January 17, 2021, John 1:43-51, “Come and see!”
Dear friends in Christ,
I have an invitation for you and every person, “Come and See Jesus!”
There’s a whole list of people in our gospel who began their faith journey with this invitation.
John the Baptist, Philip and Nathanael, Andrew and Peter hear this invitation that Philip extends to Nathanael... to come and see. It is how the journey to discipleship begins. They were looking for the Messiah. God’s Christ.
One of the my favorite groups used to sing, “But I still haven’t found what I’m looking for!”
Come and see... you can’t stand on the outside looking in... you have to take a shot...
We ask hows the water?
To experience the thrill you got to get it. Turn the key and press on the gas peddle. It is no different with faith. To experience Jesus, you have to come and see and enter Baptisms waters. We become hooked and remain with him. Then we become his witness. One person invites the next. Come and see Jesus... There is a chain reaction.
There is something very personal about all of this. One person, a John the Baptist is standing with two of his disciples and Jesus walks by. He tells them...
“Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.”
Remember John said that “I am not the Messiah.” I am not worthy to untie his sandal.
One of Johns disciples named Philip receives Johns words and follows Jesus and announces to Nathanael, “we have found the Messiah that Moses and the prophets foretold.”
Nathanael does not yet understand how God ‘s work is often hidden. That God often operates in the insignificant and every day events to reveal his glory. So he makes fun of Nazareth asking if anything good could come from Nazareth. Before we become too harsh on him, think of how we talk about people who come from the north.. I guess he considers them cheese heads or hicks.
they have funny accents, they are cheese heads and drink beer, they cheer for the wrong team don’t cha know!” Ha!
Philip offers a simple invitation in three words... “Come and see.”
Nathanael has a change of heart. He takes Philip up on his invitation. When he first encounters our Lord. Jesus pronounces Nathanael an Israelite without conceit. Nathanael fires back, you don’t know anything about me... Jesus takes it another step saying,
“Nathanael, I saw you standing beneath the fig tree even before Philip offered his announcement and invitation to follow me.”
Nathanael is shocked... he proclaims “Jesus !You are the Christ.”
Our Lord tells Nathanael that he will see far greater events and experiences.
Is he referring to Jesus miracle when Jesus changes water into wine or gives sight to a person born blind or feeding the 5,000 with bread and fish or pronounces the forgiveness of a persons sins. That Jesus will die on the cross and rise again on Easter?
All of this lies in Philip and Nathanael, Andrew and Peters future that is anticipated in Jesus simple invitation to “follow me!” What is God going to do in your life and mine that we can’t even conceive or know in the present. I guess we’ll have to stick around and follow and abide in Jesus to find out.
Here is what a disciple of Jesus does. We hear his invitation to follow and then remain with him and never leave because we never know what God is about to do!
For God came to be with us in his Son Jesus. In him we will see the glory of God. When you and I remain with him and place faith in him, everything around us takes on new value and dignity. Nathanael will discover how God often works through the smallest and most hidden of things. This moment in history, as difficult and challenging as it is, no matter how small or unimpressive is charged with God’s grace. You remember the story of Babettes feast in which a stark Norwegian community of faith that is only looking forward to the wonder of heaven receives a guest named Babbet who wins the lottery and spends it all giving them a real French feast and they are drawn together in community. For a moment” the stars had come nearer” and the guests saw the universe as it really is. Grace.. God has made his home with us.
The Covid1- pandemic and other continuing challenges have made it tempting to doubt that goodness can be found in the present darkness of our world. It is often confusing and unwelcoming. We are made to feel weak and helpless. But didn’t Jesus come to us is a time like this... our God who created the universe entered it and spent his first night in a humble manger lined with straw and surrounded by oxen and donkey, sheep and goats. The humblest of things can become the handiwork of God. There is good news happening all around us even in times of brokenness for God is with us in Jesus.
The revelation of God is often hidden in, with and under the person of Jesus and his cross. But that is where you will see him best. It will be in our suffering and pain that we find him there with us as our companion.
Our Lord references the story of Jacob’s ladder where angels ascended and descended to mortals bringing the word of God. He tells Nathanael that he will not need a ladder for this will now happen in a person. Jesus destroys any notion of needing a ladder that we must climb to reach God by being good enough and climbing one rung or step trying to be better every day that we may move closer to God and make him love us. All that is needed for some to reach God is to believe in Jesus Christ. He will be lifted up on the cross. God already loves us. We are sinners who are saved by grace.
But to do this you are going to have to come and see, Jesus! Bring yourself, like Nathanael. Come and see Jesus, come with all of your attitude and questions and doubts and person. Come as the sinner you are and ask for his forgiveness and let his love surround you. For it is in this way we will come to see and believe and discover that Jesus is the Son of God. We are his witnesses..
“I have good news to share with you and the world. God, the creator of all things and people has come into our world and become human in Jesus of Nazareth. You may come to know God in him for he said that he is the way, the truth and the life of God. Come to him all who are weary and he will give you rest. Come to him confessing your sins and seeking his forgiveness and he will forgive you. For He loves you. He died on the cross to reconcile us to God. He invites you to place your faith in him. Come and see..
Keep the chain of invitation going. For we who know him and love him and believe in him are the true witnesses of his love and grace in the world.