Summary: Andrew and Philip encounter Jesus and catch a glimpse of who he is and of what God is doing. They share their discovery with family and friends and thus become an example of sharing our faith with others. Though they do not fully understand, still they ch
John 1:43-51 “Sharing a Discovery”
According to statistics Christianity is the world’s largest religion. Christians number 2.1 billion people, or approximately 33% of the world’s population. I realize that this is probably an exaggerated figure. There are people who identify themselves as followers of Jesus Christ, who haven’t been to church for years. Congregations and denominations are notorious for not cleaning their roles, so that many of their members may be deceased, members of another congregation/denomination, or one of those people who haven’t been to a worship service for decades. Still, given the inflated numbers Christianity is the largest faith in the world; a lot of people identify themselves as Christian.
This is a rather astonishing fact given the rather inauspicious beginnings of the Christian faith. After all, at the end of Jesus’ ministry—three years of hard work--there were only eleven leaders and about one hundred and twenty followers. How did Christianity spread so prolifically? Our text today enlightens us concerning this question.
THE SOCIAL TABOO
Our mission statement says that we, “Invite everyone to a new life in Christ, a deeper relationship with Christ, and Spirit-filled service for Christ.” We have said, in regards to this mission statement, this will not happen simply by advertising in the newspaper or having the flashiest website. The majority of the invitations will be personal—one person inviting another person to worship with him or her at Desert Streams and live in God’s kingdom. Here in lies the problem.
Sharing one’s faith is a social taboo in the United States and other industrialized nations. Two areas that are avoided in polite conversation are politics and religion. One reason for this is because religious conversations often result in arguments. Since no one wants to get into an altercation with someone else, the easiest way to accomplish this is to say that religion is off limits.
Another reason we shy away from sharing our faith is because most of us have been attacked by someone wanting to make sure that we had accepted Jesus as our Lord and Savior. As a teen-ager, I was accosted on a Minneapolis beach by a member of Campus Crusade. He blocked my sun (a rare commodity in Minnesota) and asked if I knew the four spiritual laws. He really ticked me off. I tried to assure him that as a Lutheran Christian I was walking in my baptismal covenant, but that didn’t fit with his “make a decision for Jesus” mentality. The confrontation ended when I rolled up my beach blanket and headed to my car.
Arguments and confrontation were not ways through which the Christian faith was spread. This truth is abundantly clear in the Bible verses that we read.
COME AND SEE
Jesus sees Philip and tells him to, “Follow me.” Philip follows him. Essentially,” follow me” is the same as “come and see”. Philip comes away from his encounter with Jesus excited. He has found the one whom Moses and the prophets wrote. He’s so excited that he can’t contain himself. He meets one of his friends, Nathanial, and tells him about Jesus. Nathanial is a little skeptical. “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” he asks. Philip tells his friend to “come and see.”
Nathanial meets Jesus and is suitably impressed. Jesus seems to know a lot about him even though the two had not met previously. Nathanial came and saw and proclaimed, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God, You are the King of Israel.”
It is interesting that everyone in the beginning chapter of John saw Jesus in a slightly different light. John the Baptist saw Jesus as the “Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” Philip connects Jesus with the Old Testament; as the one written about by Moses and the prophets. Nathanial identifies Jesus as Rabbi, Son of God, and King of Israel. These are all images of Jesus that the writer of the gospel will carry throughout his gospel. The main point is, though, that we don’t need to see Jesus just like everyone else; we see Jesus in different lights.
In the gospel of John, people come to “believe” once they see. For example, the disciples are said to have “believed,” when they saw Jesus change the water into wine at the Cana wedding.
Now we have the secret. The way that Christianity spread was by people “coming and seeing,” and then inviting others to do the same. People had seen Jesus. They had encountered him as savior, Lord, friend, victor, or companion. Jesus had made a difference in their lives; he had transformed their lives.
We are only motivated to invite others to come and see when Jesus has made a difference in our lives. Our religion has gone beyond “going through the motions.” Perhaps we have been overwhelmed by God’s steadfast love, or unconditional forgiveness. We may have experienced rest when we were weary, comfort when troubled or grieving and strength when life threatened to undo us. Jesus has made a difference in our lives and we want others to experience that difference that Jesus made.