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“Jesus, the Lamb of God,” John 1:29-42

 

29The next day [John] saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! 30This is he of whom I said, ‘After me comes a man who ranks before me, because he was before me.’ 31I myself did not know him, but for this purpose I came baptizing with water, that he might be revealed to Israel.” 32And John bore witness: “I saw the Spirit descend from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him. 33I 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.’ 34And I have seen and have borne witness that this is the Son of God.”

      35The next day again John was standing with two of his disciples, 36and he looked at Jesus as he walked by and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God!” 37The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus. 38Jesus 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?” 39He 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. 40One of the two who heard John speak and followed Jesus was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. 41He first found his own brother Simon and said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which means Christ). 42He brought him to Jesus.  

 

In the Name of Jesus. Amen.

Jesus-Abraham1 The first and chief article is this, that Jesus Christ, our God and Lord, “was put to death for our trespasses and raised again for our justification” (Rom. 4:25). 2 He alone is “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). “God has laid upon him the iniquities of us all” (Isa. 53:6). 3 Moreover, “all have sinned,” and “they are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus, by his blood” (Rom. 3:23-25).

4 Inasmuch as this must be believed and cannot be obtained or apprehended by any work, law, or merit, it is clear and certain that such faith alone justifies us, as St. Paul says in Romans 3, “For we hold that a man is justified by faith apart from works of law” (Rom. 3:28), and again, “that he [God] himself is righteous and that he justifies him who has faith in Jesus” (Rom. 3:26).

5 Nothing in this article can be given up or compromised,6 even if heaven and earth and things temporal should be destroyed. For as St. Peter says, “There is no (tr-463) other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). “And with his stripes we are healed” (Isa. 53:5). (Smalcald Articles, Part II,  Article I. Christ and Faith)

About 70 hymns in our hymnal use the word “Lamb” in one or more verses, and more often than not, lamb refers, not to a child of God, but to Jesus.

Take for instance the hymn entitled, “The Lamb,” often sung during the season of Lent (and in the section entitled, “Redeemer,” LSB 547).  The first verse alone is pregnant with meaning, and quite related to today’s Gospel:

            The Lamb, the Lamb, O Father, where’s the sacrifice?

            Faith sees, believes God will provide the Lamb of price!

In the book of Genesis, Moses records the account of Abraham, whom God commanded to sacrifice his son, his only son, Isaac.  Abraham, in obedience to the Lord’s Word, sets out to do just this.  But just as Abraham is about to sacrifice his only son, whom he loves, the Lord stops him, and provides a substitute sacrifice, and Abraham called the name of the place, “The Lord will provide” (Genesis 22).  “God will provide the Lamb of price!”

The hymn, “The Lamb” is just one example of many where the word lamb refers to none other than Jesus, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.

Do a search in the hymnal on the phrase, “Lamb of God,” and you find about 25 times that this phrase is used.

Significantly, all of the references to “Lamb of God” in these hymns are of Christ.

The hymn, “When All the World Was Cursed,” an Advent hymn, is such a hymn (LSB 346).  The third verse of this meaningful hymn reads:

            Behold the Lamb of God That bears the world’s transgression,

            Whose sacrifice removes The devil’s dread oppression.

            Behold the Lamb of God, Who takes away our sin,

            Who for our peace and joy Will full atonement win.

In a number of our hymns, we confess Christ as the Lamb of God.  Of this we need not be ashamed or hesitant, for Christ, by means of His death, has indeed done so.

There is another place in the hymnal that we confess and sing praise to the Lamb.  That place is the liturgy, even in today’s, where we sing the “Agnus Dei,” Latin for “Lamb of God.”

Based on John 1:29, St. John’s words about Jesus in today’s text, the Agnus Dei which we sing in our communion liturgies is of Christ, “that takest away the sin of the world—have mercy upon us” (LSB DS III, 198).  Here we also pray for the peace of Christ, that which we are not able to live without.

With this song of praise and acclamation of Christ and what He has truly done, we also note the location of such words in our liturgies.  We do not sing the Agnus Dei when Holy Communion is not offered.  But when it is, we certainly do.  The Agnus Dei is sung just after the Words of Institution and the Pax Domini, the Peace, and before the Distribution of Christ’s very body and blood (i.e. see LSB DS III, 197-199).

This is meant to say something.  By it, like John the Baptist, we declare the truth that Christ is truly and really present among us, and for us, in the Sacrament, according to His Word, according to His promise, “This is My Body…This is My Blood…Given for you for the forgiveness of your sins.”

Christ really and truly is present for you, forgiving you your sins and having mercy on you, even granting you peace.

And how do you know this?  Not at all because you see it, feel it, or sense it—but because of the Word of God which makes it known.

This Word is your certainty, and your reason for believing, for it is not the word of man, but the very Word of God.

Sight fades.  Feelings come and go.  Senses mislead.  But not our Lord!  Not His Word.

The words of our Lord are your confidence and foundation, your stand against all the naysayers and disbelievers.  Here, too, you are to know that not man’s word, but God’s Word, is and remains.

It is the Word of the Lord that John the Baptist proclaimed when he said of Jesus, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!”  God had made it clear to John that this Jesus was the Son of God (John 1:34)—in the flesh—the Messiah to come—the Lamb of God.

Of This Servant of the Lord, Isaiah the prophet writes,

“Surely He has borne our griefs And carried our sorrows; Yet we esteemed Him stricken, Smitten by God, and afflicted.  But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed.  All we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned, every one, to his own way; And the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.  He was oppressed and He was afflicted, Yet He opened not His mouth; He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, And as a sheep before its shearers is silent, So He opened not His mouth.  He was taken from prison and from judgment, And who will declare His generation?  For He was cut off from the land of the living; For the transgressions of My people He was stricken” (Isaiah 53:4-8).

The Lord’s Servant of whom Isaiah speaks is Jesus the Christ, the Messiah, the Lamb of God.  The prophet writes of Him.  John declared Him.  This is He whom we sing and confess to be our Savior and the Savior of the world.

This Jesus, God’s Servant, is the Lamb of God who bears all your guilt, all your sin, and all your iniquity.  This Jesus is your Savior.  He is your Savior because by His sacrifice on the cross, the Lord has provided your peace with God.  In Jesus IS your peace with God.

Being in the world, Christ also died for you, for you are in the world.  None are excluded from His glorious and salvific work.  Your sin is not too great nor your works too evil, for Christ died for all.  Nor are your sins little before the just judge.  They merit your eternal death.  But this is just what makes Jesus’ work so kind and giving.  He dies that you might live.  He becomes the sinner that you might be the saint.  He becomes unclean that you might be nothing but clean and holy.

There is one Savior, and one Savior only.  It is He who redeemed you, not “with corruptible things, like silver or gold…but with His precious blood, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot,” as St. Peter writes, and as we confess in the 2nd Article of the Apostles’ Creed.

This Jesus, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world, has taken away all your sin.  This means that your sin is no longer yours.  Believe Him to be your Savior and so He is, for so He says.  Look for another to save you and your sin will remain on you.

If you bear your own sin, you will die in it.  But if Christ bears your sin, you will live.

Jesus came in order that you live, therefore, in Him, you do.

Therefore, writes Luther, “May you ever cherish and treasure this thought. Christ is made a servant of sin, yea, a bearer of sin, and the lowliest and most despised person. He destroys all sin by Himself and says: “I came not to be served but to serve” (Matt. 20:28). There is no greater bondage than that of sin; and there is no greater service than that displayed by the Son of God, who becomes the servant of all, no matter how poor, wretched, or despised they may be, and bears their sins.[1]

Thus do we gladly, and joyfully, as John did, look to Christ, and find Jesus alone to be our Lord and Savior, encouraging one another in this truth—in Word, in Hymn, in Liturgy, and in Life. Amen.

 

[1]Martin Luther, vol. 22, Luther’s Works, Vol. 22 : Sermons on the Gospel of St. John: Chapters 1-4, ed. Jaroslav Jan Pelikan, Hilton C. Oswald and Helmut T. Lehmann, Luther’s Works (Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1999, c1957), 22:166.

 

Prayer: Dear Jesus, give me faith to believe that you take away all my sins, according to Your Holy Word. Amen.

 

 

 

 

“We Confess the Birth of our Lord,” John 1:1-18

 

1In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2He was in the beginning with God. 3All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. 4In him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. 6There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. 7He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him. 8He was not the light, but came to bear witness about the light.

      9The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world. 10He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. 11He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. 12But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, 13who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.

      14And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.

15(John bore witness about him, and cried out, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks before me, because he was before me.’”) 16And from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. 17For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known. (ESV)

 

In the Name of Jesus. Amen.

There is reason this day to ‘Come All Ye Faithful’.  There is reason this day to come and ‘Let Us Adore Him’.  We proclaim God’s salvation today and day after day because to us, salvation has come, to us salvation is given.

In that lowly manger of time ago lay a child.

Not just any child.

There in that manger lay He of whom the angels sing, “Glory to God in the Highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men” (Luke 2:14), ‘Glory to the Newborn King’.

The child born of Mary in that ‘Little Town of Bethlehem’, though infant lowly, is God, God in the flesh.

Let not the consideration of appearances fool you.

As with all of God’s works, go not by sight, but according to the Word.

If all you see in Jesus is a child, a baby boy and nothing more, you remain lost and condemned before God, as sinners apart from Christ are.

A mere child or baby saves no one.

Flesh and blood alone cannot make full payment for your sin.

“That which is born of the flesh is flesh” (John 3:6) (says the Lord).

Jesus, that child born to that virgin Mary, was not merely flesh and blood.  He is also God, God incarnate, God in the flesh, born for you and for me, born to deliver you from sin and death by Himself being nailed to a tree, first having lain in a manger.

This is an article of faith, an article of faith given by God through His Holy Word.

If it looks like a baby, is born as a baby, cries like a baby, good chances are, it’s a baby.

So did Jesus look like a baby, having been born through His mother’s womb, and having cried like a baby.

Jesus was, in fact, a baby.

Yet this baby, God reveals, is the Savior come into the world.

The shepherds watching their flocks by night would not have thought anything of it concerning the baby Jesus, unless the angel had announced to them the Good News, “Fear not; for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.  For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:10-11).

They would have not known where to find Him, unless the angel had also told them, “This shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger (Luke 2:12).

The magi, or wise men, from the east would also not have known the child’s whereabouts, but for the star by which God directed them to the place where Jesus lay.

Mary would not have conceived in her womb, for she was truly a virgin and had not been with a man, but to her the angel Gabriel had announced, “You will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His Name Jesus” (Luke 1:31).

To this announcement, Mary responded with a “How can this be?” (Luke 1:34).

By the natural order of things, virgins, of course, do not become pregnant.  But to her the Angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God” (Luke 1:35).

At that Word, Mary conceived in her womb, becoming pregnant.

Joseph, engaged to this woman Mary, after finding out that she was pregnant, “was minded to put her away secretly” (Matthew 1:19).

But as he thought about these things, “An angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, ‘Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit.  And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name JESUS, for He will save His people from their sins’” (Matthew 1:20-21).

Whether it be Joseph who was engaged to Mary or the virgin conceiving by the Holy Spirit in her virgin womb and giving birth to a Son, neither were kept in the dark regarding who Jesus was.

The shepherds were not clueless as to the signs by which they would find the child of whom the Angel spoke and of whom the angels sang.

The Magi, late, also were not lost with reference to the King’s birth place in Bethlehem.

The Lord had revealed to the Magi, the Shepherds, Joseph, and Mary herself who Jesus was and where He was to be found—through Word and sign.  This was not just any baby.  This was Jesus the Christ, God in the flesh.

So also does the Lord God reveal this truth to you, today, where Jesus is, also by means of Word and sign.  Though none of you were there, God’s Word reveals it to be so, that you firmly believe it, though the world and your reason say otherwise.

Where God’s Word is spoken, where Christ is preached, there God would have you know that Jesus is your Savior, your Savior from all your sin.

Through the darkness of the womb He was born.  In the darkness of the tomb was He laid.  Yet three days later, He burst forth from the darkness of death into the light of life, giving you life through His life.

What God has revealed, that the child born of Mary is God in the flesh, He who created the world and was at the beginning with God and was God (John 1:1), so we also believe.  ‘From Heaven Above to Earth’ did God come.  Him you see in His Son.

This is your confession, because God has so made it known through Word and sign to you.  God reveals His grace and mercy to sinners through what is preached, through the preaching of Jesus, who was “born of a woman and born under the law, who came to redeem us from the curse of the law” (Galatians 4:4-5).

Through the Word proclaimed, the Lord reveals not only your need for a Savior, but also the Savior who has come, who brings life eternal through His suffering and death.

God saw fit to become man.

God is high and mighty, but for you, because of His great and abundant love for you, He was laid “Away in a Manger.”

God humbled Himself, in order that you be exalted and receive the adoption of Sons (Galatians 4:5), becoming children of the God of heaven, not born of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but born of God (John 1:13).

God came for you, and God comes to you now, in Word and Bread and Wine, that you believe His Word and believe Him to be your Savior and your help, your refuge and your strength.

No longer is Jesus ‘Away in a Manger’ with ‘no crib for a bed’.

Once He was, but no more.

Now, Jesus sits at the right hand of God the Father, having ascended on high.

Through Word and sign, Jesus points you to where to go to receive Him and God’s blessed and undeserved gifts, His Holy Word and Sacrament.

God’s Word reveals what is, that you have a Savior, Jesus Christ the Lord.

God reveals His grace and blessing through Word and Sign, where He placed His Holy Name upon you through the washing of new birth in Baptism; and where He says, ‘Take eat, Take drink.’

We call these signs because by these, God directs you to where He says that He will be for you:  no longer in the manger, but in His Word; no longer wrapped in swaddling clothes, but wrapped in preaching and sacrament

Here, Christ gives you life.

Here, you behold His grace and His favor.

Here, He comes to you lowly, still. But on the last triumphant day, then all will see, and all will bow the knee before the Lord of lords and King of kings (Revelation 1:7; Romans 14:11; Philippians 2:9-11).

As the shepherds went and found the child just as it was told them, so do you.  Christ is right where He promises to be.

Seek Him where He is to be found, not in the manger, not on the cross, not in Your heart, but where His Word is preached and where His body and blood are given under bread and wine, for you.  There, God gives certainty of His grace, the certainty of God’s love, for you.

Skeptics, naysayers, and others will say otherwise.  They will seek their own way, their own peace, and deny or ignore the very truth laid out right in front of them, even as it is revealed to them.  But God does not lie, nor does He mislead.

Rejoice, therefore, for Christ your Savior has been born.  He has died and is raised from the dead and now sits on the throne of His Father, for you.

Jesus is the King of kings.  Salvation He brings.  No longer is He a child, but still is He the Christ, the One of whom the angels sing and unto whom the glorious songs of old still sound forth.  Amen.

 

Prayer: Heavenly Father, open my eyes to see, my heart to believe, and my mouth to boldly confess Jesus to be the Christ, my Redeemer from sin, death, and hell. Amen.

 

 

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