Sermon By Elder Larry Plank
Prayer….O, Lord our God, may the words of my mouth and the mediation of our hearts be acceptable to you, O Lord, our strength and redeemer. Amen.
Today we have an account of discipleship in the early stages of Jesus’ ministry. Let’s back up to what happens just before this account. John the Baptizer is standing with two of his disciples and Jesus walks by and John proclaims…Look, here is the Lamb of God! The two disciples immediately leave John and follow Jesus. This may seem trifle, but you have to understand these two men are disciples of John, so they immediately leave John and become disciples of Jesus. Jesus turns to them and asks…what are you looking for….they reply…where are you staying?…Jesus simply says come and see. Just simple discipleship, Jesus didn’t go into any great theological response. One of these disciples is named Andrew, and he immediately will go tell his brother Peter.
Now we enter our text today and the next day Jesus will go to Galilee. Jesus finds Philip and simply says follow me, and he does. Philip goes to one of his friends (Nathanael) and exclaims to him…We have found him about whom Moses in the law and also the prophets wrote, ‘Jesus son of Joseph from Nazareth. Apparently Nathanael isn’t too impressed. He comes back with…Can anything good come out of Nazareth? This response apparently is a proverb saying that reflects jealousy between Nathanael’s town of Cana and nearby Nazareth. It could be like someone from Tallahassee saying, can anything good come out of Two-egg Florida? If you’ve ever been to Two-egg you could understand the saying.
You know Philip could have come back with a number of responses when he gets this negative comment from Nathanael. He could have said how wise Jesus was in the Torah’s teachings, how he had some type of attraction on folks…but apparently Philip doesn’t think he needs to advertise his friend Jesus abilities…he simply replies…Come See. He knows Nathanael’s response is bias, so he is actually saying…you be the judge, come and see for yourself.
So Nathanael takes him up on it and will see about this new rabbi. Well we know the rest of the story. He makes one of the first statements of faith of who Jesus is in this gospel…Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!
So how can we apply this text today in our Christian journey? Obviously, this text is about evangelism, spreading the Good News of Jesus Christ. This text gives a picture of how it is done, one person to another person. First, I will say what is not our responsibility in evangelism. Our task is not to prove the truth of our Christian faith. Our task is not even to persuade others to become Christian. Our task is to say come and see. As I mentioned earlier, Philip could have given all kinds of reasons for Nathanael to become a disciple of Jesus. No, he simply gave the invitation for him to come and see for himself, to make up his own mind. We give the invitation and it is the Holy Spirit who will do the rest. The Holy Spirit is the one that will convict the heart. This is the way it was in the first century and this is the way it is today….spreading the Good News.
Contrary to popular belief it is not because of some preacher’s great ability to deliver a super sermon that people will visit a church. It is not because of great music, or other traffic programs. No, the number one reason someone visits a church is because someone in the congregation issued an invitation to that person. Simply come see….see what God is doing in this congregation, see how a loving and caring congregation that displays Christ’s love. Think of one thing you love most in our church and that could be the invitation offered to someone. Maybe we meet someone who is new in the area…come and see how loving our congregation is, come and see and decide for yourself. It’s that simple. So many times we try to make it hard. Come to Christ at our church or burn in hell. Not going to get too many people coming with this type of discipleship. I know we are the frozen chosen, but maybe we need to thaw a little, and do what Christians have done throughout the centuries….invitations to come to church, one person at a time.