First Baptist Church
September 15, 2002
Have you ever misplaced something that you really wanted? Maybe you’re working with some tools and you lay one down and for the life of you, you don’t know where it is. Or you walk into a room to get something and you stop . . . because you have absolutely no idea what you wanted. Maybe you’re the kind who, when interrupted in a sentence, you can’t remember what you were talking about. The worst part of that is when the listener can’t remember, either. There have been times when Debbie has asked me to get something for her in the basement and by the time I’m halfway down the stairs, I have to yell up and ask what she wanted. I’ve gone to the grocery store to pick up 3 items, knowing that I can’t forget them, so I don’t write them down, and of course I come home with 4 items, forgetting the 1 of the 2 items.
So, what does finding something have to do with our gospel story? It has everything to do with it. Other than maybe feeling a little silly or foolish about forgetting something, generally we’re overjoyed when we remember what we thought we forgot. In some ways we could say that old English word, "EUREKA!! EUREKA!!" And that does not mean it’s time to vacuum. The word "EUREKA" actually comes from the Greek word which was introduced by Archimedes which means "I found it."
According to the dictionary, when we say eureka, it expresses triumph upon finding or discovering something. It means excitedly shouting, "I found it!" When you remember what you forgot, you excitedly say, "Oh, now I remember!" You don’t say, (monotone) "gee, now I remember." This happened just the other day to Zachary. We couldn’t find his juice sippee cup. We looked everywhere, and I mean everywhere for 5 days. On Thursday night we were coming to church for a meeting and Zachary went into the gym in front of the house. And lo and behold, here he comes running and shouting, "I found it! I found it!" That’s what eureka means.
That same word "EUREKA" is used 3 times in our passage — when Jesus found Philip; when Philip found Nathaniel. And when Philip says to Nathaniel, "We have found Him. . . Jesus son of Joseph from Nazareth."
As I mentioned last week, for the next few weeks, I want us to begin looking at the desires of our soul. I want each of us to look deep into our heart and soul and begin to consider what is it that we long for. What more than anything would satisfy that empty spot in your soul? Let me emphasize, it will never be money, health, good grades, a better job, a new home or anything external. Because deep down, you and I know that nothing external will ever really satisfy our soul.
As we look at this passage from John, what can we learn from this interaction between Jesus, Phillip and Nathaniel?
First, notice what Phillip does after Jesus called him. He goes to his friend Nathaniel and tells him, not in a monotone voice, but in an excited voice because that’s what EUREKA means, "We found the One that Moses wrote about, His name is Jesus of Nazareth."
How exciting it must have been for Phillip to tell his friend Nathaniel. Phillip had been selected by Jesus to be one of His disciples. Jesus simply said to Phillip, "Follow me." And Phillip got up from whatever he was doing and followed Jesus.
I’ve always been struck at those disciples who, when Jesus told them "Follow me," simply got up, left whatever they were doing and began to follow Jesus. As I consider what we long for in our souls, I wonder how many of us have simply turned Jesus down when He says "Follow me." Oh, don’t get me wrong, you believe in Jesus, you really do, but one of 2 things has happened. 1st, you’ve experienced so much pain in your life, that you’ve given up on the healing power of Jesus. You just can’t fathom that God really, really loves you and cares for you. Yet, you’re here and that is the good news. Because it means you still have a glimmer of hope.
Or 2nd, and in thesame vain as the first one, you don’t believe Jesus has all the power He says He does. Nor do you believe all that the Bible says about Jesus. You’ve come to sense that healing only took place in Jerusalem, Bethlehem and Samaria 2,000 years ago. We’ve become bitter, cynical, disillusioned, skeptical, suspicious and unbelieving. Do you fall into any of those categories? Sometimes it’s not hard to be duped by satan and to become rebellious, bitter and angry.
Do you know what I mean? When Jesus comes to us and says, "Follow me" we miss that call. We’re too busy wallowing in our muck and mire to notice that He calls us. That He wants so desperately to bring healing to us, but we miss it. We miss it time and time again, because we are so into our own miserable existence.
It’s like the person who’s bitter about life, they’re angry that life didn’t turn out the way they hoped it would. They complain about everything, nothing seems to satisfy them. Then they complain that family and friends don’t visit. And of course, family and friends don’t want to visit. . . and it becomes a vicious circle. That person complains and is angry and bitter, so nobody comes to visit, and nobody comes to visit so they are angry and bitter. And it goes on and on.
You see, there’s no joy in their soul. Yet, I don’t believe that for one moment. It’s there. It’s there. It’s there. It’s just been buried by hurt and pain. You know what I mean. Have you been down that road? Maybe you’re there right now, maybe a loved one is there.
I have a loved one who is there. I have to confess that I felt that way this past week about my sister. Monday was my Janet’s birthday. She is a Christian, but she has had many, many emotional scars inflicted upon her. She didn’t choose them, but they are hers nonetheless. So on Monday I called Janet, and I have to confess I secretly wished she wouldn’t be home. Doesn’t that sound terrible.
Do you have anyone in your life who is like her? I get so very drained talking to her. She goes on and on about all the bad things in her life. Things that happened over 20 years ago are fresh in her memory, as if they happened yesterday. And we have discussed these same things for 20 years. So the topic doesn’t change. And as a good friend reminded me this past week, she has never accepted the gift from God of forgiveness. I believe that if anything can fill Janet’s longing in her soul, it would be the gift of forgiveness. Her forgiving those who have hurt her. That is the type of longing in our soul that I am talking about.
So, you see, it is so vital for us to grab hold of Jesus, because I believe it is only Jesus who can fill that deep longing in our souls. We will always feel incomplete until we fully embrace Jesus, and allow Him to work in our lives.
Jesus had yet to do His first miracle. That comes in chapter 2 of John when He turns water into wine. But Phillip, Andrew and Peter had seen something in Jesus that made them declare ‘Jesus was indeed the Messiah.’ It wasn’t amazing miracles, it was something about His spirit that touched them so profoundly that they could walk over to Nathaniel and shout "WE FOUND HIM!! WE FOUND HIM!!"
As I read that section of scripture I began to wonder if in all of our busyness and searching, if we too had really found Jesus. Or is He just a nice guy who was a famous teacher and did some miracles a long time ago? You see, I really believe that we often take the power out of Jesus, and make Him less of a threat in our lives, but we also limit the power of His touch. We make Him into what some call a "Sunday School Jesus." That is the type of Jesus that children learn in only a nice, sweet, kind Jesus. They never saw a Jesus who called people to task, they never saw a Jesus who condemned people, they never saw a Jesus who told people that if they didn’t change they would go do hell.
And honestly, the preacher can fall into that habit too. We can sugar coat the message of the cross. We can take the power out of it. We can tell you only what you want to hear, but not what you really need to hear.
Once we see Jesus in all of His power, in all of His personality and in all of His spirit, then we begin to see the Son of God who is Almighty. And when we begin to believe in the Almighty God, we will find that our lives become changed. And our spirit begins to be more and more filled.
And how many of us are just like Nathaniel. Nathaniel’s response is one we might anticipate today. He was sarcastic and argued with Philip: "You can’t be serious. Nothing good can come out of Nazareth." Philip didn’t argue with him. I imagine Nathaniel’s tone wasn’t very pleasant, but Philip’s response wasn’t defensive, he simply said, "Oh, Nathaniel, just come and see." He probably said it as if someone didn’t want to go to a particular restaurant, we’d say, "Oh, just come and try it."
Some of us can be just like Nathaniel, we balk at meeting Jesus in new ways that might force us to reconsider the way we worship or the way we pray or the way we talk to people. Yet, Jesus is constantly whispering to us, "Come, come and see." Just try me, give me a chance in your life and you’ll never regret it. But first dear child you must come."
So, Nathaniel went to meet Jesus, and he went with a "show me" attitude, but look what he walked away with. He walked away with faith and belief in Jesus Christ, proclaiming him the King of Israel and the Son of God.
We’re trying to create an atmosphere in this place, where all who come can worship and experience God for themselves, because we come from different points of view: disbelief, mistrust, pain, regret, joy, expectation, but no matter the point of view, when someone has that type of life-changing experience, as Nathaniel did, it truly changes every aspect of our lives. It affects the past, because past sins have been forgiven, and it affects the future, because there is now a clear direction and purpose — to bring glory to God in all that we do.
Friends, what is it you desire? When you find it, when you and Jesus uncover it, shout EUREKA!! And rejoice.