“Come and See”
A kindergarten teacher was walking around observing her classroom while the children were drawing pictures. As she stood beside the desk of one girl - who was working diligently - she asked what the drawing was.
The girl replied, "I'm drawing God."
The teacher paused and said, "But no one knows what God looks like."
Without looking up from her drawing, the girl replied, "They will in a minute."
We may not know what God looks like... but his Word paints a picture for us... and helps us to recognize God, for sure...
Our Lesson for today offers us the story of Philip’s first encounter with Jesus... It was a life changing moment for Philip... to say the least (as encounters with Jesus tend to be)!
Jesus was direct... and to the point. Jesus met Philip, and called Philip to follow. Of course, the call to follow was the call to be a disciple. To learn from Jesus by living at Jesus’ side... every day, for the rest of his life. And Philip did just that... he followed.
And that brief little snippet from the story alone is powerful... and extraordinary in its own right! I mean... all Jesus said to Philip, according to our Lesson, was "follow me." That’s it! We don't know what else took place... or what, if anything, else was said...
But we do know how Philip responded!
Philip was apparently so excited... so encouraged... so motivated by his encounter with Jesus... that he hurried off to find his friend... Nathanael. Philip was so convinced that he had found the Christ... that he just had to share the Good News.
We tend to do the same thing when we're excited, and when we have something of note to share... something we’re passionate about... don't we?
*Some of you are among the best cooks I’ve ever known! And I’m not just saying that... it’s the honest truth! Our church is filled with great cooks! And, when you’re passionate about cooking... and you find some new recipe... or an easier, better way of doing something in the kitchen... you share it! You offer it to your cooking buddies... so they can try it, too!
*Let one of our children or grandchildren do something good... something we’re proud of... and social media lights up brighter than Times Square on New Years! I’d be willing to bet there’s not a grandparent in this room that doesn’t have a picture of their grandchildren somewhere in their wallet, or purse, or cell phone! And we may not be able to figure out what 90% of our “smart phone” can do - but we can pull-up the pictures to share, can’t we? LOL!
*But to top it all off... let our favorite sports team, or alma mater, do well... and everyone gets to hear it! All it takes is a win-or-two for most fan bases to go from irrelevant to irrational! Sharing their greatness with everyone... even strangers!
Of course, Philip had Good News to share! And he just had to tell his buddy, Nathanael about it...
Only problem? Nathanael thought Philip was crazy.
To upper-crust Jews, from a nice seaside village like Bethsaida... people from a podunk town like Nazareth were a lower class of people... maybe, viewed as less educated... less cultured... less like them. They were basically country folk who had a funny accent, with different lifestyles and backgrounds; and that caused Nathanael to blurt out, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?”
And don’t act like you and I haven’t done the very same thing! Every person in this Sanctuary lives in either Alabama or Georgia... and we may be 48th or 49th... but there’s always Mississippi! We’ve always been quick to thank God for Mississippi! It’s the truth!
I think it's interesting (and telling) that our Gospel Lesson includes Nathanael’s comment, at all... There’s no attempt to whitewash the character (the attitude, the prejudices) of the disciples. Despite our idealized image of the disciples, that's so often captured in the artwork of our KJV Bibles... with their halos and flowing robes... the actual disciples, the REAL disciples, were just like us... they were real people... with real hang-ups... real problems and worries and lives... and the Gospels show the disciples... warts and all.
Christ called imperfect people, flawed people, to be his disciples. Why would Jesus choose people who experienced the same failings and shortcomings that you and I know? Why would Jesus choose any of us to be his disciples? It’s amazing, isn’t it?
It’s not that any of us are “bad people” for heaven's sake! It just... we’re not perfect. And we all, to some degree feel, somewhere, deep inside the recesses of our hearts and minds that we’re not good enough... and we still allow ourselves to think (and believe) that those who really follow Christ... that those whom Christ has truly called... must somehow be better than us. And that’s simply untrue.
Philip wasn’t perfect... nor was Nathanael. Philip faced the possibility of being rejected by Nathanael. He surely risked the possibility of being ridiculed or embarrassed. Today, he would be accused of trying to force his religion on others, of being a fanatic... or Lord, forbid... "evangelical." We’ve let the world of politics and division take a wonderful, biblical word... “evangel” (which simply means Gospel... or Good News) or “evangelical” (that simply means “Sharing the Good News”) and turn them into negative words, which is a shame!
Philip was “evangelical” - he knew... that if he could get Nathanael to meet Jesus... to see Jesus... to encounter Jesus... then Nathanael would be convinced... that even if this Jesus was from a podunk town like Nazareth... he was also the Christ... the One the Jewish people had been praying for since the days of the Patriarchs.
So when Nathanael asked, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” - what did Philip say? “Come and see!”
An eloquently simple... yet incredibly appropriate response: “Come and see.”
The fact is... we’re ALL here today... as followers of Jesus Christ... because a “Philip” dared us... to “Come and see.”
Maybe it was our parents who reared us in Church. Maybe it was a grandparent... a teacher... a coach... a friend... a combination of them all. But... someone, at some point, cared enough about me and you... to bring us to Jesus, and to challenge us... to come see... to experience for ourselves... that Jesus is the One... the Christ... the Savior... our Lord.
Who, in our circle of influence... is our Nathanael, today? There’s someone, somewhere, in our lives... who needs us to be bold enough, and brave enough, and loving enough... to endure the possibility of rejection, and ridicule, and embarrassment - imperfect as we are - in order to bring them to Jesus.
There’s someone... right now... who needs us to challenge them... to “Come and See!”
Pray for that someone! Pray for that friend who needs to “Come and See!”
And pray... that one day, the opportunity will arise... and you’ll know the joy of sharing the Good News, with a friend.
Gerald W. (Jerry) Ledbetter, Pastor
West Point Presbyterian Church
1002 5th Avenue
West Point, GA 31833