Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Sermon: St. Andrew – 2011

30 November 2011 at Salem Lutheran Church, Gretna, LA

Text: John 1:35-42 (Ezek 3:16-21, Rom 10:8-18)

In the name of + Jesus. Amen.

St. Andrew has the honor to be the first of the Lord’s disciples. In fact, he was a disciple of John the Baptist and the one who introduced Peter to Jesus. St. Andrew was among the first to hear what we hear nearly every time we gather for worship: “Behold the Lamb of God!” St. Andrew truly bridges the gap between the Old Testament and the New Testament, between the lambs offered as sacrifices and the Lamb offered as the one all-availing sacrifice, between Israel’s twelve tribes and the Church’s twelve apostles.

And Andrew is drawn to Jesus. “Rabbi… where are You staying?”

What a glorious question? It is a question that leads us to the Church, the place where Jesus is found in our world, in our time, among us, in ways that we can see and hear and taste. What wonder that St. Andrew was able to not only seek out God in the flesh, but to call Him teacher – which is an invitation to be taught.

St. Andrew is a man of conviction and courage. He has just basically invited himself to lodge with God.

And how does our Lord react to this rather forward question (“Where are you staying?”)? “Come,” says Jesus, inviting the disciple, “Come and you will see.”

“You will see” says our Lord. And Andrew was to see indeed! He would see our Lord preach and teach, cure the sick, cast out demons, and even raise the dead. He would see a Man who is God and God who is a Man. He would see the ultimate wisdom, patience, kindness, joy, and suffering. And St. Andrew was indeed to partake in all of these as a disciple of Jesus Christ and as a preacher of the Word of God. He would see many brought to the Messiah.

Imagine how amazing it was to follow Jesus to His home and to lodge with Him! Imagine what it must be like to be under the same roof as Jesus, to see and touch the flesh of the Lord, to hear Almighty God speak His very word!

Dear friends, this is the privilege of being a Christian, of being in the Church. And yes indeed, they are one and the same. One cannot be a Christian apart from the Church any more than there can be an arm apart from a body. And there is no Church apart from Christ, as if a body can exist without a head. For where the Master is found, there are His disciples. And among the students, there is certainly the Teacher.

“Teacher, where are You staying?” That is what every Christian should be asking – not in an intellectual way, as if trying to Google some piece of trivia or to satisfy curiosity. No, this is something deeper. Indeed, when we Christians ask “Teacher, where are You staying?” we want to be where our Teacher, our Rabbi, is to be found. As students, we seek to learn. And we are learning something more profound than facts and figures. We are learning by living, and in Christ, we live in love, from love, for love, and by love – for God is Love, and Christ is God incarnate.

The love Jesus has for us is a perfect love, without ulterior motive, untarnished by selfishness and unblemished by a wandering eye. Our Lord’s love for us is pure and chaste, limitless, and unconditional – unlike the so-called love with which the world is enamored to death.

St. Andrew became the first of the disciples, the first to come to Jesus. He was the first to confess Jesus as the Christ, the Messiah. And he brought his own brother, Simon Peter, to Christ.

And while much of our attention is focused on St. Peter, the leader of the apostles, the brash, the loud, the controversial, Peter the beloved writer of two epistles of the New Testament – we must remember that Peter was brought to Jesus by Andrew.

Everyone is brought to Jesus by someone. And Jesus calls preachers to draw men to Himself – preachers like Peter and Andrew. And both of these fishermen were themselves to become “fishers of men.”

For as Paul would ask: “How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in Him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent?”

St. Andrew and His brother St. Peter were “sent ones,” that is to say “apostles.” St. Andrew brought the Gospel to his own household, as well as to a group of Greeks who sought Jesus. And St. Andrew would, like his brother and like his Master, die on a cross. Indeed, he was, like Ezekiel, a “watchman for the house of Israel.” As a preacher of Christ and forgiveness, he was also a preacher of why Christ came: sin. He called people to repentance, and he forgave those who repented. He baptized. He administered the Lord’s Supper. He is one of those of whom St. Paul spoke of: “Their voice has gone out to all the earth, and their words to the ends of the world.”

This is why this first apostle’s feast day sets the first week of the new church year. For this new follower of the New Testament brings us anew, along with St. Peter, to Jesus. St. Andrew confesses with us and with Christians of every age: “We have found the Messiah.”

Dear brothers and sisters, we too have found the Messiah, the Christ, the One who is the Lamb of God, the Lamb who is God, the sacrifice which takes away our sins, and the very God of very God who was made Man. And along with St. Andrew, we seek to be where Jesus is, to stay with Him, abide with Him, lodge with Him, to be near unto Him and to hear Him. And this is why we are here in this place at this time, dear friends! We have been brought to Jesus by the apostles and those who came after them. And we too bring others to Jesus, who likewise gives them forgiveness and salvation and life.

Let us ever pray with St. Andrew: “Rabbi, where are You staying?” and let us ever seek to be with Him, learning from Him, and walking with Him, even if, as it did for St. Andrew, that road leads to a cross. For we too have “found the Messiah,” dear friends! We have found the Christ! Behold the Lamb! Thanks be to God! Amen.

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

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