This is as far as I've gotten on this week's lections. I've got a wedding on Saturday, so I've devoted most the sermon prep time this week to that event.... so here's the plan (if it works): leave a comment with an idea or point and then check back and the sermon will have been written by collaborative effort... :^)
29 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! 30 This is he of whom I said, 'After me comes a man who ranks ahead of me because he was before me.' 31 I myself did not know him; but I came baptizing with water for this reason, that he might be revealed to Israel."
As we continue along in the epiphany season, we see more of who Jesus is. After his birth and baptism, we have another testimony as to who Jesus is. John the Baptist begins with a simple declaration: Here is the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world. In our own church we repeat this sentiment every week when we say (or sing) the Agnus Dei. What does it mean that Jesus is the “Lamb of God”? One can immediately make associations with the Passover Lamb, and see in this statement of John a connection to the larger narrative of Scripture. The statement by John the Baptist tells us both who Jesus is (lamb), and also what he does (takes away the sins...). It may be helpful initially to think of these two things as separate, but of course who Jesus is and what he does are intimately linked. Who he is leads to what he does.
There is an echo of the intro to John’s Gospel when the Baptist says that “he was before me”.
Last week’s readings spoke to us of “revelation”, and this week the theme continues. Twice John says “I myself did not know him”, and yet John baptized that Jesus “might be revealed to Israel.” There is a sense in which we are to understand that, like John the Baptist, we do not “naturally” know who Jesus is. We all begin like John – not knowing Jesus. But then comes this idea of Jesus being “revealed”. Hmmm…
32 And John testified, "I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him. 33 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.' 34 And I myself have seen and have testified that this is the Son of God."
John the Baptist continues his testimony. The pairing of water and Spirit is introduced, which will come up again in the conversation with Nicodemus and the woman at the well. You can find the rest yourself. There is also that curious notion of the Spirit remaining. John’s gospel has themes of remaining, staying, abiding. It seems that this is one way in which Jesus is distinguished from OT prophets. The Spirit does not come and go in Jesus’ case. The Spirit remains. There is also a contrast between the baptism of John and the baptism which Jesus gives. Everything Jesus touches, he changes: this is like water into wine. Jesus transformed the baptism of water into baptism with the Holy Spirit.
35 The next day John again was standing with two of his disciples, 36 and as he watched Jesus walk by, he exclaimed, "Look, here is the Lamb of God!" 37 The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus.
Quite remarkable that you can just see the lamb of God walking around. Even more remarkable is that John the Baptist doesn't seem to mind that two of his disciples have started to follow after Jesus. "Don't be afraid to lose people to the Kingdom."
38 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?" 39 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.
The basics of evangelism: invite people to come and see.
40 One of the two who heard John speak and followed him was Andrew, Simon Peter's brother. 41 He first found his brother Simon and said to him, "We have found the Messiah" (which is translated Anointed). 42 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).