Sunday, January 18, 2009

Sermon: John 1: 35-42 A Fresh Start Following Jesus

In our reading this morning, we heard about how some people had a fresh start. At the start, these men were disciples of John the Baptist, but they then have a fresh start, and everything is changed for them. What is it that changes? Well, they begin to follow Jesus.

At the start, they are standing with John the Baptist, but when Jesus walks past, then they leave John and go and follow Jesus. But you might be thinking, well, that was easy for them – Jesus was on the earth at the time, you could actually follow him around. But what about us? How do we follow Jesus today, when we can’t see him? What does it look like to be a follower of Jesus?

We’re going to see three things from the passage that helps us to know what a follower of Jesus is. First of all, knowing Jesus; then spending time with Jesus; and thirdly, telling others about Jesus.

I want to suggest that it’s a bit like following a football team. Now, you might not know this, but I support the Northern Ireland team. I always have my ticket, and get along to the Northern Ireland games at Windsor Park. Do any of you support a football team?

When you support a team, you try to know about them. So you know who’s on the team, and who the manager is, and what they’re like. In a similar way, when the disciples start to follow Jesus, they come to know about him, and also know him. When Jesus walked past, John the Baptist points to Jesus and says ‘Behold, the Lamb of God.’ (1:35)

Behold is used to draw attention – just like someone saying ‘look’ or ‘would you look at that’. Jesus is the Lamb of God. Lambs were used in the sacrifices in the temple, and this title of Jesus points forward to the time when Jesus died on the cross, for our sins. As John had said that day before (1:29) ‘Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.’

The first step in following Jesus is to know him as our Saviour. Jesus died on the cross so that we can be friends with God. So on this first point, it’s so much more than just knowing about a football team. It’s not just knowing about Jesus, but actually knowing him as our Saviour, as the one who has changed things for us, through his death and his resurrection.

So the first question is this – do you know Jesus? Is Jesus your Saviour?

The second thing we see about following is that we will want to spend time with Jesus. Earlier I was saying about supporting Northern Ireland. Because I support the team, I’ll want to spend time with them – watching their games, cheering them on at Windsor Park.

It’s just the same with Jesus. Look at the passage. The two disciples start to follow Jesus, and Jesus turns round to ask what they want. And what is it they ask Jesus? ‘where are you staying?’ So when Jesus says ‘Come and you will see’, they went to see, and ‘stayed with him that day, for it was about the tenth hour’ (that is, about 4pm).

As they followed Jesus, they spent time with him – talking to him and listening to him. But how do we spend time with Jesus now? We can spend time with Jesus as we take the time to read his word, and time to pray. So as you follow Jesus, do you take time with him, reading your Bible and praying?

The third thing we see in the passage is that the disciples tell others about Jesus. Going back to the football, what is it like if your team wins? It’s good news, and you want to share it! I was at the Northern Ireland game the night they beat England 1-0, and the day or two afterwards, I wanted to tell everyone! It was such a great feeling to have won, and I was chatting to other people who had been at the game as well as those who had watched it on TV.

But more important than winning a football game, in our reading we see the joy and delight that Andrew has when he goes to tell his brother Simon. Do you see what he says? ‘We have found the Messiah’ (which means Christ). The Messiah was the person promised by God from Old Testament times; he would be God’s great king who would free his people from oppression and hurt and sadness. He would also bring in God’s kingdom.

Every parent wanted their baby boy to be the Messiah; just the way some dads especially hope that their son will grow up to be a world class footballer. So when Andrew finds the Messiah, God’s King, he goes off and finds his brother and tells him. If you read on in the chapter, Jesus calls Philip to follow him, and Philip goes off and tells Nathanael as well.

When we find Jesus, when we know Jesus, when we’re saved by Jesus, when we follow Jesus, when we spend time with Jesus, then we naturally want to tell other people about Jesus too! When Jesus is our friend, we want other people to know him too, so we talk about him.

In the passage we see Andrew telling his brother, Simon, and bringing him to Jesus. Do we share Jesus with our family and close friends? Sometimes it can be harder to close family than to strangers. Yet we want those we love to also know Jesus. So be encouraged today, to stick at it, and find ways to talk about Jesus in the home.

At the end of the day, we don’t really need to follow a football team. It can be a bit of fun, and adds some excitement. But following Jesus is the best thing we can do. Maybe you’ve not started yet – please do think about it – you won’t regret it.

Following Jesus is a fresh start – as we know Jesus, as we spend time with Jesus, and as we tell others.

This sermon was preached at the Family Service in St Elizabeth's Church, Dundonald on Sunday 18th January 2009.

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