O give thanks unto the Lord for He is good, His mercy endures forever (1 Chr 16:34). Beautiful Savior Lutheran Church - Winnipeg, MB
Understanding Life as Liturgy
Understanding Life as Liturgy
Based on John 1:29-42
Preached on January 19, 2020
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In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
These things are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing, you may have life in His Name. That’s how John ends the Gospel that bears his name. He tells you why he wrote it. That you may believe and have life in the Name of Jesus. That you may understand life as faith in Christ. That you may be part of the story.
John’s inviting you in. He’s telling you this story is about you. That it is about Jesus giving you the faith to see who He really is and who He wants you to be in Him. That it is a living story you participate in by faith. And this could not be any clearer than in this opening chapter when Jesus calls His first disciples.
Take a look. There are countless other details that John could have included to tell this story of the first disciples. Does he include them? No. Because this isn’t just a story of Jesus, Andrew and Peter. No, this is the story of Jesus and every disciple. This is the story of the life of the Church. It is your story. An exact description of how Jesus has found you, called you, made you His student and now works through you – into the actual lives of the people around you.
The preacher points to Jesus. Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the Sin of the world. Those who hear follow. They seek. They see. And they stay with Jesus. This is the power of the Word. He is active, living, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. Through Him all things were made. But this Word became flesh. John the Baptist points at Him. Look. He has a human face. The Word walks towards the preacher. And the preacher identifies who He is and what He has come to do.
Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the Sin of the world. You’re reminded of Abraham going to sacrifice his son Isaac. His only son. His beloved son. His miracle son. The son in whom all the peoples of the world would be blessed. My father. Here I am, my son. Behold the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for the burnt offering? God will provide for Himself the lamb for a burnt offering, my son.
The Lamb of God. The Lamb God promised to provide. He’s here. And John the Baptist is pointing. The time has come. God makes sacrifice for the life of the world. And that sacrifice is His Only Son. He is the new Isaac, headed for the same mountain. There will be no ram caught in the thorn bush by its horns. Only the Lamb of God crowned with thorns on the cross. The binding of the Son of God is the loosing of the world’s Sin. The blood of the Passover lamb must be spread on the wooden beams. He must be led to slaughter. He is the substitute. The stand-in. The One who suffers in your place. For only in Him is a life apart from Sin possible.
He takes away Sin. Not just the sins that grow out of our Sin. You know, all the things we think, want, do and say that ruin life. No. Sin. With a capital S. The origin. The source. Our default posture of unbelief. Jesus goes to the root and heart of our separation from God – that we don’t trust Him – and with this sacrifice, He takes it away. God gave His only beloved Son into suffering and death to save you. Do you think you can trust Him? Jesus creates a new humanity that knows the Father and obeys Him. He creates a new posture of faith toward God, a faith made concrete in the discipleship of following Jesus, in a life of liturgy.
“My job is done here” John the Baptist proclaims. This is the only reason I was sent baptizing. To witness the Christ. To reveal Him to Israel. To wash Him for His sacrifice. That’s Him. The Holy Spirit rests on that Man. Will never leave. He is the giver of life forever. For I saw the Spirit descend from heaven like a dove, and it remained on Him. I didn’t know him, but He who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘The One on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain, this is He who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ And I have seen and have borne witness that this is the Son of God.”
He’s creating a new thing, this new One. He is creating a new Church. Gathering a new Israel. That’s what we said at the beginning, isn’t it? This is the story of Jesus, but it is also the story of the life of His Church. For the next day two disciples are standing with John. They watch him point. They adopt his gaze. They hear his exclaim. Behold, the Lamb of God. And what do they do? They follow Him. They don’t just physically trail after Him. No. They follow Him. See Him as their Rabbi. Teacher. They want to be His students. Hold themselves under Him. Learn. Receive. Imitate. Embody. No, not just a bunch of truth for their head, but an entire way for their life. The way to approach God, others and self. The way to understand life. The way of Jesus.
Jesus sees them attending Him so He asks them, “What do you seek?” They are the first words of Jesus in the Gospel. Like He is asking you and me. What do you seek? Do you seek what this story tells of Me? Do you think the Scriptures tell this story of Me? Is this the way you desire to walk?
Yes, they say to Him. Yes Teacher. You know the Word. You are the Word. We want to be like You. We want to be taught by You. We want to stay with You. So they ask Him. Rabbi, where are you staying? No. They don’t want to see His bedroom. They want to know the place of His teaching. His pulpit. His altar. His liturgy. Tell us of the Christ. Show us how You are the Christ for us. End our old life. Make us a new life. Re-posture our hearts. Cleanse us O Lamb. Give us new life lived in Your Spirit.
The big question is: where does that happen? Where does the disciple stay with Jesus? In what place does the Son free us from Sin, where is He most clearly revealed to be the Son, the Christ, the Lamb of God who takes away the Sin of the world? Yes. On the cross. The cross is His glory. Suffering for you is His glory. Dying for you is His glory. True disciples stay in the death of Christ. They kneel at the foot of the cross. They don’t push away from the suffering. They accept it as His exaltation. They even share in the sufferings of their Teacher when that should happen. For they know through the death of the Son they have communion with the Father.
Rabbi, where are you staying? Come and you will see. I want you to come. And if you come, you will see. Now Jesus is inviting you in. Inviting you to participate. To join Him in this story. Follow Him in the way of the cross. Stay with Him. And that’s exactly what these two disciples do. They come. They see. They stay.
But that’s not the end of the story, is it? No. The first thing Andrew does is find his brother. He has to tell someone. He has something to share. His lips now have to speak the words he heard preached. Jesus is the Christ. The Lamb of God. God’s Son. We’ve found Him. We’ve found Him.
And so we see the liturgical life. You come here Sunday morning and the preacher points his finger at Jesus. He says, “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the Sin of the world.” You’re here as His student. Growing in His way. You stay with Him at the foot of His cross and commune with Him. You see His salvation. But the liturgy doesn’t end when you walk out that door. No. Your whole life is a liturgy. It moves in and out from the cup on this altar. Week by week. You are a walking, breathing new creation, like Andrew, with words of faith on your lips for those around you. We’ve found the Christ. Come and see. Now you are inviting people in.
Beloved, the Lord would have you understand your entire life as liturgy. Your devotions at home to start and the end the day. The greetings you make to those you meet along the way. The work you do – whether paid or unpaid. Your interactions with others. All of it. In baptism He has given you a new name. An eternal name. And with that name and identity comes a new understanding of yourself in Him. You are part of His story. It is the living story that will not die with this world. It is the new story that is coming out of the old. Consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ. Your life is worship, because that’s what faith is. A liturgy of life trusting God as we wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ. He will sustain you to the end. He is faithful. For He is the Lamb of God who takes away the Sin of the world. May His Spirit move you in holy liturgy with Him everyday of your life. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.
Rev. Cameron Schnarr