Summary: Continuing a look at Jesus and his ministry
Recently I saw a cartoon with Adam and Eve both eating apples. They are obvious startled by a billboard with a large apple and the international sign of “no”, a red circle with a line through it, and the words above reading “Just Say No”. Adam says, “Where was that billboard ten minutes ago.” Ever since that ego-driven action of disobedience we have been paying the price. And one of the ways that our lives demonstrate this is by our constant seeking for what I call “wholeness”.
“Wholeness” comes in a lot of shapes and sizes. Each of us has our own definition of what it takes to make us whole. If wholeness doesn’t make sense to you try the idea of fulfillment, contentment, satisfied, at peace, centered. A great desire of the human heart ever since Genesis 3 is, in the words of CSNY, “to get back to the garden”. Our entire culture is driven toward this Christian and non-Christian. And if you don’t believe me consider how the movies we have watched over the decades are aimed at seeking after an elusive sense of wholeness.
· “African Queen” Katherine Hepburn’s believes in getting even with the Germans who have killed her brother
· “Gone With the Wind” we have Scarlet declaring her goal to “never be hungry again”
· “Charades” you have a search for money left behind by a murder victim.
· “Star Wars” involved us in the goal of justice and the salvation of Darth Vader by his Son.
· “The Green Mile” has healing itself as its goal. Healing for individuals and for a community.
Each of these quests touches or calls others to join them. The gin loving captain of the African Queen; Rhet Butler; Audrey Hepburn and her nephew; Han Solo and Tom Hanks each character becomes a part of this seeking.
We might believe that money, justice, vengeance, comfort, love, or health are the answer to our question but the Apostle John understands the need is actually a spiritual need—the need to recover what we lost in the garden. In church language we use words like forgiveness, justification, or being reconciled but it comes down to the same thing—having the wall between God and us broken down.
John the Baptist had his group of faithful followers. Among them are one named Andrew and an unnamed follower who I choose to believe is none other than John the author of this gospel. What we have here are two days in the life of Jesus. The first has John telling us, and most likely his followers, about this Jesus. In verse 31 we read, “I myself did not know him, but the reason I came baptizing with water was that he might be revealed to Israel.” I believe John is talking about not realizing the full impact of who his cousin Jesus was, not about not know his cousin. It also fully explains what we know from earlier in the first chapter of this gospel, that John was a witness to what God was doing.
In the title that John uses to describe Jesus we are faced with word pictures unfamiliar to most of us. The “Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world” (v30) is quite a statement. John doesn’t think of Jesus as God’s little pet lamb all soft and furry. For John, lambs were a common food source and a daily sacrifice for the sins of the people. Each day, morning and night a year old lamb was killed and offered to God as a sacrifice. What we see here is that John explains that Jesus is the lamb that belongs to God and comes from God—all of that’s involved in that little word “of”.
Each day lambs were sacrificed but Jesus was to do more. He was “THE” lamb of God who ”takes away the sins of the world”. I know of no other religion that believes such a revolutionary idea. There are those who were good role models or gave us wonderful things to think about. There are those who galvanized the minds and hearts of whole nations. And there are those who have misled and taught horrible things. But none claimed to be able to make up for the mistakes of the entire world.
The idea of “sin” here actually has its root in archery. It describes any arrow that misses what it was aimed at. Apply that to our lives. Any thought, action, motivation, idea, dream, goal, undone act, etc that doesn’t hit God’s plan perfectly is “sin”. This pan-endemic illness of sin is what Jesus is going to be literally “lifting up”.
John realizes the truth of Jesus when he sees the dove “abide” on Jesus. It is the same word used of the two followers later when they ask Jesus “where are you ‘abiding’”? John’s personal involvement with Jesus is what opened him up to seeing God’s plan for this man. Likewise it is the words of their mentor and their own personal exposure to Jesus that convinces Andrew and the John the writer of the gospel.