The Second Sunday after Epiphany; Year B (1/18/2015)

Lessons:1st Samuel 3:1-10 [11-20] Psalm 139:1-6, 13-18 1st Corinthians 6:12-20 St. John 1:43-51

Prayer of the Day: Thanks be to you Lord Jesus Christ, most merciful redeemer, for the countless blessings and benefits you give. May we know you more clearly, love you more dearly, and follow you more nearly, day by day praising you, with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

1.43 The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. He found Philip and said to him, “Follow me.” 44 Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. 45 Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found him about whom Moses in the law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus son of Joseph from Nazareth.” 46 Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.” 47 When Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him, he said of him, “Here is truly an Israelite in whom there is no deceit!” 48 Nathanael asked him, “Where did you get to know me?” Jesus answered, “I saw you under the fig tree before Philip called you.” 49 Nathanael replied, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!” 50 Jesus answered, “Do you believe because I told you that I saw you under the fig tree? You will see greater things than these.” 51 And he said to him, “Very truly, I tell you, you will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man."

St. John 1:43-51. New Revised Version Bible (C)1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America.

Come and See

“Come and See,” says Philip to his good friend Nathanael. Philip has just told Nathanael about a man he met. The man’s name is Jesus, and this man asked Philip to follow him. Philip is sure he is the Messiah: the one the prophets and Moses predicted would come. Philip wants to follow him, but there is something he has to do first. He has to go and find his good friend Nathanael, and tell him about it. If he is right – if this traveling Rabbi from Nazareth actually is the Messiah – Philip wants to share that with Nathanael.

So he runs, and finds him, and says to him: “We have found the Messiah. His name is Jesus. He comes from Nazareth.” Now Nathanael knows a little bit about Nazareth. It is a backwater town. Nothing of importance has ever happened there. If God really has decided to send a Messiah, surely Nazareth wouldn’t have been chosen for his home. Nathaniel’s first response is a bit skeptical. He says, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” But Philip, who loves his friend dearly, and who is excited about this man he has just met, offers a response to Nathanael that is brief, to the point, and brilliantly faithful. He says, simply: “Come and see.”

“Come and see.” Philip doesn’t pull out his Bible, and attempt to offer a clever textual proof that Jesus is the Messiah. He doesn’t develop a number of theological arguments designed to convince Nathanael. He doesn’t name a dozen others with good reputations who also believe that Jesus is the Messiah. He simply says: “Come and see.” He trusts that if he is able to help Nathanael to have the same experience that he has had, Nathanael will believe. He trusts that if Nathanael should meet Jesus, he could reach the same conclusion that Philip has. He simply says: “Come and see.” And he trusts that God’s Spirit will do the rest.

Brief. To the point. Brilliantly faithful. And simple! How much we could learn from Philip! Most of us live surrounded by people who have never come to know Jesus Christ. Some of them were members of a community of faith when they were young, but drifted away over time. Others have never darkened the door of a church’s building. And others yet carry some negative experience of the church with them; sure that nothing good could ever come out of it. It is hard to imagine how we might convince them that there is something in the faith for them. What argument might win them over? What Bible passage might break through their reluctance? What could we do to convince them to become Christians?

Maybe Philip has the key. Our job is not to convince. Our job is to simply extend the invitation. Come and see what faith has done for me. Come and see how participating in a Christian congregation has changed my life. Come and see what happens when God dwells at the center of who we are. Come and see. And let me trust that the Spirit will work on you, as it has worked on me. Let me trust that if I plant the seed, God will give the growth.

What a great example, from a little-known first century disciples. May we allow his example to help us learn how best to invite others to “Come and see.”

David J. Risendal, Pastor

Exploring This Week’s Gospel:

  1. What kind of a relationship do you suspect Philip and Nathanael have?
  2. Why is it so important for Philip to tell Nathanael about Jesus? (After all, Jesus commands Philip to follow him – and he doesn’t! He first goes to find Nathanael.)
  3. What do you suppose Philip wants Nathanael to see?

Connecting with This Week’s Gospel:

  1. What is it that my faith, or my participation at church, adds to my life?
  2. Do I know anyone who doesn’t know Jesus? Anyone who isn’t a person of faith?
  3. How might I invite that person to “come and see” what a difference God has made in my life?