"The MIGHTY Lord is with us; the God of Jacob is our FORTRESS." Psalm 46:7
 
 

2 Epiphany Proper A2                     
Rev. Dr. D. K. Schroeder
John 1:29-42 Sermon                                               
January 16, 2011

Hymns (from The Lutheran Hymnal):
134 "Songs Of Thankfulness And Praise"
657 "Beautiful Saviour"
388 "Just As I Am"
45 "Now The Hour Of Worship O'er" 

WORD-OF-MOUTH ADVERTISING

 TEXT:  (v. 40-42) “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.  Jesus looked at him and said, "So you are Simon the son of John?  You shall be called Cephas" (which means Peter).” 

            The name of the street is Madison Avenue.  The location is New York City.  This street is famous for one thing, and that is advertising.  Some of the biggest advertising agencies in the world can be found in Madison Avenue.  It’s about as famous for advertising as Wall Street is famous for the stock market and finance.

            Companies and corporations from all over the world seek the expertise of these agencies to promote and help them sell a variety of different products and services—everything from toothpaste to luxury vehicles, from carpet cleaning to Persian rugs.  Whatever the product or service might be, it does absolutely no good if nobody is buying it or using it.  That’s why every company has an advertising budget of some description.

            Advertising budgets are important to every business; however one of the most important areas of interest to these businesses is consumer feedback.  After    a person has had experience with a product or service, their reaction and satisfaction is just as important as anything.  Companies have to rely upon goodwill and satisfaction in order to be successful.  Because even one negative experience or remark can throw millions of dollars in advertising and lost sales right down the drain.

            Any advertising agency or business will tell you right away that word-of-mouth advertising is still the best.  Even the best and most expensive television commercials are still geared to get people to just try what they’re selling.  And once that happens, and people are happy and satisfied, then the promotional campaign has been successful.  It’s all down hill from there on.

            In our Gospel reading for today, we have a similar situation going on.  John the Baptist had a mission and a message.  It was his responsibility to prepare the way of the coming Messiah, or the Christ.  And now John had experienced something, something very positive.  Verse 34 of our Gospel lesson says, And I have seen and have borne witness that this is the Son of God."

            John had a group of his own disciples.  They were his constant companions in his ministry.  They had heard the message of the coming Messiah, the one who had been prophesied throughout the Old Testament Scriptures.  They knew he was coming.  They were well schooled in this prophecy, and they knew what John was out there doing.

            Verse 29 records the message John was delivering about Jesus:  "Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!”   Jesus, the Messiah had come.  The years of prophecy had come to fulfillment.

            Now the Jews of the Old Testament were well aware of sin.  The ceremonial laws prescribed a variety of different sacrifices for different sins.  The lamb was an animal that was frequently sacrificed for various infractions of God’s law.

            The Jews also were well acquainted with an event known as “The Day of Atonement,” where the high priest would enter into the holy of holies in the temple, and make an annual sacrifice for the sins of the people.  This, along with other various things in the Jewish worship was a foreshadowing of Jesus, a means of pointing ahead to him and what he would accomplish.

            Hebrews chapter 7 verses 26-27 gives us a good description of Jesus being both the High Priest and the sacrificial Lamb:  “Such a high priest truly meets our need—one who is holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, exalted above the heavens.  Unlike the other high priests, he does not need to offer sacrifices day after day, first for his own sins, and then for the sins of the people. He sacrificed for their sins once for all when he offered himself.”     

            And in Hebrews chapter 10 verse 10 we read: “…we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.”

            Now maybe the idea of a sacrificial lamb doesn’t mean that much to us here today.  But when you consider what people had to do in those days to atone for their sins, you can understand why the coming of Jesus meant so much.  The complicated mess of figuring out what kind of sacrifice that was needed for which sins, and the messy job of killing animals would be coming to an end.  That which foreshadowed Christ and his sacrifice had now been fulfilled.  No wonder people were so enthusiastic!

            But there was nobody any more enthusiastic about this than a young fisherman by the name of Andrew.  Andrew had been a devout disciple of John the Baptist.  And when Jesus came on the scene, he began as one of Jesus’ disciples.  He followed Jesus to where he was staying, and listened to what he had to say.

            But as he listened, he just couldn’t contain himself.  In effect, he told Jesus:  “Lord, this is great stuff I’m hearing from you.  Wait here, and let me go and get my brother.  He’s got to hear this too.”   And with that being said, he runs about as fast as he could to go and get his brother Simon, whom Jesus would call “Peter,” meaning “the rock.”

           Asking Jesus to wait didn’t always work out.  He didn’t like to play the old “waiting game.”  In Matthew chapter 8, verses 21-22 we find an unnamed disciple of Jesus asking him to wait when he says, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.”  And Jesus’ reply was, “Follow me, and let the dead bury their own dead.” 

          Jesus knew this man’s heart, and the fact that he wasn’t sincere in his desire to follow him.  Certainly Jesus wasn’t advocating letting a rotting corpse sit out without proper attention.  Most likely, this man’s father wasn’t even dead yet.  Jesus simply wasn’t a top priority in this disciple’s life.  His life was cluttered with too many other things.  So asking Jesus to wait in this instance just wouldn’t work.

          Andrew however was a different case altogether.  Andrew had been a faithful disciple of John the Baptist, and assisted him in his ministry.  Andrew knew who John was, and what his place was in Old Testament prophecy.  And so Jesus waits, and allows Andrew to go and fetch his brother.

         Our text says, “The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon and tell him,” The first thing.  That shows Andrew’s dedication and how he had his priorities straight.  He didn’t wait for a “more opportune time,” nor did he wait for Simon Peter to come to him.  His top priority was to find his brother, and take him to Jesus. 

         Jesus knew Andrew’s heart, and he also knew Simon Peter’s heart.  They were both dedicated and faithful men.  And Jesus had work for both of them to do.

          It would be my guess that Andrew was the older brother of Simon Peter.  Peter would have been keenly interested in his brother’s involvement with John the Baptist.  I would imagine when Peter and Andrew were done with their day’s work of fishing, and they were relaxing after their evening meal, they would have been discussing John’s ministry and the promised Messiah.

         So when Jesus does finally appear, Andrew wastes no time in fetching Simon Peter.  And from the looks of things, Simon Peter wasted no time in coming to Jesus.

         Andrew had heard all the prophecies.  It was something like hearing a product advertised that you haven’t experienced.  But when Jesus himself entered the picture, Andrew finally experienced what this “Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” was all about.  His life had been changed.  Something good happened to him, something transforming.  And now the “word-of-mouth advertising” began.  Andrew couldn’t keep it to himself.  He had to share it.  He had to tell his brother, so he could share in the same benefit.  Andrew wanted his brother Simon to meet Jesus.  The Messiah, promised so long, was there, physically right there with them, at that very moment. 

         I doubt if Andrew knew at the time how significant his action would be, nor would he have known what Jesus had in mind for him and his brother.  The history and the magnitude of all this wasn’t what was on Andrew’s mind.  All he knew was that he had to share this moment with his brother. 

         What happens when you experience something good in your life?  Don’t you tell people about it?  I think its human nature to want to share good news.  When something good happens, we began to bubble with excitement.  We become like a dam ready to burst.  We just have to tell somebody!

         So has anything good and exciting happened in your spiritual life?  How did you come to faith in Christ?  How has meeting Jesus made a difference for you?

         I’ve been talking about advertising, and how important word-of-mouth is in the grand scheme of things.  I intentionally left out one part of advertising, one very crucial part.  The part I left out is probably the most important bridge between the advertisement and the consumer.  The advertiser has to create a need.  The advertiser has to present things in such a way so that when you see or read or hear a particular commercial, they have to make you believe that you need their product or service.  And the more they can make you believe you need it, the more you want it.

            I’m sure you’ve heard various “catch phrases” that religious people use.  They’ll ask, “Have you been saved?  Have you found Jesus?  Are you going to heaven?  Are you a Christian?”  People will get in your face, and try to shove a tract down your throat.  They’ll ring your doorbell at the most inopportune time.  And they’ll make a nuisance out of themselves.  All you want to do is just get rid of them.

            1 Corinthians chapter 2 verse 14 explains the reason for this.  “The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned.”  People often don’t respond because they don’t see the need for Jesus.  They feel that they’ve lived their lives without him, and they don’t see the need to change.

            That’s where we come into the picture.  We’ve come to Jesus, just as we are.  We look at his Word, and we see how we’ve sinned and fallen short of God’s glory.  His Word tells us that without faith in Jesus our Saviour, we will not see heaven when we die.  People may be able to live without Jesus, but they will be in big trouble if they try to die without him.  And so all of the promised blessings of being a Christian are of no value to anybody else if we fail to share how we have been blessed.

            Andrew fully realized the blessings that Jesus brought to the world.  Here was a world lost in sin, and Jesus was the answer, the only answer.  Forget all of the intricacies of the law, because Jesus ended that.  All that is needed is nothing but faith alone.

            God the Holy Spirit works through the Word; and he also works through each one of us as we bring the message of that Word to others.  We know that we’ve sinned, and that we have not done the things we’ve needed to do.  We have not been perfect, not by any stretch of our imagination.  We are sinners in need of forgiveness.

            But through faith alone, we have found forgiveness.  We have found hope for the future.  Like Andrew, through faith, we have come to know and have a relationship with “The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.”  He has had mercy upon us, and has promised us eternity in heaven, a never-ending paradise.

          I’ve always found it very sad when someone says to me, “I’ll never go to heaven; I’ve been too bad.”  And refusing to listen to any more, they’ll walk away with that lie Satan has planted in their heart. 

            I’ve countered that by telling people that if Jesus’ blood can forgive somebody the likes of me, then he can forgive anybody.  The Lamb of God who died to take away the sin of the world includes you, and me, and everybody.  The Lamb of God never refuses anybody who comes to him in faith. 

            Our next hymn is about the best word-of-mouth advertising we could give about what the Lamb of God has done for us.  And so, we can with all assurance of faith declare with the hymn writer:  “Just as I am, thou wilt receive, wilt welcome, pardon, cleanse, relieve; because thy promise I believe, O Lamb of God, I come, I come.”

           

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