Ezekiel 3:16-21; Romans 10:8b-18; St. John 1:35-42;
Rev. Keaton Christiansen
In the name of the Father, and of the + Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Andrew was seeking the messiah, the One God promised from of old. The best he could do on his own was a weird looking prophet out in the wilderness, John the Baptist. Whatever he thought he was looking for, however well he thought he was prepared, what’s important is that Jesus found Andrew. It was Jesus Who found him and came to him. He called him into the saving life of His messianic work. This is the direction of our spiritual life. On our own, poor miserable humanity is a people walking in darkness, seeking the paradise lost, yet unable to find. [The philosopher known as U2 expresses that forlorn yearning by saying: “I still haven’t found what I’m looking for.”] Yet when the Light of the gospel comes to us, at Christ’s advent to us, then we are found and saved indeed.
Sometimes we don’t know what it is we’re looking for, because we don’t know the truth until it is revealed to us. The way of God is like this... it has to be revealed to us. We do not get to pick and choose what we want the divine nature to be. God is not made in our image and likeness, or fashioned after the perverse desires of our hearts. He does not simply approve of us because we had good intentions or were in the right crowd, or felt warmly about pious things one day. God’s will for our lives will not fluctuate with ups and downs of whatever is trending in the world’s eyes. The Messiah, the Lamb of God who saves by dying and can sanctify through suffering... He is not what the poor miserable natural man expects out of a savior.
Human beings need to be found, called. People will not simply come to church because the building is here. God found us through means, He will find them through means. Andrew’s eyes were blessed to see what he saw: he was a ground-zero eyewitness of the Incarnate Messiah’s work. Blessed are you, who have not seen and yet have believed by means of the word of the apostles’ testimony. We confess that we cannot by our own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ or come to Him, but that the Holy Spirit has called us to faith in Christ by the gospel. By what means does God find us? As our Lutheran forebears said it: “1 To obtain such faith God instituted the office of the ministry, that is, provided the Gospel and the sacraments. 2 Through these, as through means, he gives the Holy Spirit, who works faith, when and where he pleases, in those who hear the Gospel. 3 And the Gospel teaches that we have a gracious God, not by our own merits but by the merit of Christ, when we believe this.” (Augsburg Confession 5.1-3).
So Andrew did not simply “find” Jesus. God sent John the Baptist as forerunner to point him to Jesus. Peter did not simply “find” Jesus; God sent Andrew to bring his brother. So also with you. It seems likely that someone in your life has borne witness to you of the Christ, the messiah, how He is the Lamb of God who died and rose to forgive our sins and open the way to life everlasting. We did not receive saving faith through transcendental meditation or zealous intentions, but because someone spoke the word to us. So also it could be with the people in the sin-broken world around us. They stumble and fall all over themselves amid their sorrow and confusion, looking for the Next Big Thing, not even knowing that they’re in the dark. They need someone to speak the word to them.
This cannot only be the job of the pastor. Pastors certainly are called to preach the gospel publicly, yet God has placed you in the best position to bear witness one-on-one with the people in your life. I am not in your home around the dinner table with your fearful, conscience-burdened aunt, nor at the fence with your neighbor who is trying to earn righteousness through what they post on Facebook. You are. It doesn’t take special training. Andrew was not yet an apostle when he found his nearest neighbor – his brother – and brought him to see Jesus. It is written: “14 How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? 15 And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!””
What do you say? Echo the Word you have seen and heard (Luke 7:22; Ac 22:15; Php 4:9). Let holy scripture form your head and heart and tongue. Bear witness to what you have heard and know. The words of John the baptist are a good pattern for us here: “Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.” John preached “repentance, telling the people to believe in the one who was to come after him, that is, Jesus.” (Acts 19:4). Use all that talking, whatever social capital you have, to direct people’s attention the Christ, to show off what He has done: the death and resurrection, the miracles, the teaching, the comfort of the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, the life everlasting, any and all of Christian teaching.
People are not going to be satisfied or helped if they are left wandering in their sin or ignorance. They, like us, need to be where Christ is, to receive from Him the one thing needful. The mental health crisis in our time will not abate without the gospel of Jesus Christ. Andrew asked Jesus “Rabbi, where are you staying?” (38b) a question on which the hope of ages rests. Will God indeed dwell with man? . We know. He is present among us in the testimony of the apostles. He abides with us in in the Holy Communion. // To us has come the evening of the world… the day is far spent (Luke 24:29b), yet we are of good cheer, for the Lamb abides with us in these things as means, to strengthen and keep us in the true faith unto live everlasting. Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world, adore Him, take and eat and take and drink the Lamb of God given and shed for the life of the world. He has found you, and in these means He will abide with you as you bear witness. In the name + of Jesus. Amen.