Damariscotta Baptist Church
Tuesday, July 17, 2018
Growing personal relationships with God and community

01/15/12 Sermon

John 1:43-51

May the words of my mouth and the meditations of our hearts be acceptable in Thy sight O Lord our Strength and our Redeemer, Amen

One of the great preachers of our time, Dr. Thomas Long told a story about a play he attended titled the Cotton Patch Gospel.

Now the play is based on Clarence Jordans translation of the gospels where he gives a picture of what Jesus ministry might look like in the Deep South in the 1960s.

Well the actor who was playing Jesus, Tom Key, was giving the final performance of this long running play.

And because he had been playing this role for a long time and had become confident in it, he decided he would get inventive with the audience.

So during the scene depicting the Sermon on the Mount, Key turned away from the group playing the disciples on the stage and pointed to a blank side wall in the auditorium.

And he speaks Jesus lines, Look at the lilies in that field…”

And then he stopped almost as if he had forgotten the next line, then peered at the disciples on the stage and then back at the side wall and repeated, Look at the lilies in that field.

Once more he stopped and seemed to be looking for the next words.

The audience began to squirm.

Keys hand extended to the blank wall and this time he said very slowly Lookat the.liliesin the .field

Now he turned to the disciples, shrugged his shoulders and said I cant get them to look.

Finally the audience realized that he wanted them to look.

And sure enuf he gave it one more try Look at the lilies in that field.

And every head in the audience turned toward the wall…………………

In our scripture today John the Evangelist is trying to get his audience, including you and me, to look at something. He wants us to look and see Jesus Christ.

And he wants us to look because he knows that if we will truly look and see Jesus, if we will encounter him for ourselves, well be hooked for life; well become engaged active followers of Jesus Christ.--- will become his disciples.

And thats a dominant theme in our scripture today.--------------Its about disciple making.

Jesus calls Philip to be his disciple right after he had called Andrew and Peter.

Then we see Philip is inviting Nathanael to Come and See Jesus for himself because he knows, from his own experience that if he will encounter Jesus on his own, he will also become a disciple.

Its a come and see model of discipleship that has been going on now for more than 20 centuries.

But how does this come and see discipleship work? After all there were many people who saw Jesus but didnt become disciples.

And there are still many people today who have heard of Jesus, who know Jesus, who may even come to church each week, but they arent disciples.

Well when we look at Nathanaels encounter with Jesus we can see how this come and see discipleship works out.

And one of the first things we see is that following Jesus begins with an openness to Jesus divinity.

Of course it didnt start out that way.

When Philip first witnessed to Nathanael about Jesus of Nazareth, he was very skeptical.

Nathanael says Can anything good come out of Nazareth? Nazareth, the little town of nobodies, with no connections to the royal throne of David? Are you kidding! Nazareth?  But fortunately for Nathanael, his skepticism isnt closed off. Hes open to see. He hasnt shut his mind down to be able to listen.

In fact when Jesus sees Nathanael he says, behold an Israelite in whom there is no deceit. Nathanael is honest and open person. He carries no closed minded agenda.

You know a lot of people today, just as in Jesus day have shut down their hearts and minds to be open to an encounter with the divinity of Jesus: They might say he was a great teacher or a great historical figure, a radical revolutionary but they are not open to Jesus being God in the flesh.

Instead they put a filter on their minds on what they will let come in..They block out whatever threatens their beliefs and take in only those things that confirm what they already believe. 

But Nathanaels skepticism did not close his mind to the possibility of who Jesus was.

And so when Jesus told Nathanael that he had seen him under the fig tree, when Jesus had been nowhere in sight, Nathanael perceived Jesus divinity.

Nathanael knew that Jesus KNEW him. And I mean knew him like we read in Psalm 139 that was part of our call to worship today.

The psalmist wrote: O Lord, you have searched me and known me. You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar.

How many of you believe that when Nathanael was under that fig tree (which was where the Israelite people went to pray and reflect on scripture) that Nathanael was actually reflecting on Psalm 139. ---------I do!!

And so when Jesus said I saw you under the fig tree he knew only one person could know that----and that was God himself!

Can you imagine the goosebumps!!!

Clearly Nathanael was an individual who was open to see much more than simply empirical truth.

His come and see discipleship began with an openness and a divine perception of who Jesus Christ was. And as a result he was willing to follow Jesus anywhere.

Are you open to an encounter with Jesus? Are you open to believe that he was God in the flesh?

Are you open to the miracles that Christ is working in the world and wants to work in your life? A come and see discipleship begins with an openness to come and see the divine, and risen Lord who knows you inside and out.

 

Now another aspect of this come and see discipleship is that it also includes an openness to see even greater things.

Jesus told Nathanael that if saying I saw you sitting under the fig tree was something, why you aint seen nothing yet!

And of course Nathanael would see much more:

He would see the feeding of the 5000, he would see Peter walk on water, he would see the lame walk and the blind see, he would see miraculous catches of fish, he would see Lazarus rise from the dead and of course he would see Jesus crucified, risen and then ascend into heaven.

Such is the case for those who are followers of Jesus.

When we give ourselves to Christ and commit to the journey of a disciple, our eyes are indeed opened to see even greater things.  I can attest to this truth in my own journey of following Christ. As I said yes to Jesus and responded to his calling as a pastor Ive witnessed many greater things.

Ive seen transformed lives of people who are free from addictions, Ive seen people who were walking in the darkness of grief and death who have come back to life, Ive seen congregations transformed, Ive witnessed people with cancer with no chance for survival healed, Ive seen people who were blind to Christ who now see.   Ive seen people who have decided to trust Jesus and get out of their boats and walk on water.  As I have I given myself to a life of discipleship of reading scripture and prayer and giving myself to serving others, I have indeed seen even greater things; including the transformation of my own life.

A come and see discipleship is about always coming and seeing Jesus. It is a continuous journey of an ever-deepening relationship.

Ask yourself today: Am I seeing even greater things? Is Christ opening my eyes to see his work all around me and within me? Do you see the extraordinary in the ordinary?

If not, ask yourself: Am I continuing to come and see Jesus everyday of my life in my inward and outward disciplines?

Jesus wants us to see even greater things. And he will give us contemplative eyes to see them as we continue the never ending journey of following him.

Now the final part of a come and see discipleship that we see in this scripture is that it also includes an invitation to others to come and see for themselves.

Unfortunately this seems to be a part of discipleship that has been neglected. Followers of Christ have become complacent about inviting others to a bible study, or to Sunday school, or worship service, or outreach project. We seem to just want to enjoy God for ourselves.

I like the story of the two robins sitting in a tree. "I'm really hungry," said the first one. "Me too," said the second one. "Let's fly down and find some lunch."  They flew to the ground and found a nice plot of plowed ground full of worms. They ate and ate and ate and ate 'til they could eat no more.  "I'm so full I don't think I can fly back up to the tree," said the one. "Me either." said the second. "Let's just lay here and bask in the warm sun." "O.K.," said the first robin.

So they plopped down, basking in the sun. No sooner had they fallen asleep than a big fat cat snuck up and gobbled them up.

And as the cat sat washing his face after his meal, he thought, "I love baskin' robins."

A Come and see discipleship doesnt sit back and bask taking in Gods good food just for ourselves

As Philip knew, it means we go and invite others to come and see for themselves.

Wouldn't it be a wonderful thing if each one of us made it a practice to invite another human being to "Come and See? Wouldn't it be wonderful if "Come and See" became a natural part of our life and relationships? 

A number of years ago a country preacher asked his new little rural congregation to obey the call of Christ Jesus to invite others.

So he gave them all index cards in worship and asked them to write down the names of every family member, every neighbor, and every co-worker they knew that didn't go to church anywhere.

Then he stopped long enough for them to do just that in worship. When they got through writing, they had identified 1200 names.

Then the preacher asked them to begin to pray for all the people on their card - to place it on the refrigerator or in their Bible as a reminder to pray daily for these people.

Then he asked them to invite these people to come to worship, and keep inviting, and keep inviting, and keep inviting.

And as they did, this dying little church suddenly had new life, because these disciples were embracing their call to invite others to come and see. Regardless of who came they were being faithful to their call and thats all that mattered.

Right now ask yourself who can I invite to an encounter in some way with Jesus Christ? Write down their names, go and invite them and pray for them. So many people who have left church are just waiting for an excuse to come back.

And dont forget those who are forgotten. We need to be open to invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind...." Christs church is for the broken and the lost.

 

In closing today John is reminding us of what a come and see discipleship is all about.

Jesus of Nazareth, an ordinary man who also happened to be our all knowing God has come to our world inviting us to follow him.

Today if you havent begun the journey of a come and see disciple, Jesus is waiting for you to come and see.   Open your heart and mind to the One who knows everything about you and loves you unconditionally.

And for those who have gotten stuck on your journey, who are not seeing the greater things that Jesus promised Nathanael, Jesus is calling you to come and see what hes up to by growing in your relationship with him thru a relationship with those in need.

And for us who have become baskin robbins, Jesus is inviting us to the great joy and fulfillment of simply inviting others to come and see for themselves.

Jesus is calling you and me to come and see. Will you turn your head and follow him?

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, Amen.