Epiphany 2, 2017
“Behold, the Lamb of God”
Grace, mercy, and peace be to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.
There are those that teach and believe that the world is getting better…that people are getting better…societies are getting better…life is getting better. Our society doesn't like to hear about sin and evil. People don't like hearing that they do things that are wrong or that they themselves are wrong. Live and let live. Why should we, after all, worry about what makes others happy if it doesn't affect us. Love everyone and do so by letting them do what makes them happy.
John the Baptist wasn't so "P. C." "He said therefore to the crowds that came out to be baptized by him, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bear fruits fin keeping with repentance. And do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children for Abraham. Even now the axe is laid to the root of the trees. Every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.” (Luke 3:7-9) "And he went into all the region around the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins." (Luke 3:3)
John called it like he saw it. If you sinned you were a sinner. If you sinned you had done what was wicked and evil. If you sinned you needed to repent and be baptized for the forgiveness of sins.
We don't like to hear it or admit it...but since Adam and Eve first sinned the world has been corrupted; people have been corrupted. Each of us has been born sinful…born into the darkness of sin.
We are all poor miserable sinners. We confess that we are by nature sinful and unclean. We are all wretched people deserving nothing but God’s wrath; eternal damnation in hell. We covet things that are not ours. We lust after other’s husbands and wives, we speak ill and tell rumors about others…especially those whom we don’t like, we steal from others, commit adultery in our hearts and in our lives. We ignore those that live together before marriage…look at porn on the internet…go to strip clubs…or watch lewd movies. We murder others by our words and thoughts. We disobey our parents and others that God has placed over us. We make excuses for not going to Church…or not liking a sermon…or teaching…that comes from God’s Word. We curse and swear and use all kinds of foul language. Each time we sin we put other false gods before the true God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
So yes, we are wretched sinners that deserve damnation. We are no better than Hitler, Bin Laden, Jim Jones or any other person whom society deems the worst of people. As Scripture records “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.” “Their throat is an open grave; they use their tongues to deceive.” “The venom of asps is under their lips.” “Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.” “Their feet are swift to shed blood; in their paths are ruin and misery, and the way of peace they have not known.” “There is no fear of God before their eyes.” (Romans 3:10-18)
Even John the Baptist; the forerunner of Christ admits “I myself did not know him, but he who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain, this is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ And I have seen and have borne witness that this is the Son of God.” (John 1:33-34) Without God’s gift of the Holy Spirit no one would know God; no one would have faith, no one would be saved. Instead we would all be slaves. As our Lord says, “everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin.” (John 8:34) Scripture also tells us that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23) and that “the wages of sin is death.” (Romans 6:23)
All that is left for us…on our own…is misery. It is OUR sin and OUR guilt…that deserve damnation. We have no one to blame but ourselves. Sure we may try to ignore our sin and guilt…we may try to forget what we have done or what we deserve…we may try to justify our actions. But the misery continues. Our sin continues. The guilt continues. Our punishment draws closer. Because of our sin…we suffer…we hurt…we get depressed…and we are ridden with guilt for what we have done. We cry out with Saint Paul, “Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?” (Romans 7:24)
But there is hope. There is something that brings us joy in this dark world. “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29) Jesus is the Lamb of God who came to take away the sin of the world. Jesus has come to take away your sin. He has taken your sin to the cross. The wickedness of your sin has been forgiven. Your guilt has been taken as well. No longer are you a filthy wretched sinner. You are God’s beloved child. Jesus not only took your sins to the cross, He also took the wrath of God you deserved upon His shoulders.
My brothers and sisters in Christ, “behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29) The Lamb of God is here. He is found in this place. He is found upon the altar. We behold the lamb of God every time we celebrate the Lord’s Supper. In Communion we see the Lamb of God who takes away your very sin. What comfort it is to receive Jesus in with and under the bread and wine. What comfort it is to receive strength and forgiveness in that meal.
“Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29). It is because Jesus is in with and under the bread and wine that we should want to take Communion as often as possible. It is because it gives us strength to overcome this dark world that we should want to take Communion as often as possible. It is because our sins are forgiven that we should want to take Communion as often as possible.
In a world where we are constantly buffeted by sin and Satan; in a world where we are surrounded by unbelief, in lives that struggle with sinfulness, guilt, and despair….we have Jesus. We have Jesus who comes to us in His body and blood. He gives us the very best: Himself…that we would have life in Him.
What a wonderful message we have been given: “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29) The Lamb of God has taken away the sin of the world. We are forgiven. we are restored. We are heirs of heaven. What a wonderful message we have been given to share. Amen.
Now may the peace of God which passes all human understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus our Lord and Savior. Amen.