Sermon – Epiphany 2 – "Behold The Lamb Of God" – John 1:29 – 1/16/11

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"Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world." What do you do with a word like that?

"Look, the light turned red!" We know what to do with a word like that. You put on the breaks and prepare to stop. "Look, the building is on fire!" You know to file out of the building through either door, the one up front and the entrance door. "Look, your blood pressure is 240 over 160." You know that it's time to make sure your last will and testament is in order.

But what about, 'Behold," which means, 'Listen up' and 'put the phone down and stop texting while I'm talking to you.' 'Close your Facebook page because right now it doesn't matter if you're friends know that you're getting into your car to go get a doughnut because you're feeling depressed.' "Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world."? What are you supposed to do with a word like that?

The very fact that you're not sure what to do with this word tells you something. And it's not something good. The fact that this word passed right on by you and you hardly heard it is dangerous. More dangerous that if you didn't know that the light changed or the building was on fire or your blood pressure was through the roof. Or, maybe you thought that this word wasn't meant for you.

Truth is, lots of men and women just like you, waited all of their life for this word. They longed to hear this word that you have just heard.

* This was the word that the original sinners, Adam and Eve, longed to hear as they stood there in those ridiculous clothes, with tears in their eyes, looking from the outside in, through the gates of paradise that had been shut in their face.
* This was the word that first murderer, Cain, longed to hear as he lived in constant fear that everyone was plotting to avenge his brother Abel's shed blood by shedding his blood.
* This is the word that famous deceiver, Jacob, longed to hear as he nervously awaited a long dreaded reunion with his brother Esau, whom he had deceived of his birth right.
* "Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world."

* This is the word that the idolatrous people of Israel longed to hear when Moses caught them in the act of worshiping a golden calf that they had made with their own hands out of their own jewelry.
* This is the word that the ungrateful people of Israel longed to hear as they and their children were being bitten by poisonous serpents in the desert because they had complained that God didn't care for them as much as good, old Pharaoh had.
* This is the word of those men who were sent by Moses to spy out the Promised Land longed to hear when they returned and reported that the Philistines were too big for them to take and suggesting that the best thing they could do was to turn around and go back to Egypt, totally ignoring how the Lord had delivered them from all of their enemies.
* "Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world."

* This is the word that David, one of many in a long line of adulterers, longed to hear when Nathan exposed his guilt saying, "You are the man who thought you could hide your sin in another man's blood."
* This is the word that David's son, Solomon, longed to hear in his old age as he looked back on his life and laments the way he wasted the gifts that God had given him, "Meaningless, meaningless, utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless." (Ecc.1:2).
* This is the word that a nation of people who possessed the Word and Promises of God, but who had neglected them for so long, longed to hear, as a foreign nation bound them with chains around their ankles and led them by fishhooks through their noses into captivity in Babylon.
* "Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world."

* And this is the word that Joseph, the son of Jacob, longed to hear when, through no sin of his own, his jealous brothers sold him into slavery.
* This is the word that people of Israel longed to hear when, through no sin of theirs, Pharaoh seized their baby boys and slaughtered them before their eyes.
* This is the word the same nation longed to hear, as one wicked king after another led them further and further from the Word of the Lord into deeper and deeper degradation.
* "Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world."

Do you think that these men and women of old would have known what to do with this word? You better believe they would. They would have rejoiced with exceeding joy because their deliverance had come. And it would have made little difference to them, whether they were suffering from the consequences of their own sin or the consequences of the sin of others.

If the Lamb of God takes away the sins OF THE WORLD, then He would take away the sin that they did and the sin of others that was done to them. Their Savior had come to save them. He will take their burden from them and carry it upon His shoulders. He will take their captivity captive and set them free. He will suffer the blows for their sins and by His stripes they will be healed.

So, are you beginning to get an idea of what you should do with this word yet? Luther once accused Erasmus of being so ignorant of the grace of God that was right in front of his eyes saying he was like a cow standing in front of a new gate, just staring at it, having no idea what to do. If you're still not sure what to do with this word, then, "BEHOLD." Listen up. "Behold your sins that take away the Lamb of God."

* "Consider you place in life according to the 10 Commandments: Are you a father, mother, son, daughter, husband, wife, or worker? Have you been disobedient, unfaithful, or lazy? Have you been hot-tempered, rude or quarrelsome? Have you hurt someone by your words or deeds? Have you stolen, been negligent, wasted anything, or done any harm?"
* Behold your sins that take away the Lamb of God.

* Consider how much like your father and mother, Adam and Eve, you are. How often have you listened to the serpent and done what you knew darn well God said, "thou shall not do"?
* How often, like Cain, have you murdered your brother or sister with gossip and innuendos and failed to speak a word in their defense?
* How often, like Jacob, have you disguised your true intentions and deceived your neighbor to get what you want from him or her?
* "Behold your sins that take away the Lamb of God."

* Consider how often, like Israel in the desert, you've given up on God and put your trust in your own hands and the things you can buy with your gold and silver.
* Consider how often, like Israel in the desert, you have complained that God hasn't satisfied your every hunger and thirst for every gizmo and gadget that everyone else has.
* Consider how often, like the spies from Israel, you have refused to trust in God's power to deliver you and remained content to continue to just wander around in your sin.
* "Behold your sins, that take away the Lamb of God."

* Consider how often, like David, you've tried to hide the guilt inside of you because you cast your eyes on what is forbidden instead of casting your eyes on the cross of Christ and Him crucified FOR YOU.
* And how often have you, like Solomon, looked back on your life and lamented the time and energy you put into things that, in the end, didn't really matter, while neglecting those things that really do?
* And how often, like Israel, has the Lord had to discipline you with His discipline because you would simply not believe His Word and learn the easy way.
* "Behold, your sins that take away the Lamb of God."

* And consider the world in which you live and how much like the world of Joseph it is. Through no sin of yours, others seek to harm you and do you wrong simply because they're jealous or envious of you and it would make them look and feel better if you failed.
* And how much like the Israelites in Egypt your world is, for you suffer the cruel destruction of so many baby boys and girls aborted as a form of population control.
* And how much like their world is the world that you live in, for you suffer the results of godless leaders who rule as though they were accountable to neither God or man.
* "Behold, the sins of the world that take away the Lamb of God."

What are we to do with words like THESE? We are certainly not to deny them. To deny them is to add to them and sink even deeper into self-deception. Rather, we must confess them. We confess the sins that we are aware of and those we are unaware of, of those that we have committed and those that have been committed against us.

Then and only then will you know what to do with this precious word, "Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world." For if He takes away the sins OF THE WORLD, and He does, then He takes away YOUR SIN TOO. And if He takes it away from you, then it is not longer yours. You are no longer held accountable for it. And it no longer has any authority over you. Simply put, it is no longer yours to deal with. It is His to deal with.

Through no sin of His own, He suffers for your idolatry and adultery, your envy and greed, your selfishness and carelessness and cowardliness – in your place. "Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world." Through no sin of His own, He suffers under godless rulers and authorities who have no regard for justice, either human or divine. "Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world."

So, what do you do with a word like this? You make it God's Word to you. You hear John the Baptist speak it to you. So that when you see Jesus come to you, such as He does in the bread and the wine on the altar, you may say, 'Lamb of God, you take away the sin of the world; have mercy on us. 'Lamb of God, you take away the sin of the world; have mercy on us. 'Lamb of God, you take away the sin of the world; grant us peace.'

And then you take this Lamb of God, whose body is placed into your hands and you eat it. And you take the blood of this Lamb of God that washes over your lips, and you drink it. And you know without doubting that He who has taken away the sin of the world, has taken away your sin too.
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