I think that most of us can think back in time and remember a person who has influenced your life. For me that person was my Jr. Year English teacher. He was young and probably not much older than we were. This was his first job out of college. We all thought he was very cool. He was not a warm and fuzzy teacher. He was a deep thinker and serious. He taught us words and philosophies such as existentialism. You can just imagine how that went over with my conservative parents who sent me to a very conservative Lutheran High School to learn sound doctrine.
What this teacher did was to challenge us to think for ourselves; that we can make meaning of our lives through free will, choice, and personal responsibility. While for us Congregationalists that sounds pretty consistent with our theology it was quite a different message than I had received in my life up until then. He invited us to come along and see possibilities beyond our teenaged selves.
Maybe there is someone who has done that for you, maybe there are several people whom you’ve met that have transformed your living all because of the invitation to come and see, to expand your horizons.
That is the invitation that Jesus offers his newly called disciples in the scripture today. Hear now this account in the Gospel of John………….
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! This is he of whom I said, ‘After me comes a man who ranks ahead of me because he was before me.’ I myself did not know him; but I came baptizing with water for this reason, that he might be revealed to Israel.” And John testified, “I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him. I myself did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain is the one who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ And I myself have seen and have testified that this is the Son of God.”
The next day John again was standing with two of his disciples, and as he watched Jesus walk by, he exclaimed, “Look, here is the Lamb of God!” The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus. When Jesus turned and saw them following, he said to them, “What are you looking for?” They said to him, “Rabbi” (which translated means Teacher), “where are you staying?” He said to them, “Come and see.” They came and saw where he was staying, and they remained with him that day. It was about four o’clock in the afternoon. One of the two who heard John speak and followed him was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. He first found his brother Simon and said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which is translated Anointed). He brought Simon to Jesus, who looked at him and said, “You are Simon son of John. You are to be called Cephas” (which is translated Peter).
Shortly after, in fact the very next day, after John had baptized Jesus he sees Jesus coming towards him, it was a small world back then. To everyone around, friends, acquaintances and passersby, John announces, “Here is the lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world!” WOW – that’s some grand introduction. Can you imagine meeting Jesus in that way? The Agnus Dei? The Lamb of God? John really ups the anty for Jesus. He takes Jesus humanity and trumps it with divinity.
Somehow I don’t think that is how Jesus would have introduced himself and yet John announces that Jesus is the source of all redemption, the Lamb of God. But we should remember that John had experienced an epiphany just the day before when the heavens opened with a dove and a voice, “The heavens opened up. I heard God’s voice proclaim love for his son.”
It was so profound for him that the next day John was with two of his own disciples and he started in again, “Look, here is the Lamb of God.” His witnessing never stops! But then again, when something remarkable happens to us, something that is transformational, don’t you just want to tell the world? What John saw compelled him to share it with everyone. He says, “I myself have seen and have testified that this is the Son of God.”
Well, John’s two disciples decided to check this claim out for themselves. Right? Have you ever just become a believer in something because someone, who is especially displaying zealous (unique) behavior just tells you to? Probably not. You’d want to check it out for yourself. So they went up to Jesus themselves and he sensed them following him.
“What are you looking for?”, he asked. Well they probably had no clue of what they were looking for, so instead they asked him where he lived. They were confused! “Come and See”, said Jesus. So they went, they followed.
One of the disciples was Andrew and he brings Simon to Jesus and Jesus says to him, ‘you, Simon, are to be called Cephas, which means Peter. And we know how Peter’s life was changed that day. He dropped his fishing net and became an ardent follower of Jesus and we, as the church, are the legacies of Peter’s witness today all because of a great invitation, come and see.
It’s curious to think what Jesus could mean when he says, ‘come and see’. There is no doubt that when Jesus says ‘come and see’ he calls forth two actions from us. First is to get out of our comfortable and complacent living spaces and to follow him even if you don’t know quite yet where he’s headed with you, he’ll show you the way. He asks us to get up, to become aware of, t embrace his ways in all we do.
And the second is to open our eyes and see, just see, simply see. It’s an invitation to see beyond your little world into the greater one around you. See what needs to be done, see how you have been given the gifts to do the things that need doing. To see the gifts that you have rather than long for those you don’t have. To see how you can use your creative spirit that God has entrusted to you for the good of the Kingdom of God here on earth.
It means to follow him to the mountaintops and also into the deep dark valleys of humanity and open my eyes to the suffering and sadness. To see the pain in another persons face and to sit with that pain; to help them hold that pain for as long as needed. To see injustice and to witness a different way of living that can happen.
It is well to remember this weekend that the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. did just that. He followed Jesus and loved deeply his Lord and because of that he saw that he must do all he could to end the terrorism perpetrated upon black men and women. He’s remembered for making good speeches and that he marched, and that’s ok, but really it is about what he did for African Americans first and foremost. He followed the invitation of Jesus to come and see the possibilities to effect change. He lived as a black man in the 1960’s he was moved to active love, just love, non-violent resistance. And isn’t that what Jesus is all about?
All Jesus asks is for us to ‘come and see’. To follow in his ways and to see all of the infinite possibilities for our lives and those around us. We each have been given the ability to effect change in some way, let us not waste what we have been given but accept this gracious invitation of love.
Rev. Suzanne Wagner