EPIPHANY 2/A (2020): Ps. 40:1-11; Isa. 49:1-7; 1 Cor. 1:1-9; Jn. 1:29-42aRemaining

When Jesus turned and saw [two] following [him], he said to them, “What do you seek?” And they said to him, “Rabbi”— which means Teacher— “where are you remaining?” He said to them, “Come and you will see.” (vv. 38-39a).

It was not idle curiosity or an introductory ice-breaker that Andrew and presumably John the Evangelist inquired of Jesus, “where are you remaining”. The two had been attached to JB’s rabbinical school “in Bethany beyond the Jordan” (Jn. 1:28).

On hearing the Baptist’s witness, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world…” (Jn. 1:29, 36) these disciples understood the directive completing their matriculation; it was time to hear Torah from Jesus, the Rabbi, the Baptist declared his superior (1:30; 3:30).

Andrew and John wanted to know of Jesus where he taught and explicated God’s word; and what it meant that they should “Behold” him “Lamb of God”; as do we today.

Jesus’ first words are freighted with a “theology of sight”, a deep-dive into Torah; Jesus responding, “Come and you will see”. The new disciples were being invited, not to a physical location, as the Baptist’s proximity to water, but a journey for sightedness from Jesus’ word (Ps. 119:105; Pr. 6:23); to hear and “Behold”.

Jesus’ anointing with the Spirit in the Jordan was momentous for salvation history; God had effectively removed old Israel as his ethnic servant-son (Ex. 4:22) ordained “a kingdom of priests and a holy nation” (19:6).

Old Israel had been peculiar among the nations, but over the centuries failed its vocation, succumbing to ways with the world; becoming unfaithful, disobedient, and idolatrous blind guides. Old Israel was defrocked, and with Jesus’ Baptism by JB replaced in its office as servant of God.

For this new regime, JB preached conversion and “repentance”, not that Jews’ return to repristinated “business as usual” under the Old Sinaitic Covenant; rather John called for radical turning to receive God’s “beloved Son” and new Servant; a putting off of the old and putting on the new (Isa. 49:3, 6).  

That Jesus is “Lamb of God” bespeaks that he is content of a New Covenant (42:6c) sourced in true obedience, ultimately in laying down of his life, an atoning sacrifice for the world’s unbelief (“the sin of the world”).

One may not parse Jesus’ anointing with the HS and his handing-over the Spirit from the cross (Jn. 19:30b, 34); the two events are a singular Baptism, once prophesied from Mt. Moriah.

Genesis chapter 22 describes what is called “Sacrifice of Abraham”; but for Jews it is “Akedah—Binding of Isaac”; one emphasizing Abraham’s faith, the other Isaac’s willing obedience.

Both are a correct understanding; even as the Father’s bestowal of the Spirit in the Jordan is part and parcel with Jesus handing-over the Spirit with water and blood from his body.

We are sinners by nature, enemies of God, incapable of willing or doing any good thing than self-love. Our nature determines what we will and what we do. From this human condition Jesus by the power of word, invites men to conversion of faith preached by the Baptist; and for all who seek discipleship the promise is, “Come and you will see.”

There is only one solution to mankind’s intractable unbelief and doubt. Only death and its grave will rid; full stop! That too was promise, “in the day that you eat of [the fruit] you shall surely die.” (Gen. 2:17).

Sin came to all by one man, Adam (Rom. 5:12); Jesus at his Baptism is Son of Man and New Israel ordained to die for all that all might be one in him, faithful Son in whom alone there is the Life, death cannot contain.

As concupiscence’s sin infected the world; so, salvation by belief and Baptism into Jesus’ death introduced the HS’s new begetting (Jn. 3:7). By faith imparted in word and water we share in Christ’s death for the church’s evangel life.

The death we endure in Baptism is not merely death if our nature; but a participation in the one and only death that is utterly obedient to God’s will, the death of the Lamb, our Baptizer in the HS for following in a resurrection like his.

Sts. Andrew and John by following Jesus began the church’s great evangelistic enterprise. JB was “friend of the Bridegroom”, Jesus’ best-man (v. 29), whose preaching intended old Israel to respond as betrothed in the NT possessing the light of Christ by the Spirit; knowledge of the Father and his Son (17:3).  

Baptism puts us on the way to follow Jesus, who is eternal Torah of God. Seeking and following him we hear and see by light that instills faith unto faith in the Lamb having put sin and death to death (Gen. 3:15b).

Andrew and John inquired of Jesus, “where are you remaining?”; it was a good first question; yet it held a tension about the “place” of Jesus. His journey would conclude, not at Jerusalem’s temple, but outside, on the cross.

On journey to death Jesus continued to teach which would only be comprehended in the Resurrection. Today by Baptism, Jesus becomes by word preached, taught, and sacrament.

As disciples of Rabbi Jesus, every day we follow him anew for sightedness. Jesus, the “adekah” bound to his Father’s will, by Baptism makes us sons and daughters of the bridal chamber (Lk. 5:34) and so of Abraham’s faith and spiritual seed.

We “behold” the “place” of Jesus’ “remaining”. Over apostolic concern about his imminent death, Jesus assuaged; they would only be without him for a “little while” (13:33, 14:19) during his incorruptible Sabbath rest in the grave (Ps. 16:10).

Jesus explained about his church’s Torah school, “In my Father’s house are many rooms”; by going to death he prepared “a place” for them (Jn. 14:2). That place is our communion in his slain and risen flesh “remaining” with the Father and the Spirit, God’s glory.

In this communion we “behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin the world”, seeing what was hidden and now found (Jer. 29:13, 14a). Seeking the place of his “remaining” we hear God’s enfleshed word in whom we, in turn are heard by God to know him face to face, the One who kills us in Christ to make alive (Dt. 32:39; 1 Sam. 2:6; 2 Kgs. 5:7). Amen.

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