Come and See!
January 15, 2012
The Rev. Dr. Anthony J. Godlefski, Pastor
Montgomery United Methodist Church
Our title and our topic for today is: "Come and See!"
We have an exciting Scripture to study today. So let’s study the Bible together. We are going to look at the Gospel of John, Chapter 1, verses 43-51. We are studying the idea, "Come and See!"
The Bible Story
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?"
Let’s take a look at this together, my friends. Jesus, in His powerful, winsome, and inviting way, said to Philip, “Follow me. Do what I do, learn from me.” Philip just knew in his heart that this was the One that the Old Testament had spoken of. This was the Messiah, the Promised One of God. So Philip agreed to follow Jesus.
Philip was so happy to follow Jesus that he invited a friend to do so also.
Isn’t that what you and I would do when we find something good? If we find a good bargain on the Internet we tell our friends about it. Or when we find a good inexpensive restaurant, we share the news about this with our friends.
Philip had found the best news of all, he had found the way to God! He had found the fulfillment of the Scripture. He had found the One in whom more promise was concentrated than any where else. He wanted to share this with a friend. So he shared this news with his friend, Nathaniel. Philip said, “Nathaniel, I have found the Promised One. He is Jesus, son of Joseph, from Nazareth.” Nathaniel says, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?”
What is going on? Why is Nathaniel saying this? We are pretty sure my friends, that Nathaniel was making a town to town competitive remark. It was town to town competition. When I was in High School, we were all for Linden and we might say, “Can anything good come out of Rahway?” Around this area, people from Belle Mead might say, “Griggstown, can anything good come from Griggstown?" And, of course, people from Griggstown might say, "Can anything good come out of Belle Mead?" One town might compete against the other.
Nazareth was not a very famous town. Nazareth was not a town where great things were foretold to come. So Nathaniel could not believe how anything good could come out of Nazareth. But watch for the response.
Philip said to him, "Come and see."
Did Philip say, “I happen to have a document here that says Nazareth is a very good town and good things will come from it, would you read this document?” No, Philip didn’t say that. He said, “Come and see.” Come check it out, come and see for yourself what is going on. So Nathaniel went. He took the step and went with Philip.
Another reason Nathaniel may have asked the question was because he was a deep thinker. His religious values were strong. He didn't want to be fooled. He wanted to check everything out. To him, being from Nazareth was a slim credential.
47 When Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him, he said of him, "Here is truly an Israelite in whom there is no deceit!"
Now let's stop for a moment and look underneath that little sentence
In that one little sentence there is probably much more that went on.
Jesus may have even said more than that; but here's what it indicates:
Jesus said "Here is a man who won't be fooled.
Here is a man who searches for God.
Here is a man who has been praying about finding God in his life.
Here is a man with a pure heart.
Here is a sincere man."
With that little sentence, Jesus probably said all those things. Let us see what happened next.
48 Nathanael asked him, "Where did you get to know me?"
Jesus answered, "I saw you under the fig tree before Philip called you."
What does that mean? The fig tree is the symbol of deep lasting, heavenly peace. The fig tree is a symbol of religious meditation. The Bible says, Oh for the day when each man shall sit under his fig tree. Each person should sit in their own prayerful, peaceful place. Jesus saw Nathaniel sitting under the fig tree and it was the symbol of a man who was longing for God, perhaps Nathaniel was in a state of prayer.
Not long ago we were doing a concert with the Starlite Choral at St. Matthews’s Church in Edison. I noticed a young teenager who was performing with us. After the show she was sitting by herself in one of the pews of the church. She was deeply in prayer. She was totally unselfconscious, completely at one with the Lord. It was a beautiful sight. Perhaps Jesus saw something like that with Nathaniel. Jesus had a way of reading people. He had a way of understanding them. He understands you and me, too.
Let’s continue with the Scripture, and see what happened next.
49 Nathanael replied, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!”
The next sentence demonstrates for us that Jesus had a sense of humor! Usually we don’t think of the Lord as being humorous; but I am sure He smiled when He said,
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."
I am sure that when Jesus said that there were smiles all around.
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. "
And indeed, Nathaniel would. He would see the heavens opened and angels descending when Jesus fed 5000 people with a few loaves of bread and a few pieces of fish. Nathaniel would see the heavens opened and angels descending upon Jesus when Jesus called Lazarus forth from the tomb and caused the dead man to rise. He would see the heavens opened and angels descending as Jesus struggled in the Garden of Gethsemane. Indeed, Nathaniel would see greater things than he had ever seen before in the life of Jesus of Nazareth.
Can anything good come out of Nazareth? Come and see. My dear friends I would like you to take this Scripture to heart.
We are called to tell others, "Come and See!"
We are called to hear the Lord say to us, "Come and See!"
You are the Inviter and the Invited One
You and I are called to be inviters and you and I are the invited.
We are called to be the inviters to Christ. I will bet that almost everyone here today is here because someone made them feel welcome in Church. Some minister maybe or teacher or lay person or child. Someone made you feel welcome. Someone made you feel like they saw you under the fig tree and you mattered. And you are here. You felt welcome and invited, and you came to check it out.
We are called to be the inviters. This is an important task that we are given. Invite people to come, you never know who will say yes. Some may say no but it doesn’t matter as long as we are the inviters. And we say the words, "Come and See!".
There is a true story told about a Baptist minister who went on a cruise. As he is walking about the cruise ship he saw a gentlemen sitting and reading the Bible.
He thought, “Oh, a fellow Christian.”
He greeted the man and said, “I see that you are reading the Bible.”
The gentleman said, “Yes, I am.”
The minister told the man that he was a Baptist minister.
“Oh,” said the man, “That is wonderful, it is nice to meet you.”
The minister then said, “Can I ask you how you came to know the Lord?”
The gentleman reading the Bible smiled and said, “Yes, it is because of a man with two umbrellas”. “Tell me more,” said the Minister.
“Well”, said the Bible reader, “I was in college. I was floundering in my faith a little bit. I am from the Philippines and grew up in the Roman Catholic Church. Another student came to me one day and asked if I knew the Lord. I said I did, I am a member of the Roman Catholic Church. I attend church on occasion.
The other student said, “How about this Sunday, are you going to church this Sunday?
I replied, “I haven't decided.”
The other student said,” How about if I go with you?”
“Sure, that would be okay.”
Well that Sunday was terribly, terribly rainy. So I thought to myself, “I am not going to church today.”
But then the other student came by, rang the door bell and was standing out there in the rain, holding two umbrellas.
He said, “How about we go to your church?”
I answered, “Okay, but my Church is pretty far from here.”
The man with the two umbrellas said, "That's okay. Let's go."
I said, "What Church do you go to?"
"The Methodist Church," he replied. "It happens to be around the corner."
So I asked if we could go to the Methodist church this week and then the Roman Catholic Church the next.
“Sure, that sounds good.”
So we went to one church one week and the other church the next.
The Bible reader said, “Through these weekly church visits, the more I got to know and love the Lord.”
“Oh, said the Baptist Minister, “That is wonderful, and by the way, what is your name?”
“My name is Valencia, Bishop Valencia, I am the United Methodist bishop for the Phillipines.”
You never know where your kindness can end up.
You are called to be an inviter, my Friend. It is a joyful job.
Please don’t forget that you are also the invited. God is saying to you, "Come and See!"
Have you been in doubt lately? Have you said something like, Can anything good come from me? Can anything good come out of my future? The answer is "Come and See!" Come and see that the answer is yes. Yes, something good can come.
I think that sometimes we become so preoccupied with "riding shotgun" on the stagecoach of our lives, looking out for problems, nervous about every negative possibility, that we miss all the beautiful scenery going by day by day. We worry so much about everything that can possibly go wrong that we can lose the beauty of the rest of the journey.
I invite you to adopt as your model, ASG. ASG means Anticipate Something Good. God has something good in store for you in the days to come. Anticipate something good coming of your day.
A great, great man once said, "I have a dream!" The spirit of those words echoes throughout America and throughout the world. He had a dream that something would come out right in the end. Where would we be without that dream? ASG-anticipate something good.
Can anything good come out of Nazareth? "Come and See!" Can anything good come from your life and mine? "Come and See!" Yes, my Friend, it certainly can.
Because God loves you; I do, too. May you have a wonderful week. Amen.
© 2012 Anthony J. Godlefski