Posted on Wed, Jan 19, 2011
Rev. Jim's sermon January 16, 2011
“Who Are YOU Looking For?”
Rev. Jim Merritt
Trinity MCC Gainesville
January 16, 2011
It is somewhat unusual for us to focus on a reading from the Gospel of John this morning, so let us consider some background information that will help us along the way. I am once again thankful for Frances J. Maloney and his work in the Sacra Pagina volume on John.
In scripture there exists a whole collection of works which we have considered Johanine literature, or from a single person called “John.” These include the Gospel of John, three Letters of John and the book of Revelation. Interestingly, only the book of Revelation refers to its own author as “John.” Tradition eventually, over a long period of time, associates all of these works with the disciple John, son of Zebedee. In today’s gospel, we do see in chapter 21, verse 24 the text associate itself with “the beloved disciple…who has written these thing.
All of this literature appears to have been written around the turn of the first century, or circa 100 C.E. Debate on a more precise time continues today, however, most biblical scholars agree that this gospel appeared sometime near the end of the First Century C.E.
While it is impossible to precisely determine authorship, when we use the principles of literary criticism, it is clear that at least the gospel and the book of revelation belong together; they are similar in style, somewhat similar in message, and they certainly are of the same genre. Both reflect situations of extreme conflict.
T.E. Pollard, in Johanine Christology and the Early Church, says that the raw material of much of our Christian doctrine comes from the work of John. This gospel certainly has captured the hearts and minds of Christians since its appearance and continues to serve as foundational material for much of what we believe. For example, just imagine where we might begin without the verse every church-going child is taught early on; John 3:16, “For God so loved the world…” So let’s think together about today’s lesson.
We find ourselves in the midst of a series of events categorized by the phrase “these days.” These are important foundational days for the ministry of Jesus and the disciples. This passage is set on the third day in the series of days. This day is characterized by motion. Jesus seems to be in the distance and yet he is constantly moving. The new characters introduced here are also moving characters, they are not static; rather they are on the move. An important moment occurs when Jesus stops his movement, turns and asks, “What are you looking for?” Disappointed by their reaction, Jesus responds, “Come and see…” The budding disciples are confused about what has happen. They don’t know exactly what has happened to them. To some they say that THEY have found the Messiah. WRONG. The truth is the Messiah found them and they responded to the call of the Messiah. They know that Jesus is unique and wonderful and they still have no concept of who Jesus really is and of the amazing difference Jesus will make in the world.
And so, I have a question for you this morning…What are YOU looking for? The disciples really have no idea and I want to suggest that many of us don’t know either. We know we’re looking for something that will fulfill us. We know we need something to make us happy, to make us complete, to bring joy and excitement and peace to our lives. So I want to ask you today, what are your dreams? What are your dreams for your own life and what are your dreams for the life of your family and what are your dreams for this church and for our community and for the message of the gospel today?
I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all people are created equal," and that we can live together and love each other in a world free from senseless acts of violence against each other. I have a dream that one day that from the red hills of Georgia and the black sands of Florida, the daughters and sons of former slaves and the sons and daughters of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table as family. And I have a dream that one day even the state of Arizona, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice. I have a dream that little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin or the gender of their parents or but by the content of their character.
I have a dream today! What is your dream? What are YOU looking for?
I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, and every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight; "and the glory of God shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together."
My sisters and brothers, I encourage you to dream. Determine what it is you are looking for. Learn who Jesus really is and live that out for all you’re worth. Experience with all of us the blessings that are in store when we follow the words of Jesus, “Come and see.” AMEN!
John 1: 39 - 42
The next day John the Baptist saw Jesus coming toward him and declared, “Here 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 ahead of me because he was before me.’ I myself did not know him; but I came baptizing with water for this reason, that he might be revealed to Israel.” And John 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.’ And I myself have seen and have testified that this is the Son of God.” 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 two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus. When Jesus turned and saw them following, he said to them, “What are you looking for?” They said to him, “Rabbi” (which translated means Teacher), “where are you staying?” He said to them, “Come and see.” They came and saw where he was staying, and they remained with him that day. It was about four o’clock in the afternoon. One of the two who heard John speak and followed him was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. He first found his brother Simon and said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which is translated Anointed). 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).