the promised Messiah could bring. They need their souls healed, cleansed, and comforted. And now, that had it all! They had Jesus. Their search was ended. Yes, the Lord makes things clear over time. And filled with the Spirit, Andrew called his brother Peter to come and follow Christ, too.
In an age where we expect instant answers and look down upon the gift of patience, the truth that: the Lord makes things clear over time, is often a frustrating one. And yet, it does prevent us from taking His answers for granted, doesn’t it? If you’re forced to wait for something special, when it finally comes you tend to really value and appreciate it. And when you learn life’s hard lessons over time, you also tend to remember them.
This past week our brother in Christ, George Landahl, had all his life-long questions answered. All those things that troubled him and bothered him went away in an instant. For when he died, the Lord took him into glory. For you see, that is the one and only mission of God’s Lamb! And in George’s case, that mission is now fulfilled. But what about you and me? We’re still here and we still fret about countless questions and events for which we have no immediate answers. Well, learn from out lesson. Learn patience and experience the Spirit’s power in your life by remembering that: The Lord makes things clear over time. This is true because the Lord of time, Jesus Christ, loves us more than He loved Himself. Amen