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Apr 3 / Chuck Smith, Jr.

March 30, 2014 – John 1:35-52

The Way to God? Come and See

Again the next day John was standing with two of his disciples, and he looked at Jesus as He walked, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God!” The two disciples heard him speak, and they followed Jesus. And Jesus turned and saw them following and said to them, “What do you seek?” They said to Him, “Rabbi (which translated means Teacher), where are You staying?” He said to them, “Come and see.” . . . John 1:35-39

Intro: Have you noticed, that when we’re here it is not difficult to think about God, to be aware of him and feel assured that he is at work in your life?

While we are here together around the Scriptures and in prayer, faith and hope come easily
– but during the week, those feelings fade
• it’s as if our hearts are heated on Sunday, but then cool off with our daily distractions
• Jesus described a faith that hears his word, but

. . . as they go on their way they are choked with worries and riches and pleasures of life, and bring no fruit to maturity (Lk. 8:14)

This is why having a friend filled with Jesus is so important
– we can then be re-energized mid-week
• the influence of the other believer’s life and conversation helps to refresh our faith

Today we meet the people who first met Jesus
– they found something about him, that made them immediately want to share him
• so each person we meet brought someone else to Jesus
– as we work our way through the passage, three times John places something in parentheses
• “which is translated” — John was writing for a Greek audience
• that’s the point he is making here
○ people who have met Jesus do what they can to make him accessible to others

John the Baptist introduced his disciples to Jesus

Throughout the passage, John highlights a theme of “sight”
– for example, John “looked at Jesus” and said, “Behold”
• people get to know Jesus by acting on the invitation to come and see
– a lamb is not a symbol of strength, boldness, or leadership
• if two candidates were running for election, would you be more likely to vote for the lamb or the lion?
• but John had revealed a fuller, more forceful meaning for this image the previous day (Jn. 1:29-34)

Those two disciples standing with John began to follow Jesus
– he had not invited them or called them
• were they curious? compelled by his personal magnetism? or were they ready to take the next step?
– the first recorded words of Jesus in John’s gospel, “What do you seek?”
• it is not merely the obvious question of someone being followed – it’s not an icebreaker
○ John hid land mines in simple lines like this
○ for example, Pilate’s,  “What is truth?” still echoes after the scene ends (Jn. 18:38)
– “What do you expect of Me? What do you think I can do for you?”
• “Let’s get it out in the open”
• we can see this as the “universal question”
○ What do you want out of life? what are you after? what gets you out of bed in the morning?
○ if you want the richest, fullest life in God, then continue to follow Jesus

That they called him “Rabbi” is a partial answer to his question
– they’re seeking instruction, insight, enlightenment
– their direct answer, “Where are you staying?”
• they want access to him
• “Where can we find You when we need You? When we have questions? or problems? or pain?”

Jesus did not give them a street address or a landmark — e.g., “In the house by the palm trees”
– he told them, “Come and see”
• he did not give them information, but offered them a living experience
○ information doesn’t affect, convince, or change us as powerfully as experience
• these men were not going to get something for nothing
○ they would have to do something to get their questions answered
○ they would have to go with him, and only then would they see
– this is one of the keys to reading the Gospel of John
• the message of God was not fully available in the words of Jesus
• people had to involve themselves
○ they had to experience of the truth presented to them
○ they had to be born anew, drink the living water, get up and walk, labor for the bread that endures, etc.

If anyone is willing to do [God’s] will, he will know of the teaching, whether it is of God or whether I speak from Myself. (Jn. 7:17)

– Jesus says, “Come and have an experience. Come and try it out. Come and see”

Andrew introduced his brother to Jesus (vv. 40-42)

He “found” Simon – here another theme briefly appears in this section: “found”
– someone is important enough to someone else to send him looking for that person
– and what does he say? “We have found the Messiah”
• Andrew found Simon to tell him that he had found the Messiah

When Simon came, “Jesus looked at him,” but he also looked through him
– Jesus saw something in Simon – a potential
• Jesus knew he could bring it out – mold it
○ “You are something now,” he told Peter, “but you will become something else”
– “You are Simon the son of John; you shall be called Cephas (which is translated Peter)”
• that’s it; that’s all he said
• but with a word, the transformation of Peter began

John carries forward the “found” theme (vv. 43-44)

I find it fascinating that in this next scene it is Jesus who found Philip
– of course people went looking for Jesus, and they were excited when they  found in him their Messiah
• but we really need to grasp the enormity of this moment of Jesus looking for Philip
○ it is also a picture of Jesus searching for you (cf. Lk. 15:3-7)
○ the Lord loves you and desires you to be with him (Jn. 17:24)
– what Jesus said to Philip when he found him was short and sweet, “Follow Me”
• this time it is a call – an invitation
• not just to become a student of Rabbi Jesus, but a new person in Jesus the Messiah
○ we need to emphasize the word “Me”
○ Jesus was not just saying “Follow My teaching,” or example, or the tracks I have left
– there has to be a vital and ongoing connection to the Person
• the “Me” is everything

Philip introduced Nathanael to Jesus

“Philip found Nathanael and said to him, ‘We have found Him . . .’”
– the backstory: Israel’s history was set on a trajectory by Moses’ Law and their prophets
• Philip was saying, “We have reached our destiny. He has arrived and we’ve found Him”
• Nathanael immediately points out a problem
○ no one–neither Moses nor the prophets–ever said anything about Nazareth (cf. Jn. 7:52)
○ for Nathanael, this was a matter of integrity – he wouldn’t join a movement that wasn’t biblical
– we’re fortunate to have Nathanael and Thomas included in Jesus’ story
• by dragging their feet, they forced more insights regarding faith in Jesus to the surface
-how did Philip answer Nathanael, “Come and see”
• this is the message, you much find your own answer, you must come and see for yourself
• but you won’t find out just sitting here
○ has anyone ever been argued into Christianity?
○ the fact is, our arguments generally do more harm than good
○ are we afraid to simply tell people, “Come and see”?

When Jesus saw Nathanael, he spoke first, “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no conceit” (the Greek words can be translated, “no tricks”
-if you have a choice regarding the people surround you, this is the type of person you wish they all would be
• they do not connive or mask their real intentions or schemes
• their yes is yes and their no is no — they are free from duplicity (cf. Mt. 5:37)
– Nathanael’s surprise at Jesus’ assessment of him, “How do you know me?”
• perhaps what he meant was, “So, You think You know me?”
• Jesus had made a general statement, the kind we might find in a fortune cookie
○but then he got more specific, “Before Philip called you . . . I saw you”
○ “Oh, Nathanael, I know things, and I know you better than you know yourself”
– Nathanael is not only completely won over, but notice how he described Jesus as “the Son of God”
• then Jesus told him he would see more, “. . . the heavens opened . . .”
○ Jesus reaches back to the founding father of Israel and his dream (Gen. 28:10-22)
○ Jacob’s dream brought to him a vivid consciousness of God’s immediate presence
○ it was a place where heaven and earth met
• notice also that Jesus referred to himself as “the Son of Man”

Conc: Jesus is not like Jacob who had a dream and saw a vision

Jesus is the dream, the vision of God
– he is the place where heaven and earth meet (Jn. 3:31-36)
• as “Son of God,” he stands with God, above the ladder
• as “Son of Man,” he stands with us, at the foot of the ladder
– Jesus is, himself, the perfect bridge, connecting us with God

Like the others in today’s story, John has introduced someone to Jesus
– he has introduced you and I to him
• now that we are face to face with Jesus, what will be our next step?
• I would suggest that we:

  1. Allow Jesus to interrogate us: “What do you seek? What do you want out of life? What is missing?”
  2. Allow him to read us, as he did Simon and Nathanael
    – to find a potential in us and a genuineness we cannot find (or actualize) in ourselves
  3. Allow him to transform us, to point us in a new direction

Above all, I suggest that you do not just sit there when Jesus calls, but “Come and see”

One Comment

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  1. Paul Udell / Apr 14 2014

    Went to the Getty last week and saw a quote from Thoreau.
    “It is not what you look at that matters, but what you see.”

    We are all different and on different levels of development . We alone assign
    meaning to what we look at every day.
    The gift of conscious perception is an astonishing event when it allows us to see from a new perspective. The words ” come and see” and “what are you after” are words
    we have looked at ,but seldom seen.

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