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Greater Things




Greater Things

John 1:43-51

We’ve heard, from our scripture lessons for today, about the calling of several of Jesus’ disciples. John (the author of the Gospel) was probably one of the two disciples mentioned in the first lesson... Andrew was the other. Andrew found his brother, Simon Peter, and brought him to Jesus... and then we have Philip... and Nathaniel.

Jesus found Phillip and said to him, “follow me.” But John made sure to mention that Phillip was from the same hometown as Peter and Andrew. And that’s a significant part of the story. It’s a way of telling us that Phillip knew the kind of men Andrew and Peter were... he knew their character.

Of course, John tells us, that just the day before... Peter and Andrew responded to the call... became followers of Christ, and more than likely, when Jesus came to Phillip, he’d already heard that Peter and Andrew were following Christ. And that information surely had a profound impact Phillip’s reaction to Jesus.

Certainly something had a profound impact on Phillip… Because Phillip ran immediately to Nathaniel, and said “we have found the spoken of by the prophets.” The detail that we sometimes read over here, is that Phillip used the personal pronoun, “we.” We have found the one. Not hard to connect the dots that we included Peter and Andrew and John. So Nathaniel came to meet this one he had been told about.

When Nathaniel met Jesus, Jesus acted like he already knew him! Jesus had seen Nathaniel sitting under a fig tree before Phillip ever thought about bringing Nathaniel to meet Jesus. Implying that Jesus “saw” Nathaniel. He understood Nathaniel, he got Nathaniel. I imagine when Jesus told Phillip to follow, Jesus already knew that Phillip would run to Nathaniel with an invitation that would change his life forever.

Of course, in a very real way, God orchestrated this whole series of events. Andrew and Peter followed Jesus… their action led to Phillip following Jesus… Phillip goes and tells Nathaniel… and all the while, Jesus is just standing back, watching all the dominoes fall into place. God’s hand at work.

Of course, I tell you all of this for a reason. The chain of events that we see demonstrated in this story is how God still reaches people. God uses people who are already following him, people who have already been chosen to be disciples, to share the Good News with future disciples.

I simply do not think it’s possible for any of us to understand the influence that our call to follow Christ has on others. Think about your own life and faith... and who influenced you the most. Your parents, relatives, school teachers, neighbors, maybe even a preacher or two. Their commitment to Christ was a testimony to you… it was an example… an inspiration. I’d be willing to bet… when Christ called you… it was through their words and actions. It was through their influence in your life.

I can certainly say that about my own life. I can remember Sunday school teachers, band directors, high school teachers… The whole nine yards... influencing my call to Follow Jesus. All having a profound impact on my reception of God call upon my own life.

I’ve shared with you many times about my grandmother’s impact on my faith. In fact, at my grandmother’s funeral, I was reminded of her influence on my Uncle Clip, and his decision to follow Christ. Clip was really her cousin, but we all called him “uncle Clip” because he was so much older than we were!

My grandmother didn’t preach to him, or sit him down, and force feed him portions of the Bible. My Uncle Clip simply knew that grandmother believed in Christ. An her gentle faith... her character... lived out for all to see... helped Clip receive and accept Christ’s calling, for himself.

They’re both well gone now… moved on to their eternal reward years ago. But for a good 30 years+ my Uncle dedicated his life to preaching the gospel of Christ. He became an ordained minister. He served in churches all over Alabama, Georgia in Florida. He became a leader in his denomination. Which makes me wonder how many people my grandmother’s faith influenced, and will continue to influence.

I have absolutely no way of knowing how many people were led to Christ through my Uncle’s Ministry. I imagine that years ago, when Jesus said, “follow me” to Margaret Bryan Hudson, the cousin of Clip Childs… and the grandmother of Jerry Ledbetter… He could already see my Uncle Clip, and he could already see me. I also imagine – in fact, I know – Jesus could see all the people that my Uncle and I would manage to influence with the Gospel of Christ... including you.

Again, I say all of this to remind us, that we’re all part of the process. Christ called every single person who had an influence on building our faith to where it is today. And when Jesus called each of them, he could already see you and me responding to his call. God could see “greater things” taking place.

I wonder who Jesus “saw” when he called you? You may never completely know the answer to that question… You can know this - you have certainly been part of God’s plan to reach someone.

So what can I do to be faithful, as we play our part in his greater plan?

#1. Pray. Pray for everyone around you, your children, parents, friends, neighbors, so forth, so on…

#2. Live. Live a life of faith for all to see. Let people know the joy of salvation, that your faith plays a positive role in your life.

#3. Speak. You don’t have to preach… But you certainly need to verbally offer your faith to other people. It could as simple as sharing what God has done in your life. Maybe it could be a change in your vocabulary. Instead of talking about how lucky we are, maybe we could talk about how blessed we are. People pick up on simple innuendo of faith… And it has an influence.

And #4. Invite. Invite a friend to follow Christ. Like Phillip, run to your Nathaniel, and say, “we have found the one.” Invite those around to join you, to come with you to church. To “come and see” as we follow in the footsteps of Jesus.

Jesus has come to each of us, saying “follow me.” Whether that was 90 years ago, or yesterday... He can already see the people that you will influence through your faith. Go to those people… Tell them about the love, grace and mercy of Christ... expecting Christ to do even greater things, through them. Amen.

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