The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!
John 1:29 NKJV
John is preaching and teaching people to repent of their sins, and he is baptizing with water. And he is drawing a crowd around himself – partly because he is a spectacle to be seen, a wild man living in the wilderness, preaching about God to a world of people living quite differently than himself. And his message was quite different than what they were used to hearing:
Then he said to the multitudes that came out to be baptized by him, “Brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance, and do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I say to you that God is able to raise up children to Abraham from these stones. And even now the ax is laid to the root of the trees. Therefore every tree which does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.”
Luke 3:7-9 NKJV
And Paul is telling them about the Messiah who is to come.
Now as the people were in expectation, and all reasoned in their hearts about John, whether he was the Christ or not, John answered, saying to all, “I indeed baptize you with water; but One mightier than I is coming, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to loose. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.
Luke 3:15-16 NKJV
Paul has been preaching about Christ, telling them about the coming Messiah, but they do not recognize him on their own. Paul still has to urge them – Behold! Look! Today, I urge you to Look! See Christ who is at the gate, waiting to come into your life and lead you along the narrow path to your eternal destination in the house of your heavenly Father.
How often in the hustle and bustle and distractions of each day do I losevsight of Christ?
How often do I need to be reminded to look to Jesus?
Don’t we have to realize our complete need for Him in order to cling to Him?
Don’t we need to believe in Him and examine our lives to see if we are living fruitful lives – serving, and loving others as the body of Christ?
Don’t we need to believe in Him and examine our lives to see if we are living obedient lives – repenting, resisting temptation and seeing it flee from us?
If we believe, and if we “see” Christ and know Him to be real, shouldn’t we encourage them to “Look!”, shouldn’t we warn them of the dangers of they do not?
The good news is that John wasn’t just some nut, some kook, talking about fantasy and imagination and ritual and superstition. The Good News is that the Christ that I know and love and preach is real. The Good News is that your eyes are being opened to see Him even more clearly as you hear the watchmen crying out, “Look!” And as you seek to find Him, recognize Him, get to know Him intimately as that friend who never leaves you or abandons you.
Heavenly Father, Almighty God, maker of heaven and earth. You are the one true God. You are the righteous and just and merciful and forgiving, You are slow to anger, and you love toy children enough to come in the flesh, to be born of a virgin, to live a blameless life, to teach us by your example the way we should live loving God wholeheartedly, to teach us by your example that we should serve and love others as a good neighbor, to teach us by your example to be faithful even unto death, to die on the cross as a blood payment for sin, to overcome sin and death, and to demonstrate what lies ahead for your followers by being raised from death into eternal glory. Help us to see you, Lord. Help us to see a Savior that brings grace and mercy and forgiveness, and help us to see a Lord that brings repentance and holiness and righteousness. Help us to see a Healer who binds up our wounds and casts out of anxiety and guilt and shame from our lives. Help us to see you as our Redeemer who equips us with the whole armor of God to see victory as the enemy is defeated and overcome in our lives. Help us to see you as the annointing of your Holy Spirit poured out into us, so that we can carry the blessings, the light, the truth, the way out into the darkness to those who need Hope and Love and Salvation and Life abundant and eternal. Amen.
And once we have recognized Jesus, once we have caught a glimpse and realized the truth and power of change that He affects in the lives of those drawn to Him, once we have cried out to Him from our hearts and confessed Him as both Savior and, Lord of our lives, once we have found belief – this is the start of our journey, not the triumphant fulfillment. The celebration as we come into the body of Christ is that the work is started in our lives. We have found the narrow gate – now we get to walk this narrow path, hand in hand with our love, our Christ, our companion, our friend.
This narrow path comes with its trials, with its challenges, even with suffering and persecution for those who will set their eyes fully upon Christ and who will carry the light that we have received into the world. If or eyes are opened to behold the light of Christ’s grace, we are also no longer blind to the blindness of those who do not yet have eyes to see. We are no longer without understanding that in order for others to see, there must be someone willing to cry out about this Good News and tell them, “Look! Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” They must hear so that they might see.
And if we hope that they might hear our warning, it must be our love that demonstrates this truth to them. We do not love just in words, but we love in action and in truth. If we speak, but we do not have love, then we are nothing more than an annoying noise that they will refuse to hear. Because they listen for the voice of the Good Shepherd, and they know Him because they recognize the fruit of His Holy Spirit. There are many that know the Scriptures, that can quote Truth, that can “provide you with an example in their words”, but there are so few that will “be an example with their lives”.
Christ calls us to the latter. Christ calls us to speak louder with our life example than with our carefully practiced and examined words. We must examine our hearts much closer than we examine what others might think of us. There is so much at stake. Serving the Lord is such a joy and blessing, and there are so many that are trading in the opportunity of a day spent with Christ for a day distracted by the enticements of the world.
I’m not telling you to act more religious – No, quite the contrary, I’m pleading with you to see Christ who is closer to you than your breath, who is saying, “Walk with me, child. Let’s spend the day together.”
Loving and merciful Father God, help us to walk in your ways, if for no other reason than for people to no longer see us but to catch a glimpse of you, alive and at work in your children. Help us to praise you not just with our lips, but with our lives. Help us to serve you not just with religious traditions and dogma, but with love for one another, with sacrifice, with renewed hearts and minds. Our works are worthless when we walk under our own strength. But your works are undeniable when your love is poured out through us. Teach us to love you with abandon. As we are sanctified by the Blood of the Lamb, and justified by our faith, and proved by the testing of our faith – use us for the work that you have appointed for us. Lead us in the path and purpose that you have designed for us. Establish and maintain our steps upon the narrow path as we follow in the footsteps of Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior. We trust that you will see to completion the work that you have begun in us. Amen.