In our Gospel lesson for today, it says, “There was a man sent from God.”
You know, when someone comes up to me and says, “I am sent from God,” I put a big old smile on my face and I say, “That’s great. I know some people who would really like to talk with you about that!” I also say, “And what, precisely, has God sent you to do?” Because people have done some very bad things, thinking that they were sent by God. Terrorists do horrible things, thinking that God has sent them. People used to go on crusades, travel by horseback over entire continents, and they would kill thousands and thousands of innocent men, women and children, thinking that they were sent by God. They were wrong. They weren’t.
So what was John sent to do? He was sent by God to be a witness to testify to the light. We find out about the light in the verses immediately before the Gospel lesson. It’s the beginning of the Gospel of John.
In the beginning was the Word. That is, the Logos in Greek. Doesn’t just mean “word.” It also means “accounting,” or “how it all adds up.” It means the organizing principal, the purpose, the meaning, the story running beneath it all, the language in which the world is understood, the wisdom of being.
“In the beginning was the Wisdom. And the Wisdom was with God, and The Wisdom was God. All things came into being through the Wisdom, and without the Wisdom not one thing came into being. What came into being in the Wisdom was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”
That is what John points to. In the Gospel lesson for today, John sees Jesus walking by, says, “Here is the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” Does that sound familiar to you? It’s part of our worship service, just before communion, we sing “Lamb of God. . .”
This lamb refers to two things from the Old Testament. First, Jesus is the paschal lamb: the lamb that is sacrificed at Passover, when the people of Israel escape from slavery in Egypt, enter the wilderness and eventually the promised land. So also, Jesus carries us out of slavery to addiction and fear and cowardice and hate and the oppressive forces of society, and laziness, brings us into the freedom to love.
Secondly, Jesus as the Lamb refers to a figure from the prophet Isaiah: the lamb who suffers the consequences of our destruction, our arrogance, our apathy, our cowardice, our sin, who takes them on himself, and who saves us so that we can love.
This is the light to which John points. This also is the light to which we point. Because you and I have been sent by God too. We have!
For example, at one of my former churches I had a part time secretary who worked in a hospital. There, she would treat people in the most difficult of circumstances with grace and dignity. She treated her co-workers that way too. In hard situations, she would focus on whatever the next step might be toward life and healing.
One time someone came up to her and said, “What is it with you. How do you take that attitude so much of the time, how do you see the good in so many situations?”
She said, “Because I have a savior. Jesus is my savior. I know that it will be all right in the end.”
This is how we do it, o witnesses to the light. This is how we point to Jesus. We live the meaning of God. We sing the wisdom. Because God has sent us, and this is what God has sent us to do.