The Blue Mountains Franciscan Church
Sermon preached by Br Andrew from Maroubra on Sunday 15 January 2017
Second Sunday after Epiphany year A.
From the River to the tree
Gospel John 1:27-42:
Undoing someone’s shoes after they come in hot and dusty and smelly from the heat outside is not something to be fought over, yet here is John the Baptizer telling the Brood of Vipers, as referred to in Matthew 3:7, that he is unworthy so to do
Where does this take place? Well either the place is known as Bethany beyond the Jordan or as The King James Version translates, Bethabara from Scrivener’s Textus Receptus 1894, the very place where John had only recently Baptised Jesus. Some of you missed out on a very heated discussion on the merits or correctitude of infant Baptism in comparison with Believer’s Baptism at Bible study on Friday night: – The crucial point, as brother Shepherd so frustratingly pointed out is that in our Nicene Creed we state that” We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins”, so once dunked forever dunked whether neither you nor your sponsors believed at the time, or otherwise. However, I digress.
Baptism is something human beings do to enter the Church as infants, or when they become Believers in those denominations which have Believer’s baptism. Though Jesus did not need baptism [but so that he might be revealed, made Manifest as his Father’s Son] we do for the forgiveness of our sins and the seal of the holy Spirit.
The Fathers of the Orthodox Church point to these kinds of events in Jesus life, his Baptism, Circumcision, his Presentation in the Temple, his being lost in the Temple as signs of his humanity.
Now, noticing what is written before here in John’s Prologue we will discover that this passage contains both the human and divine aspects of Jesus’ Nature.
John 1: 14 reads 14 And the Word (Second person of the Trinity,) became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth.
John said 3030 This is he of whom I said, “After me comes a man who ranks ahead of me because he was before me.” Remember later on when Jesus is speaking with the Pharisees he makes the comment that ‘before Abraham I am’ (John 8:58) – this is just what John meant.
John’s next testimony is that he honestly had no idea who that one who ranked before him would be 31I myself did not know him; but I came baptizing with water for this reason, that he might be revealed to Israel.’ 3232 And John testified, ‘I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him. 33I 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.” 34And I myself have seen and have testified that this is the Son of God.’
“John the Baptist repeats twice that he personally did not know him”
For the third time, the following day Jesus returns to the Jordan to find John standing with two of his own disciples and John says to them “Look, here is the Lamb of God!” Written some ten plus years after the destruction of the Temple, Jesus, as Lamb of God is equated with the perennial sacrificial lambs once offered at the altar there, yet he is the One and only Lamb who once and for all will save his people from their sins. At these words, John’s disciples follow Jesus-
We believe that one of these disciples must have been the writer of this Gospel, John the Evangelist and the other is later revealed to be Andrew the brother of Simon. In this Gospel, these are the first disciples to be called and they are not so much called as they followed, sought him out and then one of them, Andrew, whom we call the first Missionary makes it his first duty to find his brother Simon to tell him that they have found the Messiah, the anointed One, then they all follow Jesus.
Again, we understand Jesus in his humanity when they say to Jesus they want to see his house, where he is staying, god’s do not live in houses, already they refer to him as Rabbi, whether being polite or because they perceive something more than a man is here. They arrived there at about the 10th hour or 4PM and spent the day with him.
Before leaving Simon is given a new name, the Syriac word Cephas, meaning Peter which means a stone, the stone, or rock, is a symbol of firmness and steadiness of character –a remarkable trait to become part of Peter’s character after the ascension of Jesus. Simon Peter Bar Jonas has already been chosen for a very special task of which, as yet he is unaware.
How did we meet Jesus, was it that we sought him out at the testimony of a reliable witness, one called by God? Did Jesus seek us out or were we driven crazy by the holy Spirit until we just gave in and submitted to his will?
Now, as then being Followers of the Way entails following the way – if Paul were here today could he give thanks for us in the same manner as he gave thanks for the Corinthians?
The Trinity has no bodily form here on earth therefore we are God’s hands and feet, eyes and ears and it is through us that justice and peace must come to the world if we make Jesus known to the world as John was sent to make him known to Israel.
We do still have Jesus with us until the end of time in the form of the Comforter who is the Holy Spirit who lives in our hearts. We need to meditate upon Jesus, perfect in his humanity and divinity, of the wonder of God who lived among us as Man. Who ate and drank as we do, lost his temper, vexed his parents, who raised the dead and opened the eyes of the blind who was the parabolic Lamb standing on the edge of a paradigm “[and] redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree’” (Galatians 3:13