Thursday, November 30, 2017

HVL Chapel -- Feast of St. Andrew, Apostle (November 29, 2017)

The Feast of St. Andrew is actually on November 30, but a scheduling conflict transferred the date to November 29 where it was preached at Huron Valley Lutheran High School in Westland, MI.

JOHN 1:35-42

WE SEEK GOD WHERE HE WILL BE FOUND.

In the name + of Jesus.

Many ideas for this chapel were gleaned from Rev. William Weedon, chaplain for the international center of the LC-MS, formerly pastor at St. Paul's Evangelical Lutheran Church of Hamel, IL.

     St. Andrew was a fisherman, but he was also a godly man.  St. Andrew did what godly men do—he went to church.  Andrew's church, however, was not some Gothic cathedral.  It wasn't even a mud hut.  Andrew went into the wilderness by the Jordan River.  That is where is church was, because that is where God's prophet was.  John the Baptist was preaching by the Jordan River, preparing the way for the Lord.  Andrew was eager to see the kingdom of God, and so he became a disciple of John the Baptist.
     Throughout the Old Testament, God sent prophets who proclaimed that the Messiah was coming.  Through Adam, and Noah, and Abraham, and David, and Isaiah, and Malachi, the Lord kept pointing people to the Messiah.  Finally, John the Baptist was able not merely to point to the future, but to stretch out his finger and declare: “That one!  Behold!  The Lamb of God!” (John 1:36)  And at the end of John's finger was a man, Jesus of Nazareth.
     There are billions of people in the world who worship “God” in one form or another.  But in all those religions, God remains abstract.  He is a concept who is described, but he is never seen.  You can never know where God is to be found.  It is up to each worshiper to find some way to tap into God.  Even for those who claim that they have some divine insight, you don't know for sure if God was actually found where such prophets or gurus say.  Man's meditation upon God—no matter how deep it seems or pious it sounds—is not God's word to man.  It is only man's word about God.   And while it is true that God is everywhere (he is omnipresent), that does not help you know if God is for you or against you.  For example, if God is everywhere, then he is also in a bonfire.  But God is not for you in a bonfire. 
     John the Baptist's message changed all of that: “Behold, the Lamb of God!” (John 1:36)  Andrew did not see a concept.  He saw a man, Jesus.  Andrew saw a real person who is God in the flesh.  Andrew saw God who had come in humble form so that he could dwell among humble sinners.  Andrew saw not merely “God with us” (Immanuel), he saw God for us.  He sought God where God would be found, in Jesus.
     It is no different for you.  You, like Andrew, seek the kingdom of God.  You, like Andrew, are not saved by a concept.  You cannot stay away from church and think that you are saved by your pious thoughts.  Seek God where he will be found.  God and his salvation are only found in a man who is also eternal God.  You are saved by Jesus Christ.  He is a real Savior.  Jesus does not save fake sinners, only real sinners.  Therefore, Jesus became a flesh-and-blood Savior for flesh-and-blood sinners.  Jesus is the Lamb of God, which means that he is an unblemished sacrifice for you.  Your real guilt was laid on a real Savior.  He suffered real torment under God's righteous anger.  He endured a real brutal death on a solid wooden cross.  His body was slain for you.  His blood was shed for you.  And his corpse was laid in a tomb to remove the real terror of death for you.  And then, Jesus of Nazareth rose from the dead.  You do not believe in a concept which rose from the grave; you believe in a man who rose from the grave to live in glory forever.  Just as Andrew was pointed to a man to be his Savior, so also Andrew witnessed a man who conquered death for sinners.  Therefore, your forgiveness is real.  God's favor is real.  Your resurrection from the dead, though a future event, is real.  Just as Jesus does not save fake sinners, so Jesus does not bestow a fake salvation.
     Now, unlike Andrew, you do not see Jesus face to face.  I can't point you to a man in this room and say, “Follow him.  That is your Savior.”  Nevertheless, we seek God where he will be found.  Jesus tells us where to find him.  He points us to the Scriptures and declares, “It is they that bear witness about me.” (John 5:39)  He points us to the baptismal font and says, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins.” (Acts 2:39)  He points us to the altar and summons, “Eat.  Drink.  This is my body and my blood, for you, for the forgiveness of sins.” (Matthew 26:26-28; cf also Mark 14:22-24; Luke 22:19-20; 1 Corinthians 11:24-25)  Here, God is at work for you.  Here, the Savior applies his mercies to you.  Here, you find God's forgiveness, new life, and salvation.  They do not come through your imagination.  You do not have to grope about to find God in these things.  God comes to you in real, tangible ways to forgive, to comfort, and to save.  We seek God where he will be found.
     John was standing with two of his disciples, and he looked at Jesus as he walked by and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God!”  The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus.  Jesus turned and saw them following and said to them, “What are you seeking?”  And they said to him, “Rabbi” (which means Teacher), “where are you staying?”  He said to them, “Come and you will see.”  So they came and saw where he was staying, and they stayed with him that day. (John 1:35-39)  
     Andrew and the other disciple wanted one simple thing—to be with Jesus.  It is how we are going to spend our eternity, with the man who is God, the man who came to dwell with sinful men so that sinful men would be forgiven and dwell with God.  Jesus is where we find God who loves us, saves us, blesses us, and is for us.  Therefore, just as Andrew did, we do well to seek God where he will be found.  We go to church.  We stay with Jesus.  We hear his word.  We partake in the sacraments.  This is where God brings his kingdom to us.  This is where God is for us.  We seek God where he will be found

In the name of the Father and of the Son + and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen. 

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