Summary: 1) Found by the Lord 2) Known by the Lord 3) Informed by the Lord
There was an uproar around the world when it was revealed last year that the National Security Agency of the United States, more commonly known as the NSA, routinely intercepted and monitored private emails and phone calls. This was not only going on in the United Sates, but across much of Europe as well. No one likes others snooping through their emails and listening to their phone conversations. Even toddlers like to close the door behind them so they can play without Mom or Dad looking over their shoulder. We all like our privacy and expect others to respect it.
However, from our Gospel Lesson this morning we learn about a happy invasion of privacy. Two men, Philip and Nathanael, were found by the Lord, known by the Lord, and informed by the Lord. Jesus wants to invade your privacy for the same reason and in the same way. Let’s find out why that’s a good thing.
The impression that many people have about God is that he is just sitting back waiting for sinners to find him. That’s not how the true God operates however. We see that already in the Garden of Eden. After Adam and Eve fell into sin, God did not wait for his children to come to him and confess what they had done. He went searching for them – not only to chastise, but also to share that he had a plan to get them out of the mess they had willingly stepped into.
Likewise when you look at how Jesus ended up with his Twelve Disciples, you’ll see that it’s because he went searching for them. Of course Philip would report to his friend Nathanael, “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” (John 1:45), but Philip had not found Jesus. Jesus had found Philip. And that’s how it works with you too. You didn’t find Jesus when you came to faith. You came to faith because Jesus found you. That’s how it has to work. Paul explains why when he wrote: “But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5 made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved” (Ephesians 2:4, 5). A hiker who has fallen down a cliff and broken his ankle and back, may say to his rescuers: “I’m glad I found you!” But everyone really knows that because of his condition what he means is “I’m glad you found me!” That’s how it with us. Sin has so damaged us that by nature we don’t even want to reach out to God. He needs to reach out to us if we’re going to be saved from our sins and the punishment that should await.
But how exactly does Jesus find us these days? He’s not still walking the streets as he did two thousand years ago when he found Philip. No, but look at the way in which Jesus found the next disciple, Nathanael. He did so through Philip. After Philip was brought to faith he ran off and found his friend Nathanael to tell him about Jesus. This is how Jesus still finds people today – through the witness of faithful disciples like you.
But does the thought of telling another person about Jesus make you nervous? I mean what if they ask you a question about your faith that you can’t answer? Don’t worry about that. Just use Philip’s evangelism approach. When he told Nathanael he believed Jesus of Nazareth was the promised Messiah, Nathanael asked: “Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?” (John 1:46) How did Philip respond? Did he try to convince his friend of the truth with a rehearsed evangelism presentation? No, he simply said, “Come and see.” That’s still a great tactic when witnessing today. Simply invite your friends to come and see the Savior for themselves. But don’t just encourage them to come to church, invite them to study the Bible. And invite them again and again.
If you’ve been the one invited to meet Jesus through his Word, respond as Nathanael did. He went with Philip to meet Jesus. He didn’t say, “Well I’m busy right now Philip. Maybe later.” Finding the Messiah, the one who would take away his sins and open eternal life, was more important to Nathanael than his work, his hobbies, and even his family. Do we feel the same way? Or when we’re invited to come and see our Savior through a study of his Word, are we quick to come up with an excuse of why it’s not convenient? But how do you know there will be a more convenient time? You don’t. Because none of us knows when our end will come. Even as I speak right now Jesus is invading your privacy and reaching out to you through this message to learn more about him. You won’t be sorry that you did.