First Mennonite Church
February 27, 2022
The Lamb of God
John 1:29-42 (43-50)
Evangelism, when you think of this word, what comes to your mind? As a Christian, how have you acted on the commission Jesus gives to his followers when he says, “Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations . . .?” For starters, this command of Jesus is one of the most dreaded ones for many believers. And in part that explains the decline in the American church of today. On the other hand, the model for doing evangelism is what puts people off from wanting to do it. Often times those who want to evangelize and even with very good intentions seem like rude, coercive, or intimidating. Maybe you yourself have been on the receiving end of this kind of evangelism. Let’s say, someone approached you and asked you, “When you die, where do you think you will spend eternity?” Or, maybe you were shopping on market day and someone came to you and just out-of-the-blue asked you, “Are you a born-again Christian?” Or, “Have you received Christ as your personal Savior?” Or, “If you were to meet with God today, what would you say to Him?”
Often times, it is thought that by asking one form or another of those questions to people, no matter the context or the situation, that we are doing evangelism. Therefore, as people who do not want to be considered impolite or coercive, many Christians refrain from sharing their faith. Many people, both in and outside of the church, believe that religion is a private matter, thus, would be impolite to speak of it to others. Still, yet, many Christians are simply afraid of telling others who they are and what they believe in terms of religion.
What, all, this tells us is that evangelism is something very few people inside the church do. And, as I said at the beginning, that explains why many of our churches have many empty pews.
I hope that our passage will help us, not only to ease our fear of sharing the message of Jesus, but also to encourage us to overcome this fear of telling of Him to others.
Here is another difference between John’s story of his first encounter with Jesus and that of the other gospels. Matthew, Mark, and Luke tell us that Jesus came to John to be baptized. In fact, Jesus almost begged John to baptize him. The other gospels tell us:
Of John’s reluctance to baptize Jesus.
Of the Holy Spirit (in the form of a dove) that descending upon Jesus and leading him to the desert.
Of the voice in heaven saying, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” Matthew 3:17 and parallels).
In contrast, in John’s gospel, John the Baptizer sees Jesus passing by and he tells to two of his disciples what he sees. “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!”
John the Baptist recognizes who it was that was before his eyes and he shares it with his disciples. John tells his disciple about the greatness of Jesus, attesting that his work as a baptizer was in order that Jesus might be revealed to his people. He tells his disciples that the Spirit came down on Jesus and remained on him. And then he solemnly affirms, “I have seen and I testify that this is God’s Chosen One.” John makes reference to himself with the pronoun “I” or “I myself” seven times. That means John was giving a first-hand witness of what he knew about Jesus and what he had seen in Jesus.
Thus, the first principle for doing evangelism is having a first-hand experience, knowledge of who Jesus is and of what we want to share.
This pattern continues in this passage. In verses 35-39, we read:
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.
The two disciples got interested to find out more about the Lamb of God, so they began following Jesus. And Jesus noticing that they were following him, he asks them, “What do you want?” And Jesus simply invites them, “Come and you will see.”
Here Jesus wanted to teach them the very same cycle John knew. Jesus wanted them to begin by knowing who he was, to see how he lived and what he did.
And the first thing Andrew did, was to go find his brother Simon and tell him about whom he had found. Verses 41-42 read: The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon and tell him, “We have found the Messiah” (that is, the Christ). And he brought him to Jesus.
But again, Philip did the same. After Jesus had met and called Philip, we read in verses 45-46:
Philip found Nathanael and told him, “We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote—Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.”
“Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?” Nathanael asked.
“Come and see,” said Philip.
Nathanael reminds us that we will also meet skeptics along the way. When Nathanael heard that Jesus was from Nazareth, he expressed skepticism. He doubted anything good can come out from Nazareth. But after meeting with Jesus, Nathanael became a believer.
Evangelism happens not by threatening or intimidating people with a sermon of fire and brimstone. It is not by cornering people by asking prying or discomforting questions. We should not try to lure people to the church with gimmicks or marketing strategies.
In this passage we see three simple actions John, Andrew, and Philip did to bring others to Jesus.
The first is having a personal knowledge, experience of Jesus, having seen Jesus. In what ways have you seen God work in your life that you can tell others? How have you experienced his love, power, and grace? This requires from us to be sensitive to the presence of God in our lives. To be able to see God’s power and love in our lives requires us to pause and reflect on God’s work in our lives. It takes the practice of meditation and personal reflection.
The second act, is to share with others what we know or have seen of God’s goodness in our lives. At first, sharing with others about what we have seen God do in our lives might be scary. That could be because we are not used to doing it. Practice makes perfect, we know. The other day during a church leaders’ meeting, I asked those present, what are you thankful about this church? I shared the reasons why I was thankful and others also did. Yet, there was a little hesitation at first. And that is, speaking to folks we know. So, we can imagine how difficult it could be to share with people we do not know or relate to often. But again, practice makes perfect.
The third practice we see in this passage, is that John, Andrew, and Philip invited others to experience or know Jesus for themselves. Again, at first this might feel like very intrusive on your part. But sometimes people need someone to invite them to church or to experience Christ. This can be by offering to pray with them about something in their lives or simply to come to church. So, as a way to help you think on how to invite others to Christ or to church, think of the reasons you love Christ. Think of the things you like your church. Obviously, if someone does not like the church, the likelihood of inviting others to it is very remote. But if you know why you love the fellowship and the worship service, tell it others. Tell others the many reasons you love Christ. Invite them to give Jesus a try.
By noticing the presence of God in our lives, by sharing of our experience of God with others, and by inviting them to find or experience for themselves the goodness of God are ways we should do evangelism. We do not necessarily have to go to a school of evangelism in order to evangelize. We only need to be aware of the presence of God, to tell others about it and to invite them to experience it as well.
John said to his two disciples, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.” And the Jesus said to them, “Come and see.” Maybe the Lord is telling us the same, you want to share my name with others? “Come and see.”