Sermon:         As Easy as A, B, See Scripture:       John 1:43-51 Preacher:       Rev. Michael Bodger Location:        First Presbyterian Church, DeLand Date:               January 14, 2018   Our text today takes us back to the first chapter of John’s Gospel and having heard all about John the Baptist, who is John the Witness in John’s Gospel, and established what he is here for, it all culminates in the statement that John says, The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him and declared, “Here is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! Two of John’s disciples pick up on John pointing to Jesus and followed Jesus and Jesus asks them “What are you looking for?” They respond by saying “Where are you staying?” Jesus says “Come and see.” Andrew one of the two, then finds his brother Simon whom he takes to Jesus and Jesus renames him Cephas, which is translated Peter. Then we come to our text of today in which Jesus continues to add to the number of disciples. Open your bibles then at John’s Gospel Chapter 1:43-51, found on Page 863 of your pew bibles, and listen to what the Spirit is telling the church today.   The next day, Jesus headed off to Galilee and he found Philip, who we are told coincidentally is from Bethsaida, the same city as Andrew and Peter. All Jesus says to Philip is “Follow me.” We hear nothing else about what goes on and yet the immediate result is Philip found Nathanael. What made him do that? The text tells us in the words he shares with Nathanael. Now Nathanael makes this one and only appearance in the New Testament. He is found nowhere else, he is not considered as one of the twelve and yet we hear his story, Philip found him and said to him, “We have found him about whom Moses in the law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus son of Joseph from Nazareth.” Philip was convinced, had come to believe who Jesus was and the very first thing we are told he does is find someone else to tell. Nathanael though is strangely not phased by the fact that Philip has just told him that they are claiming to have found the long awaited Messiah of Israel. The one who has come to fulfill all the scriptures and all of the implications that would unfold from such a find, but rather skeptically responds by saying, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Really Philip, Nazareth, do you really expect me to believe that the one written about in the scriptures comes from Nazareth. Philip doesn’t debate with Nathanael the why’s or wherefores, he simply says “Come and See.” The same words Jesus had spoken to Andrew and the disciple who was with him. “Come and See.” How many times are we reluctant to tell the story of the savior of the world, or our story that interacts with it or tell of the stories of Jesus simply because we are afraid or worried or anxious that the one we speak to will simply say to us, really, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Well, they might not say that specifically, I think I would be pretty shocked if they did, but the sentiment behind the words, the skepticism, the frowning, the looking down upon us for even mentioning Jesus, the incredulity that Jesus could even enter into their lives, and what’s worse shock, horror if we tell them about Jesus, they might even realize we are Christians, are these all the things we might be concerned about. We find ourselves tripping over our own tongues trying to justify what it is we have just said, or we just don’t say it because that’s what we think we will end up doing and so, it’s not worth mentioning it in the first place. In the face of a potential response to the effect of, Do you really expect me to believe that Jesus is real, just because you told me so! We shrink away, maybe it’s better all around if we say nothing. Philip doesn’t bat an eyelid. He takes Nathanael’s skepticism and runs with it. He is not concerned about the immediate rebuff by Nathanael, not concerned that Nathanael may look upon him now in a bad way, he is more concerned that he needs to tell Nathanael about the one he has found, that is paramount, “We have found him about whom Moses in the law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus son of Joseph from Nazareth.” What’s more important, our status, our credibility, our position in society, how our friends think of us or treat us? Or the fact that we have shared with them who Jesus Christ is to us and the world. Philip, ignores Nathanael’s skepticism and simply goes on, you know what, Come and See. “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Well, Come and See. Is it As easy as A,B, See? Or are we easily put off from telling others about how the one from Nazareth has changed our lives? [1]British scientist Thomas Huxley (1825-1895) vigorously supported the theory of evolution, which earned him the nickname “Darwin’s bulldog.” As an agnostic, he believed religion was a harmful superstition. One day Huxley asked a deeply committed Christian, “What does your faith mean to you?” Knowing Huxley’s skepticism, the man paused and then replied, “You are very educated, and you can dispute anything I say.” Huxley urged him to explain why he was a Christian. So from his heart the man told what Jesus meant to him. Huxley, deeply moved, didn’t argue. Wistfully he simply said, “I’d give my right hand for your faith in Jesus.” As Easy As A, B, See? In the book of Acts, the apostle Paul stood before King Agrippa, he told how Jesus had transformed his life, and Agrippa we are told was deeply moved by what he heard (Acts 26:28). It takes the telling of the story to another regardless of the implications and how we think they might take it. Do we invade other people’s skepticism by ignoring it and then inviting them to Come and See, regardless of what it might mean to us? Or are we put off and so stay silent. Do we say to them - Come to my small group, join me this Lent in my churchwide study, come to my youth group, come to my neighborhood gathering, come to my church, come and see this community that I am drawn to by the Holy Spirit, Come and See. Come and See those who are grieving and are surrounded by a church family, come and see those who would walk beside me in troubled times, come and see those who will pray for me and with me, come and see the things we do in and for one another and those who we extend the love of Christ to outside of our church, the missions we are involved with, the opportunities to minister to and serve others, Come and see the nurturing and sustaining we are given as we gather around the Communion table, from all walks of life, united in Christ and Christ alone. Come and See. Was Philip surprised when Nathanael came with him? Who knows – if he hadn’t of asked he would never have come. 47When Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him, he said of him, “Here is truly an Israelite in whom there is no deceit!” 48Nathanael asked him, “Where did you come to know me?” Jesus answered, “I saw you under the fig tree before Philip called you.”  Jesus already knows each and every one of us. Knows who we are. Knows us better than anyone else, even ourselves. Jesus wants us all to be a part of who He is. God uses all sorts of means for the door to be opened to God, but we brothers and sisters are on the front line. We wonder about the state of the church and lament at what is seemingly happening in the downward spiral of church attendance – that’s not what we are asked to focus on. You see as long as there is breath in any one of us who follow Christ, the church is alive and well. The question is, with the breath that we have, Are we willing to find and tell others, come and see? We are not to stay static, notice that the very first thing that Philip did was NOT to stay next to Jesus and wait, just wait and see who came his way. No, the very first thing that Philip did, once he understood who Jesus was, was he went and he found Nathanael. He couldn’t wait to tell someone. He went out and he found him and he told him. Do we do that? Have we done that? Notice how the magnet works – it attracts, it pulls things unto itself. If you put the magnet in the middle of the table, it has a limited range. There are a limited amount of things that are within that range and once they are attracted, that’s it . So how many things get attracted to it? Not many. Maybe now and again a paper clip might get dislodged and bounce towards it and stick to the magnet once it gets close enough, but most things are unaffected. But take the magnet and go and find things, well suddenly there is a different dynamic going on. When we go and find things with the magnet, then things begin to happen. The iron fillings lying dormant on the table, suddenly begin to dance, the mass of paper clips, up to now unaffected by the magnet begin to move  - so it is with people and the message we have to share - we are to go out and find those we should share the good news of Jesus Christ with. Amen And you know what, it may take years. It may take years for someone we encounter to realize the fact that Jesus knows them and loves them unconditionally and Jesus does not give up on them and so why should we and why do we? Steve Haynor, who died over a year ago of cancer, would tell of a story of a time before he became President of Columbia Seminary. It was about his wife when they moved to Seattle to a church that Steve was pastoring. He and his wife Sheri were new to the area and Sheri began to go to a particular grocery store and over a period of time began to seek out a specific check out clerk. As their familiarity grew with one another, Sheri would ask the lady about her life and would pray for her at home. Each time Sheri went, she would wait in the lady’s line, regardless if there was a quicker line available. The check out time became a time of sharing and eventually after a year or so Sheri invited her to come to Steve’s church. After some more time, the lady came and then joined and then began to be involved in various ministries of the church. It didn’t happen all at once, it happened because Sheri took the time to get into a relationship with a check out clerk she didn’t know. A stranger became a friend who then then gave her life to Jesus Christ. Come and See. In our text though, it is instant! 49Nathanael replied, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!”  From skepticism -“Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” to a confession - you are the Son of God It can of course be like that. The instance one realizes who Jesus is. Jesus conveyed his knowledge about Nathanael, and it communicated to Nathanael who Jesus was. Sometimes it takes another to point out that fact and it doesn’t have to take a great commitment or a even long period of time. A simple statement might just do it. Bill Crowder, in one of his many devotionals for Our Daily Bread, wrote this story. [2]Years ago, I was hospitalized following a life-threatening, 38-foot fall from a bridge. While I was there, the wife of the man in the next bed stopped to speak to me. “My husband just told me what happened to you,” she said. “We believe God spared your life because He wants to use you. We’ve been praying for you.” I was stunned. I had grown up going to church, but I had never imagined that God would want to be involved in my life. Her words pointed me to a Savior I had heard of but did not know—and marked the beginning of my coming to Christ. I cherish the memory of those words from a gentle witness who cared enough to say something to a stranger about the God whose love is real. Her words conveyed care and concern, and offered purpose and promise. There was no lifelong friendship for these two people. It was a brief encounter for that lady at that point in that man’s life, when he could have been moving away from God, asking all the why me questions, she stepped in and said “We believe God spared your life because He wants to use you. We’ve been praying for you.” He never saw her again, but it marked the beginning of this man’s journey of coming to know Christ. As Easy As A, B, See? Through the Holy Spirit our words and witness can have the power to make an eternal difference in the lives of others. Why would we not tell them? Our text concludes with these words. 50Jesus answered, “Do you believe because I told you that I saw you under the fig tree? You will see greater things than these.” 51And he said to him, “Very truly, I tell you, you will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.” Jesus simply tells Nathanael, in the inimitable words of the song from the Carpenter’s back in 1970 – We’ve only just begun. You believe who I am and We’ve only just begun and you will see greater things as we journey together. We, this body of Christ, will see greater things as we journey together. Church we need to go and find the Nathanael’s of today, we need to tell them, we need to get over our anxiety of spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ and be filled with the love of God and tell the world of his love. So here’s a strange fact, one that seems implausible, impossible, as long as there is breath in just one person who believes in Jesus Christ, who can find and tell another, then the church is not dead, but alive. Look around you, we are not dead, but alive with the Spirit of a loving, living God – let’s tell those we find, Come and See, and all of God’s people said Amen.   Michael D. Bodger, M.Div. Pastor & Teaching Elder First Presbyterian Church 724 North Woodland Blvd. DeLand, Florida 32720  © 2018 Michael D. Bodger. Sermon manuscripts are available for the edification of members and friends of First Presbyterian Church, DeLand, Florida and may not be altered, re-purposed, published or preached without permission. All rights reserved.   [1] https://odb.org/2002/11/09/a-powerful-witness/ [2] https://odb.org/2014/03/24/gentle-witness/