John 1.43-5143The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. He found Philip and said to him, ???Follow me.?????44Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter.??45Philip 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.?????46Nathanael said to him, ???Can anything good come out of Nazareth???? Philip said to him, ???Come and see.?????47When Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him, he said of him, ???Here is truly an Israelite in whom there is no deceit!?????48Nathanael asked him, ???Where did you get to know me???? Jesus answered, ???I saw you under the fig tree before Philip called you.?????49Nathanael replied, ???Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!?????50Jesus answered, ???Do you believe because I told you that I saw you under the fig tree? You will see greater things than these.?????51And 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.???
Now, Philip and Nathanael knew their scriptures. ??After Philip is approached by Jesus and invited to 'follow' him, Philip goes to his friend Nathanael and begins a conversation with a line that makes you feel like they're in the same Bible study, saying, "We have found him about whom Moses in the law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus son of Joseph from Nazareth." ??Nathanael is skeptical and replies with an educated answer based off common knowledge of Nazareth at that time, "Can anything good come out of Nazareth?"??
But being the good friend that Philip is, he extends an invitation similar to the one he received from the Lord. ??Jesus bids 'follow me' and Philip says 'come and see'. ??In both invitations, there is a certain 'movement' that is required. ??Philip knows that it is going to take more than his word for it for Nathanael to truly believe that Jesus is who Philip claims He is. ??Nathanael must experience Jesus and so Philip urges him to judge for himself.
Look at it this way: If I tried to describe the Grand Canyon to you, you would never be able to comprehend just exactly what it was I saw unless you saw it for yourself. ??But if I invited you to come with me and lean over the edge of the Grand Canyon, the depth and largeness of the sight would sink in fast because you had experienced it for yourself. ??
Or think of a time when you've sat around the dinner table or the den and talked with friends about travels and vacations. ??Usually someone has a story about a place they've been or an historical monument they've seen and it makes really want to go there. ??You have this desire that rises up within you to see it for yourself. ??The real excitement, though, comes when someone mentions a place you've been to and you instantly have an excited connection with that person because you can share that experience. ??You find yourself saying, "Me, too!" or "I've been there! Wasn't it great?!"
This is how it can be with the Church. ??We share our histories and our travels, painting pictures of our experiences with others and telling the story of our lives. ??We're fascinated by many of things people have seen throughout their lives and can hardly imagine the places they've been and experiences they've had. ??Often times our stories and experiences overlap and we find connecting points that bring us into closer fellowship. ??And eventually we create new stories and fresh experiences together as we journey in the same directions. ??We are invited to come and see that the Lord is good and then challenged to go out into the world and invite others into that same experience.
As God's people, our lives are to be the Grand Canyon of faith???something large and deep that people can observe and take in with great wonder and ease. ??The trick is to understand that we are inviting people into a life of faith, not just a knowledge of faith. ??And so, we must see that there is more to the Christian life than simply knowing Jesus. ??Jesus' revelation to Nathanael ??? that He saw him sitting under the tree when no one was around ??? was enough to get Nathanael's attention but not enough to sustain him in a lifestyle of faith. ??Nathanael needs something deeper than a revelation???he needs a relationship.
Unfortunately for Nathanael, his confession that Jesus is 'the Son of God' and the 'King of Israel' is incomplete. ??Up until this point, Jesus is the fulfillment of the Old Testament scriptures but has yet to become the self-sacrificing, sin-defeating Savior of the world. ??In other words, Jesus' identity is hardly realized at this point and his ministry has yet to really begin. ??It is going to take a faith-of-experience to understand Jesus' role and identity. ??Nathanael must follow Jesus and experience this new life that Jesus came to live and pass on to others. ??Until Nathanael begins the journey of discipleship, who Jesus is and what He has come to do will remain simply knowledge. ??It's going to take leaning over the edge of the canyon-of-faith with Christ in order to fully comprehend what is going on. ??Jesus himself says to Nathanael, "You will see greater things than these."??
One of the greater things is a comment that Jesus' makes in v.51, saying, "Very truly, I tell you, you will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man." ??Why is this important? ??This is Jesus' way of revealing what His mission is to a faithful Israelite, as Jesus recognizes Nathanael to be in v.47. ??In Genesis, Jacob sees angels descending and ascending a ladder, going to and fro about God's business in the world. ??Jesus is equating himself with the ladder, showing that the work of God is going to be accomplished throughout the world through Jesus. ??He is the bridge between heaven and earth.
Jesus' identity is so important here because who He is will determine what He's come to do and we are called to be associated with Jesus in both of these ways???WHO He is and WHAT He's come to do. ??Philip had it right when he invited his friend to 'come and see'. ??Notice this about Philip: he was invited by the Lord, responded to Him with faith and believed, and now is urging Nathanael to do the same. ??
As disciples, we are charged with the task of going into all the world and making disciples. ??We do that by going, not just by knowing. ??It is always in the going that disciples are made, that people are welcomed into the way of Christ. ??The 'going' takes on many different forms, though. ??We 'go' by engaging others in conversation, going places with them in dialogue, places they might not go had you never asked them. ??We 'go' through our Christian service, letting the world see the work of God through our hands and feet, which is the body of Christ. ??So, whether it's over coffee or over a ditch in Nicaragua, we can 'go' with people and show them Jesus. ??The key is 'going'.
The challenge today is different for each of you, depending on where you are in faith. ??Some of us today may be sitting under a fig tree, being beckoned to 'come and see', to find faith in Jesus Christ and experience Him for yourself. ??For others of you, the challenge is take your faith out into the world and invite others to experience God through a life of fellowship and service. ??To stand with them as you both lean over the canyon of faith in order to see 'greater things'. ??As the people of God, as the body of Christ,
YOU are the catalyst that the world needs in order to respond in faith. ??
YOU are the catalyst that the world needs in order to respond in faith. ??
Hear Jesus calling, 'Follow me'. ??Hear your brothers and sisters calling, 'come and see'. ??And may the peace of God go with you. Amen.??
Rev. Whit R. Martin??
Pastor,??New Liberty United Methodist Church
Devotional Blog – http://devoblog.posterous.com
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