January 15, 2006

Second Sunday after Epiphany

"Come and See"

(John 1:43-51)

Rev. Billy D. Strayhorn


INTRODUCTION:

I ran across a story about a young woman who wanted to go to college, but her heart sank when she read the question on the application blank that asked, "Are you a leader?" Being both honest and conscientious, she wrote, "No," and returned the application, expecting the worst. To her surprise, she received this letter from the college: "Dear Applicant: A study of the application forms reveals that this year our college will have 1,452 new leaders. We are accepting you because we feel it is imperative that they have at least one follower." (1)

This morning's passage of Scripture introduces us to follower who becomes a leader who leads someone else to become a follower.

Let's look at the passage from John 1:43-51 (NRSV)

[43] The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. He found Philip and said to him, "Follow me."

[44] Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter.

[45] Philip 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."

[46] Nathanael said to him, "Can anything good come out of Nazareth?" Philip said to him, "Come and see."

[47] When Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him, he said of him, "Here is truly an Israelite in whom there is no deceit!"

[48] Nathanael asked him, "Where did you get to know me?" Jesus answered, "I saw you under the fig tree before Philip called you."

[49] Nathanael replied, "Rabbi, you are the Son of God! 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] And 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."

Philip, who had become a follower of Jesus, runs to Nathanael with the exciting news that they have found the one Moses wrote about, the Messiah. Philip tells him: "It's Jesus, the son of Joseph from Nazareth." And of course, we know how Nathanael's responded, "Can anything good come from Nazareth?" Philip had a simple three word answer and invitation all rolled into one: "Come and see."

That's our invitation too. But, like Philip and Nathanael, once we become followers of Jesus, we're called to do more. We're called to COME AND SEE, GO AND TELL AND SHOW AND TELL.


I. COME AND SEE:

The first part is very simple. That's the invitation. Come and See. A simple invitation. "Come and See for yourself. Experience it first hand."

Our youngest son, josh, like a lot of children, wouldn't eat anything mixed together. No stew or casseroles. The only thing mixed he ate was Double Noodle Chicken Noodle Soup. He wouldn't even eat my world famous spaghetti sauce. He didn't even want his food to touch when you put it on his plate.

I told him one time that it all got mixed up in his stomach any way. And he responded that it most certainly did not, HIS stomach had compartments for each kind of food. We did everything, including trying to bribe him, to try and get him to just try one bite of a casserole.

One night we were watching TV, Josh was about 11 or 12, when a commercial came on. I don't remember whether this one was a Kraft Macaroni and Cheese commercial or a Delmonte commercial because they were promoting a new line of canned tomatoes, the ones with Mexican and Italian Seasoning. The recipe was simple, 1 pound of hamburger and can of Mexican style Tomatoes and a family size Kraft Macaroni and Cheese. Put it all together and voila, dinner.

Josh said, "That sounds good." Well, guess what we had for supper the next night. We tried more stuff mixed with Mac and Cheese than you can imagine. But that was Joshua's break through into eating foods mixed together. He had to experience it for himself. Like Nathanael, he had to "Come and See.

And that's the invitation we're called to give to everyone. "Come and See." That's the essence of every Evangelistic effort there ever was. A simple invitation. Come and See. Come and See what's going on at our church. Come and See the choir, the praise band, our Sunday School, our Youth Program. Come and See for yourself just how much fun this Christian Fellowship can be. Come and See just what our Savior can do in your life.

Come and See. There's no threat of judgment. There's no threat of being wrestled to the ground and being force fed any one set of beliefs. There's no threat at all. It's just a simple invitation. "Come and See for yourself. Experience it first hand."


II. GO AND TELL:

But nobody will know that, unless we ask. Unless we make the invitation. That was Philip's greatest gift and strength. He wasn't afraid to ask. He wasn't afraid to invite others to "Come and See."

How about you? When was the last time you invited someone to "Come and See?" I'm really not trying to make you feel guilty. But I am trying to get us all to be about the work we've all been called and commissioned to do by Christ. The very last thing recorded in the Gospel of Matthew is that Commission to go into all the world and to make disciples.

You see, that's the second part of this because once we Come and See and become a Follower, we're then called to be a Leader and to Go and Tell. We're called to Go and Tell because no one can believe a story they've never heard.

In the Disney movie Finding Nemo, Nemo has been captured by divers and taken to a new life in a saltwater aquarium in a dentist's office. He feels lost and alone. One day, a pelican lands on the window sill, and when he discovers that the new fish in the tank is named Nemo, he excitedly begins to tell Nemo that his father is looking for him.

Nemo, recognizing his father's insecurities and fears, does not believe that he would be brave, or resourceful, enough to track him all the way from the reef to Sydney. The pelican says that it is true, and then recounts for Nemo all that his father has gone through to get to him. He explains how his father bested three sharks, a fish, with enormous teeth, down in the depths, and a jellyfish forest. The pelican assures Nemo that his father is probably out in the harbor right now. Finally understanding the depth of his father's love for him, Nemo shrugs off his complacency, and becomes even more resolute in his desire to get back home.

There are so many people in the world who feel abandoned by God. If they think of God at all, for many of them it's God is far away and completely disinterested in their lives. They have no concept of what God has done to redeem them and bring them safely back home.

They don't know the story of how Jesus not only took on our flesh, but after being mocked and scourged, took on our sin and was crucified. Then three days later was raised from the dead. If more people really knew and believed in that sacrifice and that resurrection, their lives would find a new strength and purpose, and they would seek to know God on a deeper level.

We're called to be like the pelican. We're called to Go and Tell. We're called to share what God has done and what Jesus sacrificed, so the Holy Spirit can continue the work begun in Prevenient Grace. (2)

We're Called to Go and Tell.


III. SHOW AND TELL:

A. Not only that but we're called to Show and Tell. And that may be even more important than the Go and Tell.

Because the Show and Tell is the meat in the hamburger of Evangelism. Without it, it's all just bread and sesame seeds and a lot of condiments. The meat is what gives it body.

Once upon a time there was an auto mechanic who was the most knowledgeable auto mechanic in the world. He loved cars and trucks as a boy, as a teenager and as an adult. He ate, slept and drank anything and everything there was to learn about automobiles. He was so good that while blindfolded, he could listen to an engine and tell you what kind of automobile the engine came from.

Over the years he had amassed information and manuals on almost every known vehicle ever made. He could talk about any vehicle you could think of, 1943 Willy's Jeep, a Nash Metroplitan and the Pierce Arrow. He knew all about Cords, Hupmobiles, Kaisers, Hudsons and had even driven a Tucker.

Not only was he knowledgeable about the vehicles themselves, he was gifted in such a way that he could nearly fix any one of them in his sleep.

In his huge shop, he had every tool you could ever need to work on any vehicle. He had drawers and drawers of wrenches and sockets in standard and metric. He had screw drivers, pliers of every shape and size and specialized tools most people had never heard of, like a flywheel holder, clutch holder and compressor clutch and seal service set.

There was only one problem. This mechanic never worked on anything. He spent most of his day organizing and cleaning his tools, reading manuals, searching for obscure bits of information about the vehicles he loved but he never actually worked on the vehicles themselves.

And a consequence, his knowledge did no one any good because nobody came to his shop anymore.

B. What good is it having all the tools and all the knowledge in the world if don't do anything with them. What good is having the Good News is we don't live it and show it.

Telling is great as long as we Show what we Tell. Sometimes, the Telling is louder when all we do is show.

One day Francis of Assisi, invited one of the young monk to join him on a trip into town to preach. The young monk was so honored to get such an invitation from St. Francis that he quickly accepted. They paused beneath a tree and Francis stooped to return a young bird to its nest. They went on and stopped in a field crowded with reapers and Francis bent his back to help load the hay onto a cart. From there they went to the town square where Francis lifted a bucket of water from the well for an old woman and carried it home for her.

All day long he and St. Francis walked through the streets and byways, alleys and suburbs, and they rubbed shoulders with hundreds of people. Each time they stopped, the young monk was sure that St. Francis would stop and preach. But no words of great truth or wise discourse issued from the saint's mouth. Finally they went into the church, but Francis only knelt silently to pray.

At the end of the day, the two headed back home, however, not once had St. Francis addressed a crowd, nor had he talked to anyone about the gospel. The young monk was greatly disappointed, and he said to St. Francis, "I thought we were going into town to preach?"

St. Francis responded, "My son, we have preached. We were preaching while we were walking and in everything we did. We were seen by many and our behavior was closely watched. It's of no use to walk anywhere to preach unless we preach everywhere as we walk! Preach the Gospel at all times. Use words if necessary." (3)

It's no secret that we, the church, seem to have forgotten what it means to preach the gospel. We've lost the fire in our belly for evangelism. Maybe it's because we aren't following through on our Show and Tell.

Don't you remember grade school and how excited you were when Show and Tell day came around. You couldn't hardly wait to get to school. That is if you remembered and didn't just bend down and pick up a rock or a stick on the way in the building. You wanted to tell others about this great treasure you had. You wanted everyone else to share in the glory of that treasure with you.

That's all Evangelism is: Show and Tell about eternal gifts. The best Gifts.


CONCLUSION:

A preacher by the name of Nathan Williams told of two men who had been business partners for over twenty years. They met one Sunday morning as they were leaving a restaurant. One of them asked, "Where are you going this morning?"

"I'm going to play golf. What about you?"

The first man responded rather apologetically, "I'm going to church."

The other man said, "Why don't you give up that church stuff?"

The first man asked, "What do you mean?"

His partner said: "Well, we have been partners for twenty years. We have worked together, attended board meetings together, and had lunch together, and all of these twenty years you have never asked me about going to church. You have never invited me to go with you. Obviously, it doesn't mean that much to you." (4) Don't get yourself in that fix. Don't let others think your faith doesn't matter that muc to you.

Come and See: Come and See for yourself what Jesus can do in your life.

Go and Tell: Go and Tell others what Jesus has done and is doing.

Show and Tell: Tell them and but more importantly Show them through your life and your lifestyle. And then, be like Philip. Invite them to Come and See.

This is the Word of the Lord for this day.

______________________________

Bibliography

1. eSermons.com (Formerly the Dynamic Preaching Sermon Site)

2. MovieMinistry.com

3. Author Unknown

4. John A. Stroman, God's Downward Mobility, CSS Publishing Company.

Other References Consulted

www.SermonWriter.com (Copyright, Richard Niell Donovan, 2000)

www.SermonMall.com

www.deaconsil.com

www.rockies.net/~spirit/sermon.html (Richard Fairchild Lectionary Resources)

Homiletics, (Communications Resources, Inc., Canton, OH)

Lectionary Homiletics, (Lectionary Homiletics, Inc. Midlothian, VA)

Dynamic Preaching, (Seven Worlds Publishing, Knoxville, TN)

The Clergy Journal, (Logos Productions, Inc., Inver Grove Heights, MN)

Preaching Magazine (Preaching Resources, Jackson, TN)

Circuit Rider, (The United Methodist Publishing House, Nashville, TN)

The Interpreter's Bible, (Abingdon Press, Nashville, 1953)

The New Interpreter's Bible, (Abingdon Press, Nashville, 1995)

Lectionary Preaching Workbook, Cycle A, (CSS Publishing, Lima, OH, 2002) SermonPrep Version.

Preaching the Miracles, (CSS Publishing, Lima, OH, 1998) SermonPrep Version.

Preaching the Parables, Cycle A, (CSS Publishing, Lima, OH, 1997) SermonPrep Version.