Vicar Christopher Stout

 To the Church, here at Luther Memorial Chapel, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints together with all those who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ; grace to you and peace through God our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ.

 Through John the Baptist, our Lord Jesus Christ speaks to us now.  The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Behold the Lamb of God,who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29)  and The next day again John was standing with two of his disciples, and he looked at Jesus as he walked by and said, “Behold the Lamb of God!” (John 1:35).

Vicar Christopher Stout

 To the Church, here at Luther Memorial Chapel, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints together with all those who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ; grace to you and peace through God our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ.

 Through John the Baptist, our Lord Jesus Christ speaks to us now.  The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Behold the Lamb of God,who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29)  and The next day again John was standing with two of his disciples, and he looked at Jesus as he walked by and said, “Behold the Lamb of God!” (John 1:35).

 Repetition and reiteration and emphasis.  Say the same thing more than a few times to get the point across.  Repeat just in case someone wasn’t listening the first time.  Parents understand the importance of repetition and reiteration and emphasis.  “Clean your room, didn’t you hear me the first time – or the second time – or the third time?”  “No, dad, I didn’t.”  Teachers, spouses, friends, and employers all understand the importance of repetition.  Who understands the importance of repetition?  Teachers, spouses, friends, and employers all understand the importance of repetition.  By the way, so does our Lord and so does John the Baptist.  Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.  Who is that? Behold the Lamb of God.  

 Repeat the same thing, try saying the same thing in different ways, or say it in new ways but with the same meaning.  God is going to get the point across.  Who is this Jesus?  John the Baptist proclaims to us, “Behold the Lamb of God (1:29), He ranks before me because He was before me (1:30), He’s the Son of God (1:34), and like I said before ‘behold the Lamb of God’ (1:35).”  Others proclaim to us, “Rabbi, which means teacher (1:38), and Messiah, which means Christ (1:41).”  

 The Scriptures reveals to us today who Jesus is by repeating it in the same ways, and in different ways with the same meaning.  Repetition and emphasis can often be mistaken for redundancy and excess wordiness.  “I know this.  I’ve heard it once or twice or more before.  He’s the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.  I’m going to close my ears and space out now until I hear something new and fresh.”  How often we hear preaching like this!  How often we hear our liturgy like this!  How often we hear the Scriptures like this!  We can grow so numb to hearing that Jesus is the Lamb of God that takes away, lifts off, removes the sin of the world.  Yet, we’re not free from the burden and the weight that sin still places on us.  Experiences of sickness in this fallen world, experiences of being sinned against, experiences of failure as a parent or worker or student or friend are burdens of sin in us and in this world that weigh us down.  The very fact that we grow numb to preaching and teaching from God’s Word can be a burden that weighs us down.

 Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world.  You don’t take something away that belongs to you.  Jesus takes away - steals, if you will - your sins that don’t belong to His holy and innocent Son of God body and bears them, places them upon, Himself.  As a lamb that was silent and did not open His mouth, as a lamb without spot or blemish, as a lamb that sits on the throne and is to be worshipped, but John preaches about a lamb, nonetheless.  Lambs have their purpose in sacrifice.  Like a lamb, Jesus is slaughtered on the cross by the wrath of God against that sin.  On the altar of the cross, the sin of world was lifted away in this final atoning sacrifice.  Without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness.  Whose blood is it?  Behold the Lamb of God, this Jesus, who takes away, lifts off, removes, and eases the burden of the sins of “the you”.  

 Our text repeats and reiterates and emphasizes who this Jesus is for you.  Yet, we’re also in the season of Epiphany, which not only asks, “Who is Jesus? But, in an emphasized and repetitive way asks, ‘how do we know this’?”  Jesus is revealed to the wise men to be the Christ, the King of the Jews.  How do they know this?  By a star and through preaching they are pointed to Bethlehem to find the Christ.  Behold the Lamb of God? says John.  How do you know this, John?  How can you be so sure?  ‘I saw the Spirit descend from heaven like a dove, and it remained on Him.’ (John 1:31-33).  

 How do we know?  By revelation from the Word of God ? by repetition and reiteration and emphasis of the Holy Spirit in that Word.  Faith comes to know who Christ is by this hearing in Scripture, in preaching, in Absolution, and in the liturgy, “O Christ, though Lamb of God who takes away the sin of world, have mercy on us, grant us Thy peace.” 

Why so many ways?  Because there’s so many sins that burden us.  By the words of our mouth we speak gossip and anger and jealousy.  By the words of our mouth we fail to call upon God when burdened.  By the meditation of our hearts we lust toward others in the workplace, on campus, in public and in private on television and computer screens.  By the meditation of our hearts we look for relief from burden to our own favorite self-chosen medicine.  Our sin can become a heavy, heavy burden.

 We sing “Lord, have mercy” on a poor sinful being who speaks gossip to a Lord who shows mercy here.  We sing “Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world” humbled by our lust and evil thoughts toward others to the present Lamb of God who comes to us now to take away our sin.  

 “Teacher, where are you staying? Where are you at to show us what the Messiah has come to do?  Jesus, Lamb of God, where are you to take away, lift off the burden of my sins? We are seeking Jesus.”  He is not a dead or missing Christ, but a present living Christ for us now.  As the Passover Lamb who was slain, Jesus is present to take away your sins.  The Lamb of God takes away your sins now by giving you to drink the very blood that was poured out cleanse you.  Behold the Lamb of God present to take away your sins.  The Lamb of God takes away your sins by washing them away in the flood of your Baptism.  The Lamb of God lifts off your sins that weigh you down as he announces, “I forgive you.”    

 With the many burdens of sin, with the many failures we have in this life, the Lamb of God gives to you relief of guilt as He lifts your sins away in so many wonderful, repetitive, emphasized and specific ways now.  Jesus speaks, “I am the Lamb of God, sacrificed for you.  Who am I? I am the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world, sacrificed for you.  What do I do? I take away your sins ? today.”

Luther Memorial Chapel & University Student Center | 3833 N Maryland Ave | Shorewood, WI  53211
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Divine Service: Sundays - 9:00a Mondays - 7:00p Bible Study & Sunday School: Sundays - 10:45a