29 The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! 30 This is the one I meant when I said, ‘A man who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’ 31 I myself did not know him, but the reason I came baptizing with water was that he might be revealed to Israel.”
32 Then John gave this testimony: “I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him. 33 And I myself did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, ‘The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’ 34 I have seen and I testify that this is God’s Chosen One.”
35 The next day John was there again with two of his disciples. 36 When he saw Jesus passing by, he said, “Look, the Lamb of God!”
37 When the two disciples heard him say this, they followed Jesus. 38 Turning around, Jesus saw them following and asked, “What do you want?”
They said, “Rabbi” (which means “Teacher”), “where are you staying?”
39 “Come,” he replied, “and you will see.”
So they went and saw where he was staying, and they spent that day with him. It was about four in the afternoon.
40 Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, was one of the two who heard what John had said and who had followed Jesus. 41 The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon and tell him, “We have found the Messiah” (that is, the Christ). 42 And he brought him to Jesus. (John 1:29-42)
Why do you always see sheep at church? Someone asked me that this week. It’s a great question! There’s a sheep in one of our stained glass windows. Why do you always see sheep at church? The truth is, we don’t see sheep at church at all as much as people used to. Do you know what worship was like at the temple before the time of Jesus? Lots of sheep. Every single morning and every single evening of every day of the year a lamb was sacrificed on the altar at the temple. Can you imagine that? Imagine if we actually used our altar as an altar: If I’d slit a lamb’s throat. Let it’s blood run everywhere. Then burn it. Every morning. Every evening. Every day.
Why? Why so many sheep at church? It sounds brutal. But it had a purpose. God commanded sacrifices to remind his people how serious our sins are. If an Israelite ever had trouble taking sin lightly, all he had to do was walk to the temple and see all the blood on the ground. Sin brings death. To save from sin, something needs to die. The Bible actually says, “Without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness” (Hebrews 9:22). All those sheep communicated that message loud and clear. “These lambs are dying in your place to pay for your sins so you can live.” Sin is serious. Sin brings death. Sin needs to be taken away. Wow. What a powerful message, right?
But it wasn’t just at church. There weren’t just sheep at church. It was at your home too. Every spring, Passover came. Each family was to celebrate the Passover, not with trees and gifts and lights, but with a lamb. Each family was to take a perfect lamb in their homes. Kill it. Cook it. Eat it. All to remember how the blood of lambs had saved God’s people from the worst of the ten plagues in Egypt. That Passover lamb was a powerful sign of God’s salvation. Year after year. Lamb after lamb. Why were there so many sheep at church? Why this lamb at our house? There would have been no doubt in a Jewish mind. We need God’s forgiveness, all the time. Got it?
Until one day, John the Baptist saw Jesus walking by and declared, “Look, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” Do you think those words it home? I bet they did! After 1500 years of lambs. After millions and millions of sacrifices. He came! Deep down, those people knew that their sacrifices really didn’t save them. The blood of sheep can’t take away sin. They all pointed ahead. They pointed to a Savior. To Jesus. Jesus did what none of those other lambs could do. He died once and for all for the sins of the whole world. Why do we have a sheep at church? Because Jesus is the “Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.”
So why do we keep on sacrificing? Maybe you’re thinking, “What do you mean? We don’t sacrifice anymore!” That’s not true. What are you doing right now to try to get rid of your sins? I met a man named Brent at the airport. He found out I’m a pastor. So he explained why he doesn’t need church anymore. He said, “I’ve got something better. I build schools in India. Five times I’ve gone to India to build schools there. I’m going to keep going back. That’s how I feel good about myself. I do good!” That’s his lamb. That’s his way to try to get rid of his sin. Understand? Do great things. Feel good about himself. Then he doesn’t have to think about sin.
I met a lady named Martha at a hotel in Puerto Rico. “Where are you from?” I asked. “Milwaukee,” she said. We had a nice conversation until she found out I was a pastor. Then she got defensive. “I don’t believe any of that stuff anymore!” “So what do you do instead?” “I live off the grid. Live without electricity. Without anything. Get away from people. Get away from everything. That’s where it’s at!” That’s her lamb. That’s her way to try to get rid of her sin. Ignore it. Avoid religion at all costs. Get away. Is that you? What do you keep on sacrificing?
How often do you pretend you’re someone that you’re not? I do. How often do you stuff things inside so that no one can see them? I do. How often do you whisper to yourself, “It’s okay,” when you know it’s not! How many times have you made tried to make a deal with God, “I’ll be a better person!” How has that worked out? Can you see what I mean? You don’t have to sacrifice lambs to try to get rid of your sin on your own. We cover-up sin, laugh at sin, ignore sin, excuse sin, pretend we don’t sin… But there’s still this ache in your heart. This fear in your mind. Because here’s the hard truth: None of that works! The soul who sins is the one who will die. None of our feeble attempts can possibly get rid of our sins. Can you see that?
Until John the Baptist pointed to Jesus and said, “Look, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” You talk about an innocent Lamb—that was Jesus! Jesus never did a single thing wrong. He never sinned once. But like all those innocent lambs, he died in our place, so we can live. Because Jesus’ blood on the cross did what no lamb’s blood could ever do. It took away the sin of the world. In life, there are only two places our sins can be. Either our sins will be on us, weighing us down and making us feel inadequate and unlovable. Or our sins will be on Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God. When your sin rests on Jesus, you are free and forgiven and saved!
But how can we know that’s really true? When you’re weighed down by guilt and sin, this is hard to believe. Maybe Jesus took away John the Baptist’s sins, but mine? Is that possible? Jesus smiles and asks, “Are you part of the world?” “Yes.” “Then I’ve taken your sin away.” He died for every single person. For every sin. When you doubt that, just look down and see if you have hands. Maybe clap them together. Legs and feet too? Are you a human being? Yes? Then Jesus died for you. If it turns out you’re actually a horse or a grizzly bear, you’re out of luck. I’m sorry. But for every person, what Jesus did counts for you. He has taken away the sin of the world.
This is the heart of the Bible’s teaching. People today debate about this Jesus guy and what he did on earth. Many Christians say Jesus is our example who came to show us how to live. What would Jesus do, right? Most non-Christians say Jesus was a good teacher who taught some good things. But Jesus didn’t come just to teach. Jesus didn’t come as our example. He came to save—to live and die and rise to forgive us from our sins. If we miss that, than we don’t know Jesus. When you understand that, then your heart can finally have peace. There is no greater comfort in the world than knowing that Jesus is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.
When the devil comes to you—he’s going to keep on coming—when the devil comes to you to make you feel guilty… When the devil brings up your past over and over again… When the devil tempts you to despair and to think, “Jesus couldn’t love me. Look at what I’ve done!” When the devil points out your sin, do you know what you can tell the devil? “Devil, if you have a problem with my sin, you need to bring it up with Jesus. Because I don’t have my sins anymore. Jesus does. He took them all away. I’m sorry, but if you have a problem with my sin, you’ll have to take up it with Jesus. He is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.”
Isn’t that great news? Just don’t stop there. Too often that’s as far as we go. “You’re forgiven. Amen. Go home!” That’s not all. When John the Baptist pointed to Jesus and said, “Look the Lamb of God…,” it wasn’t just a statement. He wasn’t just sharing information. It was a call to action. He was calling out to everyone around him to drop what they were doing and follow Jesus. Because if this is true, if there’s really someone who loved you enough to die for every one of your sins, that means something for your life. “Look, the Lamb of God!” That was a call to action. See what Jesus has done for you? Follow him! In everything!
What’s ironic is that the first time John pointed out Jesus, nothing seemed to happen. So, the next day, he said the same thing, “Look, the Lamb of God!” And this time Andrew and another man didn’t just shrug their shoulders and say, “John, you said that already.” “They followed Jesus.” When Jesus saw them following, he asked, “‘What do you want?’ They said, ‘Rabbi,’ where are you staying?’ ‘Come,’ he replied, ‘and you will see.’ So they went and saw where he was staying, and spent that day with him.” I hope you’re learning how good it is to spend time with Jesus. Actually, more than that, I hope you can never get enough of Jesus and his Word.
But that’s still not all. Andrew heard John’s call to action: “Look, the Lamb of God.” He followed Jesus and spent time with him. But that still wasn’t all. “The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon and tell him, ‘We have found the Messiah.’” At the end of the day, he didn’t go back to his house. No way! The first thing he did was find his brother. He had to tell him. “We have found the Messiah.” Do you see a pattern? Hear about Jesus. See Jesus. Tell about Jesus. Hear. See. Tell. You’ve heard of this guy Simon Peter, right? The great disciple of Jesus? How did Peter end up following Jesus? Because his brother told him. Hear. See. Tell.
This is how evangelism works. I was at a pastors’ conference in Puerto Rico with Spanish-speaking pastors from around the U.S. When I go to conferences, I often hope to find a magic bullet to make everything easier. “If you just do this one thing, then lots of people are going to come to your church!” Guess what. There is none! Do you know what every pastor emphasized? People. God’s church grows person by person as God’s people—you!—point others to Jesus.
I wonder if this is where you and I and our church have the greatest room to grow right now. By God’s grace, we hear that Jesus is the Lamb of God all the time, don’t we? By God’s grace, he’s moved you to follow Jesus. You’re here! You want more. Don’t ever stop coming. But maybe where we need to grow is this: Telling. Whom can you bring to Jesus? Can we be honest? Nobody goes to church anymore. That means everybody is foolishly trying to get rid of their sins on their own. It doesn’t work. There’s no peace. You know that. Whom can you bring to Jesus?
Maybe you wonder, “What do I say? How do I do it?” There are no magic words. But people do say that the best salesperson is someone who has tested the product for themselves. As Jesus fills your heart, ask Jesus for opportunities to point people to Jesus. “I know someone who forgives all of my sins. I know someone who loves me no matter what.” Remember, it’s not about you. It’s about Jesus! Do you wonder what Jesus was doing in our lesson? He silently walks by John. Then, the very next day, he silently walks by John again. Jesus didn’t say a single word, but he was giving John the opportunity to point others to him. There are hands that only you can hold. There are hearts that only you can encourage. With Jesus. “Look, the Lamb of God.” That’s what it’s all about. That’s why there’s a sheep at our church!