January 7, 2016 § Leave a comment
Near the end of the first chapter of the Gospel of John we read about Jesus gathering His first disciples, just after John the Baptist introduces the Messiah to the crowds in Bethany. Verses 35-51 involve five men and four different encounters with Jesus.
JESUS INVITES JOHN AND ANDREW
“…two disciples [of John the Baptist] heard him say this, and they followed Jesus. Jesus turned and saw them following and said to them, ‘What are you seeking?’ And they said to Him, ‘Rabbi’ (which means Teacher), ‘where are You staying?’ He said to them, ‘Come and you will see.'” (John 1:37-39)
John and Andrew approach Jesus having heard of Him from John the Baptist. They were already interested in what He had to say and clearly wanted to hear more. Jesus invites them to come and see not only the place He was staying, but to hear what He had to say.
ANDREW INVITES SIMON
“Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother…found his own brother Simon and said to him, ‘We have found the Messiah’ (which means Christ). He brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said, ‘You are Simon the son of John. You shall be called Cephas’ (which means Peter).” (John 1:40-42)
We don’t read what Simon’s reaction was, but Simon goes to meet Jesus, who appears to know him and gives him the new name of Peter.
JESUS INVITES PHILIP
“The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. He found Philip and said to him, ‘Follow me.’ Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter.“ (John 1:43-44)
Jesus invites Philip personally. No remarkable reaction by Philip is recorded, so it’s assumed that he followed Jesus right then and there.
PHILIP INVITES NETHANAEL
“Philip found Nathanael and said to him, ‘We have found him of whom Moses in the Law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.’ Nathanael said to him, ‘Can anything good come out of Nazareth?’ Philip said to him, ‘Come and see.'” Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him and said of him, ‘Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no deceit!’ Nathanael said to Him, ‘How do You know me?’ Jesus answered him, ‘Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.’ Nathanael answered Him, ‘Rabbi, You are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!’ Jesus answered him, ‘Because I said to you, ‘I saw you under the fig tree,’ do you believe? You will see greater things than these.'” (John 1:45-50)
Philip in turn invites Nathanael, who is hesitant and doubtful as to the credibility of Jesus considering where He was from. Philip implores him to simply “come and see.” Reluctantly, Nathanael meets Jesus, who, as with Simon, indicates He knows Nathanael well, and he becomes convinced that Jesus is the Son of God.
BELIEVERS COME TO SEE the truth of who Jesus is in different ways. In the passage above, two already interested disciples approach Jesus and follow Him after getting to know Him more. One of those new disciples of Christ invites his brother, and he follows right away. One follows after getting an invitation from the words of Jesus Himself. This one invites another who is skeptical, but his doubt turns eventually to belief when coming to terms with who Jesus was. Was your experience like any of these?
However we come to know Christ, we find, as two of the above accounts show, that He knew us all along.
Also in two of these accounts, there is the simple invitation to believe: Come and see. “Come” is a request for faith. Whether we take that first step upon seeing the work of God, or with a measure of doubt, we step without seeing. We “see” the moment we are convinced that Jesus is who He claimed to be, when we see our need for a Savior, and see that our Savior is Jesus Christ.
When we witness of God’s great love and salvation to our neighbors, we are extending the same simple invitation. We don’t have to know all the answers ourselves, but we can invite someone—to your church, to your home, to your café table, to a discussion of the Gospel of John—to “come and see.” The Lord already knows where they’re coming from, and His Spirit will help them see.