Second Sunday after Epiphany

Behold the Lamb of God

When in the Season of the Epiphany, We are in the Season of discovering who Jesus is. In one sentence, John the Baptist tells us both the person and ministry of Jesus:

John saw Jesus coming toward him and declared, “Here is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! This is he of whom I said, ‘After me comes a man who ranks ahead of me because he was before me.’ I myself did not know him; but I came baptizing with water for this reason, that he might be revealed to Israel.”   (John 1:29-31)

Jesus is the Lamb of God. Jesus takes away the sin of the world. If we are to know Jesus, we need to understand what John is saying. The first thing, Jesus is the Lamb of God, which leads to the second thing, Jesus takes away the sin of the world. Let us begin with the first. Looking at the prophecy in Isaiah:

Thus says the Lord,
the Redeemer of Israel and his Holy One,

to one deeply despised, abhorred by the nations,
the slave of rulers,

“Kings shall see and stand up,
princes, and they shall prostrate themselves,

because of the Lord, who is faithful,
the Holy One of Israel, who has chosen you.”   (Isaiah 49:7)

Jesus is the sacrificial lamb. He is the suffering servant chosen by God, the Father:

He was despised and rejected by others;
    a man of suffering and acquainted with infirmity,
and as one from whom others hide their faces
    he was despised, and we held him of no account.   (Isaiah 53:3)

He was chosen to save God’s people, but they rejected him. They did not understand what he came to do. They did not realize that he suffered on their behalf:

Surely he has borne our infirmities
    and carried our diseases,
yet we accounted him stricken,
    struck down by God, and afflicted.
But he was wounded for our transgressions,
    crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the punishment that made us whole,
    and by his bruises we are healed.
All we like sheep have gone astray;
    we have all turned to our own way,
and the Lord has laid on him
    the iniquity of us all.   (Isaiah 53:4-6)

Jesus paid the price for our sins. He fulfilled the Covenant of Abraham. By so doing, he opened up for us how we might overcome sin and death.

You know that you were ransomed from the futile conduct inherited from your ancestors, not with perishable things like silver or gold but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without defect or blemish. He was destined before the foundation of the world but was revealed at the end of the ages for your sake. Through him you have come to trust in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your trust and hope are in God.   (1 Peter 1:18-21)

God’s plan of salvation was from the beginning before the world was made. For us to be made entirely in the image of God, we needed complete freedom of choice. This allows the possibility of our rebelling against the will of God. How would God keep such an event from continually happening? How would God be a just God and not punish us? How could he punish us and yet still remain a God of unconditional love? Only the love of Christ Jesus could resolve this issue.

Do we understand what Jesus has accomplished? He did two things: He paid the price of sin as the Lamb of God, and he eradicated sin altogether for those who believe, This second step is just as important as the first.

The Apostle Paul wrote the Church in Corinth:

I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that has been given you in Christ Jesus, for in every way you have been enriched in him, in speech and knowledge of every kind– just as the testimony of Christ has been strengthened among you– so that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ. He will also strengthen you to the end, so that you may be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful; by him you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.   (1 Corinthians 1:4-9)

God is removing the power of sin in our lives. It is a process. Paul wrote the Church in Philippi:

Therefore, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed me, not only in my presence but much more now in my absence, work on your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who is at work in you, enabling you both to will and to work for his good pleasure.   (Philippians 2:12-13)

Today, God is asking us to behold the Lamb of God. He wants us to see Jesus in all his fullness. When we do, Jesus can totally restore the image he designed for us.

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Filed under Epiphany, homily, Jesus, lectionary, liturgical preaching, liturgy, Palm Sunday, preaching, Revised Common Lectionary, sermon, sermon development, Year A

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