Tuesday, January 23, 2018

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Focus on Faith Devotional

By Dr. J.B. Morris
Jan. 10, 2018 at 9:43 a.m.

"Come and See"

In John 1:43-51, indicates that Andrew and another disciple of John the Baptist heard him say, "Look, here is the Lamb of God". Then they began to follow Jesus. The next day Philip and Nathanael were called. Nathanael, questioning if anything good could come from Nazareth was told, "Come and see" (v. 46). Complete confidence and faith does not precede their following. It comes to them in small signs, like knowing Nathanael before meeting him, greater signs, and in seeing haven's doors wide open.

These words "Come and See" seem especially pertinent to the text for the day. Philip's witness to Nathanael. Philip is unable to prove what he believed he had found in Jesus Christ, the Son of God, but he is able to say at least, "Come and See". What Philip sees moves him to help others to see, to want to help them, anyway, whether they do or do not see. As Epiphany is the "moment" of God's self-revelation to the world, the season following prompts us to ask, how will we witness?

In our denominations these days there is much discussion about church growth. Much of the discussion is framed in such a way to make it sound evangelistic, but I must confess that most often it sounds more like marketing. Direct mailings, telephone blitzes, the packaging of worship in alternative forms, you known the routine. Witnessing should be more personal rather technical.

Who is Nathanael that Philip, or Jesus wants to have him along? After all, he seems somewhat bigoted, ready to condemn Jesus on account of his address and accent. And he isn't listed in other Gospels and Acts as one of the Twelve. So what's the purpose of this story? Perhaps it a paradigm, a "go and do thou likewise" kind of story. Perhaps it is an exhortation to those of us who are believers to begin witnessing not by coercing or arguing, lampooning or belittling. Rather, as Philip was called and then went calling, the text is a summons to us to witness, to invite to speak the truth of our faith's experience even to those for whom the invitation may sound strange. If we are faithful as Philip was faithful, God can claim the incredulous, even as Nathanael was claimed. And perhaps it is a reminder, too that even we who now believe once did not, that at one time we were no better off then Nathanael. But as he heard and believed so others have heard and believed through him. So too will our faith be shared with others if we hear and believe.

Jesus called Philip, and Philip responded by witnessing to Nathanael. When we hear the authentic word of God, God's summons to discipleship, we will want to take others with us. If we haven't heard that first call, all the direct mail in the world won't help. But if we have heard the word, then we will be not only like Philip, but also like Peter, James, and John.



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