Today is the 2nd Sunday of Epiphany and the scripture for my lesson comes from John 1:29-41
Today I am going to talk about something I find most amazing…..Grace (the free and unmerited favor of God, as manifested in the salvation of sinners and the bestowal of blessings.) I have a little story for you that should help you to visualize heaven and what will happen when we get there.’A man stood in the outer court of heaven and saw a glorious crowd marching up, singing hymns and bearing banners of victory, they passed by him’ through the gates into the courts of heaven. "Who are they?" he asked.
Someone answered, "They are the prophets, who are going to see God."
The man was very sad and said, "Alas’ I am not one of them. I cannot enter here."
Very soon another group of great personalities came upwards on the road’ robed in white robes. They passed through the gates of heaven and shouts of welcome were heard from within. ’’And who are they?" he asked. .
"They are the apostles." came the answer.
Again he was saddened and said, "Alas", "I am not of their noble company. I cannot go in."
Then another group came up the road, this time the singing was even louder and the members of this group waved psalm branches. "Who are these people," demanded the man. The answer came, ’They are the martyrs who died for their faith "
Alas, I belong to no such company" ...said the man. He wondered if he would ever find a group to join, so that he would be invited into heaven.
Then another group came up the road to the gates of heaven. The heavenly hosts within greeted this group with shouts of welcome, with songs of praise with shouts of jubilation. All of heaven seemed to rock with the excitement of this group being ready to pass through the heavenly gates. The man began to recognize some in this group. There was the woman who had been accused of adultery and the notorious publican, and the thief on the cross and Zachacus, and the woman who anointed Jesus’ feet with oil, the prodigal son and in the midst of them was the Saviour Himself, Christ Jesus, leading them through the gates of heaven. As they were welcomed through the gates of heaven, songs of praise and triumph swelled to the highest vaults: a sevenfold amen sounded from the heavenly choirs. The man was told,"These are the sinners, saved by amazing Grace." The man said as he joined the group, " Blessed be God, I can go in with this group. I have been saved by amazing grace."
Saved by amazing grace is the key phrase associated with our gospel text this morning. In this season of Ephipany we see Jesus Christ revealed in all of his splendor, manifested in all of His glory. One of these ways He is revealed we see this morning is the title which John Baptist gives Jesus as he calls him the Lamb of God. He says in our text, "Behold the Lamb! Behold the Lamb of God! God who takes away the sin of the world!! " John knew that the Lamb in the Old Testament on the Day of Atonement was the sign and symbol of God’s forgiving power as the blood of a sacrificed lamb wee sprinkled on another lamb which was driven from the people into the wilderness.
John was saying that the Lamb of God came for sinners. People who knew they were in bondage to sin. People who knew they needed a transformation in their lives and as C.S.Lewis says " God’s purpose is not just to create nice people or to effect some moral improvement in us. "Rather", says Lewis, "God became man to turn creatures into sons; into daughters, not simply to produce better people of the old kind but to produce a new kind of person." "It costs God nothing to create nice things but to convert rebellious wills cost Him Crucifixion."At conversion God comes to rebuild the house. At first you can understand what he is doing. He fixes the drains, stops the leaks in the roof, etc. You knew these jobs needed to be done, so you are not surprised. But pretty soon he starts to tear down part of the house in such a way that it hurts a lot and doesn’t seem to make any sense. What on earth is he up to you find yourself thinking. The explanation is simple. He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of putting a new wing on over here’ an extra floor over there. YOU thought you were just going to be made into a decent little cottage. But he is building a palace. Indeed, He intends to come and live in it Himself. "Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit and dwells in you? "( I Cor. 3:16 )
"But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood. a holy nation, God’s own people, that you may declare the wonderful deeds of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light. Once you were no people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. "I Peter 2: 9, 10.
Indeed you and I are saved by amazing grace, the grace of the Lamb of God who is revealed in this season of Epiphany as the Lamb who takes way our sins so that the Father in Heaven can see us as white as snow, not the scarlet red of our sins. The purity of Christ’s AMAZING GRACE as He brings that grace of His own accord into our sinful lives by the way of the cross and the resurrections is our salvation, our redemption. We are indeed, changed, transformed made new people because of the Lamb of God. As we continue to see this Christ during this season of Epiphany, remember He is the New Adam, the new man, the new person and as He comes into our lives YOU and I are changed and we become not just changed-over-people but new people.It begins slowly then gradually a change comes so that we don’t even know ourselves. We realize we are powerless to overcome sin in our lives by ourselves, we need His amazing grace.
We come to believe and trust in the Lamb of God,, the Son of God, Jesus Christ, as the only great power which can restore, and rebuild our lives.
Finally we realize that each day we must turn our lives over to His power so that He can restore, rebuild, change, and forgive us our sins on a daily basis. Oh yes….
"Amazing Grace how sweet the sound
that saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost , but now am found
Was blind, I but now I see . "
Can I get an "AMEN!"