Second Reformed Church

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

"What Are You Seeking?" Sermon: John 1:35-42

“What Are You Seeking?”

[John 1:35-42]

February 15, 2015 Second Reformed Church

            Last week we saw that Jesus was revealed as the Son of God and Savior by God the Father and God the Holy Spirit when He was baptized by John the Baptist.  We also saw that John identified Jesus as the Lamb of God – the fulfillment of the Sacrificial System – the Holy Lamb which causes all those who believe to be eternally right with God.  Forgiven, holy, and saved.

            We also saw that John the Baptist did not know that Jesus was the Savior – the Lamb of God – before He was revealed to Him in His baptism.  John was waiting for God to reveal Who the Savior was by the sign of the Holy Spirit descending on Him in the form of a dove.  When John saw this happen as He baptized Jesus, and heard the voice of God the Father proclaim Who Jesus is and confirm that the Father was pleased with the work the Son was doing, John confessed Jesus as God the Lamb, the Only Savior.

            This morning’s text concerns John’s account of the beginning of Jesus’ calling of His disciples:

            “The next day again John was standing with two of his disciples, and he looked at Jesus as he walked by and said, ‘Behold, the Lamb of God!’”

            We see, first this morning, that once John knew Who Jesus was, he pointed people to Jesus and away from himself.

            John’s ministry began with his coming out of the wilderness to the Jordan River.  He stood by the river and preached about the coming of the Savior and the need for the people – even the Jews – to repent of their sin and to trust in the Savior Alone for their salvation, John baptized those who sincerely repented of their sins and promised to turn away from them and trust in the Savior Who was to come.  John’s baptism was a baptism of repentance and preparation.

            Once Jesus came to be baptized by John and God revealed that Jesus is God the Savior, John refrained from calling people to himself, but pointed to Jesus and told people to follow after Jesus, because He is the One Who makes a person right – Who forgives a person and makes him holy in the eyes of God.

            So, from the day that Jesus was revealed to John and the people gathered at the Jordan, John the Baptist cried out, “Behold, the Lamb of God!”  In other words, “Look, Jesus is the One Who fulfills the Sacrificial System on behalf of all those who believe.  Jesus is the One Who takes the sins of all those Who believe on Himself, suffers the Wrath of God, paying the debt for those sins.  Jesus is the One Who lived a perfect and holy life and credits that holiness to all those who believe in Him, so we can be right with God eternally.  My ministry is ending – turn to Jesus and be saved.”

            We, now, are like John the Baptist, are we not?

            Before Jesus ascended back to the Father, He told the eleven:  “And Jesus came and said to them, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age’” (Matthew 28:18-20, ESV).

            Jesus gave them a command – which is for us as well – but He begins by backing it up by assuring them that all authority – all power – all right – in heaven and earth belonged to Him.  He has the power and the authority and right to do everything He wills, and nothing can stand against Him or raise an objection to His authority.  It is with that sure, eternal, comprehensive authority that Jesus sends the eleven – and us – with the command to make disciples of all nations.

            We are to go out, preparing the way for others, witnessing to the Gospel, proclaiming the Gospel, that others would also become disciples – followers – of what?  Of us?  Of our church?  Of our denomination?  No!  Of Jesus.

            We are right to have reasons for the church we are part of and for the denomination we are part of, but all of this is for Jesus – all of this is about Jesus – our only Hope is Jesus – we are drawing people in to turn them to Jesus and His salvation.

            John’s baptism was preparatory and announced the need of the Savior – God used it to open the eyes of many, but the end is not John’s baptism – the end is not understanding we are sinning and desiring forgiveness – the end is Jesus and His salvation – being truly, eternally, fully forgiven and made right with God.

            The best church – the best people – are not those with great speakers or programs or whatever – though none of that is wrong – but what we are looking for – what each person needs – is to hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ – the Only Hope for any person.  The best church should – in every way – point us to Jesus – Jesus – and Jesus Alone.

            The two disciples who were with John the Baptist that day understood:

            “The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus. Jesus turned and saw them following and said to them, ‘What are you seeking?’ And they said to him, ‘Rabbi’ (which means Teacher), ‘where are you staying?’ He said to them, ‘Come and you will see.’ So they came and saw where he was staying, and they stayed with him that day, for it was about the tenth hour.”

            So, second, we see that the two disciples of John were drawn to Jesus.

            We saw last week that Jesus said, “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day” (John 6:44, ESV).  Jesus explained that it was not possible for someone to come to Jesus – to truly seek Jesus, unless the Father draws them – unless the Father compels them towards Him.

            So, we see these two disciples of John seeking after Jesus, and Jesus knows they are seeking after Him, and He asks them, “What are you seeking?”

            The disciples respectfully called Jesus “Rabbi” – “teacher” – and they asked Him where He was staying.  Now, that may sound like they didn’t answer the question – but they did in this way – Jesus asked what they were seeking, and they answered that they wanted to be where He was.

            So, Jesus told them to come and see – He invited them and tested them, because it was the tenth hour – it was four o’clock in the afternoon – it was the time of the evening sacrifice – it was almost evening – it would be dark soon.  Were the disciples really drawn to Jesus with a draw that they were compelled to follow?  Would they go with Jesus, even at that late hour?  Or would they say, “No, we will come back tomorrow to hear you?”  No, they went with Jesus – they were drawn to Him.

            We don’t know at this moment in the text if they have believed on Him savingly, but they were surely being drawn to Him.  They wanted and needed to be in His presence and hear Him teach.

            One commentator talks about being drawn by the smell of your favorite pie – that when you smell it fresh out of the oven you are compelled to go find it – to seek it out – because it smells so good – and you are compelled to have some.  Similarly, the disciples were compelled to be with Jesus – filled with desire to know Him and be with Him – they wanted what they smelled (so to speak) of Him.

            If pie doesn’t do it for you, think of whatever your favorite food is – smell it strongly in your mind and consider the draw that smell has of you to the food.

            This language is used in the Scripture, as Paul describes Jesus’ sacrifice in this way:  “And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God” (Ephesians 5:2, ESV).

            Jesus’ giving of Himself in incarnating, living under God’s Law, dying for our sin, and rising from the dead – His whole life on earth, was the most pleasing – the most fragrant offering – before God.  The smell that God finds most enticing is the Sacrifice of His Son for His people.

            That is the smell we are to lead people to smell – amidst all the other smells in the world.  We are to describe the smell of the Gospel in such a way that people are prepare for God to direct them to catch the smell and receive the history of the Gospel and find themselves zealously compelled to be with Jesus and know Him and receive His salvation.

            And we have this confidence that those who are truly drawn to Jesus will never be forsaken by Him, but are eternally His, because God has given them to Him.  If our seeking Jesus is true and real – like these disciples, we will never be rejected by Jesus, but we will always believe and hold fast to Him and the salvation He gives.

            Once we have been drawn to Jesus, we believe His Gospel and receive His salvation, and He never, never, never lets us go – or completely fall away.  We have been made sons and daughters of God and we shall enter into the fullness of His Kingdom.
             John continues to record what one of the two disciples did:

“One of the two who heard John speak and followed Jesus was Andrew, Simon Peter's brother. He first found his own brother Simon and said to him, ‘We have found the Messiah’ (which means Christ). He brought him to Jesus.”

The third thing we see this morning is that when the disciple believed savingly in Jesus, he had to tell his family and friends.

Andrew had the way prepared by John the Baptist, and he was drawn to Jesus, and he followed Jesus home, and he received Jesus savingly – believing in the Gospel and all the promises God made about the Savior – and he got right up – with the zeal that had him follow Jesus home in the evening, and he went and got his brother, Simon, and told him, “We have found the Savior – the Christ – the Messiah!”  And he brought Simon to Jesus.

Do we prize Jesus and His salvation?

Do we get giddy and just have to tell someone about Him?

Have you ever had something so wonderful – so exciting in your life – that you just had to tell other people about it?

Several months ago, Gene Hecht, from the Irvington Chamber of Commerce, bought himself a brand new car.  He was so excited about it, he drove all around showing it to his friends, letting them take a test drive – he was just beaming about this new car.  He wanted everyone to see it and know he had it and share in the joy he had in owning it.

Is our salvation from the Wrath of God by Jesus more exciting to us than a new car?

It’s true, our feelings wax and wane – even about the most important and wonderful things.  But if we really put our minds to it – putting sin and distraction aside, and we consider what Jesus has done on our behalf – making the Only Way of salvation – the Only Way to be right with God – David prayed, “Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit” (Psalm 51:12, ESV).

The first moment that the Gospel made sense – when God removed the veil from our eyes and gave us a heart of flesh – do we remember that joy?  Does it visit us from time to time?  Doesn’t it melt our hearts and make us want everyone to know the Truth, the Life, and the Way?

Of course, the devil throws out negative thoughts – people are going to think you’re a fanatic – that your nuts. 

I was talking about God’s Sovereignty in salvation this past week, and one of my friends said, “I didn’t know you were so militant.”  And I told him that I am not “militant,” but I am amazed and joyful and just bursting to tell someone when I think about what Jesus has done to save me – how the whole Almighty Trinity has worked together in history to grant me salvation when I could do nothing but sin and hate God – and He keeps me His, even though I fail Him and shake my fists at Him and rebel against Him again and again and again.

I know that on my own – in-and-of myself – I am hopeless and helpless and worthy of the full Wrath of God for my sins.  Yet, I know that the Almighty and Sovereign God – Who needs nothing! – chose to grant me salvation because it pleased Him to do so.  That’s even more exciting that the laser light my mother got me for Christmas to use to play with the cat I will be getting!

Andrew was excited to – he ran and got his brother – “We’ve found the promised Savior!  The Only Hope of all those who believe is here!  Come, meet Him, hear Him, believe in Him!”

If you don’t find Jesus and His Gospel – salvation – exciting, may I respectfully and urgently ask you to search your heart and see if you truly believe?  And if you do, pray with me that God will open our mouths and help us to put aside all sin and distraction that we will tell somebody!

Peter goes with Andrew, and we read:

“Jesus looked at him and said, ‘You are Simon the son of John. You shall be called Cephas’ (which means Peter).”

Fourthly, we see that Jesus changes us when we believe – yet not all at once.

Paul writes, “And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit” (2 Corinthians 3:18, ESV).

“We all” – believers – Christians. 

“With unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord” – remember, we talked about this – we see the Glory of God mediated through Jesus – through what we are told about Him in the Scripture and as He gives us His grace through the reading and preaching of the Word and through the Sacraments.

“Are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another.  For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit” Our justification – our being made right before God is a one-time act and declaration by God – but our sanctification – our becoming holy – our being conformed and transformed into the Image of Jesus, the Son of God – is a life-long process which God the Holy Spirit is at work in us and completes at the return of Jesus’.

So, we are being changed into what we shall become.  We are being changed into the Image of Jesus.

What about Peter?  He was being changed.  He met Jesus.  We know he believed savingly in Jesus.  Jesus said he shall be called “Peter” – right then he was “Simon,” but the day would come when he would be called, “Peter” – when he had come to a certain point in his sanctification – in his growth in the Spirit.  Do you remember it?

“Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, ‘Who do people say that the Son of Man is?’ And they said, ‘Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.’ He said to them, ‘But who do you say that I am?’ Simon Peter replied, ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.’ And Jesus answered him, ‘Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.’ Then he strictly charged the disciples to tell no one that he was the Christ” (Matthew 16:13-20. ESV).

When God revealed to Peter that Jesus is truly the Son of God, the Promised Savior, Jesus said he was “Peter.”  (Of course Peter was not holy – he was not done growing – but he had reached a milestone.)

Do we see the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives?  Do we see that growth in our lives – that transformation – that conformity to the Image of Jesus?

Are we getting over ourselves and showing people that what is important is Jesus and His salvation?

Do we hunger after knowing Jesus more?  Do we study God’s Word and read good Christian books, and pray, and want to spend more time together with our fellow Christians talk about Jesus – singing praise to Jesus – learning all we can in this life about Who He is and how we can strive by the Spirit to be more like Him?

Are we excitedly telling others of His salvation?

If the Lord is willing, during the Sundays of Lent, we will consider more about what it means to grow into the people Christ has called us to be.

For now, honestly ask yourself what you are seeking – and if it is anything other than Jesus – Jesus – Jesus – pray that God will change your heart and draw you to Him.

Let us pray:

Almighty God, King of kings and Lord of lords, You have made us for Yourself.  You have been pleased to draw some to Yourself through Jesus, and You are causing some now to grow in the faith as the Holy Spirit makes us into the people You have called us to be.  Stir up those fires in our heart that we would long for You and seek after You and not let go for one second until You Alone are our life.  For it is in Jesus’ Name we pray, Amen.

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