7th Sunday of Epiphany February 20, 2022
134, 281, 349, 53
Hymns from The Lutheran Hymnal (1941) unless otherwise noted
+ In the Name of Jesus Christ +
Prayer of the Day: Almighty God, in Your kindness You cause the light of the Gospel to shine among us. By the working of Your Holy Spirit, help us to share the good news of Your salvation that all who hear it may rejoice in the gift of Your unending love; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
Again, the next day, John stood with two of his disciples. And looking at Jesus as He walked, he said, “Behold the Lamb of God!” The two disciples heard him speak, and they followed Jesus. Then Jesus turned, and seeing them following, said to them, “What do you seek?” They said to Him, “Rabbi” (which is to say, when translated, Teacher), “where are You staying?” He said to them, “Come and see.” They came and saw where He was staying, and remained with Him that day (now it was about the tenth hour).
One of the two who heard John speak, and followed Him, was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. He first found his own brother Simon, and said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which is translated, the Christ). And he brought him to Jesus. Now when Jesus looked at him, He said, “You are Simon the son of Jonah. You shall be called Cephas” (which is translated, A Stone).
The following day Jesus wanted to go to Galilee, and He found Philip and said to him, “Follow Me.” Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found Him of whom Moses in the law, and also the prophets, wrote—Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.” And Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.”
Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward Him, and said of him, “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom is no deceit!” Nathanael said to Him, “How do You know me?” Jesus answered and said to him, “Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.” Nathanael answered and said to Him, “Rabbi, You are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!” Jesus answered and said to him, “Because I said to you, ‘I saw you under the fig tree,’ do you believe? You will see greater things than these.” And He said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, hereafter you shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.” (NKJV)
Dearly Beloved Fellow Believers,
Jesus once asked His disciples, “Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?” (Matthew 16:13) The disciples answered that people had various ideas about the identity of Jesus. Some thought that He was John the Baptist, others that He was Elijah, Jeremiah, or another of the Old Testament prophets come back to life.
If in our day we should conduct a survey asking people what they think about Jesus, we would surely also get a variety of opinions about who He is. There are those who would correctly identify Him as the Son of God, the Christ, the Savior of the world. But there are also many who would say that He was just a good man who taught people to be kind to one another. A young man who was a Muslim once said to his friend about Jesus, “He’s just a prophet.” On a radio program I once heard a man who was asked about Jesus expressed real contempt for Him; “He was just a guy,” the man said. A young man who had been brought up in a Christian home told his parents that he wasn’t sure that Jesus was really the Son of God.
What should we say to those who have wrong ideas about who Jesus is? What should we say to those who have doubts about who Jesus is? Surely, we should say what Jesus Himself said to the two men in our text who wanted to know more about Him: “Come and see.” We notice that this is also what Philip said to Nathanael when he was skeptical about Jesus. If anyone has questions or doubts about Jesus, if anyone is misinformed about Him, let them come and see for themselves who He is.
Jesus’ invitation to “come and see” is one that we should also take as directed to ourselves. If our faith in Him is to remain solid, if we are to grow in our love and devotion to Him, we need to come and see Him in His word. And this we shall do, this morning, as we study this text.
What will they find who seek out Jesus? They will find the same Person that Nathanael found when he sought out Jesus. As we have already noted, Nathanael was skeptical when his friend Philip came to him with a truly earthshaking announcement: “We have found Him of whom Moses in the law, and also the prophets, wrote—Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.” “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Nathanael asked. That is to say, “The Christ is from Nazareth, that insignificant little place in Galilee?” That seemed unlikely. Yet Nathanael accepted Philip’s invitation to “come and see.” “You don’t have to take my word for it,” Philip was saying. “Come and see for yourself.” And Nathanael went to see Jesus, to find out for himself who this man was that his friend was so excited about.
It didn’t take long before Nathanael discovered who Jesus was. When Jesus saw Nathanael walking toward Him He said to him, “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom is no deceit!” At this, Nathanael was surprised. “How do you know me?” he asked. Jesus seemed to know him, yet Nathanael was certain that they had never met. But Jesus did indeed know Nathanael; He knew him thoroughly. Jesus knew things about Nathanael that no one else knew. “Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.” This was evidently a time when Nathanael was alone and an experience that Nathanael apparently hadn’t shared with anyone. That Jesus should have known about it was truly astonishing. Nathanael exclaimed, “Rabbi, You are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!”
Anyone who responds to the invitation to come and see Jesus will find the same Man who so astonished Nathanael, who also astonished the Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well who said to her neighbors, “Come, see a Man who told me all things that I ever did.” (John 4:29) Those who search out Jesus in the Bible will find someone who already knows them. Jesus in His word speaks to our very hearts just as He did to the people who met Him and spoke with Him in the gospels. His word pierces through the surface and the face we put before our fellowmen; it reveals the thoughts and intents of the heart (Heb. 4:12). To read the words of Jesus in the gospels is to have the sense of standing before one who knows us intimately, someone we cannot deceive. In His presence we must confess that we are guilty sinners and look to Him for forgiveness.
We can invite those who have questions about Jesus to come and see because we know that they will find someone whose coming was foretold long ago. This is what the first disciples of Jesus found here. After Andrew spent only a day with Jesus He was convinced that this was the one whose coming the prophets had foretold, the promised Messiah. “We have found the Messiah,” He said. Philip was likewise convinced that Jesus was the one that Moses and the prophets wrote about. The prophets presented a clear picture of the Christ, a picture detailed enough that people would recognize Him when He came. Those who were looking for the Messiah on the basis of the prophets did recognize Him and did believe in Him.
Those who search the Scriptures today likewise will find that Jesus is the one who was foretold by the prophets. The Jesus whom we meet and get to know in the gospels perfectly matches the picture of the Christ that we get from the prophets. He was born in Bethlehem, as the prophet Micah foretold. He opened the eyes of the blind, as Isaiah foretold. He suffered and died to atone for the world’s sin; He rose again, as David foretold in the Psalms.
We can invite those who have questions about Jesus to come and see for themselves because they will find in Him one who has great things to teach them. This is what the first disciples found in Jesus. They wanted to hear Him after John the Baptist pointed Him out to them as the Lamb of God. They addressed Him as Rabbi or Teacher. They asked where He was staying, which was an indirect request to come and spend time with Him. He invited them to come to where He was staying, and they spent the rest of the day with Him. That time spent with Jesus convinced them that He was the Son of God; He was the promised Christ. Those hours that day were spent listening to Jesus, hearing Him teach. The disciples found that He opened to them the Scriptures that they knew. They quickly saw that here was God’s own Son come to reveal the Father. They left all and followed Him.
When we listen to Jesus in the Word today, we likewise quickly find one who has great things to teach us, things that no one else can teach. Jesus reveals the love of God and His desire to save us. He teaches that whoever believes in Him will not perish but have everlasting life; whoever believes in Him is not condemned but has passed from death to life.
The answer to all false ideas, misconceptions, and prejudices about Jesus is Jesus Himself. The best advice that we can give is “Come and see.” Let us share that invitation, which is the invitation of Jesus Himself. We don’t have to—indeed, we cannot—argue anyone into faith. What we can do is direct them to Jesus. He is the one who will convince them.
Let us also take advantage of Jesus’ invitation. We are never finished learning what He has to teach. There is no better time than that spent in the company of Jesus. Amen.
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All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.