‘Jesus said, ‘Come and see’.’ John 1:39
Brothers and sisters, the invitation to ‘come and see’—which we hear in our Gospel reading (John 1:35-42)—often plays an important role in becoming a Christian, which I can see as I look back over my own life. When I was ten years old I was going to the Methodist chapel in my village, but I wasn’t a Christian. I was invited to join the youth group by the methodist minister’s wife; I had a great time but I didn’t then become a Christian. When I went up to university I made friends on my corridor and they invited me to the Christian Union, but I didn’t then become Christian. Finally, when I was 23 my sister invited me to read C.S. Lewis' 'Mere Christianity', and it was during the reading of that book, that I made a decision for Christ. Throughout my life I had been invited by Christians many times to come and, as our passage today says: 'spend the day with Jesus'. Yes, Jesus was looking for me! Yes, Jesus had a plan for my life! Yes, Jesus had decided before I was born that I would be a minister in the Church of England, and become the Vicar of St George’s & All Saints’. All of this was decided, all of this time Jesus was seeking me out, but the way He did it was through getting His people to ask others to 'come and see’. The methodist ministers' wife was faithful and asked me to 'come and see’. Ben, my friend from my university corridor, was faithful and asked me to 'come and see’. Finally, my sister was faithful and asked me to 'come and see’. Our passage before us today, shows Jesus modelling this style of evangelism, before we see it being copied by His disciples.
We join the story in the first week of Jesus' ministry that we have the identity of Jesus mentioned again and again. If you went out on to the street in Chorley and asked people who do you think Jesus is, what kind of answers might you get? Good man, good teacher, crazy prophet, fictional character? Well if you think Jesus is just a good man then you're going to struggle with the Jesus who turned tables over in the temple, and who ignored His mother when she came to see Him. If you think Jesus is just a good teacher then you're going to struggle with the fact that He told parables that many people could not understand. If you think Jesus is just a prophet, then you going to struggle with the bits of the Bible where He called Himself God. And if you think that Jesus was a fictional character, well you going to struggle with the fact that the Gospels are eyewitness accounts of people who actually spent three years of their life with Him. So, if we're going to invite people to 'come and see' for themselves, we need to make sure that we know who Jesus is. Now you will have noticed that there isn’t one way to identify Jesus; our passage gives us a different one each time, so don’t get fixated on getting the words totally right. You will also notice that the people speak out of their own experience, and use words which make sense to the people around them. John the Baptist speaks and introduces Jesus as the ‘Lamb of God’. Andrew introduces Jesus as the Jewish ‘Messiah’. I wonder, how you would introduce Jesus? Who has He revealed Himself to be, to you, in your life? What introduction would make your family, friends, and neighbours sit up and take notice? Remember, you don’t have to come up with some magic words… they don’t have to be the words I use, or words John uses… they just have be true to who Jesus is, and get people thinking about Jesus. What would make your friends ask: ‘Can this be true?’ or ‘Let's go and find out more about this Jesus guy!’
However, having introduced Jesus we get to that difficult bit, the bit which was part of the reason why you hadn’t said anything earlier! That is, when they start asking you questions, and frankly you don’t feel like you have any answers for them. Jesus makes sense in your head, but you struggle when people ask you questions. I'll let you in to a secret, I still feel like this, I’m sure Fr Jordan feels the same. However, if that is the case we don't need to worry because Jesus models how we are to go about answering people’s questions; and the simple, but effective words are there in the Gospel: ‘come and see.’ God has given different gifts to different people. For some of us, like Fr Jordan and I it’s answering theological questions, for others it is in administration, for others it is the gift of hospitality, for others it is the gift of visiting, I could go on. I'm sure that if we went round the room, we would soon have a long list of gifts we have which can serve the Church. However, the one thing we can all do is invite other people. It doesn’t take a special gift or a natural skill to say: ‘This is what Jesus has done for me,‘come and see’. Here there is not calling for repentance, no ‘fire and brim’ stone sermon, no call to make a decision for Jesus right now. No! Simply ‘come and see’. 'Investigate for yourself, ask your questions of those who have got that gift, and decide if you want to commit later. Just ‘come and see’.’
Finally, let’s see that this is the natural response for all Christians. May be you still think this ‘evangelism’ is for other people… like paid ‘evangelists’ and priests. Now, this inviting people—which we have been talking about—is definitely for the evangelist and church leader, however, our passage doesn’t end there. Instead we get an example of a brand new Christian who does this Christian-invitation thing too! Andrew hears the good news, investigates, and the first thing—the very first thing he does—is goes and tells his brother. He is a brand new Christian—probably only been one for twelve hours—and yet he is out inviting other people to get to know Jesus. So, it doesn’t matter what stage you are at…whether you’ve been a Christian for a long time—like John the Baptist—or whether you've just become a Christian—like Andrew. Your job is the same: introduce Jesus, and ask them if they want to ‘come and see’. This is in fact one of the key signs that we have really understood who Jesus is: Do we want to tell others about Him, do we want to introduce Him to others, do we invite them people to ‘come and see’. To be honest, I find this really difficult. God has challenged me to step out of my comfort zone with this reading… after all, what is the worst thing which could happen? They won’t come! Who are we to invite? It seems that we have two examples in this passage: first, John invites his work colleagues and friends second, Andrew invites his brother. no one is off limits. No one is too bad for God…and no one is too good. Everyone needs to come to know Jesus, and the first step by which Jesus goes about that today, is to get His Church—that’s you and me—to ask people to ‘come and see’. Take a few minutes to think who you would like to come to know Jesus. Then pray and ask for help doing it. Don’t put it off - why not do it today! Amen. (from Fr Mike).