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Circle of LIFE

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John and Andrew come to Christ after John the Baptist's declaration

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Almost 23 years ago on June 24th, 1994 Disney released their newest, and some would argue greatest, animated feature movie that would change animated cinema forever and would have more than one generation forever singing a new song
Of course that movie was The Lion King and the song that it had everyone singing was The Circle of Life written by Elton John and Tim Rice
The movie opened with a stirring rendition of this song song by Carmen Twillie as the little lion Symba, heir to the throne of his father Mufassa, is presented to all the creatures of the savanna
Not until part way through the movie did we realize the forshadowing of this song as it served to warn us of the story that would play out before our eyes,
A story that is played out over and over again because, after all, it is the circle of life
Well this morning I want us to go back to a passage that we looked at a couple of weeks ago from the beginning of John’s gospel, the passage where John the Baptist first declared to everyone listening that Jesus was the Lamb of God
What I want to do is look at what happened next in this story because in the next few verses I believe that what we see played out before us is not the circle of life but rather the circle of LIFE
After all Jesus not only came to be the Lamb of God but, according to He came so that we could “have life, and have it to the full.
So open up in your Bible to John chapter 1 but this time let’s jump down to verse 35
John 1:35–42 NIV
The next day John was there again with two of his disciples. When he saw Jesus passing by, he said, “Look, the Lamb of God!” When the two disciples heard him say this, they followed Jesus. Turning around, Jesus saw them following and asked, “What do you want?” They said, “Rabbi” (which means “Teacher”), “where are you staying?” “Come,” he replied, “and you will see.” So they went and saw where he was staying, and they spent that day with him. It was about four in the afternoon. Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, was one of the two who heard what John had said and who had followed Jesus. The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon and tell him, “We have found the Messiah” (that is, the Christ). 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).
This morning when I talk about the circle of LIFE I am not talking about the ups and downs that we experience while in these mortal bodies for as the author of Hebrews put it, “…man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgement”
Fortunately for us Jesus declared in that He had come to bring us “life and Life to the full” Because, as Peter put it in Acts 4:12
Acts 4:12
Acts 4:12 NIV
Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.”
So when I say “The circle of LIFE” what I am talking about is that process that takes place to bring someone out of death in sin into life in Christ, out of the darkness and into the light
A circular process that we see in this text
The first step is that it always begins with a testimony of Christ
Our text starts out “The next day” because this narrative takes place on the day following the baptism of Jesus by John
Let’s back up a few verses and see what happened immediately follow the baptism of John
John 1:32–34 NIV
Then John gave this testimony: “I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him. And I myself did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, ‘The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’ I have seen and I testify that this is God’s Chosen One.”
Now I’m not sure exactly how everything went down that day and whether or not Jesus was still present when John gave this testimony but I’m apt to believe that Jesus had left and the crowds had dispersed and John was sitting there on the river bank with his disciples when he begins to reflect on all that had happened (sit on edge of platform and demonstrate)
Now skip to the next day and Jesus just happens to be walking past that part of the river again on His way to wherever He was going and John sees Him and yells out to the crowd, which was much larger today because they had heard the rumors of what had happened yesterday, “Look, the Lamb of God!
At hearing this for the second time, two of John’s disciples decide to go check this out for themselves
Neither of these two men would have paid any attention to Jesus had it not been for the testimony of John
Let me read for you a scripture verse that we usually reserve for missions
Romans 10:14–15 NIV
How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”
We usually just jump right to the end and talk about the importance of the sending but even more important than the sending is the telling because even if everyone was sent nobody would come to believe if they’re not told
According to a study on evangelism by the Barna Group, the top 2 reasons why Christians don’t share their faith is because; 1. They’re afraid of being rejected 2. They’re afraid that they can’t adequately explain their theology
Let me speak to both of these for a moment
First nobody rejects you because of your testimony, they reject Christ and Christ IN you, for Jesus said,
John 15:18–19 NIV
“If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.
If you are going to be a follower of Christ you need to expect that the world is going to reject Christ in you and so it should never be a factor in sharing our testimony
Secondly, you were never called to explain the gospel to people because the gospel is incomprehensible to those who do not believe
1 Corinthians 1:18-19
1 Corinthians 1:18–19 NIV
For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written: “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.”
Don’t even try to explain it all, God has raised up men and women to do that, your job is just to share your story, your testimony
1 Peter 3:15 NIV
But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect,
Share YOUR experience, that’s all you’re asked to do
The circle of LIFE ALWAYS begins with a testimony and YOUR testimony may be the exact thing that begins the circle for someone else
The next step in this circle is that the person decides to look into things for themselves, to check it out, to see if what you claim to be true for you might actually be true for them
This part of the process may be very quick as it was for the two disciples of John or it may take a long time as it did with Nicodemus but everyone goes through it
The two disciples decide to follow Jesus and check it out for themselves but the really neat thing is that God interacts with them in their search
As they walk down the road behind Him Jesus turns around and asks them “What do you want?”
The KJV says “What seek ye” and the Message Bible says “What are you after”
This is a personal invitation to the two men from Jesus saying “How can I help you?”
In David encourages people to “Taste and see that the Lord is good
Try a little bit, check it out and see what you think and that’s what Jesus was encouraging the disciples to do
You may be completely new to this Jesus thing or you may have been serving Him for many years but His question to you this morning is still the same, “What do you want?” What are your questions? Your fears?”
What do you want from Him? He wants to know, He wants you to tell Him
tells us that “You do not have, because you do not ask God.” and although we usually think only of the material in this verse, it is equally true of all things
Perhaps you heard somebody’s testimony about great calm in the midst of a storm and now as you face your own storm you want to know more, you want to experience more
Or perhaps you heard a testimony about great faith and you want to know if that can be true in your life
Or maybe it’s peace you want, or belonging, or hope or.... Jesus wants you to tell Him what it is you are looking for
And don’t let the enemy convince you that a “lack of spirituality” should hold you back, even after all that had taken place in the last 24 hours these two men still called Him “Rabbi” a worldly term, they came with the understanding that they had and didn’t put on any false pretenses
James 1:5
James 1:5 NIV
If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.
Moving on we see the next step in the circle which is obedience
When Christ asks the two what they want they reply that they just want to know where He is staying.
Almost as if to say well we have some questions but you look busy right now, like you have some place to be so if you could just tell us where you are staying and we’ll get back to you
There’s an old procrastinators saying that goes “Why put off until tomorrow what you can do next week!”
But Jesus doesn’t accept their procrastination and instead tells them to come with Him and they will find exactly what they are looking for
2 Chronicles
In 2 Chronicles God tells us that if we seek Him with all of our heart we will find Him but to do so with all of our heart means to be obedient to what He tells us to do
If we come to Him seeking Joy and He tells us to get rid of those things that we think are making us happy, we need to get rid of them or we will not find true joy
If we come to Him seeking greater faith and He says that to find it He has to take us through the fiery trials we need to follow Him
Right this down in your Bibles so that you will always have it because what I am about to say is absolutely crucial to living LIFE and that is that FAITH ALWAYS PROCEEDS REVELATION
And we know from both James and Paul that faith when not partnered with action is dead and is of no value
His command to you may be easy like “Come and see” or it may be much more difficult like “God and sell everything you have and give to the poor.”
But whatever it is He tells us to do we must do with haste and when we do we are sure to find what it is that we were looking for
The two disciples do what Jesus asked of them and their lives were never to be the same again, that one moment of obedience produced an eternity of results in their lives so much so that we see an interesting phenomenon in our story because verse 41 tells us
John 1:41-
John 1:41–42 NIV
The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon and tell him, “We have found the Messiah” (that is, the Christ). 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).
And so the circle began all over again with a testimony!
After all it IS the circle of LIFE
Let’s pray
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