Come and See the Son of God
2nd Sunday after Epiphany
January 14, 2018
Lincoln Heights Lutheran Church
Come and See the Son of God
John 1:43–51 (NIV84)
The next day Jesus decided to leave for Galilee. Finding Philip, he said to him, “Follow me.” 44 Philip, like Andrew and Peter, was from the town of Bethsaida. 45 Philip found Nathanael and told him, “We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote—Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.” 46 “Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?” Nathanael asked. “Come and see,” said Philip. 47 When Jesus saw Nathanael approaching, he said of him, “Here is a true Israelite, in whom there is nothing false.” 48 “How do you know me?” Nathanael asked. Jesus answered, “I saw you while you were still under the fig tree before Philip called you.” 49 Then Nathanael declared, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the King of Israel.” 50 Jesus said, “You believe because I told you I saw you under the fig tree. You shall see greater things than that.” 51 He then added, “I tell you the truth, you shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.”
Imagine that you got the gift every child wanted for Christmas when you were a child. It was the cabbage patch doll, the tickle me Elmo, the new gaming system, whatever the hard to get gift was for the year. Now you tell your friends that you got this amazing gift. But they don’t believe you. They think you are just telling stories. The only thing to do is to show them. “Come and see it,” you might say.
Since we have just completed the Christmas season of the church year, we know that Jesus is a better gift than a cabbage patch doll or any other popular gift of the past or present. Mary and the shepherds knew what a gift Jesus is. Simeon and Anna rejoiced in the gift of their Redeemer. The Wise Men traveled far to bow down and worship the Christ Child. But not everyone immediately rejoiced in the good news that the Christ had come. Not everyone believed Jesus was the Christ just because someone said it was true. Nathanael was one such man. But his friend Philip simply asked him to “Come and see.” This is what the season of Epiphany is all about. We get to see who Jesus is. So come and see the Son of God with Nathanael today. See the One who fulfills scripture, the One who reads our hearts and finally brings us to heaven. Come and see the Son of God.
The next day Jesus decided to leave for Galilee. Finding Philip, he said to him, “Follow me.” 44 Philip, like Andrew and Peter, was from the town of Bethsaida. 45 Philip found Nathanael and told him, “We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote—Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.”
Jesus has just left the Jordan River and the day after this encounter with Philip and Nathanael, Jesus will be in Cana for a wedding. There he will turn water into wine. When Jesus was at the Jordan he had been baptized by John and soon afterwards John pointed Jesus out to John’s followers. “Look the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” Andrew leaves John and follows Jesus. Andrew then gets his brother Peter and brings him to Jesus. So when Jesus calls Philip to follow him, Philip reacts just like John the Baptist and Andrew. He goes and tells someone else.
How do these people know that Jesus is the Messiah? It is because Jesus fulfills Scripture. In our Sunday Bible class last week, we attempted to look up 37 Old Testament passages that are prophecies fulfilled by Jesus Christ. We almost got through all of them. But 37 prophecies is just a sampling of all the prophecies fulfilled by Christ. Even if we just considered two prophecies we could see that Jesus is the Savior promised by God. The Messiah was to be born of a virgin and born in Bethlehem. Jesus is the only one to fulfill these prophecies.
Philip, Andrew, John and Peter knew what the Old Testament said about the Messiah and through the work of the Holy Spirit could identify Jesus as the promised Messiah. Maybe this is something for us to think about this year. Do we know the Scriptures as well as these men? Do we know the Scriptures well enough to see Jesus as the fulfillment of all the Scriptures? Of course, none of us knows the Scriptures well enough. There is always more to learn, always more that God wants us to know and believe about our Savior. In the bulletin each week will be another way to get into the Scriptures when you are not at church. These ideas come from your fellow members. Pick one and rejoice in the Christ who fulfills all Scripture for you.
Reads Our Hearts
Nathanael also knew the prophecies and maybe too well.
“Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?” Nathanael asked. “Come and see,” said Philip. 47 When Jesus saw Nathanael approaching, he said of him, “Here is a true Israelite, in whom there is nothing false.” 48 “How do you know me?” Nathanael asked. Jesus answered, “I saw you while you were still under the fig tree before Philip called you.” 49 Then Nathanael declared, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the King of Israel.”
The Savior was not to be born in Nazareth. But Philip does not give up on his friend or get into a debate with him. He just invites Nathanael to come and see. Jesus does the rest. Jesus reads his heart.
Now, when Jesus says that Nathanael is a true Israelite in whom there is nothing false, he does not mean that Nathanael is perfect. All have sinned. However, Nathanael was a true Israelite in that he trusted the Lord, trusted the words of Moses and the Prophets in the Old Testament and looked forward to the arrival of the Savior. When Jesus says there is nothing false in Nathanael, he means that Nathanael is not trying to trick anyone. Some politically powerful Jews were Jews in name only and did not really believe what God said through the prophets. Some religious Jews, like some of the Pharisees followed the law to the letter and more but did it for their own glory rather than out of love for God and love for others. With Nathanael, what you see is what you get. He was a sinner who trusted the Lord to send a Savior to take away his sins.
Jesus saw this in him. Jesus even saw Nathanael before he could physically be seen by Jesus. Nathanael understands what this means. Jesus is the Son of God. Jesus is the King of Israel. He is the one who sees all things and knows all things, even reading our hearts. In our sin, this is terrifying. Jesus knows where I’ve been, every place I’ve been. Would you like to have a GPS tracking device on you at all times so that everyone can see where you’ve been? Jesus knows. But even more, he knows my mind and heart. He knows when my heart is consumed by jealousy or anger. He knows when my mind is all about greed, focused on money and the stuff of this world. He knows when our minds wander during the Lord’s Prayer to the game or activity later today. Though our outward actions and practices may look good, Jesus reads our sinful hearts.
But the good news is that he knows our hearts. The Son of God came to give us a new heart. He came to cleanse our hearts from every sin. Yes, there is sin in our hearts and in our lives. But Jesus, the Son of God, sees every sin as forgiven through him. He knows because he did something much greater that telling Nathanael where he was sitting. Jesus went to the cross to suffer for all of our sin. He knows that our sins of greed and anger and neglect are forgiven because he paid for those sins willingly. He knows you because he came to die and rise again for you. Just as Christ found Philip and Nathanael and revealed himself as their Savior, he has found you and reveals himself to you as the Son of God who takes away your sin.
Brings Us to Heaven
Jesus said, “You believe because I told you I saw you under the fig tree. You shall see greater things than that.” 51 He then added, “I tell you the truth, you shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.”
When Jacob had to run away from his twin brother Esau he was probably feeling all alone. Jacob had deceived his father and his brother and now his brother had promised to kill him. All alone, God gives Jacob the dream Jesus alludes to in our account today – The stairway to heaven with angels going up and down between heaven and earth. God is still with Jacob. God will keep his promise to bless all nations through Abraham, Isaac and now through Jacob.
Jesus tells Nathanael that the angels are ascending and descending on the Son of Man. Jesus is the fulfillment of the promise to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. He is the one who opens heaven to sinners by the forgiveness of sins. When Nathanael recognized Jesus as the Messiah, he calls him the Son of God. Jesus refers to himself as the Son of Man. Nathanael is correct in his identification of Jesus as God’s Son. However, he did not yet have the whole picture of how Jesus is going to open heaven to sinners. Jesus gives a clue in calling himself the Son of Man.
You see, we haven’t left Christmas behind yet and we never should. The Son of God takes on human flesh and blood to be the Son of Man. He will open heaven with the payment of his holy, precious blood. He will prepare us for heaven by cleansing us from every sin. The only way to do this was to offer his life in our place on the cross. Philip and Nathanael got to see wonderful miracles as Jesus continued to reveal himself as the Savior of the world. But none would be greater than Good Friday and Easter. Jesus opens heaven to every sinner by his death and resurrection. Heaven is open for you.
The Holy Spirit has given you faith to follow Jesus as those first disciples did. You have the peace of forgiveness and the sure hope of eternal life through Jesus. Continue to come and see the Son of God by being in his Word. Continue to come and see the Son of God cleanse your heart from sin through his body and blood given and poured out for you. Continue to look to your heavenly home opened to you by Jesus. Many in our world don’t know who Jesus is or the gifts he gives. Many deny that Jesus is the Son of God who opens heaven through the forgiveness of sins. May we be like Philip and continue to say to all people, “Come and see Jesus.”
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