Come and See–The Invitation of the Gospel

We started a journey through the gospel of Mark, with the Baptism of our Lord. But this Sunday we make a slight diversion over to the Gospel of John.

It is helpful to see our “next day” text from John in the context of what has happened in the other days with Jesus. Because you see John 1:43-51 is the third “next day” story in the first chapter of the Gospel of John.

The Gospel of John opens with the introduction of the Word of God made flesh and dwelling among us. In those days John is asked, “Who are you?” He confesses and does not deny, “I am not the Christ.”

They ask, “What then…”

He answers them, “I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness…”

Then the first “next day” is John pointing to Jesus and confessing, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!”

The second “next day” John again points to Jesus and says about him, “Behold, the Lamb of God!” Two of John’s disciples heard him, and they followed Jesus. I always find the first words that Jesus speaks in a story important. Besides the first words in a particular event, we also hear his first words in the whole Gospel of John. Jesus asks them, “What are you seeking?” I want to think about what I am looking for when I follow Jesus. Am I looking for a teacher, a miracle worker, a mentor, savior, or something else?

These two answered, “Rabbi, where are you staying?” Jesus said, “Come and you will see.” These words from Jesus are words of invitation and promise. The invitation is to come and follow him. The promise is that they will see where he dwells. One of those two was Andrew, the brother of Peter. Andrews goes to find his brother and brings him to Jesus.

Now we arrive at our “next day.” Jesus found Philip and said to him, “Follow me.” Philip is going to follow Jesus, and he goes to share this good news with his friend, Nathanael. He shares with Nathanael the good news that they have found the one that Moses in the Law and the prophets wrote about.

But Nathanael is skeptical. Philip may have known what kind of response to expect from his friend. I wonder how any of us would have reacted to Nathanael’s scathing criticism. Remarkably, Philip responds with an invitation that is filled with trust.

“Come and See.”

The answer to Nathanael’s outlook that nothing good has been found, because nothing good is ever going to come out of Nazareth, is to respond with invitation and trust.

Philip shows to me that trust in the good news shall be my guide through even the most challenging of conversations. The answer to doubt and anger is to respond with invitation and trust that Jesus will reveal the truth.

I am not the one that will convert. I am not the one that will change the hearts of the hard-hearted. I must trust in Jesus to be the one that turns doubt towards trust.

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