Malankara World

Sermons Based on the Lectionary of the Syrian Orthodox Church

2nd Sunday After Denho

Sermon / Homily on John 1:43 - 51

The Anointed One

by Beth Scibienski

The next day John again was standing with two of his disciples, and as he watched Jesus walk by, he exclaimed, 'Look, here is the Lamb of God!' The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus. When Jesus turned and saw them following, he said to them, 'What are you looking for?' They said to him, 'Rabbi' (which translated means Teacher), 'where are you staying?' He said to them, 'Come and see.' They came and saw where he was staying, and they remained with him that day. It was about four o'clock in the afternoon. One of the two who heard John speak and followed him was Andrew, Simon Peter's brother. He first found his brother Simon and said to him, 'We have found the Messiah' (which is translated Anointed). He brought Simon to Jesus, who looked at him and said, 'You are Simon son of John. You are to be called Cephas' (which is translated Peter).

The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. He found Philip and said to him, 'Follow me.' Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. Philip found Nathanael and said to him, 'We have found him about whom Moses in the law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus son of Joseph from Nazareth.' Nathanael said to him, 'Can anything good come out of Nazareth?' Philip said to him, 'Come and see.' When Jesus saw Nathanael coming towards him, he said of him, 'Here is truly an Israelite in whom there is no deceit!' Nathanael asked him, 'Where did you come to know me?' Jesus answered, 'I saw you under the fig tree before Philip called you.' Nathanael replied, 'Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!' Jesus answered, 'Do you believe because I told you that I saw you under the fig tree? You will see greater things than these.' And he said to him, 'Very truly, I tell you, you will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.'

Why did these men decide to follow Jesus? It seems so sudden. One day they were John's disciples; the next day they were Jesus' disciples. It seems sudden except they were clearly looking or waiting or searching for the Messiah. Andrew says to his brother, "We found the Messiah." Messiah - the anointed one.

Two other times in the Hebrew scriptures we find the term Messiah applied. David was the Messiah. King Cyrus was the Messiah. And again, the people of Israel are looking for the Messiah. The anointed one.

Andrew and an unnamed disciple of John leave John and follow Jesus. Why didn't John follow too? Or maybe he did and he's wrapped in the "they." Andrew and the unnamed one, Peter and then Philip and then Nathanael. They were all on alert for the Messiah and upon hearing he is found, they responded to the words, "Come and see."

Come where? See what? We who have read beyond this passage can say they were in for a life-altering, mind-blowing, bumpy, rough, exhilarating journey with this Anointed One.

I'll be honest, I read and enjoyed Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth I mention it because the author does such a good job describing the world in which Jesus lived. The political, social climate of the world where these Jewish men search for and find the Anointed One. These men wanted a regime change. They wanted freedom from occupation. They wanted to overthrow the government for very practical, tangible, human reasons. Their world was unsafe and unjust. But this is the argument for why these men followed Jesus in perhaps Mark's gospel or Luke's gospel. But what about this fourth gospel? What is the literary reason in John's gospel? In other words, what motivation is this fourth gospel writer giving for these men to search for the Anointed One? And when they allegedly found him in the beginning of this story, why did they follow him?

I guess I have more questions than answers at this point of this gospel. As it should be. We're only at the beginning after all. And if I am to do any justice in preaching it or teaching it or following its strand through this narrative lectionary, I want to stay in this chapter. I don't want to read chapter 19 into chapter 1. That's not how we read a book. (Unless you're the type of person who reads the last page... just in case.)

The creative force of the universe has come to earth, wrapped itself in the flesh of a human named Jesus. A distant cousin was looking for the Anointed On, waiting for God to once again wrap an anointing around a human. The etymology of the English word "anoint" comes from the verb to smear on. It makes me smile a bit thinking of Jesus as a human with God smeared on him. The smear of the Spirit soaking into the fiber of his being, claiming him in a unique way, for a unique purpose.

I've found the one who is smeared with God. Are you the one who is smeared with God? And Jesus says, "Come and see." You know what... when I put it that way, I'm in. I want to see what God is up to.

Source: A Thousand Words of Inspiration, 2014

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Sermons, Bible Commentaries and Bible Analyses for the 2nd Sunday after Denho

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