Sermon - January 19, 2020 - St. Martin's In the Desert

Dove in flight

Sermon – January 19, 2020

Second Sunday after the Epiphany
Year A
January 19, 2020

First Reading: Isaiah 49:1-7
Psalm 40: 1-12
Second Reading: 1 Corinthians 1:1-9
Gospel: John: 1:29-42

The readings today are filled with promises of light and deliverance, and of Thanksgiving and Grace.

I Saw Your Face for The First Time!

When I read the first line of the Gospel today….” John saw Jesus coming toward him and declared, “Here is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” John, is so excited, it was, as though, he sees Jesus’ face for the very first time! It reminded me of a story I had seen on the news a few years ago. It was 2016, on ABC News.

His name is Leo, a baby boy whose life changed when a pair of eye glasses was placed on his little face. He has a rare visual disorder since birth. They place his new glasses on his face and you should have seen his face… when he sees his mom. Up until then his vision had been blurry and he never had a clear view of the world, everything was fuzzy and out of focus. 

And then the video shows the moment they first put these little round glasses on and he looks at his mother’s face and that smile, “oh” that smile, when he sees her face “clearly” for the first time. There is no drought in his mind who she is!!  No longer a blurry view, but it became clear to him that day, mom.

The Gospel:

Earlier in the chapters of (John: 19-23), the Jews, the Temple religious authorities; send priest and Levites from Jerusalem to ask John,

“Who are you?” John confesses, I am not the Messiah! And they asked him.

“What then? Are you Elijah?”

To the Jews Elijah was the one they expected to come and prepare the way.

John, “I am not.” Are you the prophet? “He again answered “No” So they then said to him “Who are you?

This is when John let’s them know, in chapter 23. 

“I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, make straight the way of the Lord,’ as the prophet Isaiah said.”  

John has thousands of followers coming to see… “what it is he has to say!” He also has disciples following him.  What he (John) is doing is not recognized by the religious authorizes and he is engaged in a ritual not sanctioned by them.  

“But,” what better timing. All this is taking place in Bethany across the Jordan where John is baptizing. Imagine, it was a beautiful sunny day, mid afternoon by the river Jordan. And then:

“JOHN SAW JESUS” coming towards him and one of the greatest scriptures we have heard all our lives is said now!

“Here is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” 

John’s announcement! says it all, that the Son of God, is here for all, the world, all people and not just the Jewish people.

John also testified, “I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him. I myself did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain is the one who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’

This is important…like the little baby Leo, who sees his mom’s face for the first time, it was not blurry or fuzzy! It became clear to the baby, that this was his mom with this loving face. And it becomes clear to John, that when he saw the dove and it remained on Jesus, it was no longer just a talking point, it was not blurry or fuzzy, but it was very clear…this is, “The Son of God”.

The next day was becoming clear to everyone and many were still hanging around, they wanted to see him again and perhaps get more information. 

John’s disciples are hanging around with him, just then Jesus walk by and he again….

” Look, here is the Lamb of God!” 

Today, we know sheep or a lamb, as someplace we get wool, in some cases, they provide for families all over the world, milk, meat and income. In the days of Jesus, that was also the case, but in the scripture, the lamb is more like innocence and purity, much like the image of the suffering servant which we read about in Isaiah 52:7.

Or the lamb was also the image of God’s delivering his people from their bondage in Egypt. Where an event is in the celebration of Passover and the slaughter of a lamb.

Two of John’s disciples heard him say, here is the Lamb of God, and they followed Jesus.

“What are you looking for?”, Jesus said to them!
They said to him, “Rabbi” “where are you staying?” 
He said to them, “Come and see.” 

They stayed with him and later, about 4:00, John brings other disciples with him to see the Messiah and one being Peter.


In all the Gospel’s, John the Baptist as the prophet who announced that when Jesus comes, the present evil age and finally and fully bring the realm of God, a new world, is which all things would live forever in love, peace and justice.

 What a dove suggests to Jesus…. purity, meekness, innocence.

It is not majestic like and eagle or fierce like a hawk or flamboyant like a cardinal, it was simple, common, innocent, the kind of bird the poor people could relate too. 

Jesus said “Come and See” They want to be like Jesus and to receive what gifts he has to offer, so they can be like him.

As Christians we do not want to impose on others, but! as Christians, we do want to invite people to come and see. We have here at St. Martin’s — as small as we are — a worship life that enriches and strengthens those who come. We want to give people a sense of belonging and a feeling of a community that loves one another, just as God loved us and sacrificed his Lamb for us.

John’s announcement says it all, that the Son of God, is here for all, the world, all people.

“Come and See”

Rev. Lola Culbreath