Rev. Russell B. Smith wrote:
A friend sent me an email with some tidbits of cynical wisdom. Here are
some of the highlights:
If you think nobody cares about you, try missing a couple of payments.
Change is inevitable … except from vending machines.
For every action, there is an equal and opposite criticism.
He who hesitates is probably right.
No one is listening until you make a mistake.
Two wrongs are only the beginning.
Monday is an awful way to spend 1/7th of your life.
A clear conscience is usually the sign of a bad memory.
Bills travel through the mail at twice the speed of checks.
42.7 percent of all statistics are made up on the spot.
If at first you don’t succeed, then skydiving definitely isn’t for you.
We’ve become a very cynical people. If something bad can happen, it will happen…right?
We tend to not be very trusting.
For more than 150 years, the President of the United States would regularly top the list of the most trusted people according to national survey polls.
Boy Scout leaders were considered the utmost of trustworthy. And so were bankers, police officers, and the clergy.
None of these people list in the top 10 today.
We just don’t trust like we used to, and maybe for good reason.
Many would say things have gotten out of hand at our nations capital. It’s become a hotbed for scandal, corruption and distrust?
You can hear people say today “Could anything good come from Washington?” and many people will shake their heads in agreement.
In our text for this morning, Phillip comes to Nathanael and proclaims that he has found the one whom Moses wrote about. He is Jesus of Nazareth. While we do not know what expression Nathanael had on his face when he responded, I think that it is safe to say that we may have seen a sneer of cynicism as he asked “Can anything good come from Nazareth?”
But Phillip’s response was “Come and see.”
Come and see souls redeemed. Come and see lives transformed.
Come and see the heavens opened. Come and See Jesus the Christ
Come and See, “We have found the Messiah”
John 1:35-51 [From The NLT – New Living Translation]
35 The following day John was again standing with two of his disciples. 36 As Jesus walked by, John looked at him and declared, “Look! There is the Lamb of God!” 37 When John’s two disciples heard this, they followed Jesus.
38 Jesus looked around and saw them following. “What do you want?” he asked them.
They replied, “Rabbi” (which means “Teacher”), “where are you staying?”
39 “Come and see,” he said. It was about four o’clock in the afternoon when they went with him to the place where he was staying, and they remained with him the rest of the day.
40 Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, was one of these men who heard what John said and then followed Jesus. 41 Andrew went to find his brother, Simon, and told him, “We have found the Messiah” (which means “Christ”*).
42 Then Andrew brought Simon to meet Jesus. Looking intently at Simon, Jesus said, “Your name is Simon, son of John-but you will be called Cephas” (which means “Peter”*).
43 The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. He found Philip and said to him, “Come, follow me.” 44 Philip was from Bethsaida, Andrew and Peter’s hometown.
45 Philip went to look for Nathanael and told him, “We have found the very person Moses* and the prophets wrote about! His name is Jesus, the son of Joseph from Nazareth.”
46 “Nazareth!” exclaimed Nathanael. “Can anything good come from Nazareth?”
“Come and see for yourself,” Philip replied.
47 As they approached, Jesus said, “Now here is a genuine son of Israel-a man of complete integrity.”
48 “How do you know about me?” Nathanael asked.
Jesus replied, “I could see you under the fig tree before Philip found you.”
49 Then Nathanael exclaimed, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God-the King of Israel!”
50 Jesus asked him, “Do you believe this just because I told you I had seen you under the fig tree? You will see greater things than this.” 51 Then he said, “I tell you the truth, you will all see heaven open and the angels of God going up and down on the Son of Man, the one who is the stairway between heaven and earth.*”
Nathaniel was passionate about Israel. The Israelites’ deep longing for
meaning and worth came from their national identity as the people of God, as
God’s covenant people.
Nathaniel, as a good Israelite, longed for God to redeem Israel. He longed for God to send a messiah who would lead Israel into a new era of international prominence.
And yet he suffered only disappointment, time after time.
The Maccabean revolt a century and a half before had failed to reestablish Israel as a force to be reckoned with. Prophets and preachers wandered throughout Israel proclaiming that the messiah was coming, yet Israel was still in Roman chains.
Surely, Nathaniel had become or was becoming cynical and jaded. His attitude was “come on, I’ve heard all the claims, now prove it.”
Jesus saw Nathaniel and said two things. First, he called Nathaniel a true Israelite – a man of complete integrity. Second, he told Nathaniel that he had seen him sitting under the fig tree.
Jesus used these two images to convey his understanding of Nathaniel’s deep identification with Israel and his longing for deliverance.
In effect, Jesus was saying to Nathaniel, “I know what’s on your heart. I know
you’ve been praying for the messiah. I know you want God’s kingdom to be
Jesus could have come on with his best sales pitch, “Hey, Nathaniel, my buddy, ol’ pal, this is why you should follow me. Let me tell you what I can do for you. Let me explain to you my qualifications. Four out of five experts agree that I am the messiah.”
But that’s not what Jesus did. He greeted Nathaniel by speaking directly to what was most on his heart. Jesus immediately got past the cynicism and disappointment. He didn’t play games. And Nathaniel responded with simple faith and joy.
He told Jesus, “You are the Son of God, the King of Israel.”
Indeed, I have found the Messiah.
Now, Come and See.
In our reading, John the Baptist said, “Andrew, you’ve got to come and see Jesus. You have never met anyone like him before.”
Andrew said to his older brother who was named Simon Peter, “Simon Peter, you’ve got to come and see. You have got to come and meet this Jesus.”
Peter then went to Phillip and said, “Phillip, you’ve got to come and see.”
And then Phillip went and found his co-worker, Nathaniel. He said, “Nathaniel, you’ve got to come and meet this Jesus of Nazareth. You’ve simply got to.”
Andrew and Peter and Phillip and Nathaniel were people whose hearts were captured by Jesus Christ and they went and found their family and friends and said, “Come and meet Jesus!”
That is what it means to be a disciple of Christ. A disciple of Jesus Christ is a person whose heart has been captured by the greatness and gracious goodness of Jesus Christ and then they go out and say to people, “Come and see. Come and see this Jesus of Nazareth. Come join us, we have found the Messiah.”
And the Lord’s promised His newest disciples: “You will see heaven opened, and the angels ascending and descending upon the Son of Man”.
If you remember it just like Jacob and his dream. Jacob lay down to sleep and dreamt of angels ascending and descending upon a ladder that linked heaven and earth. When Jacob awoke he exclaimed, “Surely the Lord is in this place…. This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.”
We see here Jesus clarifies Jacob’s dream, replacing the ladder linking heaven and earth with himself; he is where God “houses” himself; he binds heaven to earth and earth to heaven; he acquaints us with God just because he himself is the outpoured heart of God and the face of God. He is the stairway to heaven, the link incarnate between man and the divine.
I can say without hesitation or qualification that Jesus Christ is indeed all that he promises to be. I have found the Messiah. Better yet, He found me. He is truth and way and life.
Jesus Christ is the truth. And in Him, we can now see illusion and fantasy and falsehood of this world for what they are.
Jesus Christ is the life. Since he has been raised from the dead, death cannot overtake him; neither can death overtake us who love him.
Jesus Christ is the way. The road of discipleship leads us to a glorious destination but the road we walk in faith is not often an easy one.
Yet as challenging as discipleship is, the challenge will never be greater than the reward. And if in a moment of discouragement we are tempted to think that this way, we must keep looking to the Light, where the Lord cheers us on from the finish line where he awaits us.
Twenty centuries ago a man named Phillip said to his friend Nathanael, “I have found someone you should know. Come and see for yourself” Nathanael, and the other new disciples saw for themselves, with the result that Jesus Christ became the truth and the life and the way in a concrete and pervasive way.
Those who know Him truly and love Him truly will proclaim “We Have Found the Messiah.”
Come and see for yourself.
That is the point of testimony, to invite people into the journey. By sharing your experiences and how you were touched by God. In this way, people are invited to come and see for themselves who God is. We should not worry about if they will accept the invitation or not, that part isn’t our job, that’s God’s job. Our job is to simply share the story. Tell of the truth, and the life, and the way.
We can tell of the Jesus we know and love over coffee or at the grocery store or waiting in line somewhere by telling people what God is doing in our lives. If you are uncomfortable with that you could even just start by telling them what is happening at this church or the church as a whole in this community.
Tell them God is at work in our lives and in this place. The movement of His Holy Spirit is evident.
Say to them “Come and see. Come and see for yourself what God is doing, this son of Joseph from Nazareth, this Rabbi, this Son of God, this King of Israel, the Son of Man. Come and meet Jesus, we have found the Messiah, He is here amongst us right here in Sprague River, Oregon.”
But they may scoff and ask “Can anything good come from Sprague River?”
Come and see, Jesus Christ is alive in this place. Remember folks, we can proudly stake claim to being the very “ends of the earth” that Jesus spoke of when he sent out his disciples.
Jesus IS of the kingdom of Heaven, but he IS here with us. His people are here is great numbers. Some just haven’t been invited to join the crowd.
We have found the Messiah. He is here. Come and see. Come meet Him. You must meet Him. He is everything to me, and You can know Him and love Him this way too!
Nathanael heard the stories, the people talking. He heard that Jesus was in midst of the people. He asked. . . “Tell me: who is this guy you’re talking about? I’ve never heard of him!”
He has heard of you, Nathanael.
And then, just like most of us, there comes the time when Jesus calls him by name.
Hey! How do you know ME??? Nathanael protests!
I’ve never heard of you . . . and I know a lot of people! And, why would I ever want to associate with someone from Nazareth? How could MY life possibly be better by associating with a Nazarene? I ask again, how do you know ME? What could you possibly know about MY life? How does what you say impact ME?
These, and other questions were not answered until things finally clicked for Nathanael, that Jesus was the Son of God, that his message would change the world …. That he had found the Messiah.
You’ve heard of or maybe listen to Joel Olsteen. He has kind of become a rags to riches story of church leadership. He took over the leadership of a small church and it now has 30,000 members–plus many more who watch him on television every week.
Joel will start out by telling a joke, getting everyone relaxed, then he’ll take the microphone and walk down to the audience, reach out his hand to his wife Victoria and tell the audience-“Victoria and I . . . we are living our best life now! And you can, too!”
It’s clear, from the amazing success Joel Osteen has had, that there are an awful lot of Nathanaels in the world, sitting under the fig trees of life, looking for something … wondering, questioning, doubting….
From stressed-out fisherman to disillusioned farmers, from self-important government officials to distrustful lawyers, when Jesus began his ministry he encountered all sorts of folks just like us, people who were not, in fact, living life to the fullest. People who needed to know the truth, and the life, and the way.
But Jesus didn’t use a big TV ministry or fill auditoriums with tens of thousands of people to change the world, and in a relatively few short years Christianity exploded on this planet in an unimaginable way without any satellite uplinks or digital broadcasts.
Instead, he just wandered around the countryside-and told people about His Father’s and his incredible love for them.
Sure, he drew a crowd from time to time. Mostly when the people wanted something.
But he didn’t make the big promises they hoped to hear.
Instead of promising relief from the political oppression of Rome, or wealth, or positions of power and influence, Jesus spoke about strange new ideas like love and justice, ideas that had very little to do with ME–with my life and my success. . . and a whole lot more to do with God–God’s message of love and reconciliation for the whole world . . . not just me.
To me, the most powerful words in the book “The Purpose Driven Life” by Rick Warren are the first four words. The rest of the book is quite frankly so much window dressing. It was nicely written and well argued, but the whole book and indeed the whole Christian faith, if you get right down to it, hinge on these four words.
IT’S NOT ABOUT YOU
The mission of the church is, sadly, not about you or me.
The mission of the church is about God, about God’s redeeming work in the world through Christ, about living that out and making room for others to join us in that living.
Nathanael finally figured it out. It took him awhile . . . it took him sorting through the questions of self-importance and self-interest that, up until that point had been the motivating, compelling forces in life.
Who is this Jesus anyway, what can he do for me? Give it up, Nate.
It’s not about you, Nathanael. It’s about God.
And when Nathanael finally figured it out, when that moment came that the light went on and the pieces fell into place, well, he gasped in recognition and said, “Teacher, you ARE the son of God . . . the king of Israel.” YOU are the one I’ve been looking for.
Not professional success, not material wealth, not power, not worldly recognition. . . . it’s not any of those things. All that’s about me, and it’s not about ME. It’s about you.
So, Come and see. Come gather around. Come see who He is and what He is doing in and through the lives of his people.
Come and See. We have found the Messiah. He is here amongst us in this place. Come and See.
©2010 Timothy Henry