Faithlife
Faithlife

Inviting Others to Come and See

Year B, 2nd Sunday in Ordinary Time  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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Notes & Transcripts

Landmark Decision

Ever since the 1962 decision by the Supreme Court removing prayer form the public schools, Fundamentalist have tried to interject their religion into the public arena . Their strategy ranges from the covert to the overt. Nearly 56 years after that decision the battle over the religious minds of school children continues.
A mom in Sibley, LA sued her daughter’s school district, alleging pervasive promotion of Christianity. She cited 30 specific incidents including a teacher telling her class that evolution was a fairy tale and teachers punishing or criticizing students who refused to participate in classroom prayers.
The mom was raised a Baptist and still has deeply religious beliefs but she objects to the promotion of other religious beliefs that she does not subscribe to her’s.
http://www.king5.com/article/news/nation-now/mom-sues-school-district-alleging-promotion-of-christianity/465-be8542cd-1051-4a7d-80ca-7c283f1e6238
In KY the ACLU has filed a lawsuit to cancel an elective Bible course. During the first day of class students were handed a worksheet that instructed them to do “your best to build close relationships with other Christians, so that you may help one another through difficult times.” The students were also given another worksheet asking them to name “some promises in the Bible that God gives to everyone who believes”
John 1:1 NIV84
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
john 1:1
I am amazed that Christians still believe that they can coerce someone to receive Jesus as Lord and Savior. In our gospel lesson today we are going to see a very different style of evangelism.

The Setting

Our story takes place the day after Jesus calls Peter and Andrew. This account was very important to the early church. Paul tells us that a conflict broke out among the people of Corinth over the issue of authority. Some claimed to aligned themselves with Peter, some with a very dynamic teacher, named Apollo, and others with Paul. Every gospel account states that Peter was either the first man called or in the first group of men who followed Jesus. Peter, Andrew and John formed the inner core of the disciples. The writers appear to present a defense for Peter’s leadership of the band of apostles and later the church.

Philip

But we need to turn our attention away from Peter and unto Philip. We know that he was from the same town as Peter and Andrew. He is simple listed among the disciples in Matthew, Mark and Luke but John mentions several interactions between Jesus and Philip that give us a fuller perspective of him.
Before the feeding of the 5000 he responds to a question that Jesus asked. He told him that eight months wages would not feed all the people who have gathered around the Rabbi from Nazareth.
John 6:
John 6:7 NIV84
Philip answered him, “Eight months’ wages would not buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!”
John 6:5 NIV84
When Jesus looked up and saw a great crowd coming toward him, he said to Philip, “Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?”
John 6:7 NIV84
Philip answered him, “Eight months’ wages would not buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!”
John 6:6 NIV84
He asked this only to test him, for he already had in mind what he was going to do.
Later some Gentiles come to him in hopes of gaining an audience with Jesus. Philip shows the hierarchy within the band of disciples by going to Andrew and the two of them approaching Jesus.
John 12:20–22 NIV84
Now there were some Greeks among those who went up to worship at the Feast. They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, with a request. “Sir,” they said, “we would like to see Jesus.” Philip went to tell Andrew; Andrew and Philip in turn told Jesus.
He also steps forward on the night of Jesus’ arrest to ask a question. Jesus had just told them that no one may approach the Father except through the him and the disciples now all knew the Father. This was confusing for Philip so the asks Jesus to show them the Father.
John 14:7–8 NIV84
If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.” Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.”
John 14:7
These three passages and this mornings lesson gives us a psychological profile of Philip. I would surmise that he was an extrovert who did not like loose ends nor unanswered questions. Life is a complicated endeavor and when it involves questions of faith the questions become very complex. Philip wanted answers. He had grown weary wandering in uncertainty and trying to make sense out of life. He his extensive reading of the Law and prophets instilled in him that someone would come to save Israel from her enemies.

An Encounter With Jesus

We do not know how long Philip spent with Jesus before he was asked by our Lord to “Follow Me.” It must have been enough time for Philip to discern that Jesus was the one who Moses wrote about in the Law and about whom the prophets also wrote.
There are two dimensions to this first point. Philip obviously had an encounter with Jesus. It was not a superficial chat or a casual introduction. Secondly, Philip also reveals that he was well versed in the Law and the prophets. He was a student of Scripture. The apostle Paul said it best
2
2 Timothy 3:16 NIV84
All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness,

Notes and Quotes

2 Timothy 3:16–17 NIV84
All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
Before we go thumping people over the head with our Bibles, we should spend time reading how Jesus and Paul approached people. I will have more to say about this latter.
But the importance of regularly reading God’s Word cannot be overstressed. God uses his Word, to remind us of his love and grace. We learn the whys and hows God came in human form to save his people. We learn how Jesus interacted with people and accepted each person who came to him on their own terms. We also learn about the miracles he performed by stilling a storm, healing the sick, giving life to the dead, and casting out demons.
Through Scripture God reaches out to comfort us; to remind us that he is responsible for changing lives not us. As we read Scripture God heals our broken heart, he encourages us by giving us examples of men and women of faith.
Paraphrasing what J.I. Packer writes in his book Knowing God
We must first have an encounter with Jesus before we tell others the good news.

Philip Shared His Story

I find Philip’s first attempt at sharing his new faith very instructive. He did not button hole someone on the street. He did not make an appointment with Herod or the one of the priests who was on duty in the Temple, he went to his brother. Philip used his natural connection with family to begin his apostolic career.
Rather than use natural connections a few fundamentalists place tracts in bathrooms or on their table at a restaurant. The carry signs denouncing the political agenda of the secular world. They force others who may not be ready to respond to the call of Jesus to listen to their message. This seldom if ever works and does more damage than good.
As in comedy timing is everything. Unless a person is ready to listen to the good news he or she will be offended by a forced presentation.
God has given each of us natural connections with family, co-workers, and friends. We may share a common interest or hobby. I believe that God has placed us in close proximity with these people because he knows that we are the best person to reach them. I wonder if there is a Nathaniel or two in you life who is just waiting for someone to share the story about Jesus.

Dealing with Prejudices

After Philip announces his new discovery, his brother erects his first defense—Can anything good come from Nazareth? Nathaniel had a few prejudices toward the people from Nazareth. It was just a small back water place that was never mentioned by the prophets.
I doubt if any person does not have a prejudice or two. I remember in the late 1960s after the British invasion swept across our country, American rock bands struggled to find a record company that would signed them. Which school trains the best doctors, Michigan or Michigan State? What about Wayne State?
You may call your viewpoint a preference but preferences easily become prejudices. We just assume that if an advance in semiconductors take place it is going to come from Silicone Valley not Butte Montana. We would believe a sports writer who claims that in a Baxter ME high school there is a kid who will become the next Saquilli ONeal. Are we willing to accept instruction from someone who has a different political position than ours.
These preferences or prejudices can also be used as protection. People create them so that they can avoid dealing with content of another person’s message. The #METOO movement would not have gained such strength if the big names in Hollywood did not make the first accusations against Harvey Weinstein. If the accusation had been limited to a few make up artists and second rate fill ins the movement would not have generated such widespread support.
People also use their preferences and prejudices to prevent changing their opinions about the economy, politics or race. A racist does not care about the contributions that blacks have made in nearly every field of science and the military. He does not trust anyone who sits on the steps of their apartment or house porch during the middle of the day. Why aren’t they working?
An agnostic does not want to hear about the wonderful contributions women and men of deep faith have made throughout history. They want to spend time talking about how Christians from Europe used their religion to justify their atrocities during the Crusades. It does not matter that many astrophysicists have place their faith in Jesus Christ, skeptics want to talk about how many fundamentalist still believe that the earth is only 6,000 yrs old.
They were not abrasive, coercive, or manipulative.
People with strong prejudices will never be argued into the kingdom of God. Philip is wise enough to know this. Rather than address his brothers prejudice, he simple invites him to come and meet Jesus.

The Invitation “Come and See”

The invitation also includes a suggestion that Nathaniel come and obtain a first had account of Jesus. This allowed his brother to make the next step toward faith. This transferred the responsibility from Philip to Nathaniel. I have counselled parents who think they have failed because their children do not attend church and do not follow Christ. They assume that it was their responsibility to make sure their children accepted the faith.
When we baptise a child, the parents are asked if they will accept the responsibility of raising their in the faith. Raising and convincing are two different activities. Parent must learn that even when they do their best their children my reject the gospel.
Philip gave his brother the freedom to draw his own conclusion after Nathaniel met Jesus. Some people require a much longer time than Nathaniel but we must still give them that opportunity.

Evangelism and Faith

Evangelism nearly became a four letter word in the Presbyterian church. There is an old joke that asks what do you get when you cross a Jehovah Witness with a Presbyterian. You get someone who goes door to door but has nothing to say. Fortunately our declining membership has made evangelism quite popular again. But we must be careful. We are inviting people to come and see Jesus not help us pay for a new parking lot. The secular world had a negative view of religion because we focus excessively on our institution and not on the person of Jesus. If we are to be successful disciples we must be going into the world and inviting people to come and see Jesus.

Notes and Quotes

As Godet said: “One lighted torch serves to light another.”

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