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Monday, January 20 2014

John 1:29-42

    One of the things that I love about preaching is that I get to talk about Jesus.  I get to talk about Jesus and who he is and what he does.  
    So just who is this Jesus?  In just the past few weeks – let’s say just since December – Advent and Christmas – what we have heard about Jesus is that Jesus is The Christ, the Messiah of God, God’s anointed.  He is called Emanuel which in Hebrew means “God with us.”  We learned that the name of Jesus means “God saves.”

    Last week we heard that at the baptism of Jesus the voice of God the Father speaks and says, “This is my beloved Son with whom I am well pleased.”  SO we know that Jesus is the Son of God.  Today we hear John the Baptist identify Jesus as “The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.”  

    We’ve learned a lot about who Jesus is. So when someone asks you, “Who is Jesus?” you can tell them, right?  You can tell them.  Jesus is the Messiah. He is the Son of God.  He is our Savior – in other words the One who forgives our sins.  He is our Lord – in other words he is our leader.  That’s who Jesus is.

    But it’s one thing to know who Jesus is – and to tell others who Jesus is – but we also need to know what it is that Jesus does.  The number one thing that Jesus does is to forgive sins.  Through his life, death and resurrection – Jesus forgives sins – and because he is risen from the dead – since God raised Jesus from the dead – he has power over even death itself.  Therefore – what Jesus does for us is to give us the hope and the promise of resurrection – the resurrection of our dead bodies – to eternal life with God forever.
    In the smallest of nut shells – that’s who Jesus is.  And that’s what Jesus does for you and me.  And that’s what we call Good News around here.  

    Now – my question – what are you going to do with it?  What are you going to do?  If what the Bible says about Jesus is true – and it is – then what do we do with it?  

    Well, perhaps we can take our cue from one of Jesus’ own disciples today.  And that disciple is Andrew.  When we are introduced to Andrew we learn that he is a disciple of John the Baptist.  And when John the Baptist sees Jesus, he does  an absolutely wonderful thing.  He points away from himself.  He points to Jesus.  He indentifies Jesus as the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.  

    Andrew and another unnamed disciple of John’s trust John enough to believe that he knew what he was talking about.  And they leave John in order to follow Jesus.  And they ask Jesus, “Rabbi, where are you staying?”  And Jesus says, “Come and see.”

    Now the first thing that Andrew does after spending apparently just a few hours with Jesus – is to go and get his brother Simon.  We know Simon better as Peter – Peter the fisherman – and Andrew brings Peter to Jesus.

    Now Andrew is not one of the more well-known disciples.  Certainly we read more about Peter, James, John.  We know about other followers like Matthew, Mark, Luke, John and Paul – almost sounds like I’m talking about the Beatles, doesn’t it – their names are more familiar because they wrote about Jesus.  The Gospels.  The letter of Paul.  These are the people – men and women – who early on let us know what it means to be a disciple of Jesus Christ.

    But Andrew?  We don’t know a lot about him.  But what we do know is that Andrew was an evangelist.  In other words, an evangelist is anyone who shares the Good News of Jesus Christ with someone else.  When we read about him, it seems that he is always bringing someone to Jesus.  

•    Andrew brings his brother Peter to Jesus.
•    When there was a crowd of 5000 people to be fed, Andrew brought a young boy to Jesus who had 5 loaves and 2 fish in his lunch box.
•    When certain Greeks wanted to see Jesus, they first went to the disciple named Philip who then went to Andrew who then took these Greeks to Jesus.

    May I suggest that what we need to do with what we know about Jesus Christ – what we know about who He is – and what He has done – perhaps what we need to do is to follow the example of Andrew and tell someone else about Jesus.
    Sometimes I am asked by other pastors what it is that we are doing here at ZLC that is causing this church to grow.  I simply tell them it’s by invitation and reputation.   A number of you are really good at telling others and inviting others to do – well – to do just what Jesus did when Andrew first met Jesus.  Jesus asked him what he was looking for, and he said, “Rabbi –where are you staying?”  And Jesus said, “Come and see.”  

    Three little words.  “Come and see.”  If someone were to ask you, “Why should I follow Jesus?  Why should I come to your church?”  The simple answer is “Come and see.”  Sometimes that’s all it takes.  A simple invitation to someone else to come and see.  
    Andrew is not one of the more well-known disciples.  He is better known in the New Testament simply as Simon Peter’s brother. Andrew is mentioned by name in twelve verses in all the New Testament. In eight of those verses he is referred to as Simon Peter’s brother.  Simon Peter was the rock star.  Andrew was his younger, tag along brother.

    And we know more about Peter.  Peter was part of Jesus’ inner circle along with James and John.  It was Peter who walked on water, but began to sink when he became afraid.  Nevertheless – Peter is the only one of all the disciples bold enough to step out of the boat.  And it is Peter who Christ gave the name “The Rock.”  “On this rock,” said Jesus, “I will build my church.”  Peter is also the one who denied Jesus 3 times.  So we know more about Peter.  Andrew?  He has to live with the fact that he is known as Simon Peter’s brother.

    However – Andrew has a gift.  He introduces people to Jesus.  And of course Peter is just the first of those Andrew brings to Jesus.  One wonders – if Andrew had not brought his brother Peter to Jesus – would we ever have heard the name Simon Peter.  We will never know.  But remember Andrew today as someone who brought others to Jesus.

    Wouldn’t that be a wonderful way to be remembered?  I would love to be remembered that way.  “He brought someone to Jesus.”  
    Let me go out on a limb here and ask for a show of hands.  How many of you are here today because somebody invited you here – or someone told you about us – or you heard about us somehow, some way?  

    Yeah, you see?  It’s kind of contagious.  Each one tells one.   

    Let me give you an example of how this works.  Way back in 1858 a Sunday School teacher in Chicago named Ezra Kimball became interested in the spiritual welfare of a young shoe clerk in his town.  Kimball went to the shoe store, found the young man in the stock room, and  proceeded to talk with him about his faith.

    The shoe clerk Kimball showed such interest in that day was named Dwight L. Moody.  Kimball got through to Moody, and Moody went on to become the greatest Christian evangelist of his day.  

    Dwight L. Moody went on to preach a crusade in England and, in 1879, awakened the heart of Frederick B. Meyer, a pastor, then, of a small church. Meyer went on to become a renowned theologian.

    Sometime later, Meyer was preaching in Moody’s school in Northfield, Massachusetts. A young man in the back row heard Meyer say, ‘If you are not willing to give up everything for Christ, are you willing to be made willing?’ Those words transformed the ministry of another young man, J. Wilbur Chapman. Wilbur Chapman became a YMCA worker, back when the Y was still a religious institution.
    Among those whom Chapman recruited to help him in his ministry was a former professional baseball player. That baseball player was a man named Billy Sunday.  Billy Sunday went on to become the greatest evangelist of his generation.

    Later at a revival in Charlotte, North Carolina, Billy Sunday so excited a group of local men that they began an ongoing prayer group. Later they engaged an evangelist named Mordecai Hamm to come to their town to keep the revival spirit alive. In the revival with Mordecai Hamm, a young man heard the gospel and made his profession of faith. His name?  Billy Graham.
    In our blue hymnal there is an African-American spiritual titled, “There Is a Balm in Gilead.” I think it speaks to the Andrew in each of us. It begins like this:

“Sometimes I feel discouraged and think my work’s in vain,
But then the Holy Spirit revives my soul again.
There is a balm in Gilead to make the wounded whole;
There is a balm in Gilead to heal the sin sick soul.”

It is the second verse that I want you to pay attention to:

“If you cannot preach like Peter, if you cannot pray like Paul,
You can tell the love of Jesus and say, ‘He died for all.’”

    Folks – you don’t have to be a rock star Christian.  You don’t have to be a super saint.  Maybe you can’t preach like Peter or pray like Paul – but you can tell others about who Jesus is.  You can tell others about what he has done for you.  And there are some who might challenge you about who Jesus is – but no one can challenge you about what Jesus has done for you.  No one can take that away from you.  

    A simple invitation is all it takes.  When someone asks, “Why should I follow Jesus?” or “Why should I come to your church?”  By now you know the answer.  You don’t have to argue with them.  A simple invitation is all it takes.  Three little words.  Say them with me.  
        “Come and see!”    


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Zion Lutheran Church
9535 Clarence Center Road

PO Box 235
Clarence Center, NY 14032
Phone: 716-741-2656

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