“Come & See”
John 1:29-42, January 19th, 2020
Sermon by Pastor Tim Woodard
“Hear now these ancient words from the gospel according to John, chapter one, verses twenty-nine thru forty-two.”
29 The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him and declared, “Here is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! 30 This is he of whom I said, ‘After me comes a man who ranks ahead of me because he was before me.’ 31 I myself did not know him; but I came baptizing with water for this reason, that he might be revealed to Israel.” 32 And John testified, “I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him. 33 I myself did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain is the one who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ 34 And I myself have seen and have testified that this is the Son of God.” 35 The next day John again was standing with two of his disciples, 36 and as he watched Jesus walk by, he exclaimed, “Look, here is the Lamb of God!” 37 The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus. 38 When Jesus turned and saw them following, he said to them, “What are you looking for?” They said to him, “Rabbi” (which translated means Teacher), “where are you staying?” 39 He said to them, “Come and see.” They came and saw where he was staying, and they remained with him that day. It was about four o’clock in the afternoon. 40 One of the two who heard John speak and followed him was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. 41 He first found his brother Simon and said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which is translated Anointed). 42 He brought Simon to Jesus, who looked at him and said, “You are Simon son of John. You are to be called Cephas” (which is translated Peter).
“Having heard the proclamation of John the Baptist, as the first disciples Simon and peter came to meet Jesus, let us now consider all this from our vantage point here in our present time and place.”
“Come & See”
Have you ever wanted to be a part of something? Have you watched a parade and wished you were a part of it? Have you watched your dreams slip away? Or have you been willing to grab hold of them, chase them down and wrestle with them until they became real? Have you, have you? Life is meant to be lived. Dreams are meant to be realized. Have you realized yours? Have you? The characters in our scripture today – they each had a vision, a dream, a belief in the future and each came to realize theirs. John the Baptist, his vision, his calling was to prepare the way for the Beloved Son of God, the Messiah. His disciples, they believed in him and followed him. When Jesus came to be baptized, they were invited to ‘come and see!’ That mystical charismatic Spirit of Christ changed their lives. Symbolically Jesus changed Simon son of John’s name to Cephas – meaning Peter. Have you been invited to ‘Come and See?” Would you follow Jesus without knowing where you are going? If Jesus turned to you and asked: “What are you looking for?” How would you answer?
Personally, I have often wondered about what it would have been like to meet Jesus. John the Baptist too. I must admit I have wondered why we didn’t hear more about John and Jesus together. The gospels suggest they were cousins (Jesus and John). Luke chapter one verse thirty-six speaks of the angel who came to Mary telling her she was to have a child and then tells her that “your relative Elizabeth has also conceived a son.” So how come we never hear of these folks ever getting together after that? I sure would ask about that. But that is just one of a great many questions. Yet, the idea of having been there that day as they first were introduced to Jesus by way of John is just utterly fascinating. It does pose some questions of course. Did Jesus look at all like the paintings that have been passed to us through the ages? What was he really like? And what was so specially about him that the early disciples were willing to drop everything and everybody to follow him? Was he that charismatic? Or was he so filled with the Holy Spirit that they were just drawn to him like a magnet? Maybe my questions aren’t the same as yours, but I really am curious what those early followers experienced.
OK, I must admit I am the curious type. Aren’t you? When someone new moves into my neighborhood, I am wondering what they will be like. Are they old or young? Do they have children and most important do they have pets? Will they keep their yard looking good or will they… and the list goes on and on? Have you ever wondered what your neighbors are thinking about you? Do they invite you to come and see or do you invite them into your house? If people started following you wherever you went, would you stop and ask them what they wanted? Probably, but would you then simply invite them to be with you? Our interaction with our neighbors is very telling. In the retirement community where my wife and I lived for several years, there was a community swimming pool and a club house. People rode around on golf carts. Consequently, we got to know a lot of our neighbors. We now live in an open neighborhood in a good area of town, but we are all different ages and our homes are further apart and there are no common areas like a club house or swimming pool. I know a couple of our neighbors, but mostly we just wave to one another. A different time, a different social setting.
We have a new puppy in our home. She is thirteen weeks old now. She weights but a couple three pounds. We took her for a walk by the river in Sebastian. A spot where folks like to walk and its right there by the park. What a spectacle! Everyone wanted to stop and admire her. We named her Peanut, because she is so small. It took forever to walk a short distant. We enjoyed that moment of attention… but the puppy, she was excited. She seemed to walk taller and held her head up high! Everyone wanted to come and see! A couple of times we picked her up because the dogs, big ones, came to visit too! Although people stopped to admire our puppy – no one started following us and asking to be with us. Yet, in contrast, Jesus attracted attention and then had trouble getting the crowds to stop following him! Jesus drew far more attention than a cute dog. It was the way he talked, the presence he commanded was due to what he said and did. His words and his action promised people something they wanted; he didn’t just raise their curiosity. Jesus raised the hopes and the dreams folks held in their hearts.
What would be great, would be having Jesus come and see what is going on in our lives, our world today! As we consider this let’s consider our conversation from last week. We talked about saying ‘God bless you’ to others. It seemed that most of those of us whom gathered last week, we enjoyed the conversation; perhaps, because, many folks, we all want God’s blessing and inherently, we all want the same for others. Surely, this is the type of activity we want Jesus to see and hear when he comes to visit us. With tongue in cheek, we also need to acknowledge that there are a great many other human traits that shall be witnessed by Jesus, by his Father and or by the Holy Spirit as they pass through the towns, villages and the cities of this glorious country we live in. Sadly, we know this to be true. Even us we hold to the conviction this is not true in our home, our church or in the circle of friends and acquaintances we have. It is my prayer that this is so. May God forgive us if our personal truths do not hold up to this potential examination.
Our scripture lesson opens for us to consider several questions: “What are you looking for?” “Where are you staying?” And the answer “Come and see,” opens for us an invitation to follow the life and teachings of Jesus. Many theologians have lifted these questions, and Jesus’ answer, as they offer us a dialogue based on today’s scripture lesson. They come up in discussion as John the Baptist points out Jesus to his own disciples, those who had followed John. “The next day John again was standing with two of his disciples, and as he watched Jesus walk by, he exclaimed, “Look, here is the Lamb of God!”” /John 1:35-36/ His reference clearly is proclaiming Jesus as the ‘Messiah’ who was believed to be prophesized in the Old Testament, he was to come and save the people. With the Baptizer making this statement, this proclamation, how could his own disciples not be curious to learn more about Jesus! As they follow Jesus, they are drawn into conversation. As we make our personal choice and decide to truly follow Jesus, or not, we have the ‘opportunity’ to ask, we can ask more questions and learn more about what Jesus said and did. Perhaps, as many have shared over the ages and even currently in this time period, we can learn from others more about the life and teachings of Jesus. Clearly, the gospel of John was written, so that we might come to believe in Jesus as the Messiah; so that we might grow in our faith and relationship with the Son of God!
If you are at all the curious type or are interested in learning more about Jesus, then respond to the words of Jesus to the first of the disciples that the scriptures introduce us to. “Come and see” Jesus said to them when asked “Where are you staying?” That conversation is believed to have occurred almost two thousand year ago, yet, there are so many ways that you and I can continue to seek out the answer. We can do it by studying the scriptures to see what is written about Jesus. Therefore, we have Bible study classes, and furthermore, this is why, sermons are based on scriptures, so that together, we can learn all we can from these ancient writings. We can look to our traditions and the traditions of Christianity, as a whole, to gleen more about how others came to understand the life and the teachings of Jesus. We then can use the cognizant reasoning, the knowledge of our mindful awareness of life all around us. And we can use our God given ability to make choices and come to understandings about all we have learned about Jesus, the Holy Spirit and God. Additionally, we can use our personal experiences to better understand this whole discussion about God, the Holy Spirit and most certainly about who Jesus is within our understanding of God.
The more we learn, experience and come to understand, the more we shall desire to be a part of the fellowship and the movement, the ‘way’ of Christianity. Being part of something does not need to be just a dream. We can realize a life which shall bring a fullness to our dreams; our aspirations, our visions of having a close awareness of God in our lives shall materialize. We shall feel more connected to the joy and wonderment which life can offer us. We can do this even when its realities are pressing against us and our loved ones. God’s abundant love is available to us as we seek the answers to the riddles of life. The mystical charisma of Christ, the movement of the Spirit, they shall fill our lives abundantly. “Come and see!”