Second Sunday after Epiphany 18 January 2015
(1 Samuel 3:1-10 Psalm 139 1 Corinthians 6:12-20 John 1:43-51)
“Come and See!”
A little girl and her grandmother are sitting in the first pew in church. The pastor gets up to begin her sermon, and she begins with a story. The grandmother says to the little girl sitting beside her, “Listen, the pastor is going to tell us a story.” So the girl curls up and immediately falls asleep. Near the end of the sermon, the grandmother wakes the girl beside her and says, “Why did you sleep during the sermon?” The little girl said, “But grandma whenever you begin to tell me a story, you say to me it is time to go to sleep.” So that’s my story, and it looks as if everyone is still awake! Even so, God seemed to have been able to speak to Samuel in his sleep!
Today’s Gospel reading is one of five “come and see” stories in John’s Gospel, all from the first chapter. It is a little harder to clearly see a few of them because we are not reading in the original Greek, but I would like to look at them this morning. Almost like a “come and see” word search!
I also want us to hear deeper than the words. I’d like us to “feel’ this text this morning. In fact, at the end of last evening’s service someone told me she could almost hear the feet of the disciples running from place to place! Let’s see what happens this morning.
[p. 112-113 in pew Bibles] [Begin with vs. 19] John the Baptist is out in the wilderness. Jesus comes to be baptized. John the Baptist must have heard of Jesus because John says “I am not worthy to tie the thong of your sandals.” [vs. 27] Something happened in the baptizing (we usually focus on Jesus); the heart of John is being transformed and captured by Jesus. So what does John do? John goes and finds his own disciples, Come and see!” And two days later, he is with them and Jesus walks by [vs. 35] and John says: “Look there he is!” One of those disciples was Andrew. John the Baptist said, “Andrew, you’ve got to come and see Jesus! I’ve never met anyone like him before.” [vs.32-34].
The text gets very specific, when it says, “Andrew and his friend came at 4:00 in the afternoon to meet Jesus.” [1:39], and it seems as if Andrew stayed until the next morning. Again something happened. Andrew encountered this amazing, awesome person! Andrew’s heart was captured that night by Jesus.
The next morning, Andrew went and finds his older brother, Peter [1:40]. Andrew says to his brother: “Peter, you’ve got to come and see. You’re my older brother and my hero. You need to come and meet this Jesus.” So Simon Peter goes and meets Jesus [1:42].
We don’t know how long that conversation lasted, but we do know that Peter’s heart was captured, he was transformed, and his name was changed [1:42].
Jesus finds Phillip and Phillip goes to find Nathaniel. Phillip says to Nathaniel, “You’ve got to come and see!” [1:46].
Nathaniel comes and sees Jesus and Jesus says to Nathaniel, “I saw you sitting under your fig tree yesterday.” Nathaniel said, “How did you see that?” Jesus said, “I know your heart.” And Nathaniel falls down and worships Jesus.
That’s a conversational summary of today’s Gospel reading with a few extra verses added from earlier in the chapter.
I’d like you to notice what is happening. Did you notice a pattern? People are curious! People are excited! Hearts are being captured to the point where the enthusiasm of being with Jesus cannot be held in!
Captured like a grandfather’s heart being captured by a grandchild. Or like when I am transfixed by the beauty of a sunset or a rainbow, when I yell to whomever is within earshot, “Hurry, come and see! Come now! You must see this!”
And it is like the hearts of these disciples being touched and transformed by the magnificence of this rabbi come from Nazareth! Their hearts have been captured by his life, his love, his kindness, his way of living and loving.
We are hearing the very joy of the Gospel–peoples’ hearts being captured by Jesus Christ where they go to their friends and say, “Come and see! You’ve got to come and know firsthand this person’s love and compassion, and kindness, and his mercy. It will make all the difference in your world and in your life.”
A disciple of Jesus Christ is a person whose heart has been captured by the greatness and gracious goodness of Jesus. And the heart of discipleship is to share this Good News, to go and say to others, “Come and see!”
And surely, Jesus Christ is revealed in beautiful choirs, and in great youth programs, and in committed community outreach, and magnificent organs and fine-looking worship areas and beautiful baptism fonts.
But hear the Gospel in its most simple form this morning: “Come and see Jesus! Come and see Jesus! Come and see Jesus!”
So, of course, if people are to come and see Jesus in each one of us, in this community of faith, that puts a terribly wonderful burden on each and every one of us—on the way we talk in hallways, the way we acknowledge each other on the street, the way we congregate in parking lots, the way we talk with our spouses, the way we create a mission plan, the way we dream of our future together!
So I ask myself: “Can a great congregation with strong choirs and strong youth programs and strong outreach and good solid pastors; is it possible for such a congregation to lose the vision of what it means to say to family and friends: “Come and see. Come and see the most spirit-filled person who has ever lived—Jesus Christ. Come and see him; you will meet him here.”
Of course, it is possible for any congregation to lose its vision, but I pray we never lose the courage of this invitation to “Come and see” Jesus. He just may capture our hearts, if he hasn’t already done so!” Amen.