January 13, 2023 Pastor: Rev. Peter Mills
EPIPHANY 2/A (01/15/2023): Ps. 40:1-11; Isa. 49:1-7; 1 Cor. 1:1-9; Jn. 1:29-42a
When Jesus turned and saw [two] following, he said to them, “What do you seek?” And they said to him, “Rabbi … where are you remaining?” He said to them, “Come and you will see.” (vv. 38-39a).
Andrew’s inquiry about the place of Jesus’ “remaining” was no conversational ice-breaker nor mere curiosity. Andrew and presumably John, the Evangelist, themselves “remained” in the rabbinical school of the Baptist at “Bethany beyond the Jordan” (Jn. 1:28). On hearing the Baptist’s witness of Jesus, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world …” (Jn. 1:29, 32, 36) Andrew and John discerned their matriculation out of the Baptist’s school complete.
Henceforth Jesus, upon whom the HS remained (1:30; 3:30), would explicate Torah, their new Rabbi. To “remain” with a Rabbi was to follow in his way. JB taught from the waters of the Jordan; now Andrew and John wanted to know from where Jesus would teach; and what it meant he was “the Lamb of God”; so too, we today.
Jesus’ first words to his first disciples are freighted with the “theology of sight”, “Come and you will see”. Andrew and John were being invited, not to another location out of the Baptist’s water; rather to be on journey, a new exodus; “hearing” God’s incarnate word for “beholding” (Ps. 119:105; Pr. 6:23).
Jesus’ anointing with the Spirit was momentous; by that action God removed old Israel, his ethnic servant-son (Ex. 4:22) from being “a kingdom of priests and a holy nation” (19:6). Old Israel, peculiar among the nations, failed its vocation, succumbing to worldly ways; unfaithful, disobedient idolatry; old Israel had become blind guides. At Jesus’ Baptism old Israel was effectively defrocked and replaced by Jesus into office as God’s Servant.
Heralding God’s new regime, JB preached “repentance”, not for return to a repristinated “business as usual” in the old Sinaitic Covenant; rather conversion to John’s witness, “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world”, receiving Jesus as God’s “Beloved Son”, new Adam, new Isaac/Israel, and new Servant; for putting-off the Old Covenant and acceptance of God’s New Covenant in the person of his Son (Isa. 49:3, 6).
John’s prophetic call was for radical reformation. That Jesus is “Lamb of God” bespeaks him the content of a New Covenant (42:6c), sourcing man’s new obedience in his atoning sacrifice for unbelief, “the sin of the world”. One may not parse Jesus’ anointing from the Baptist JB from Jesus handing-over the Spirit on the cross (Jn. 19:30b, 34); the two events, Spirit reception and handing-over are singular to his Baptism.
The offer of Isaac on Mt. Moriah is sometimes described, “the Sacrifice of Abraham”; but Jews refer to the event as, “Akedah — Isaac’s voluntary binding for sacrifice” (Gen. 22). Both perceptions are correct but “Akedah” is prophesy of Christ crucified in obedience to his Father’s will.
Jesus’ willing obeisance to the Father in our place comprehends the atonement for our sin; bestowal of the Spirit by JB, is part and parcel of Jesus returning the Spirit with water and blood from the cross.
By nature, we are enemies of God, incapable of willing or doing any good thing devoid of self-love; we will what we do. From our condition Jesus’ word, invites us to a discipleship in promise, “Come and you will see.”
There is but one solution to man’s intractable unbelief and doubt—death and the grave. That too is promise, “in the day that you eat of [the fruit] you shall surely die.” (Gen. 2:17). Sin came to all by one man, Adam (Rom. 5:12); Jesus Son of Man and New Israel was ordained at his Baptism for death, that all might die in Him, to be faithful sons and daughters whom death cannot contain.
Concupiscence infects the world; so, salvation into Jesus’ death by Baptism induces our new begetting (Jn. 3:7). By word, water, and Spirit we share Jesus’ death for an evangel life through and in the Church. Baptism’s death is not natural; but a participation in the one and only obedient death correspondent with God’s sacrificial character. The death of God’s Lamb, our Baptizer for the HS, bespeaks our “remaining” in a resurrection like his.
The following of Sts. Andrew and John commenced the Church’s evangelistic enterprise. JB was “friend of the bridegroom”, Jesus’ best-man (v. 29), whose preaching intended old Israel’s response to the NT of Light in knowledge of Father and Son (17:3). Baptism puts us on the way of Torah and the Spirit for seeking Jesus to hear and see the Lamb slain putting sin and death to death (Gen. 3:15b).
Jesus’ first disciples inquired, “where are you remaining?”; a good first question; yet it held a tension of “place”, Jesus in heaven and on earth. His journey would conclude, not at Jerusalem’s temple, but outside, on the cross. As sacrificial Lamb, Jesus taught what was only comprehensible in Resurrection power. By Baptism and now our eucharistic High Priest, Jesus comes and remains.
We who are disciples of Rabbi Jesus, follow in new sight and Light. Jesus, “Akedah” bound to the Father in baptismal death has made us sons and daughters out of the Church’s bridal chamber (Lk. 5:34) seed of Abraham’s faith.
Later Jesus would explain about his Torah school, “In my Father’s house are many abodes”; by his death he would prepare a “place” (Jn. 14:2) in his slain and risen flesh, for our “remaining” with the Father and Spirit.
In this communion we “behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin the world”, seeing what was hidden in ages long past but in these last days is found (Jer. 29:13, 14a). In seeking “the place” of Jesus’ “remaining” we hear the enfleshed word for knowing God face to face, the One who kills to make alive (Dt. 32:39; 1 Sam. 2:6; 2 Kgs. 5:7). Amen.