St. Andrew, Midweek Advent 1: Once He Came in Blessing

Lessons: Psalm 40, Ezekiel 3:16-21, Romans 10:8-18, John 1:35-42
Hymns: LSB 517, 333, 933, 548

Listen to the entire service here (the sermon alone is above).

      Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  Amen.

      The hymn we are focusing on this Adventide begins with the word “once.” Once—at a point in time—that is, a time in the past, Jesus came to fulfill the promise made to the first parents, Adam and Eve. As we sang, “Once He came in blessing, All our sins redressing.”

      “Once [Jesus] came in blessing.” The Gospel of John begins, stating, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it… And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:1-14).

      All things were made through the Word—through God the Son. And then, once in time, the Word—God the Son—became flesh and made His dwelling among us. And while His incarnation occurred once, Jesus has since remained and will always remain true God and true Man. He is our Lord God, begotten of the Father from all eternity and Man, born of the Virgin Mary.

      Tonight’s reading from John begins with John the Baptist standing with two of his disciples. He sees Jesus and declares, “Behold, the Lamb of God.” This echoes the words John said the previous day, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29).

      “All our sins redressing.” He sets aright all our sins by serving as the Sacrificial Lamb. The Lamb of God went uncomplaining forth to the cross to shed His innocent Blood. It is there, on the cross, the God-Man, Jesus, served as the remedy for our sin, shedding His innocent Blood on our behalf and reconciling us to God our Father in Heaven.

      “Came in likeness lowly, Son of God most holy.” Two disciples heard John say, “Behold, the Lamb of God.” Their interest was piqued. One of them was Andrew, St. Peter’s brother. The two disciples followed Jesus. They asked Him where He was staying. For even the Son of God Himself needs a place to lay His head. Yet, Jesus would later say, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head” (Matt. 8:20). Truly, Jesus “Came in likeness lowly.”

      When John the Baptist saw Jesus and declared, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world,” John also bore witness, recalling our Lord’s Baptism, “I saw the Spirit descend from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him. I myself did not know him, but he who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain, this is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ And I have seen and have borne witness that this is the Son of God” (John 1:32-34).

      Even though He is the Son of God, Jesus came to John to be baptized. Jesus was anointed in His Baptism to bear our sins and serve as our Substitute. He would die in our place so that we would live.

      What an amazing thing for God to do! He became one of us—a true human being—so He could shed His blood on the cross to redeem us from all sins, from death, and from the power of the devil!

      Consider, for a moment, what things you would be willing to do for a stranger. Are you quick to feed, clothe, or house strangers? Even more important, will you tell them about your Savior, Jesus? Or what would you do for someone who has done evil things against you? Are you inclined to love that person, do good to that person, and be responsible for that person? We certainly aren’t predisposed to do such things. But that’s what Jesus did for you.

      “Bore the cross to save us; Hope and freedom gave us.” If you have been working on this week’s Bible verse, you will be familiar with these words, “By this we know love, that He laid down His life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers” (1 John 3:16). In love, Jesus laid down His life for you. He saw your need and came to your rescue. Once and for all, Jesus died for you, as it is written, “We have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all” (Heb. 10:10). Once He rose from the dead, never to die again, as it is written, “We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him” (Rom. 6:9). Once He accomplished your salvation, as it is written, “He entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption” (Heb. 9:12).

      Jesus’ ministry which He once did in the flesh is a ministry which continues to our day. Even though Jesus ascended into Heaven, He is not absent. He continues as our Immanuel—God with us. He serves as our great High Priest. He hears our prayers and answers them. He calls us to Himself so that we can gather around His gifts and receive His blessings.

      One of the earliest disciples to receive His blessings was Andrew. After meeting Jesus and learning where He is staying, Andrew went and found his brother, Peter, and said, “We have found the Messiah.” He brought Peter to Jesus, the first recorded event of someone bringing someone to Jesus. And in John 12:20-22, Andrew also assists with bringing some Greeks to Jesus.

      When Andrew was called by Jesus, he left his nets and his father and followed Jesus (Matt. 4:18-20). After all, Andrew quickly learned that the most precious One on Earth is his Savior, Jesus. That’s why Andrew led Peter to Jesus.

      And a similar way, St. Andrew leads us to Jesus at the beginning of the Church Year. Today is St. Andrew’s Day because it is thought that he was martyred on this day in AD 60. The Church Year always begins on the Sunday closest to this St. Andrew’s Day. The color for today is red because tradition has it that Andrew died a martyr’s death, being crucified on an X-shaped cross.

      “When St. Andrew was threatened with the cross, he said joyfully, ‘If I feared the punishment of the cross, I would never have preached the mystery of the cross.’ Then when he saw the cross, he spoke, ‘Hail, precious cross, you who were dedicated by the body of Christ; may He receive me through you, who redeemed me through you’” (Quoted from Valerius Herberger from Treasury of Daily Prayer, p. 968).

      Andrew’s confession of the faith is remarkable. It should be unremarkable, for if we truly understand and believe what Jesus did for us, then you would think everyone would be willing to be as bold as Andrew. What Jesus once did for us is He secured our everlasting salvation so that we will lose nothing but gain everything when we enter with Him in His eternal kingdom. Thanks be to God! Amen.

      The peace of God which passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus to life everlasting.  Amen