Three words caught my attention this morning. Ten letters jumped off the page. And as I chewed on them I wondered if they hadn’t been food for a morning meal before. Sure enough, they were food for thought back in 2009. Encouraged today by what I wrote back then. Thought I ‘d “re-plate” those thoughts a bit and serve them up again . . .
Wrapping up the first chapter of John’s gospel this morning. And as I’m reading about Jesus’ encounter with Nathanael it occurs to me that there may lie within the story an all encompassing principle for getting to know Jesus . . . Come and see.
John 1:43-51 starts out with a bunch of “finding.” Jesus found Philip and says to him, “Follow Me.” Then Philip found Nathanael. And Philip says to Nathaniel, “We have found Him of whom Moses in the Law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.” (That’s probably a devotion in itself, who found who? But that will be for another time.)
But Nathanael isn’t so quick to go find Jesus . . . or be found by Jesus . . . or whatever. Instead, Nathanael says, “Hold on. You found the One Moses and the Prophets foretold? You found Messiah? And He’s Jesus of Nazareth? Can anything good come out of Nazareth?”
Some would say that Nathanael’s objection or skepticism was because Nazareth isn’t mentioned in the Old Testament in connection with the Messiah. In fact, as near as I can see, it isn’t mentioned in the OT at all. Maybe Nathanael’s thinking, “No way, not from Nazareth. Messiah will hail from Bethlehem.” Others say the objection is based on the fact that Nazareth didn’t have a very good reputation. It was the “other side of the tracks”, the rougher part of town. Nothing useful or beneficial could come out of a place like Nazareth–certainly not Jehovah’s Anointed One.
Whatever the reason for Nathanael’s hesitation, he wasn’t about to join Philip and become part of the “I Found It” movement.
But it’s Philip’s response to Nathanael that has me thinking.
Philip said to him, “Come and see.” (John 1:46b ESV)
Come and see. How brilliant is that?
Philip didn’t try to engage Nathanael in debate. Wasn’t interested in defending Nazareth as a good place for Messiah to hail from. He resisted any temptation to scold Nathanael for being a skeptic. Instead he just said, “Come and see.”
“Check it out for yourself,” Philip says in essence, “Come meet Him. Talk with Him. Learn about Him. See Him in action. And then decide.”
And that, it would seem, is at least one of the reasons why Nathanael is included in the gospel narrative–to give us the “come and see” approach to knowing Jesus. After this encounter, Nathanael is mentioned only one other time at the end of John as being with Peter and some others when they encountered the risen Christ on the beach after a fruitless night of fishing.
And I can’t help but think that this come and see way of knowing Jesus isn’t just for the non-Christian skeptic, it’s for me too. That sometimes I may need to recognize when skepticism is impacting my walk of faith. Times when I might be over thinking things, or under believing His claims.
Through Christ I can do all things? Really? Come and see.
His grace is sufficient and His power is manifest in my weakness? How can that be? Come and see.
God will supply all my needs according to His riches in glory in Christ? Come on, get real! No, you come and see how real it really is.
And it’s not just about claiming His promises, I think it’s also true for knowing Him more intimately. Can I really know Him? Really abide in Him? Open the door of my heart and sup with Him? Can I really? Yeah you can, come and see.
It seems to me that’s kind of what faith is all about. Not necessarily having it all figured out, but being willing to come and see. To approach the throne of grace and see if we won’t find help in time of need. Even when we feel inadequate to approach a holy God, humbling coming to Him as Abba Father, and seeing if He doesn’t envelope us with the assurance of His love for us.
We may not have all the answers . . . maybe not even many of the questions . . . but will we hear Jesus saying to us, “Come and see”?
And then, will we? Come and see?
By His grace, for His glory.