Go Beyond Seeing

1 Samuel 3:1–10
Psalm 139:1-6, 13-18
John 1:43–51


1:43The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. He found Philip and said to him, “Follow me.” 44Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. 45Philip found Nathanael 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.” 46Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.” 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 get to know me?” Jesus answered, “I saw you under the fig tree before Philip called you.” 49Nathanael replied, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!” 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.” (John 1:43-51, NRSV)


Let us pray: Insistent God, by night and day you summon your slumbering people. So we pray that you will stir us with your voice and enlighten our lives with your grace so that we may give ourselves fully to Christ’s call to mission and ministry. Amen.


Sometimes sermons come easily and other times not. You might think that this sermon on “Come and See” would be one of those easy ones for me but it is not. Because I know how hard it is to invite people to something.  Oh, I can invite people to dinner as long as I check with my wife first. I can invite people to try a new restaurant or to see a new movie or to go to a ballgame but invite people to church. Not so easy. Is it?


Come and see. Just three simple words. How hard can it be?


Think about them for a moment. About the affect these three simple words have on you. Imagine if you heard these three simple words while you were playing with your kids or grandkids, while you were playing with them in the park? Those three simple words: would they generate a sense of excitement if your child or grandchild was calling you over to see them do a new trick on the monkey bars.


What if those three simple words were uttered by a co-worker at the office—would you be curious? To check it out?


Come and see.


Those three simple words are full of warmth. They are an invitation not only to see something, but they can also be an invitation to join a community. To come along and be part of something.


Come and see.


These three simple words, this invitation, get to the very heart of John’s Gospel. The Gospel of John is full of encounters with Jesus. Again and again, from these early disciples, to the Pharisee named Nicodemus, to the Samaritan women at the well, to the man born blind, to Peter and Pilate and eventually even to doubting Thomas, there are women and men, Jews and Gentiles, rich and poor, powerful and vulnerable, people of all shapes and sizes and varieties that have encounters with Jesus. And to each one, in one way or another, Jesus invites them all: come and see.


Come and see God do a new thing. Come and see as your future opens up in front of you. Come and see the grace of God made manifest and accessible and available to all.


Come and see.


It is amazing that this is how the Christian faith works.  It is passed from one person to another person, invitation by invitation, connection by connection.  That’s how it all got started with Jesus, and it has been this way for 2,000-plus years.


Come and see.


Such easy, warm, and hospitable words. Jesus is simply offering an invitation to come and see for themselves what God is doing.


Come and see.


So, what was it about Jesus that caused people to believe in him and follow him? Did he have hypnotic eyes that put them in a trance? Did he have a genuine kindness and a winsome attitude? We don’t know.


Did Philip and Nathanael know Jesus before? Had Philip heard about him from Andrew and Peter, since they lived in the same town? The text doesn’t say. It only says that Philip followed Jesus straightaway, then he told Nathanael that “we” had found the one promised in the Old Testament. Was the “we” Philip spoke of other people who were following Jesus? We don’t know.


When Nathanael expressed skepticism about anything good coming out of Jesus’ hometown of Nazareth, Philip simply says, “Come and see for yourself.” When Jesus tells Nathanael that he saw him under the fig tree already Nathanael is so impressed that he calls him the “Son of God” and the “King of Israel.”


People meet Jesus, and they are changed. Whatever their deepest need was, Jesus meets it. Then they tell others what happened. Seems really simple doesn’t it?


Some people respond to Jesus’ invitation and they follow him. Others are skeptical, afraid, or simply do not believe all that Jesus’ is saying or offering. And some not only follow but invite others to do the same.


Come and see.


That’s it. Nothing fancy, nothing heroic, and certainly nothing threatening. Just a simple invitation.


Come and see.


But as simple and as non-threatening as these three simple words are, how many of us have ever uttered them, or anything remotely like them to invite someone to check out the faith or to come to church one Sunday?


Come and see. How hard can it be?


Most of us aren’t very good at inviting others to church. We worry it will seem inappropriate or even aggressive.  Faith is such a personal and private thing. Politics and religion you don’t bring those up with people.


So, I will put it this way – if you’ve ever been invited by someone to share something they enjoy, they love, and they value, it wasn’t that hard at all. Philip invites Nathaniel.  He doesn’t sweet-talk him. He doesn’t force him. He doesn’t intimidate him. He just invites. It is something we all can do, the exact same thing.


Come and See, three simple words.


Perhaps those we invite will like what they find. And maybe they won’t. Perhaps skeptics like Nathaniel will find something they didn’t expect. Or perhaps they’ll want to keep searching. None of that matters all that much, because it isn’t up to us.


All we’re called to do is invite.

Come and see!

God will do the rest.

Let us Pray: Dear God, give us the courage to share what we know and enjoy about our life of faith with others, trusting that you will take care of the rest. In Jesus’ name, Amen.


Works Cited:

  1. David Lose, President Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia, Philadelphia, PA


  1. David Lose, President Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia, Philadelphia, PA


  1. Michael Rogness, Professor of Preaching and Professor Emeritus of Homiletics, Luther Seminary, St. Paul, MN



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