John 1:35-51 (CEB)
35 The next day John was standing again with two of his disciples.36 When he saw Jesus walking along he said, “Look! The Lamb of God!” 37 The two disciples heard what he said, and they followed Jesus.
38 When Jesus turned and saw them following, he asked, “What are you looking for?”
They said, “Rabbi (which is translated Teacher), where are you staying?”
39 He replied, “Come and see.” So they went and saw where he was staying, and they remained with him that day. It was about four o’clock in the afternoon.
40 One of the two disciples who heard what John said and followed Jesus was Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter. 41 He first found his own brother Simon and said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which is translated Christ[a] ). 42 He led him to Jesus.
Jesus looked at him and said, “You are Simon, son of John. You will be called Cephas” (which is translated Peter).
43 The next day Jesus wanted to go into Galilee, and he found Philip. Jesus said to him, “Follow me.” 44 Philip was from Bethsaida, the hometown of Andrew and Peter.
45 Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law and the Prophets: Jesus, Joseph’s son, from Nazareth.”
46 Nathanael responded, “Can anything from Nazareth be good?”
Philip said, “Come and see.”
47 Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him and said about him, “Here is a genuine Israelite in whom there is no deceit.”
48 Nathanael asked him, “How do you know me?”
Jesus answered, “Before Philip called you, I saw you under the fig tree.”
49 Nathanael replied, “Rabbi, you are God’s Son. You are the king of Israel.”
50 Jesus answered, “Do you believe because I told you that I saw you under the fig tree? You will see greater things than these! 51 I assure you that you will see heaven open and God’s angels going up to heaven and down to earth on the Human One.”
Last week the Jewish leaders asked John, “Who are you”? and John pointed to who he wasn’t, and whose sandals he was unfit to tie. Jesus. This week we focus on the calling of the disciples. What you’ll notice from this passage is that the call narrative of the disciples is very different in John from those of the synoptic gospels. If you recall, in the other gospels, Jesus is the one who actively pursues the disciples, telling them to drop their nets, leave their families, to give it all up and follow him.
Not so much in John. In John’s gospel, the disciples are brought to Jesus by John, by their brothers, and by their friends. And instead of this dramatic choice, come now and leave it all behind, Jesus says, “Come and See.”
Just come and see.
After each encounter. Come and See. And while John can tell us it’s 4:00 in the afternoon, John doesn’t tell us where Jesus lives, or what he and the disciples talk about, or what they even see. It’s as if John says, look I know the details, but where they went, the details of their conversation isn’t important. What’s important, is they were invited to come near to Jesus. And they follow. They are told to see, and throughout John seeing leads to believing.
Remember last year we did Eiphany Star words? I couldn’t really make it all fit into today’s sermon (but if you’d like a Star word for the year, let me know, I”ll be happy to give you one). I’m reminded on this Epiphany Sunday of my first Epiphany Star Word. Mystery.
It was the word I lived into for a year. Living into the unknown, The unexplainable.
Much like our faith, our God, even the table, which we’ll celebrate soon together.
We don’t know what they saw. Just that when called, they were in community. Just that when called, they went. That when Jesus asked them to come near, being near to him was life-changing. Enough that they wanted to drastically change the way they lived.
And this calling of the disciples in John’s account makes me wonder two things.
First, when we are called, do we dare take the risk to follow and see? Even, if we might be skeptical like Nathanial? Do we dare risk it? And the second thing it makes me wonder is about our invitation to others to come and see. Do we know what we are inviting them to come and see? Are they seeing the gospel as Jesus intended?
I used to love how we passed the peace at Renaissance pre-pandemic. We played a good song, and we got out of our pews and we hugged and danced and embraced and greeted those who were new, like they were our long lost family. I always hoped if someone walked into our service from off the street, it would be during that part. The part where we loved one another.
What John shows us is that when they come and see, together and in community, they stay. They stay with Jesus. And their lives are changed forever.
In last week’s reading, John says of Jesus in verse 29: “Look! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” The sin. The singular sin. Dr. Robert Williamson says, “Sin as a cosmic brokenness. Jesus takes away the power of brokenness over us.”
I’m not sure what that brokenness looks like for you, I know it’s different for each of us. Maybe it’s loneliness or addiction. Loss or anger. Maybe it’s within your heart, maybe it’s on behalf of others. But all that brokenness, bound in each of us, separates us from one another and the one whom we love. And I while we don’t know what Jesus showed the disciples, what I like to imagine is that it was a glimpse of the kingdom. How in community, when we draw near to the Christ, we draw near to one another. And we are held in our hurt, but the joy in holding that for one another outweighs it, and the joy in knowing that those things don’t have the last word, give us the strength to carry on. And we get a glimpse of this each time we come to the table. Where we are lifted into the presence of the Christ Child. So friends, “Come and See.”
In the name of the Holy One.
-Rev. Tricia Dillon Thomas