Summary: April 7, 2002 -- Sermon 1 in a series on the Gospel of John. We like our life nice and clean -- but life sometimes gets messy and difficult.
April 7, 2002
The Rev. Dr. W. Maynard Pittendreigh
Listen to me, you islands; hear this, you distant nations: Before I was born the LORD called me; from my birth he has made mention of my name. He made my mouth like a sharpened sword, in the shadow of his hand he hid me; he made me into a polished arrow and concealed me in his quiver. He said to me, "You are my servant, Israel, in whom I will display my splendor." But I said, "I have labored to no purpose; I have spent my strength in vain and for nothing. Yet what is due me is in the LORD’s hand, and my reward is with my God." And now the LORD says-- he who formed me in the womb to be his servant to bring Jacob back to him and gather Israel to himself, for I am honored in the eyes of the LORD and my God has been my strength--he says: "It is too small a thing for you to be my servant to restore the tribes of Jacob and bring back those of Israel I have kept. I will also make you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring my salvation to the ends of the earth." This is what the LORD says-- the Redeemer and Holy One of Israel-- to him who was despised and abhorred by the nation, to the servant of rulers: "Kings will see you and rise up, princes will see and bow down, because of the LORD, who is faithful, the Holy One of Israel, who has chosen you." This is what the LORD says: "In the time of my favor I will answer you, and in the day of salvation I will help you; I will keep you and will make you to be a covenant for the people, to restore the land and to reassign its desolate inheritances, to say to the captives, ’Come out,’ and to those in darkness, ’Be free!’ "They will feed beside the roads and find pasture on every barren hill. They will neither hunger nor thirst, nor will the desert heat or the sun beat upon them. He who has compassion on them will guide them and lead them beside springs of water. I will turn all my mountains into roads, and my highways will be raised up."
The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, "Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! This is the one I meant when I said, ’A man who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’ I myself did not know him, but the reason I came baptizing with water was that he might be revealed to Israel." Then John gave this testimony: "I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him. I would not have known him, except that the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, ’The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is he who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’ I have seen and I testify that this is the Son of God." The next day John was there again with two of his disciples. When he saw Jesus passing by, he said, "Look, the Lamb of God!" (NIV)
One day, way back when I was in college, one of my professors was just about to start class when his wife walked in. She went up to him and the two of them had a very brief conversation -- probably something about, don’t forget to bring home some milk and a loaf of bread. As she turned to leave so that her husband could begin the class, one of the students stopped her and began to admire what she was carrying in her arms.
A tiny baby just a few weeks old.
I’m not sure if Kathleen was trying to delay the start of what promised to be yet another very boring lecture in Philosophy 101, or if she really did want to admire the baby. But we were all thankful to Kathleen, because once she began to talk about what a beautiful baby that was, Dr. Paul Watson began to beam with pride and rather than begin his class, allowed the students to see what a fine young son he had.
But it was Kathleen herself who interrupted this mood when she said, "Ahh, there is nothing more innocent or cleaner than a tiny little baby."
Dr. Watson, his eyes red from several weeks without sleep, and his wife, with her hair all frizzy and disheveled, looked at each other and began to laugh hysterically.
They knew what Kathleen did not yet know. There is nothing innocent about babies. They are the most self centered life forms in the galaxy. When they are hungry, you’d best forget whatever you’re doing and stuff some food into them. And since what goes in, must come out, eventually you’ll find out just how dirty these babies can get.