The following sermon entitled “Come and See” is from John1:43-51 where Jesus calls Philip and Nathanael.
As I read today’s passage the words in the second part of v46 “come and see” caught my attention. Philip said these words in response to Nathanael saying “can anything good come out of Nazareth?”
There are five things I think we can learn from the phrase “come and see” and what happened as a result of Nathanael following that advice.
It was Nathanael’s responsibility to respond to Philip’s invitation to come and see Jesus.
Philip faithfully opened his mouth to speak about Jesus. He didn’t force a response from Nathaniel but rather pointed him to Jesus. Philip gave the invitation, “come and see”. It was though Nathanael’s responsibility to respond to it.
Likewise the same applies to us. We share and point others to Jesus and leave the outcome in His hands. The outcome of our invitation for people to respond to Christ is not our responsibility.
It is not our fault if they do not respond. We may be understandably disappointed or upset but it’s not our fault. If we realise that the outcome is not in our hands then that takes the pressure of us!
Philip pointed the way to Jesus
We see in v45 that Philip tells Nathaniel that ‘We have found him about whom Moses in the law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus son of Joseph from Nazareth.’
Then when Nathaniel responds “can anything good come out of Nazareth”, Philip responds by again pointing him to Jesus by saying “Come and See”.
In our reading Philip points to a person i.e. Jesus and not to an institution i.e. the synagogue.
During advent in a sermon about John the Baptist, we were reminded that we should point people to Jesus and not to church.
Don’t get me wrong I’m not saying don’t invite people along to church. If there is someone you are thinking of inviting to church then that is obviously a good thing to do.
I would say though that the reason we invite people should not be just to get extra people at our church but rather because we want people to experience the saving power of Christ.
The challenging question we need to ask ourselves is like Philip, do we point others to Christ?
Without Philip being the link in the chain would Nathanael have ever met Jesus?
Could we be that vital link in the chain for someone to meet Christ?
Of course God can speak to people through dreams and visions. There are stories of people in countries where the church is persecuted where Jesus has appeared in a dream and revealed Himself to a person.
However the general rule of thumb is that God uses ordinary people like us to share His word and point others to Christ. If we don’t do this then how will they hear?
There is a story of the angels looking down from heaven and seeing that God had given man the responsibility to spread the gospel became worried. They asked Him what the back-up plan was and God said, “There is no plan B!”
When you think of a well known Christian then don’t forget that someone during their life has pointed them to Jesus.
Someone led Billy Graham to Christ. If they had not done this millions of people would not have known God.
You never know how much God might do through that person who you share Christ with!
Philip was not put off by a difficult question from Nathaniel.
Philip was asked a difficult question: “can anything good come out of Nazareth?”
It doesn’t actually say this in so many words in the passage but I expect that Philip was quite excited about having met with Jesus. So he went and found his friend Nathaniel to tell him the exciting news that he had found the one that the scriptures had said would come. I wonder what he thought when Nathaniel said “can anything good come out of Nazareth?”
However rather than allowing himself to be side-tracked or tied up in a theological conversation about the place of the town of Nazareth in God’s plan he simply invited Nathaniel to “come and see”.
We do not need to know the answers to all theological questions before we can point someone to Jesus.
This does not mean that we should not attempt to answer people’s questions. Peter encourages us to “always be ready to make your defence to anyone who demands from you an account of the hope that is in you” (1 Peter 3:15)
However there are some questions that are difficult to answer. For example: there is no easy answer to the question of suffering. Sometimes it is better to point to Jesus rather than get stuck down with certain questions, especially those of the red herring type.
Sadly even if we provide satisfactory answers to all the questions we are asked not everyone will respond. Some people like asking questions but don’t really want to know the answers.
Nathaniel had to humble himself to “come and see”
Nathaniel asked “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” You could tell that he was not impressed with Nazareth. In The Message translation this expression is translated as “Nazareth? You’ve got to be kidding.”
We’ve not told why in this passage but Nathaniel decided to take up Philip’s offer to “come and see.” This would have required him to humble himself and to be prepared to admit that there was the possibility that he could be wrong.
However as Nathaniel did this and encountered Jesus he was amazed and blown away by Jesus. If he had not been willing to humble himself then he would never had met with Christ.
Humbling yourself is not something that is popular in today’s society. So often these days it about “me” and telling everybody how great we are.
However unless we are prepared to humble ourselves and admit our need of God then we will never know God.
James 4: 6 “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”
James 4:10 “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.”
Nathaniel had a firsthand experience of Jesus.
We see in v43 that Philip had responded to the invitation from Jesus to follow Him. This invitation required a personal response from Philip, to which he did respond. Philip then went and found his friend Nathaniel and told him what had happened to him.
Nathaniel though could not just rely on Philip’s word or experience. He had to experience Jesus for himself. When Nathaniel met Christ he truly believed for himself. His eyes were opened. He knew it was real. He personalised his faith.
Christian faith always requires a personal response. A genuine Biblical Christian faith is not something that we can inherit from our parents or family.
Sadly it is possible to attend church each week and not have ever personally met Christ. I would say to anyone who may not have ever met Christ to “come and see.”
I could tell you how wonderful it is to experience forgiveness of sins, God’s peace in difficult times and to know hope in this world. You might say to me: “that is fine for you”. All of us though, no matter who we are need to experience this firsthand. Don’t just take my word for it, but “come and see” for yourself.
Don’t rely on a secondhand experience of Christian faith.
Don’t rely on the faith of another person but instead “come and see” for yourself.
Today may we all be like Nathaniel who responded to the invitation to “come and see” Jesus and truly met Him and encountered the wonder of God’s Son, Jesus.