Download or listen to Advent Midweek I: “We Have Found the Messiah” (John 1:35-42a)
In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
The first Sunday of Advent is the Sunday closest to November 30, today/yesterday, St. Andrew’s day. One early Lutheran said that this is fitting because Andrew was the first of the Apostles to follow Jesus. And we hear from John 1 that Andrew was one of John the Baptizer’s disciples, who heard John say of Jesus, “See the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.” And when Jesus is walking by the next day, John again says, “Look, the Lamb of God” and that’s all it takes: Andrew and another disciple of John go after Jesus. As they follow Jesus, He says to them, essentially, “What do you want?” They ask, “Where are You staying?” And He says, “Come and see.” Come and see. Those are the words of the Lord to Andrew and the other disciple. And they are the words of your Lord to you. They are fitting words for Advent…another Advent.
It is harder and harder, the more Advents you pass through, to keep a sense of wonder. We find ourselves trying to recapture some feeling that we had a long time ago, but this Advent, this Christmas, never seems to match up. You remember that December when the lights just seemed to shine a little brighter, when the words to your favorite hymn rang out a little clearer, when the mystery of God as Man struck you a little harder. And you’ve never been able to feel that way again. And the harder you try to stir up those feelings, the less you’re able to do so. You can never go back, you can only go forward. Maybe it was something like that for Andrew, as he walked away from John. He had learned about the Messiah from John, he had learned to look for the Messiah. But he had no idea what was to come! Even when he tells his brother Simon that they had “found the Messiah,” he has no idea what that will mean for him. Jesus doesn’t tell Andrew then that Jesus will be crucified, and that Andrew will follow Him to a similar death. He doesn’t tell Andrew what following Him will mean at all. He simply says, “Come and see.” And they do. Why? I could guess that they had been prepared by their hearing of the Scriptures growing up and what they had heard from John. But many others, no less well-versed in the Scriptures explicitly denied that Jesus was the Messiah. We have no answer for why Andrew and the other Apostles followed Jesus other than that the Holy Spirit worked through the Word that was preached to them. That’s not really an answer, but a confession: Faith is from hearing, and hearing through the Word of Christ. So it was for Andrew and so it was for Simon. Because of that Word, Andrew confessed at the time of his martyrdom: “If I feared the punishment of the cross, I would never have preached the mystery of the cross” and prayed, “Hail, precious cross, you who were dedicated by the body of Christ; may He receive me through you, who redeemed me through you.” So it is for you: come, and hear, and see. Come and see again, this Advent. Do not try to grab hold of nostalgic memories. Do not grasp after good feelings. No matter how many Advents you have lived through, you have not yet got to the bottom of this mystery. Come and see again John in the wilderness pointing to Jesus as the Passover Lamb, keeping us from the wrath of God. Come and see John, pointing to Jesus who bears your sins, and the sins of the whole world, on the cross. Come with Andrew, as he shakes you, smiling, and says, “Brother, sister, this Jesus is the one long promised!” “Come and see Me,” says Jesus, “where I am staying for you,” as He directs you not to a manger, but to the cradle of His Word, to an altar, where He has put Himself for you, hidden behind words and bread and wine. Take your time, the Church is in no hurry; that’s why she observes Advent over and over again. Take your time, and pray that this is the last Advent the Church ever observes. You have experienced joy and awe before, but there is more, and still more, and forever more that Jesus wants to teach you and give you. Come and see. And “May we, with hearts kept open to You throughout the year, confess to friend and neighbor Your advent ever near” (LSB 517:5).
In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen. “And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7, ESV). Amen.
– Pr. Timothy Winterstein, 11/29/11