RCL Year A Epiphany 2
Isaiah 49:1-7, Psalm 40:1-12, I Corinthians 1:1-9, Saint John 1:29-42
Last Sunday, I pulled the veil aside a bit and told you that John the Baptist was a major concern of the authors of the New Testament. Particularly, the authors were concerned that the mission and ministry of Our Lord be seen and proclaimed as preëminently superior to those of John.
Today’s Gospel is a bonanza in this regard. And, as clearly as is possible, the Gospel reminds us why we are here. First, we hear John proclaiming Jesus as the “Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.”Then John says that Jesus “ranks ahead of me because he was before me.”Then the final blow to any thought of John’s equal footing with Jesus. John stands with two of his disciples, and Jesus walks by, John makes his “Lamb of God” comment again, and the two disciples of John turn and follow Jesus.
The two disciples who turn from John to follow Jesus are figures for us, not because we were likely to prefer John, no. They are figures for us because they turn and follow Jesus, the only one to follow.
But also they are figures for everyone, for everyone is potentially a follower of Jesus. And this is most important. The purpose we have as followers of Jesus is to find more followers of Jesus. That is our mission, and that is our ministry.
We are here to attract followers of Jesus Christ; we are here to point people toward our Lord and our Savior. And we are to pursue that mission with the gifts he gives us for that mission. We are here to grow, and we’ve been given the gifts we need to grow.
You will easily notice that John does precisely that. He so understands Jesus and who he is that he easily turns his disciples over to him.
And we are to be exactly that: namely the followers, the representatives, of Jesus who direct the steps of others to follow him.
After years and years of declining membership, you might well ask what plan does the Episcopal Church have to grow, to direct the steps of others to follow Jesus.
What do we have right at hand that enables or strengthens us to fulfill this mission? I say to you that we have two eyes. When we keep one eye on Jesus and one eye on the needs of his children, we will attract followers to Jesus.
When we worship, we have one eye on God, and when we serve a hot meal to God’s children on a chilly day in January, as we did last Sunday or as we shall do next Sunday, we have the other eye on God’s children. I dare to say that many of our guests will and do get it. They know that the meal given to them comes, really, from God. We are just the intermediaries and stewards of God’s blessings.
Which brings me back to John. He was perfectly content, as the Gospels tell us, to bring people to Jesus. Bringing people to Jesus is our chief ministry. May we never forget it.
Saint John 1:29.