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                                         John 1:35-51
                                 January 3, 2010 – Christmas 2
              Big Idea: Only a Messiah can take you to your heart’s greatest desire.

What are you looking for?
Four disciples – a hole in the heart v. 38 Turning around, Jesus saw them following and asked, "What
     do you want?" They said, "Rabbi" (which means Teacher), "where are you staying?"
The first words recorded of Jesus in the gospel of John are a question. Two of John the Baptist’s disciples
     have been sent to Jesus because he is the Lamb of God. His first words to them and to all who are
     seeking answers are basically, “what are you looking for?”
It is a fair question. People had been waiting for the Messiah for centuries. Some wanted the golden era of
     David back so that they could live in peace and prosperity. Others wanted a great prophet who could
     answer all the questions that people had about the meaning of life.
Others looked for a leader or a great high priest. Jesus was basically asking what it was that these
     disciples were looking for. Their surprising answer is simply, “where are you staying?’ In essence, we
     want to know who you are. We want to learn from you who you are that John should point you out.
One suspects that these two disciples – Andrew and John had a hole in their heart. They were fisherman
     and wealthy ones at that with many servants and a fleet of boats. Yet something was missing. They
     had sought it out with John and he had pointed them to Jesus.
Here was the one who would fill the emptiness that you feel. Here is the one who will bring real peace
     into your life. John the Baptist knew that he could not bring such joy. You see he knew what we will
     discover today - Only a Messiah can take you to your heart’s greatest desire.

A New Year – what do you want?
It is the New Year and even a new decade. Most of us would rather forget 2009. Now it is a new year and
     a new start. I would ask you the question that Jesus does. “What are you looking for in life?” As the
     New Year begins, it can be a time to ponder on our future and our Messiah.
Most people live simply by habit. They climb out of bed, eat breakfast, brush their teeth, work all day,
     come home, eat, watch TV and go to bed. Then the next day, they do it all over again. Planning
     doesn’t even figure in to it. Dreams are just to get through the day.
Don’t you want more? Isn’t there more to life than just to keep doing the same habits only broken up by
     crisis and longing for the summer vacation at least five or six months away? There is more if you
     know who to ask. There is more if you are willing to come to the Messiah and let him lead.
That is what I want you to consider doing this morning. I want you to consider what it is that you really
     want this year. Then I want to show you who it is that you need to talk about it with in prayer. You
     will not find your heart’s greatest desire by yourself. You will only find it with Jesus.
You may not even know what it is that you really want. That is OK. You don’t have to. As we unpack this
     text, we see why you don’t even have to know where you going. You just have to know who you are
     going there with and who will lead. Remember, only a Messiah can take you to your heart’s
     greatest desire.

Christ, our Messiah
The one who looks into our heart and sees our need v.47 When Jesus saw Nathanael approaching, he
   said of him, "Here is a true Israelite, in whom there is nothing false."
Five people contact Jesus in this text and Jesus looks into the heart of each one of them. He sees their
   needs and personality. He looks to Nathaniel and sees one who is honest and tells it like it is. That is
   something Nathaniel shows when he asks if anything can come from a dump like Nazareth.
Now a lot of people say that Jesus was using his divinity to see into the heart. I think he was just
    observant. While most of us are thinking about what we will say or what we want to demand, Jesus is
    looking at people. He sees their mannerisms and listens to the tone of their voice so he can see inside.
Jesus is one who looks into our lives and sees our needs. His message and path for his disciples is not one
    size fits all. Each of us has different needs and different strengths. That is the way that the Lord built
    each of us and made us unique.
Each of you has a different heart’s desire. You may not know it, but Jesus does. He knows you better than
    you know yourself. He knows exactly what it is that will bring fulfillment into your individual life. He
    knows that path that will help you to be your best in every way.
The programs of the world will take you to their desire. Come buy my car and it will make you happy.
    Work at my job and you will be fulfilled. Be my friend or serve in my organization and do great
    things. Only the Messiah can say, I know your heart and I know where you want to go. Come with

The one who can lead and change us v.42). And he brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said,
   "You are Simon son of John. You will be called Cephas" (which, when translated, is Peter).
The name Simon means one who listens or hears. True to his name, Simon was one who listened to and
   was influenced by others. In the courtyard of the High Priest, he listened to others and ended up
   denying his Lord. In Galatians, he is accused of listening to the Judiazers and rejecting the gentiles.
Yet, Jesus reads his heart and knows that he wants to be strong. He tells him that Simon the listener can
   become Peter the rock. Jesus will lead him there and change him so that he can have his heart’s desire.
   Jesus can help Simon become the rock and leader of the twelve disciples and of the new church.
Having looked into our heart, Jesus knows how to get us from where we are to where we need to be. He
   will mentor us with his word. He will give opportunities to us that will stretch us and help us to
   discover new gifts and abilities that we never knew we had.
He will empower us to push away the bad habits that would destroy us with the power of his cross. He
   will give us new spiritual gifts so that we can do things that we never thought were possible. All the
   time he will teach us in his word so that we can become the person that we want to be deep down.
This is a one on one training program that the Lord will take up with you if you are willing. It will take a
   lifetime, but he has the time and you do too if you are tired of just living by habit. Only the Messiah
   can make a new you inside and out and bring you the real joy that you are looking for.

The one who opens new possibilities for us v. 51 He then added, "I tell you the truth, you shall see
   heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man."
Where will you go? Well, the sky is literally the limit. Here is the promise that he makes to Nathaniel. It
   was literally fulfilled in the ascension of Jesus where Nathaniel and the others watched Jesus ascend
   and two angels descend and talk to them. But there is more.
This picture recalls the angels on Jacob’s ladder in the Bible. It was a time where God revealed himself to
   Jacob and showed him the mysteries of heaven. Jesus is promising Nathaniel that he will see amazing
   things and so he did. He saw people raised to life, waters grow calm and tongues of fire.
The possibilities are limitless for all of us as well. Think about where the creator of the world can take
   you. Jesus has unlimited power and wisdom. People who have followed him have done mission trips
   to far away places and have made a difference mentoring people here at home.
Maybe you are to be someone whose ministry is with kids lifting up the next set of leaders in our church
   and our country. Maybe your ministry is to be sitting with someone at the end of life lifting up their
   spirits in difficult times. Nothing is impossible with the Lord, even miracles.
Our hands and the hands of others around us can only do human things. Jesus can do miracles so that we
   can have our great desire. He opens up possibilities that we can only dream of and makes them reality
   for us. He sees in our heart and leads us to where we can have joy and fulfillment.
A Disciple’s response to Jesus
Follow Him! v.43 The next day Jesus decided to leave for Galilee. Finding Philip, he said to him,
    "Follow me."
None of that will happen if you do not follow Jesus. What would have become of Philip if he had not
    dropped everything and followed Jesus that day? He would never have seen the miracles or been in
    Gethsemane or been part of Pentecost and the tongues of fire to mention just a few.
If he wanted his heart’s desire, he had to follow Jesus. So do you and me. We need to read his word daily
    and follow the guidance and help that it gives. We need to let the Lord guide our life and our actions
    so that we are the kind of people that the Lord wants us to be.
We don’t even have to know where we are going. He has read our heart and knows the desire and will
    lead us there. We just need to pray about opportunities and follow the ones that our prayers lead us to
    believe are from him. He will take us there step by step.
He will create a new person out of the old with stronger gifts and a purer heart. He will build up our
    abilities and gifts so that we are ready to take on the new opportunities that he lays before us. We just
    have to follow where he leads and enjoying the ride.
Like the disciples, we will see miracles along the way and will go places that we could not have found by
    ourselves or had the power to get to. His footsteps will lead us; all we need to do is trust and obey him
    rather than going our own way and getting lost.

Bring others v. 41. 41The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon and tell him, "We have
    found the Messiah" (that is, the Christ)
Along the way, invite others so that he can bring them their hearts desire as well. Notice in this text that
    Andrew finds Peter and Philip finds Nathaniel. Both of them were so excited about Jesus that they
    reached out to another person and invited them along.
All of us know others who are seeking fulfillment and just have not found it. They are caught in that habit
    of getting up, going to work, and repeating it day after day. They are missing the smile on their face
    and the joy in their heart.
The great thing about this trip is that there is always room for more. Our Lord Jesus will never turn people
    away. He will reach out to them as he did for Simon and Nathaniel and speak softly and lovingly to
    them as well. He will lead them to their heart’s desire as they get to know him.
Why should we be the only ones who have Jesus as our Messiah? Why shouldn’t we share him with
    others that we know who are feeling lost and lonely? The Messiah does bring us to Salvation in
    heaven, but he also brings us along a path in this life that fills the holes in our heart.

No two people treated alike.
It is amazing, but our Messiah deals with each of us differently. Look at the four in the text. Andrew was
     cautious while Peter was impetuous. Philip was shy, while Nathaniel was honest and outspoken. Each
     was different and Jesus spoke to each in a way that suited them each the best.
He treated them each as individuals and never tried to force them into a mold or get them on the latest
     program. No, He read their heart and offered to lead them to their heart’s desire. He took each of them
     on a special path that was meant just for them and based uniquely on who they were.
The Messiah is offering you the same trip this year and for the rest of your life. He already knows your
     heart better than you do. He watches your every move and sees what gives you joy and causes you
     pain. He knows what your heart’s desire is and is prepared to help you get there.
Are you willing to follow him this year? Are you willing to seek Him out as the disciples did so that you
     may sit at his feet and learn? Are you willing to respond by listening to what he says and putting it
     into practice in your life?
If you are, get ready for a great ride. Jesus can and will take you to wonderful places that you can not get
     to by yourself. Jesus will help you with the struggles and crisis that try to keep you from that dream.
     He will be there for only a Messiah can take you to your heart’s greatest desire. Amen
Rev. Mark R. Etter
Bethany Lutheran Church
3501 Turkeyfoot Road
Erlanger, Kentucky 41018
859 331-3501
Church at 8:30 and 10:45 on Sundays

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