See for Yourself
This is the sixth sermon in our current series, “Come and See….a study on the life of Jesus”
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|In John 1:35-51 it says, “The next day John was there again with two of his disciples. 36 When he saw Jesus passing by, he said, “Look, the Lamb of God!” 37 When the two disciples heard him say this, they followed Jesus. 38 Turning around, Jesus saw them following and asked, “What do you want?” They said, “Rabbi” (which means “Teacher”), “where are you staying?” 39 “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. 40 Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, was one of the two who heard what John had said and who had followed Jesus. 41 The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon and tell him, “We have found the Messiah” (that is, the Christ). 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). 43 The next day Jesus decided to leave for Galilee. Finding Philip, he said to him, “Follow me.” 44 Philip, like Andrew and Peter, was from the town of Bethsaida. 45 Philip found Nathanael and told him, “We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote—Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.” 46 “Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?” Nathanael asked. “Come and see,” said Philip. 47 When Jesus saw Nathanael approaching, he said of him, “Here truly is an Israelite in whom there is no deceit.” 48 “How do you know me?” Nathanael asked. Jesus answered, “I saw you while you were still under the fig tree before Philip called you.” 49 Then Nathanael declared, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the king of Israel.” 50 Jesus said, “You believe because I told you I saw you under the fig tree. You will see greater things than that.” 51 He then added, “Very truly I tell you, you will see ‘heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending on’ the Son of Man.”
Have you ever decided to buy something or go somewhere because someone recommended it to you? Maybe they just got back from the best vacation ever and just know you’ll love it as well. Or they say, “I saw the best movie last night; you have to see it!” I think we are more likely to try something recommended by someone we know and trust over, say, a person you don’t know, like a telemarketer. If you’re thinking about investing, you’re more likely to take advice from a trusted friend then one of those spam emails from another country.
As our story opens, we find John with two of his disciples. He sees Jesus walking by, and he turns their attention to Christ. He says in a loud voice, “Look, the Lamb of God!” So, what do these disciples of John do? They leave John and go after Jesus. There are some key truths this passage teaches us about discipleship and following Jesus and they are significant to our story.
First, they don’t just drop everything on a whim. They follow Jesus because of John’s testimony. When they leave John to follow Jesus, they do it because of the relationship they have with John. They knew John’s character and trusted him. These two men went after Jesus at the beginning of the story because someone they knew and trusted recommended Him. One of John’s disciples to follow Jesus was Andrew. And what does Andrew do first? He finds Simon, his brother. (Simon would soon take the name Peter and become a powerful force in the early church!) Think about it. Simon was willing to consider getting to know Jesus because of the witness of his brother Andrew.
There’s a second example that involves another disciple. After meeting Jesus and turning to follow him, Philip goes and brings Nathanael to Jesus. Nathanael isn’t really excited about meeting Jesus because of where he’s from (Nazareth). But he decides to accept Philip’s invitation anyway. So, his reservations about Jesus are overcome by the strength of his friendship with Philip.
Then there is the example of my good friend in high school. I had been invited to church many times and but always declined. But when Patti invited me to church, I only went because it was Patti. Now when John’s two disciples turn to follow Jesus, Jesus intentionally turns around and talks with them. He asks, “What are you looking for?” Let’s face it, Jesus knows the answer already. He just wants the two men to say it. Their answer comes in the form of a question: “Where are you staying?” I love Jesus’ response here. “Come and see.” It’s like he’s saying, “Come with me and see for yourself. We learn about who Jesus is and what He’s like by being with Him. The Bible tells us that the two disciples “spent that day with him.”
Each of us is invited to “spend time with Jesus” to get to know Him. We see this same “come and see” invitation when Philip goes and gets Nathanael. He says “come and see” to Nathanael when he expresses his doubts about where Jesus is from. Just like Jesus said to Andrew, Philip says to Nathanael, “Come and see for yourself. Meet him yourself, get to know Him and then decide.” In my experience people don’t reject Jesus based upon the facts. They reject Him based upon their ignorance (they won’t take time to investigate) or pride (they don’t want to obey God).
Or they say, “I’ve been to church, I didn’t like it; I’m not into Jesus” That’s like saying, “I flew into France and saw the airport, I’m not into France…the food is overrated. I saw the Eifel Tower in the gift shop…Ahhh.” If you’re an honest seeker of truth, you need to spend time with Jesus. This means you need to be willing to investigate, ask questions, study the facts, and consider who Jesus is. God wants all of us to consider Jesus personally. I know everyone has past religious experiences, but your negative church experience isn’t Jesus, your hypocritical friend or relative isn’t Jesus, that pastor you didn’t like isn’t Jesus.
While the invitation to consider Jesus comes from others, it’s our decision to follow him. The book of John invites us to ask, “Who is Jesus and why would I want to follow him?” This leads to another important questions. Do you remember when you started following Christ? Who were the people in your faith story that played a significant role in your decision to follow Him? Who got you started down your spiritual path? God usually works through specific people to draw us into relationship with himself. That’s exactly what happens in our story this morning. John got the ball rolling: He confessed, “Look, the Lamb of God!” What I mean by confessed here is “declaring personally and publicly” that Jesus is the Son of God.
When we confess Christ, we are awakening the hearts of others to consider Him as well. Our testimonies are an invitation to consider the One who has touched our lives and changed our hearts. This is how Christ changed my life. This is how God answered my prayer. When we testify to the work of God in our lives, we are inviting others to do the same. God spreads the Good News of Jesus primarily through ordinary people and ordinary circumstances. It’s when we talk to our neighbors, or when we have family over for supper, or when we drive our friends’ kids to soccer practice. He chooses to work through the ordinary circumstances of our lives. That means we can all participate. It doesn’t have to be perfect. It just has to be honest and authentic. The fact is that people are more likely to consider Jesus if they hear about Him from someone they already know and trust. This means that the people you have the best chance of introducing to Christ are those who know you and trust you, whether family, friend, or neighbor. Evangelism is best when it happens through relationships that are already there. Jesus asks John’s disciples, “What are you looking for?” He asks each one of us this same question. Whether we realize it or not, each of us is looking for something. Every person on the planet is created by God to need Him, to be in relationship with Him. If you’re sitting here and wondering who this Jesus is, He invites you to follow him and to get to know him. Eventually Jesus wants to be the Lord of your life. It all starts where our story started this morning. With Jesus initial response to those first two disciples… “Come and see.”