TOUCHED TO TOUCH OTHERS
Dear Christian friends,
A tyrannical, abusive husband demanded that his wife conform to certain rigid standards that he set for her. Every day he made a list for her of what he expected her to do as wife and mother. Guess what! Before long she learned to despise the list and her husband. One day, very unexpectedly, the husband died of a heart attack. Down deep inside the woman she said, “God is merciful.” Would anyone blame her?
Some time later the woman fell in love again and married. Her new husband and she were on a perpetual honeymoon -- kind of like Judy and me. Joyfully she devoted herself to making him happy, and he devoted himself to make her happy. One day, however, she ran across one of those lists that her first husband had generated of all the things he expected her to do. She read the list and made a surprising discovery. The items on the list were all the things that she was doing for here second husband. But she didn’t mind doing them one bit. Why the difference? With her first husband she did the things on the list out of bitterness and contempt. With her second husband she was compelled by love. Love made all the difference in the world.
That’s very much a biblical truth too. God wants your life to be an offering to him, compelled not by fear but by the love for God. He deserves it, because he has really touched our lives with his love.
Today we see Jesus and two of his disciples whom Jesus touched. They were “Touched To Touch Others.” Let’s talk about that today. 1) Jesus has touched our lives so that 2) we are in touch with others.
The time frame to see where this all fits in seems to be the following: At the age of thirty Jesus entered into the public ministry at his baptism. He traveled from Nazareth to the Jordan River. He then went off into the wilderness for forty days and forty nights fasting. He was tempted of Satan. At the end of that testing period he seems to have returned to the place where he was baptized and to the one who baptized him – John the Baptist. The holy writer John says, “The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, "Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!”
Those of us who have come from a Lutheran background probably know a song that we have sung for many years called the ‘Agnus Dei.’ That’s Latin for Lamb of God. Jesus came to be “the Lamb of God who would take away the sin of the world.” That was his work.
When we think of a lamb we think of that little animal that goes ‘Bah.’ Anybody who has ever seen a flock of sheep knows they need a shepherd who will protect them. They can’t protect themselves. Sheep are gentle animals; sheep are defenseless animals. In fact, there is a real irony here. Jesus is the Lamb of God and yet we know he can shake the earth, hurl lightning bolts from heaven and stir up the seas until they are raging.
There’s a reason John the Baptist calls him the ‘Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.’ This is how Jews saw sheep. They were sacrificed day in and day out at the temple. I am sure animal rights people would be screaming if that were still done today. The lambs were killed and cut up and placed on the altar of sacrifice in the courtyard of the temple. Smoke from their burning carcasses belched forth. A constant smoky haze filled the temple area and filled the city. Why? Those animals were to atone for sin. Yet those sacrifices didn’t really take away sin. The Writer to the Hebrews says, “Because it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.”
If those animal sacrifices didn’t really take sin away, then why were they commanded and performed? Because those animals served as a picture of the real Lamb of God who did atone for sin, Jesus Christ! John the Baptist knew that. He called out, “Look the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” What the sacrifice of the lambs and goats didn’t do and couldn’t do, Jesus, the Lamb of God, did do. And he did it for you. His selfless sacrifice touched you.
John says even more about this remarkable man who was walking on the banks of the Jordan that day. “This is the one I meant when I said, 'A man who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.'” That’s a sentence that you need to take a second look at. Jesus was born after John. Jesus’ ministry began after John’s. Yet, John says that Jesus was before him. Don’t these words remind you of something that Jesus said later in his ministry, “Before Abraham was I am?” Abraham lived 2000 years before Jesus, yet Jesus said, “Before Abraham was, I am.” How is that all true? Jesus is the everlasting Lamb of God – eternal, from forever to forever. The Lamb is God. So understand without doubt that the eternal Son of God has touched your life.
John says even more about the Lamb. “I myself did not know him, but the reason I came baptizing with water was that he might be revealed to Israel." Then John gave this testimony: "I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him. I would not have known him, except that the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, 'The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is he who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.'” Since 1909 the Good Housekeeping seal of approval has gone on products that meet their quality standards. If a product doesn’t meet those performance criteria they will replace the product at their expense. Underwriter’s Laboratory does the same thing. Jesus, the Lamb of God, goes way beyond the Good Housekeeping seal. He has God’s approval. That was made clear when the Father himself said, “This is my Son whom I love with him I am well-pleased.”
When you do some writing, how do you emphasize something you want emphasized? I will repeat the statement. Or I will put an exclamation mark behind it. How do we know Jesus is God? The emphasis was the Father’s words, “This is my Son whom I love, with him I am well-pleased.” The Holy Spirit came down in the form of a dove. Most of all remember about this all, he came to touch your lives. He came to forgive you and me.
This eternal Lamb of God approved by the Father himself came for a mighty big purpose. He came to take away the sin of the world. Notice he says the “sin of the world.” Sin is the big problem. Sin causes a messy and violent world. Sin is the mountain that had to be removed. The number of sins that Jesus bore staggers the imagination. Sin multiplied by every minute and hour and day we live, multiplied by all the people who have ever lived or will live creates numbers that are absolutely staggering – the kind that appears in Ripley’s Believe it or Not.”. But you know what? The Lamb of God has taken them all away.
Most people want to be remembered because of something they did or said while they were living. It is significant, however, that Jesus died at the youthful age of thirty-three and is remembered for that death. His death touched everyone. His death took away the sin of the world.
While that is a truth, it is not known by some - it is rejected by some - it is even hated by some. But the truth is Jesus is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.
But we, who have been touched by the Spirit to believe it, need to touch others who do not believe it. That’s what happened here. “The next day John was there again with two of his disciples. When he saw Jesus passing by, he said, "Look, the Lamb of God!" When the two disciples heard him say this, they followed Jesus.” John the Baptist is one the most interesting characters in the Bible. He was rugged; he lived in the desert; he ate a diet of locust and wild honey. He was bold in his convictions. No one had any problem identifying what side of the fence he was on. Many were attracted to him for his powerful and “back to the basics” message of repentance. He said it over and over again, never compromising, never wavering –”Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” Someone once said that his message is the keynote of Christianity. It’s the bottom line. It is the keynote of our church, of our church body, of our lives. It is what we need to know. It’s what our children need to know. It’s everything. “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.”
But don’t just behold the Lamb of God, spend some time with the Lamb. “When the two disciples heard him say this, they followed Jesus. Turning around, Jesus saw them following and asked, "What do you want?" They said, "Rabbi" (which means Teacher), "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. It was about the tenth hour.” These disciples spent time with Jesus. And it was time well spent! It is always well spent time when we are in worship, Bible study, prayer, in devotion, and in living each day to love and serve him
There is no better time we can spend than to touch others and tell them about the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. That happened here. “Andrew, Simon Peter's brother, was one of the two who heard what John had said and who had followed Jesus. The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon and tell him, "We have found the Messiah" (that is, the Christ).” Andrew was one of the first to follow Jesus. Once he did he wanted others to be in touch with Jesus too. In fact, he began with his very own family. Is there any better start for us than with our families?
He went to get his brother Peter. Notice that he didn’t have a lot of theological training. He simply said, “We have found the Messiah.” Won’t you come? No complicated argument about the difference between the genus apostelismaticum versus the genus telismaticum, just “We have found the Messiah.”
If you read a few more verses farther another man named Philip simply said to Nathanael, “Come and see.” Here were two men who were touched by who Jesus was to be in touch with others.
There is a story about a Captain James Pentel, captain of a riverboat. As his ship passed another vessel, Pentel grabbed a passenger and said, “Look, look over there on that other boat. Look and see its captain.” The passenger was somewhat bewildered and asked, “Why do you want me to look at that captain? What makes him so special?” Captain Pentel told the story of how a boat he was piloting one night collided with another. Captain Pentel said he was thrown into the water by the turbulent waters of the boat. That other captain he said drew his boat up as close as he could and then jumped into the water to rescue him. He saved my life.
Dear Christians, you know where I am going with this. There is no greater rescuer than that Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. Our lives have indeed been touched by him. Now it is time to touch others.