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The Second Sunday after the Epiphany - Series B

Text: John 1:43-51

Title: "Come and See”

Date: Sunday, January 14, 2018

Pastor Steve Bocklage

         As you well know, you and I live in an age of political correctness. When seeking to minimize or eliminate what is considered socially offensive, political correctness becomes a negative thing. When excessively prohibiting freedom of speech and ideas in order to control behavior, political correctness becomes a dangerous thing. Yet, I suppose it’s possible that political correctness could be helpful in terms of protecting an individual from discrimination, bigotry, injustice, prejudice, and being stereotyped. The irony is…most people seen as politically incorrect would want individuals protected from those things too.

         Even though you and I live in a politically correct age, it hasn’t always been that way. Scripture records examples of what would be called today politically incorrect.  At the very beginning of Jesus’ ministry, the Lord shows up at the Jordan River to be baptized by John the Baptizer. By today’s standards, John the Baptizer would be branded politically incorrect for calling the elite Pharisees and Sadducees “Brood of vipers!” (Mt. 3:7) and pointing to Jesus as being God's Son, the sacrificial “Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.” (Jn. 1:29) Having heard John's unique endorsement of Jesus, two of John's followers…one of which being Andrew, Peter’s brother…decide to find out more about Jesus. They follow Him…question Him…and spend some time with the Lord. They become convinced that Jesus is, indeed, someone very special.
         In our Gospel reading, the feeling that Jesus is someone special is shared by another man that Jesus calls to follow Him. Now, we don’t know how or where or when Jesus first impressed Philip. But we do know that Philip is absolutely overwhelmed with excitement at being asked to follow the Savior. So great is his exhilaration and enthusiasm at Jesus' invitation that he can’t stop himself from sharing the good news with one of his friends from the small town of Cana. You can almost hear a breathless Philip…a barely-able-to-contain-himself Philip…make the announcement to his pal Nathanael: "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." (v. 45 NIV) Philip is excited and likely expects his friend to react with excitement when he shares the electrifying news that he has met the long-promised Messiah. While none of us can be exactly certain what Philip expected as a reaction from his friend, I am fairly certain that he didn’t expect Nathanael to respond with: "Can anything good come out of Nazareth?" (v. 46a)
         Talk about giving a politically incorrect answer! Nathanael's scathing reply, "Can anything good come out of Nazareth?" (v. 46a) makes it look like Nathanael has some serious issues. Back in the ancient world, the region of Galilee had the reputation of being a bit behind the times…of being culturally and linguistically challenged, to be politically correct. Even though the people of Galilee were looked down upon, most of them like Nathanael got some comfort from the fact that they were not from the town of Nazareth. That’s because Nazareth was the pits…even for the Galileans. Nazareth was not the place where you took your family on vacation or where you bought a time-share. It was hidden away in the hills…way off the beaten path. Nazareth would never have been listed as one of the top ten places for senior citizens to go to live in retirement.

         So, having had cold water thrown on his announcement about the Savior, what does Philip do? He does what God's people have done in every age. Philip says, "Come and see.”

(v. 46b) Come and see for yourself what I am talking about. You may be surprised, very surprised, at what you find. Come and check it out. And Nathanael does exactly what his friend asks him to do. He goes and sees Jesus for himself. In less than a minute of face-to-face time with the Savior, Nathanael finds out a number of things. He finds out that Jesus knows him...I mean really knows him. As Nathanael approaches Jesus, the Savior comments, “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no deceit!” (v. 47) Acknowledging the truth of Jesus' insight, Nathanael asks the Savior, “How do you know me?” (v. 48a) Where have we met before? How do I know You? Jesus replies, Nathanael, you ask how I know you. OK, here is your answer. Do you remember, some time ago, when you were under the fig tree, before Philip invited you to come here? I saw you there. (cf. v. 48b) For some reason, Jesus' bit of information sends a signal to Nathanael. Whatever it is…in that instant…Nathanael is transformed. Nathanael now acknowledges that his first impression about Jesus was wrong. Having seen Jesus for himself, he confesses: “Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!” (v. 49) Nathanael now sees Jesus as God's own beloved Son.
         But this is not the end of Nathanael's observations. During the next three years, he watched Jesus…and what wonderful things he saw. Lepers healed, the dead raised, demons casted out, and storms calmed. He saw the Son of God sacrifice Himself to give humanity the heaven-sent hope of heaven. Nathanael saw Jesus' empty resurrection tomb and stood face-to-face with his living Lord. Having seen all this, Nathanael spent the rest of his life sharing the Savior. The rest of his days were occupied by inviting others to “come and see” their Lord. According to early church tradition, Nathanael preached in Armenia and India. One ancient report says that after years of ministry, he was beheaded. Another says the apostle was skinned alive. Either way, even in dying, Nathanael showed the intensity of the joy that he had found in Jesus. Rather than denying his Lord and becoming politically correct, Nathanael stayed politically incorrect by remaining faithful to His Savior, the Son of God.
         Since Nathanael was so impressed by what he found in the Savior, I would encourage you to spend some time thinking about Nathanel's words: "Teacher, you are the Son of God…." In many places around our country today, these words about Jesus are strongly condemned. Anyone who speaks these words will be chastised and harassed! Very, very few Christian politicians have the courage to say publicly: Jesus Christ is God and the Savior of the world! Society considers these words so politically incorrect and inflammatory that it is practically political suicide for any public servant to utter them. In many of our nation’s universities professors and students who say, Jesus is the Son of God and the Redeemer of humanity, are branded as politically incorrect and shunned for being narrow-minded and a bigot.
Not a week goes by without God's believers stereotyped as being biased, unfair, unjust, unreasonable, and underhanded.

         As for primetime television programs, they pride themselves on tackling controversial subjects. But what major show, sponsored by a national network, will ever say: Jesus Christ died to give us forgiveness and salvation? In wide-screen and with high-definition clarity, people sit and watch satellite or cable programs or movies where adultery is accepted…sex is for sale…profanity is prominent…and murder is mainstream. But nowhere will you ever hear or see any upstanding, honorable Christian character say the politically incorrect words: "Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God who has shed His blood so those who believe can be saved."
         Even though it is politically incorrect to say these things about Jesus, they are nevertheless absolutely true. Like Nathanael, “come and see.” Put away your old impressions and get a new, correct impression of the Lord. Read for yourself in God's holy, inspired Word who Jesus is. See for yourself the great love that God reveals in the person of His sinless Son. See how Jesus loves those whom society has found to be unlovable. Look how He cares for those who are incurable. Hear the words of forgiveness and hope said by Jesus to those who are disheartened and dejected, and lacking peace and comfort. And as a result of Christ’s priestly sacrifice on the cross, heaven is open to all who believe and are baptized into Him…including you and me. Amen.

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