1 Corinthians 1:1-9
A game of ‘I Spy.’ Obvious answers.
That was an easy game because you knew exactly what I was talking about. That’s like our gospel lesson today. John the Baptist basically tells his disciples, “I spy the Lamb of God, the Messiah.” And then he points to Jesus.
He makes it super obvious because he wants everyone to know exactly who he’s talking about and why it’s important. Jesus is the one the whole world has been waiting for and looking for.
So, if you were to describe Jesus to someone else, what would you say to make sure they knew exactly what you were talking about?
What if, like Jesus, you just told someone, “Come and see?” What if you invited someone to worship if you can’t explain in words how important Jesus is to you? Maybe that’s something to try this week—just invite someone to come and see.
Prayer: Thank you, God, for being easy to spot in a crowd. Open our eyes so that we are willing to see you. Amen.
Why are you here? That’s the question that a colleague often asks congregations when she supply preaches. The answers vary. First come the confused looks—most people aren’t invited to participate in the sermon. Then, a shrug. “I’m here because that’s what you do on Sundays.” That answer is becoming much less common. “I’m here because my parents made me.” That one rarely changes. “I’m here because my family has sat in that pew for three generations.” Notice, it’s not just their church, but they have a pew. J One of our former FEAST partners confessed that he came for the food. But that’s not why he stayed.
Whatever brought you here, why do you stay? Why do you engage? If I could, I’d ask people why they no longer come. I’ve tried, but I rarely get an answer. I assume, for some, it’s because they’re busy. For others, it’s because their bed seems more inviting. Some, I know, would say that they don’t like my sermons. For another person, it was because I didn’t check on her when she was gone.
So, why are you here, or why do you stay? Actual question, if anyone is willing to answer.
I’m here because it’s my job to be here. It’s my vocation—my calling—my purpose. It’s my responsibility. But does anyone notice that more often than not, our surface reason for being or doing church has little to do with Jesus?
When the disciples heard John’s confession of Jesus as the Lamb of God, they began to follow Jesus. Personally, I imagine them lurking, tailing him, watching from behind buildings and shrubs, trying to stay hidden—like spies, or Mission Impossible. And the scripture says that Jesus turned and ‘saw’ them—the Greek word here means ‘observed.’ He watched them. From the open. Maybe with a bemused smirk on his face.
And he asked them, “What are you looking for?” Stunned and speechless, all they could come up with was “Where are you staying?” And he said, “Come and see.” Come into the open. Come and walk beside me. Come and watch what I do and where I go and with whom I connect. Come with me, and you will see exactly where I abide—where I stay—and why.
John’s gospel account has a lot of buzz words in it. Light and seeing and finding and watching. Another buzz word is abide, stay, live. But it’s not until chapter 15 when John really breaks out that word. It’s when Jesus and the disciples are around the table, and Jesus is teaching them what it will look like to abide in him, and he will abide in them. He’s encouraging them because he knows what it will look like for them to follow him. If people hate him for what he has done and said, they will hate his disciples. If they kill him, they will kill his disciples.
His words are words of encouragement more than warning—that where he is going, they too will go—not just through death but also into true life. So today, Jesus tells the two disciples, “Come and see,” and they end up following him through miracles and teachings and mountaintops and deep valleys. They walk with him through all of Galilee, and finally into Jerusalem. They wait with him at Gethsemane. Peter follows him to the trial. But no one but the women and his beloved disciple would stand before the cross—to see where he would abide, at least temporarily.
When the two began to follow, this was not where they thought they would end up. They were hoping for victory and found only death, destruction, and failure. They ended as they began—lurking, watching from the shadows, hiding, afraid to believe.
What were they looking for? They were looking for the Messiah. They were looking for hope. They were looking for salvation. What they found was political suicide. What they found was disappointment.
What are you looking for? When you come to this place, what do you hope to find? Are you seeking comfort? Victory? Nourishment? Are you looking for agreement with your values? Do you leave disappointed that we sang a hymn you don’t like, that the message made you feel uncomfortable? Do you leave feeling like your opinion was validated and anyone who disagrees is wrong?
Perhaps it’s time, once again, to go back to Scripture—to go back to the disciples and Jesus and the life they followed. Because whatever it is we’re looking for, what God offers is so much better—and harder. Being a disciple of Christ is probably the simplest and most challenging thing we will ever do. Because it means walking alongside Jesus—not lurking in the background, not hiding in the family pew, not waiting in the shadows to see if Jesus will land on the liberal or conservative side—or on the winning side. Because what we’ll see is a cross, not a government leader. What we’ll see is death, not victory. What we’ll see is disappointment, not success.
Not until Jesus emerges from the tomb and shows us what life and leadership and victory and success actually look like—a far cry from political parties and swastikas painted on synagogues and walls to keep people out and to keep others in. When Jesus emerges, God’s glory will be far beyond anything we could have hoped for—but still within the realm of our journey, within the grasp of our hope, within the life we lead as we follow Christ to the cross.
And in that faith journey, I guarantee that you will be both comforted and made distinctly uncomfortable; I guarantee that you will get defensive and be defended; I guarantee that you will die…and you will live. Because in walking with Jesus to see where he is staying, we discover along the way that he abides in us. He is staying with us. He is walking with us on our journey—no matter where it takes us, no matter how long it takes us, no matter how many times we turn back, God is with us.
So, what are you looking for? What do you seek? What do you need? Why are you here today—or any day? I pray that no matter what brings you into this community, you discover that God has invited you, Christ is with you, and the Holy Spirit will not let you get too comfortable—that you will be sent out to do what John the Baptist did: to point others to Jesus, declaring, “Look, here is the Lamb who takes our sin. Come and see. Come and die. Come and live.”
Pastor Tobi White
Our Saviour’s Lutheran Church