“If you have wondered if there really can be meaning to this life, come and see. If you ache with a pain that soaks up any good feelings, come and see. If you are deliriously happy, content, and full beyond compare, come and see.”
Come and see
A sermon by Pastor Bob
January 15, 2012
Text: John 1:43-51
The next day Jesus decided to leave for Galilee. Finding Philip, he said to him, “Follow me.”
Philip, like Andrew and Peter, was from the town of Bethsaida. Philip found Nathanael and told him, “We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote—Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.”
“Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?” Nathanael asked.
“Come and see,” said Philip.
When Jesus saw Nathanael approaching, he said of him, “Here truly is an Israelite in whom there is no deceit.”
“How do you know me?” Nathanael asked.
Jesus answered, “I saw you while you were still under the fig tree before Philip called you.”
Then Nathanael declared, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the king of Israel.”
Jesus said, “You believe because I told you I saw you under the fig tree. You will see greater things than that.” He then added, “Very truly I tell you, you will see ‘heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending on’ the Son of Man.”
–“Come and see.”
–Have you ever been offered these words?
–To witness something first hand?
–To experience with your senses some truth that seems to elude you?
–These were the words of Philip to his acquaintance, Nathanael.
–And these are Christ’s words for us this morning.
–Now you’ve heard the expression “seeing is believing.”
–And there is definitely truth to this.
–But in the case of John’s gospel describing the beginning of Christ’s ministry, it may be more true that believing is seeing.
–After all, when Nathanael is told by Philip that Jesus is the “son of Joseph from Nazareth,”
–Nathanael responds with the proverbial:
“Can anything good come out of Nazareth?”
–Nathanael cannot believe that the promised one, the Messiah, would come from some backwater village, far away from the center of the Jewish faith, the temple in Jerusalem.
–Nazareth is not near anything.
–It is a little like where my Mother is from—Page, Nebraska.
–Has anyone heard of Page, Nebraska?
–A hint. It’s about 30 miles from O’Neil, Nebraska.
–Maybe a hundred miles from Sioux Falls.
–Page has a whopping population of 180 people.
–At least that’s what the sign said when I visited there during the summers when I was a little boy.
–Right now it is probably around one hundred people.
–Anyway, folks used to joke that if there wasn’t a train track running through town that forced you to slow down your car, you would completely miss Page, Nebraska.
–Well, Nazareth was like Page, Nebraska.
–It was not only far from the center of Israel, Jerusalem, but it was far from both the Greek founded cities along the Sea of Galilee, and the new Roman cities on the coast.
–It was the kind of place young people ached to escape, but few would.
–It was also the place that a young family had raised a son.
–A son who would be called Emmanuel, God with us.
–A son who would heal with his touch and raise the dead with his command.
–Now, I personally can relate more to Nathanael than I can to Philip.
–Over twenty years ago, I too could not see what was in front of me.
–All I could see were a bunch of church buildings.
–Of a conflicted Christian history.
–And a Jesus painted within the rigid lines of TV Evangelists.
–“What good could come out of this?”I asked myself.
–Yet twenty-four years ago, a friend said to me, “come and see.”
–So I did.
–And the next week, the same friend again said, “come and see.”
–And so I went with them again and again.
–Asked to attend church every week, until there came a week when my friend couldn’t make it to church that week.
–And I had to decide for myself.
–It was a big decision.
–But now there was not only the voice of my friend gently beckoning, “come and see.”
–But there was something that had come alive in me crying out, “come and see.”
–Come and see what this world cannot give.
–Come and see what is really true.
–Come and see a living God.
–Friends, I beckon you this morning with these simple words, “come and see.”
–If you have wondered if there really can be meaning to this life, come and see.
–If you ache with a pain that soaks up any good feelings, come and see.
–If you are deliriously happy, content, and full beyond compare, come and see.
–To be honest, there are no adequate words to describe the experience of being in the presence of a living God, a creator God who knows us without qualification, and a saving God who loves us just as we are.
–It is love incarnate.
–A love that is unyielding in its desire for you.
–It is power beyond measure.
–Not in coercive control of our actions, but in deep compassion for our being.
–It is peace. Real peace.
–A peace that fills the cracks of our lives and make us whole.
–Yesterday, I had the privilege of attending the funeral of my wife’s campus pastor, Darcy.
–It was a beautiful service, with stories of remembrance and music that lifted us beyond our grief.
–But what made it so beautiful in my eyes was its honesty.
–A number of people, who got up and spoke about him, shared not only the high points in their relationship with him, but also the challenges.
–Darcy suffered from depression and his life as a pastor was not simply one of living in the light, but of wading through the darkness.
–Of being caught in cycles that would submerge him into a kind of helplessness.
–And when he was in such a state, it seemed that no one could truly reach him.
–He would resist all offers of help and isolate himself even further.
–I remember when my wife and I would be at an event near him and would reach out to him.
–Sometimes he would accept our invitation without hesitation, and other times a phone message or email would simply go unanswered.
–When we heard word that Darcy was dying of cancer, we drove up to see him in Santa Barbara as soon as we could.
–When we saw him in the hospital bed, he was in a lot of pain.
–His brother was there, and told us that Darcy wanted to be as present as possible, so was asking for minimal doses of morphine.
–As we talked with Darcy, as we cried and said words of blessing, we found ourselves in one of those sacred moments when everything is stripped away.
–All pretenses. All idle chatter.
–Every word was sacred. Every touch meaningful.
–Darcy had waited for us, and though we did not know it at the time, he would soon pass—just an hour after we had left his side.
–Darcy had waited so that we could say good-bye.
–He had waited so that he could share that he was going to be okay.
–He had waited so that we could come and see…
–Today, God holds Darcy in such a love.
–The same love that holds you and I now.
–If you are waiting for the right moment to encounter God, I tell you that you are too late.
–God does not care if you get this right.
–God simply wants you now.
–Come and see.