By Verse : John 1:19-31 Palm Sunday Topic :

BEHOLD THE LAMB OF GOD

In John’s gospel, John the Baptist has been baptizing in the Jordan River and the Pharisees have questioned him on why he was baptizing people if he “was not Elijah nor one of the Prophets.” John says, “I baptize with water, but among you stands one you do not know. He is the one who comes after me, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie.”
That’s the lead in to this morning’s message, from John’s gospel, chapter 1:29-31 where it says, “The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world. This is the one I meant when I said, ‘A man who comes after me has surpassed me.’ I myself know him, but the reason I came baptizing with water was that he might be revealed to Israel.”
Thus, says the word of God for the people of God.
The choir just sang, “Bring your palm branches; there’s joy in the street. ‘Hosanna, hosanna,” the voices repeat. “There is shouting and waving to this blessed one, for this is the day the Messiah has come.”
There you have it. The first Scripture is at the very beginning of John’s gospel as Jesus comes on the scene. John the Baptists word for us this morning is simple. He points to this man who is walking toward him and says, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.” And now our choir brings our attention to another time, a few years later, when Jesus is completing his journey to the cross. We know this time as Palm Sunday. We celebrate it today. You have all received palms to wave, to take home to remind you of this day. For Jesus and his men, it’s a joyous day as people line the road leading up to the gates of Jerusalem. There is shouting, there is joy as the word is passed from one to another that Jesus is coming. Jesus has already set the scene for the disciples, sending them to fetch a donkey on which he will ride into Jerusalem. It’s the start of Passover week where the Jews come once a year to celebrate the feast of Passover. Big crowds. Huge crowds as people gather for this sacred feast to be celebrated in the Temple in Jerusalem. Their ancestors were told never to forget this day. Celebrate and pass what this day means down to their children and instruct them to do the same. “DO NOT FORGET THIS DAY!” They were told. This was their liberation celebration. This was when the death angel passed over all those homes where the blood of a lamb was smeared on the doorway. This was the exodus of their ancestors from Egypt and their bondage where they had suffered for many years. It was the beginning of the trip of salvation to the Promised Land. Every year since being in Jerusalem, Jews from all over came to offer a sacrifice, and celebrate that event and pray for that day when the Messiah would come. They have done this for years. In fact, they still do it today. Passover is still celebrated in Jewish homes remembering that exodus of their ancestors. They still wait for the Messiah to come, for many of the Jews still don’t believe that Jesus was the Messiah, so they wait. They have missed so many blessings as Jesus has fulfilled the Scriptures. But hey, we can’t get on their cases, for there are many today who aren’t Jewish that fail to believe in Jesus.
Little did they know that the waiting was over. John the Baptist knew this when Jesus came to him to be baptized. “Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world” he cried out to the people who were following him. This is why some of John’s disciples went to follow Jesus. People like Andrew, who just happened to be Peter’s brother, and a few others as well. With the guidance of John the Baptist, they went to listen to Jesus. They went to hear Jesus’ message. And it was Andrew, after dining with Jesus, after listening to his message that warmed and transformed his heart, he went as fast as he could to find Peter to tell him “We have found the Messiah.”
Now 3 years later, the Lamb of God has come to Jerusalem. Little did they know that Jesus would take the place of the lambs that would be slain that week in celebration of the exodus. Thousands might have been slain for the Passover feast, but only one would eventually stand out. Only one would end up on a cross. For Jesus was the Lamb of God who would take away their sins, our sins. It would be his blood that would be shed on Friday for the salvation of the world, not just the Jews. And the world would remember it year after year, after year. And will, until the day that Jesus comes again to bring his people home.
So, the people were yelling that Jesus was coming, Jesus was coming. The word was passed to those already in the city of Jerusalem. Many had heard about this man who did many wonderful things. Many had even felt his touch. Maybe a blind man who was given his sight was there to celebrate the Passover. Maybe the lame man who was healed by the pool. Maybe the 10 lepers who were cured had already come to Jerusalem to celebrate as well. Many people were there, touched by Jesus in some way. Some who may have been part of the crowds of the feeding of the 5,000 or the other group of 4,000, who heard his message of salvation and hope, and received food from just a few loaves of bread and a couple of fish. They had been drawn there to celebrate what happened in their lives as they had been touched by the one who was sent by God.
These are the ones who were excited to hear that Jesus was coming. These are the folks that shared their story with others who asked what all the commotion was about. When they asked, who this man was called Jesus that everyone was excited about, they got an earful. “This is the one that touched me, and I was healed. This is the one that spoke, and I could see. This is the one that I touched,” said the woman with the former bleeding problem, “and I was made well.” “This is the one that just spoke some words of healing and my daughter who I had just gotten word had died, was brought back to life.” These testimonies brought many from the city out to see this man. They ran to join the others, just to get a glimpse of him. Maybe in their mind something could happen in their lives as well. Curiosity brought them outside the city to see this man who people were shouting and praising his name.
The way into city was full of people now. The chant was, “Jesus is coming. Jesus is coming. Jesus is coming.” The crowd gathered and watched and waited.
Then it happened. A roar from the crowd! It was like when the crowds greet the team that just won the World Series, or the Stanley Cup, or the NBA title. Shouts of jubilation. The crowd excited, and as the parade begins, shouts are so loud that the people strain their necks to see Jesus. “He is here. I see him.” Words that signaled his presence. “Behold the Lamb of God” some may have shouted. “Look! The Messiah has come.” And the crowd went wild. They began tossing palm branches in the road as Jesus traveled along it. Some even threw their cloaks in front of him as if welcoming a conquering warrior. They sang their hosannas. They reached out to touch him. There were shouts of joy as they waved their palms, sang, danced for Jesus, and some even bowed before him. Some yelled out, “Jesus do you remember me? You gave me back my sight.” Another, “You healed my daughter.” Another, “I was one of the lepers you healed.” And with each yell, Jesus looked over the crowd, smiled, raised his hands in blessings, and continued his journey toward the city where the Passover meal would take on a new meaning. For he would be the sacrifice. He would be the Lamb from God who would bring salvation to those who would believe. It would be a new remembrance for the disciples and one day for the world. For when the world would celebrate the Lord’s Supper, when the world would take the bread, take the cup and eat and drink they would remember something more powerful then ever before. This is the body and blood of our Lord and Savior Jesus the Christ, who died to set us free.
And every year we remember this joyous journey on Palm Sunday. We lay aside the thought of what is to be later this week, to remember what is happening now. We remember the rejoicing of many who were touched by Jesus in his 3 years of ministry. It was part of God’s plan. It began 33 years before when on a clear night the cries of a baby could be heard only by a mom and dad and a few animals in a manger because the inns were full. During that time shepherds came to worship him. Wise men journeyed to offer their gifts. Angels sang of his birth. And God’s Son humbled himself and came to this earth in order to show the world God’s love and offer the world a chance to be redeemed by believing that he is God’s Son.
And now, 33 years later. He has returned to the place where Mary and Joseph took him to be circumcised. This is the same temple where Anna and Simeon beheld the Messiah sent from God. This child has grown, been in ministry, has touched many lives, and is ready to complete the task to which his Father has sent him to do.
That brings us to today. “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” we are invited. “Behold the one that comes to touch your lives today” we are told. We might say Andrew has come searching for us as well to “come, see, we have found the Messiah.”
It’s all there in the gospel of John. It’s all there in all the gospels. It’s all in the Scriptures. We are invited to join the crowds that welcomed Jesus. We are invited to tell our stories of healing and life changing events that have happened in our lives. We are invited to share our faith with others how Jesus touched us when we were in a low point in our lives, or how we found hope when things seemed to be hopeless, or how he helped us through this or that crisis. Share your story of faith where God has touched your body, soul, mind, your faith.
Our redeemer lives! Our Savior reigns!
We sang this morning, “Hosanna, loud hosanna, the little children sang; through pillared court and temple the lovely anthem rang. To Jesus, who had blessed them close folded to his breast, the children sang their praises, the simplest and the best.”
We come like the crowd did back then. We come like the children asking the same questions, tell us the stories of Jesus as we begin Holy Week waving our palms, singing wonderful hymns of our faith, hearing the story of Jesus the King.
But the story doesn’t end there. This is Holy Week and the story continues. Those joys and shouts of praise, well, some I’m afraid, were changed to shouts to crucify this same man. Waiting and watching from the entrance gate to Jerusalem were the religious leaders. They heard the shouts. They have seen the crowds. And they have decided one thing…. this man has to go.
And the man on the donkey? The man who has come to Jerusalem for the final time, well, he begins to cry over this city that is about to reject him. For it is for their sakes that he came.
The story doesn’t end well…. Or does it? For this is Holy Week and Easter Sunday is right around the corner. But we have to get through this week first in order to truly enjoy it.
Are you ready for it? Today, “join the procession and burst into song and join with the voices of heaven’s great throng.” But remember Friday is coming….and so is Easter morning!

 

Colton Dean Mohan

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