Two Witnesses: John the Baptist and Andrew
Epiphany 2A John 1:29-42
Pastor Edward F. Markquart
Grace Lutheran Church
Des Moines, Washington 98198
The following Bible study is from a larger course entitled THE LIFE OF CHRIST: A Study in the Four Gospels. This 54 week course for the laity will be available for congregations in 2006.
Basic text for the course: SYNOPSIS OF THE FOUR GOSPELS, Kurt Aland, English Edition, P. 22.
A key preaching theme in this text: We are invited to be witnesses for Jesus Christ … like John the Baptist and Andrew. Both John the Baptist and Andrew saw “first hand” and personally experienced the sacred presence of God within of Nazareth. They both were convinced that there was something special about Jesus, that he was the light of God who illuminated the truth about God, that he was the Son of God. Both then shared this awareness with others. According to the Gospel of John, they were the first two witnesses for Christ in a long processional of witnesses throughout history.
#18. The Baptism of JesusTHE BAPTISM OF JESUS
Matthew 3:13-17, Mark 1:9-11, Luke 3:21-22, John 1:29-34
All four Gospels have the same story.
In all four gospels, the primary meaning is clear: the Spirit of God descended upon Jesus and Jesus was declared to be the Son of God by none other than God. Jesus Christ was designated the Son of God by God. There is no “wiggle room” as to the true identity of Jesus.
There are specific parallels in the stories in all four gospels: Spirit, dove, heavens opened, voice, beloved Son, well pleased
.The following Bible passage is the Gospel of John’s version of Jesus’ baptism
-The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, "Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! In his heart, John the Baptist had come to realize that Jesus was someone special, something sacred, a holy man, a divine man, a man who was the light of the world, the Son of God, the Lamb of God. We know of no earlier recorded conversation between Jesus and John the Baptist…yet the Baptist knew the truth about Jesus. He knew that Jesus was “made of different stuff” than mere mortals.
In this first sentence in the baptismal story; unlike the other three gospels, the Gospel of John emphasized that Jesus was the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. Jesus’ sin did not need to be cleansed by the purifying waters of baptism. No, not at all. Jesus had no sin. In John’s baptism, the important truth is that the Spirit of the Living God came to rest and remain on Jesus in a special way. In his baptism, Jesus was declared to be the Son of God, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.
The sin of the world refers to our sinful condition, that we human beings are sinful at our very core. The sin (a singular noun) refers to our warring, violent, and selfish human nature. The sins (plural noun) of the world refer to our infinite specific acts of selfishness and brutality.
When Jesus takes away the sin of the world, that includes both our sinful nature/disposition and our sinful deeds/actions.
That was and still is the fundamental purpose of Jesus, the Son of God: to cleanse human beings and the human race from our sin.
It is only in this passage in the New Testament that Jesus is referred to as the Lamb of God (twice) and perhaps a sermon could focus on this particular quality/characteristic of Jesus.
It seems that when Jesus was described as the Lamb of God, John the Baptist may have been thinking of the scapegoat in the Old Testament who carried the sins of the world out into the wilderness. On the annual Day of Atonement, the most sacred day for the Jews of old, the high priest would dedicate a goat to symbolically carry out the sins of the whole world from the camp into the desert. (Leviticus 16:8, 10, 26.) Nowadays, we continue to think of Jesus as carrying away the sin of the whole world on his back, out into the wilderness.
It could be that this passage has Eucharistic overtones…that the sacrificial blood of Christ cleanses us from our sin.
We think of the actual words of Jesus at the Lord’s Supper e.g. “This is my blood of the covenant which is poured out for many, (or for all).” And Matthew’s addition: “For the forgiveness of sin.” (Notice the singular “sin” and not plural “sins.”) The blood of the Passover lamb was for the forgiveness of the peoples’ sin.
Some Biblical scholars suggest that in a careful reading of the chronology of the Gospel of John, that gospel suggests that Jesus was crucified on the cross on Thursday afternoon, from 12:00 to 3:00, when the lambs were being butchered/slaughtered for the Passover meals that evening in Jewish homes. If this reconstruction of the Gospel of John’s chronology of the Passion Story is true, the symbolism of Jesus, the perfect Lamb of God, being slaughtered on the cross just as the thousands of lambs were being slaughtered in Jewish homes, is powerful. Jesus is the new Lamb of God who replaces all those lambs that were being butchered/slaughtered for the Passover meal.
In the Old Covenant/Old Testament, the body of a perfect lamb was sacrificed. In the New Covenant/New Testament, the body of Christ, the perfect Lamb of God, was sacrificed to atone for the sin(s) of the whole world.
In liturgical churches, we usually sing the “Agnus Dei” (Lamb of God) on Sunday mornings during the Eucharist. I especially love the recording of Sara Brightman singing PIE JESU. “Merciful Jesus, who takes away the sin of the world, grant us peace. Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world, grand us everlasting peace.”
A preacher could focus a sermon on the theme, “Jesus is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.”
-This is he of whom I said, 'After me comes a man who ranks before me, John the Baptist repeatedly said that he was not the Messiah but pointed to the Messiah in the person of Jesus.
for he was before me.' Jesus existed before John the Baptist was born.
-I myself did not know him; John did not have a relationship with Jesus before this incident.
but for this I came baptizing with water, that he might be revealed to Israel." The Gospel of John is clear: Jesus was baptized in order to be revealed as the Son of God to Israel. It was NOT that Jesus was baptized in order to have his sins washed away.
-And John bore witness, In this text for this coming Sunday, a preacher may focus on the words, “bore witness.” Bearing witness means giving testimony or sharing evidence of what a person has seen first hand. Focus on the word, “witness,” and hold onto it. We will focus on that word in a moment.
"I saw the Spirit descend as a dove from heaven, “I saw.” It was a personal seeing. As a first hand witness, he personally saw the Spirit of the Living God descending on Jesus like a dove.
This is at the heart of the baptism of Jesus: the Spirit of the Living God descended upon him. This is at the heart of all baptisms today: the Spirit of the Living God comes to live within that person.
and it remained on him. The Spirit remained on Jesus and John was an eyewitness. He saw this with his own eyes. Twice the Spirit “remained” on Jesus. John seems to be emphasizing that the Spirit remained on Jesus throughout his whole lifetime and did not leave him. We are also aware that the Spirit of God can enter a person and take up only temporary residence in that person and then leave. But not with Jesus.
- I myself did not know him; John the Baptist had not previously met Jesus of Nazareth or known him. This is the second time that John said this in this text.
-but he who sent me to baptize with water said to me, But God, who sent John to baptize with water, spoke to John and said.. The following words are from God through the voice of the prophet, John the Baptist.
-'He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain, this is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.' The Spirit. The focus in the Spirit of the Living God who descended and remained on Jesus. And Jesus did not baptize with water but with the Spirit of the Living God, the Holy Spirit.
For example, in John 4:7-38, we hear the story of Jesus and the Samaritan woman at the well who wanted to drink of the living water that would well up into eternal life. (She also said, "Come and see a man who told me all I ever did.) In John 7:37-39, we learn from Jesus that anyone who comes to Jesus and drinks of him, out of that person will flow rivers of living water. "Now this he said about the Holy Spirit." Flowing rivers of the Holy Spirit. Gushing fountains of the Holy Spirit. Pouring rain of the Holy Spirit.
Jesus still baptizes with the Holy Spirit. When a person believes in Jesus Christ, the Spirit of the Living God and God’s love comes to live within that person. Jesus does not merely baptize with water like John the Baptist did. In Jesus, there is a Spirit baptism.
-And I have seen and have borne witness that this is the Son of God." In other words, John the Baptist himself was an “eye witness” and gives us an eyewitness account. “I myself have seen and I myself have born witness.”
But it was not only John the Baptist who bore witness but John, the author of this Gospel of John. The other gospel authors never claim this for themselves that they were eyewitnesses. The Apostle John, in I John 1:1-4, says the same thing, “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon and touched with our hands, concerning the word of life. The life was made manifest and we saw it and testify to it…that which we have seen and heard we proclaim to you…we are writing this that our joy may be complete.” In other words, it is clear that John, the Apostle, was an eyewitness of the life of Christ. His was a first-hand experience with the Living Christ.
The Baptist John and the Apostle John testify to Jesus’ identity: that he was/is the Son of God, God in the flesh, the gracious love of God within a human being. They were both first hand witnesses.
Throughout this course, we are repeatedly going to encounter John, the beloved disciple, as being an eyewitness of the life of Jesus. John, in the Gospel of John, will give us numerous eyewitness accounts of events in Jesus’ life. We are going to be surprised at the numerous historical details that John will offer to us as our reporter “on the scene.”
As has been said, most scholars believe that John is one of the two eyewitness accounts of the four gospels. The second eyewitness about is the Gospel of Mark. The Gospel of Mark is a record of the reminiscences of Peter to Mark before Peter was martyred upside down in Rome.
We recall Joh 3:11 – “Truly, truly, I say to you, we speak of what we know, and bear witness to what we have seen.”
Effective evangelists speak of what we personally have seen or experienced with our own eyes, ears, and heart. That was true of the Apostle John; it was also true of John the Baptist and Andrew in our gospel story for today.
The Gospel of John uses the word, “witness,” often, 26 times to be exact. The synoptic gospels rarely use the word “witness” other than referring to the commandment, “Do not bear false witness.” “Witness” is a favorite word in the Gospel of John, just as it is a favorite word in the Book of Acts. A preacher is faithful to the text when he/she focuses the energies of the sermon on the two examples of witnessing in this particular text: John the Baptist and Andrew.
The theme of “witness” for Christ can be used in a sermon on this text, that John the Baptist was the first witness to the truth…that Jesus Christ was/is the Son of God. The second “witness for Christ” in this text for this coming Sunday was Andrew. Both were witnesses to the truth about Jesus Christ. John the Baptist was first; Andrew was second in the long processional of history who have been witnesses for Jesus Christ.
Closely read the passages that use the word “witness” in the Gospel of John. Think of these passages as the unifying theme for this sermon e.g. “we personally are to bear witness to the light of Christ that all people might believe in him.”
Joh 1:7 - He came for testimony, to bear witness to the light, that all might believe through him.
Joh 1:8 - He was not the light, but came to bear witness to the light.
Joh 1:15 - (John bore witness to him, and cried, "This was he of whom I said, 'He who comes after me ranks before me, for he was before me.'")
Joh 1:32 - And John bore witness, "I saw the Spirit descend as a dove from heaven, and it remained on him.
Joh 1:34 - And I have seen and have borne witness that this is the Son of God." (So did Andrew later in this text.)
Joh 2:25 - because he knew all men and needed no one to bear witness of man; for he himself knew what was in man.
Joh 3:11 - Truly, truly, I say to you, we speak of what we know, and bear witness to what we have seen; but you do not receive our testimony.
Joh 3:26 - And they came to John, and said to him, "Rabbi, he who was with you beyond the Jordan, to whom you bore witness, here he is, baptizing, and all are going to him."
Joh 3:28 - You yourselves bear me witness, that I said, I am not the Christ, but I have been sent before him.
Joh 3:32 - He bears witness to what he has seen and heard, yet no one receives his testimony;
Joh 5:31 - If I bear witness to myself, my testimony is not true;
Joh 5:32 - there is another who bears witness to me, and I know that the testimony which he bears to me is true.
Joh 5:33 - You sent to John, and he has borne witness to the truth. (This is what John and Andrew did and what you are I are called to do as well.)
Joh 5:36 - But the testimony which I have is greater than that of John; for the works which the Father has granted me to accomplish, these very works which I am doing, bear me witness that the Father has sent me.
Joh 5:37 - And the Father who sent me has himself borne witness to me. His voice you have never heard, his form you have never seen;
Joh 5:39 - You search the scriptures, because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness to me;
Joh 8:13 - The Pharisees then said to him, "You are bearing witness to yourself; your testimony is not true."
Joh 8:14 - Jesus answered, "Even if I do bear witness to myself, my testimony is true, for I know whence I have come and whither I am going, but you do not know whence I come or whither I am going.
Joh 8:18 - I bear witness to myself, and the Father who sent me bears witness to me."
Joh 10:25 - Jesus answered them, "I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father's name, they bear witness to me;
Joh 12:17 - The crowd that had been with him when he called Lazarus out of the tomb and raised him from the dead bore witness.
Joh 15:26 - But when the Counselor comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness to me;
Joh 18:23 - Jesus answered him, "If I have spoken wrongly, bear witness to the wrong; but if I have spoken rightly, why do you strike me?"
Joh 18:37 - Pilate said to him, "So you are a king?" Jesus answered, "You say that I am a king. For this I was born, and for this I have come into the world, to bear witness to the truth. Every one who is of the truth hears my voice."
Joh 19:35 - He who saw it has borne witness--his testimony is true, and he knows that he tells the truth--that you also may believe.
Joh 21:24 - This is the disciple who is bearing witness to these things, and who has written these things; and we know that his testimony is true. In our baptism, similar things happen to us as happened to Jesus when he was baptized:
1) The Spirit of God comes into us and remains in us.
2) We are declared to be a child of God.
3) We hear that God is well pleased with us. (words in the other gospels)
4) We become witnesses for Christ, to the truth about Jesus, that he was/is the Son of God, the love of God living in the person of Jesus.
Jesus is clearly called the Son of God by God the Father. This is clearly stated in all four gospels in this baptismal text. We will hear the same voice of God make a similar declaration at the event of the Transfiguration e.g. “This is my beloved Son, my chosen, with whom I am well pleased.” (Mark 2:7 and parallels) There are several events in Jesus’ life where Jesus was/is clearly declared to be the Son of God e.g. the virgin birth, baptism, transfiguration, and resurrection. In John’s gospel, the voice is not the voice of God from heaven but the voice of John the Apostle who declares that Jesus is the Son of God. It is the man, the human being, John the Baptist, who gives his personal testimony about Jesus.
#21. The Call of The First Disciples
Remember that John’s account of the call of the first disciples is quite different than the account in Matthew, Mark and Luke. In John’s gospel, Andrew, a disciple of John the Baptist, is called first and he goes and finds his brother. In the first three gospels, Simon and Andrew are first called to be the disciples followed by James and John, all of whom become “fishers of men.” There is a different feel to the stories in the Gospel of John and the other three gospels.
The event of the call of the first disciples in the Gospel of John seems to occur in the Wilderness of Judea where John the Baptist was preaching. In John, the call of the first disciples is out in the wilderness; in the first three gospels, the call of the first disciples is near the water (Lake Galilee).
Remember, as we move into this course, we are gradually going to discover that John’s gospel consistently provides us with the historically alive juicy tidbits. We, as students of the life of Christ, listen most carefully to the Gospel of Mark and the Gospel of John for historical accuracy. As the same time, we know full well that these gospels are not exacting biographies of Jesus.
-The next day John again was standing with two of his disciples, and as he watched Jesus walk by, he exclaimed, "Look, here is the Lamb of God!" The day before, John the Baptist saw the Spirit of God descend on Jesus and remain on him. John the Disciples told us that he bore witness that Jesus was the Son of God.
John the Baptist knew the true identity of Jesus. It was as if John was encouraging his two disciples to follow Jesus. John witnessed to two of his disciples.
Circle the word, “exclaimed.” There was an enthusiasm in his voice, an excitement in his discovery. That is often true of effective witnesses for Christ. What does it mean in today’s secular, polite society to be “exited” about Jesus of Nazareth? John the Baptist knew the true identity of Jesus for his own life and the life of the world around him. John knew in his craw that Jesus was the Lamb of God who took away his sin, our sin, everyone’s sin.
EVERYBODY is very, very, imperfect, again and again, in our lives and all human beings need forgiveness of sin, as much as we need food and water to survive.
See the detail, e.g. “as he was standing with two of his disciples” and “as he watched Jesus walk by.” John the Apostle forever gives us juicy little tidbits of historically reliable narrative…
-The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus. We know that one of those disciples was Andrew.
-When Jesus turned and saw them following, he said to them, "What are you looking for?" This is a philosophical question in John: “What are you looking for?”
-They said to him, "Rabbi" (which translated means Teacher), "where are you staying?" “Staying” or “living.” This Greek word is used repeatedly by the author of the Gospel of John and becomes a theological theme, especially in John 15.
-He said to them, "Come and see." Focus on the phase, “come and see.” This is what all witnesses for Christ do. That is, we invite others to come and see Jesus.
Jesus answered, “Come and see.” And the word, “see,” is meaningful. The Greek word is not “blepo” which means come and physically see. But the Greek word is “orapo” which is not physical sight but spiritual insight. Do you see can mean sight. Do you see can mean insight. Jesus was saying, “Come and see what you are really looking for.”
What I am suggesting is that the very essence of evangelism is that people’s hearts have been captured by Jesus Christ and you go and say to your friends and family, “Come and see. You have got to come and see for yourself this Jesus of Nazareth. You need to know first hand his love, his compassion, his kindness, his mercy, his beauty. It will make all the difference in your world and in your life.”
That is what it means to be a disciple of Christ. A disciple of Jesus Christ is a person whose heart has been captured by the greatness and gracious goodness of Jesus Christ and you go and say to someone, "Come and see. Come and see this Jesus of Nazareth." That is what can be called “evangelism at its best.”
Please read the sermon, “Come and See” which is listed at the end of this study.
They came and saw where he was staying, and they remained with him that day. It was about four o'clock in the afternoon. Notice the detail. These two men “stayed with Jesus the whole day.” Another detail: “It was about four o’clock in the afternoon.” As we will say repeatedly in this course, either John was an incredible imposter who created historical details in order to give the appearance of historical accuracy or he was actually a recorder/a reporter on the scene who accurately told us what was happening. After years of Biblical study, I have come to the conclusion that John was our reporter on the scene.
Andrew spent the whole day with Jesus and it got to be about four o’clock in the afternoon. The story suggests that Jesus, his friends, and Andrew spent the whole night together. Andrew had twenty-four hours with Jesus. What did they talk about? We don’t know what was said, but something happened in that twenty-four hours that Andrew, being in the presence of God, being in the presence of the Holy Spirit, being in the presence of Jesus, something happened inside of Andrew. He was transformed. Andrew became a disciple of Jesus Christ.
-One of the two who heard John speak and followed him was Andrew, Simon Peter's brother. It seems that Andrew was a follower initially of John the Baptist. We recall of John’s story of the feeding of the five thousand, it was Andrew who brought the little boy with five fish and two loaves to Jesus. It was Andrew who brought his brother and a little lad to Jesus. Please read the sermon,
”Andrew” which is listed at the end of this study.
-He first found his brother Simon and said to him, "We have found the Messiah" (which is translated Anointed). Andrew found the person who was closest to him and told him that he had found the person he was looking for throughout the years.
Theologians love to argue about whether or not “we find Jesus” and/or “Jesus finds us.” Down deep in our craws, many of us believe that both are true. The Lord God finds us; we also find the Living God. Both experiences are true for many of us. It is not an “either /or” but a “both/and.”
One of the most important qualities of an witness for Christ is a personal testimony that “I have found God, the love of God, Jesus, the Presence of the Living God, a divine spirituality,” or whatever words one chooses to describe this reality.
Perhaps the preacher needs to tell the personal story about how Jesus found you and you found Jesus. Each person has a different story.
-He brought Simon to Jesus, who looked at him and said, "You are Simon son of John. You are to be called Cephas" (which is translated Peter). Highlight it. Underline it. Memorize it. “He brought Simon to Jesus.” That is one of the primary missions of our lives: to bring people to meet Jesus Christ. Andrew did not convert Peter to Jesus Christ. He simply brought his brother into the presence of Christ. The Holy Spirit and Christ do the converting. We are to do the same today.
The Church of Jesus Christ and our congregation needs a whole lot more “Andrews,” people who believe in Christ so much that they are willing to talk about Christ to our closest relatives. “He brought Simon to Jesus.” What a powerful statement.
Andrew and John the Baptist were both witnesses for Christ.
Please read the following sermons that amplify this text:
Andrew, John 1:29-42
Come and See, John 1:43-51 (Series B)
First Hand Experience
Here ends the text for Epiphany 2A.
The following is the text for Epiphany 2B
-The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. We notice that Jesus has left the Wilderness of Judea where he had been with John the Baptist and where he called his first disciples. Jesus then went north to Galilee.
-He found Philip and said to him, "Follow me." Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. Jesus found Philip who was from Bethsaida which was located on the northeast corner of the Sea of Galilee. It was the same city as Peter and Andrew were from.
-Philip found Nathaniel and said to him, "We have found him about whom Moses in the law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus son of Joseph from Nazareth." Philip had found Jesus himself. He had found Christ, God, the Son of God. Having found the presence of God, he told Nathaniel. Anyone who is a good evangelist “has found him,” “has found Jesus.”
-Nathaniel said to him, "Can anything good come out of Nazareth?" -Philip said to him, "Come and see." Underline it. Highlight it. Memorize it. Put those words on page 362. “Come and see.” That is what evangelism is. Come and see Jesus Christ. Not the programs. Not the pastors. Not the pizzaz of our parish. But come and see Jesus Christ. In the first three gospels, we will hear a similar theme: “Now you will become fishers of men.”
-When Jesus saw Nathaniel coming toward him, he said of him, "Here is truly an Israelite in whom there is no deceit!" Nathaniel asked him, "Where did you get to know me?" Jesus answered, "I saw you under the fig tree before Philip called you." Nathaniel replied, "Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!" In the Gospel of John, Jesus repeatedly demonstrates his gift of omniscience. Jesus, the Son of God, knows everything.
-Jesus answered, "Do you believe because I told you that I saw you under the fig tree? You will see greater things than these." In the coming years, Nathaniel will see even greater signs/miracles than this.
-And he said to him, "Very truly, I tell you, you will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man."
How do you feel about talking to your brother/sister about Christ? What does this story mean to you?