Not your average Lamb

Epiphany 2 - January 17, 2021
1 Samuel 3:1-20 
Psalm 139:1-6, 13-18
1 Corinthians 6:12-20
John 1:43-51

Not your average Lamb

In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

Some of you might know that I have a fig tree in my back yard.  It is one of the most wonderful things I have ever had in a backyard.  Nothing beats a fresh fig.  Fig newtons are disgusting after you have a fresh fig.  And you can't have one.  

I know Jerry and others have asked that I bring some in but truth be told, they usually don't even make it into the house. But to call a fig tree a tree, is a little bit of a stretch.  A fig tree, or at least ours, is composed of really thin branches and large leaves at the top of the "tree."  It really looks like a bush or a large shrub.  You can't really climb a fig tree because the branches could not support your weight.  And does anyone know how fig trees get fertilized?  Wasps and little tiny ants.  Yeah, you got to be careful and I don't think I would be sitting under a fig tree very long.  

So, if you are like me, you probably have had a picture of this scene in your mind for some time of Nathanael sitting underneath this large, oak-like-tree pondering the meaning of life, and Jesus was up in the tree looking down at him.  Reality though, Nathanael was most likely in a garden doing work outside and happened to stop for a break to enjoy a treat from the tree when Philip approached.  Jesus’s physical presence in the tree was impossible, so how did Jesus see Nathanael standing under the fig tree before he was called?

There is just something about our Lord’s statement to Nathanael, “I saw you under the fig tree before Philip called you.” That made Nathanael realize that Jesus is different and we are not told what that something is.  This story is more than just having Jesus be a really great stalker, Jesus could see Nathanael on a different level.  He knew Nathanael before Nathanael knew Jesus. 

Which is also a little bit scary.  Anyone remember what Nathanael said about Jesus and his hometown?   "Can anything good come out of Nazareth?"  Yet knowing what Nathanael said about him, Jesus still says, "Here is truly an Israelite in whom there is no deceit!"  I don't know if I could say something nice to someone who has just insulted me and my hometown. Yet our Lord does because our Lord knows Nathanael on a completely different plane of existence.  Our Lord saw where Nathanael came from, knew him on a very intimate level and despite all of that, could see the potential of Nathanael as a disciple and still invited him to see greater things than what he witnessed on that day many years ago.  

I find this story helpful to remember in ministry.  It is not my job or any of our jobs to know people on this kind intimate level that our Lord knows Nathanael.  Rather, our mission as disciples, as the church, is to take what we see here and go find others.  To say, "Come and see" to people, both strangers and friends.  When they ask, "Can anything good happen come out of St. John’s/Martinsburg/the church?” Your reply needs only to be, “Come and see.”  You do not need to have the Augsburg Confession memorized, you don not have to know all the books of the Bible, you do not need to be a tele-evangelist—you simply need to do the invite, “Come and see.” Seriously, hit that share button right now and share our worship with all your friends and family on Facebook and simply right, “come and see.”

My brothers and sisters, the good news of today's text is that Jesus not only wants to be in relationship with you, but has been in a relationship with you before you even knew him.  Our Lord knows you on a deep and personal level.  Our Lord isn't stalking you but sees you, knows what bad and awful things you have said and says, "There is a person whom there is no deceit!"  There is someone whom I will use to proclaim the gospel.  That is the good message of today's gospel - our Lord likes you despite the fact that you say and do some pretty awful things.  There is nobody else in the world who wants that kind of relationship with you.  How blessed you are this day.  

But here's the thing.  You will see greater things.  Things that you cannot even begin to imagine.  Think of all Nathanael had to see:  Jesus tearing up the temple; curing the blind, the sick, and the lame; a Jewish male speaking to a samaritan woman; washing the disciples feet. Nathanael will see Judas betray him.  He will see Jesus tried and convicted, hung on a cross, and buried in a tomb.  He will see his rabbi be brought to life, he will see Thomas question his friends at the appearance of the resurrected Jesus; he will hear Thomas call Jesus "My Lord and my God," he will see Jesus make breakfast on the beach and be reminded that the work of being a disciple had only just begun.  He will see his Lord ascend into heaven and then he will witnessed the birth of the church. 

And it all started with that simple invitation from another disciple - come and see.  What have you seen and heard here?  I have seen some amazing things in my time as pastor.  I remember my first Easter Sunrise as a pastor.  On a cold day in March, walking out of the Parish hall carrying the Paschal candle chanting, "This is the night" and seeing the sunrise just start to break over the mountains - moments later reading from the gospel of John how the women went at early morning to anoint the body of Jesus only to discover that he had been risen.  Is that what it was like for the women?  Carrying candles and spices, looking at the sunrise, not knowing what awaited them?

I have seen amazing and wonderful things happen at the font.  I have held my Lord’s body and blood in my hands.  And not only have I held him in my hands, I am then take this amazing gift and give it out to others to see, taste, and enjoy.    I held babies who are just a few hours old.  I held the hand of dying Christians - friends whom I have loved.  I have confirmed young men and women in churches where it was said they have no kids or youth.  I have have walked with people from to the cradle to grave, and I know there are many great things to come.  I have come to know that God is not done with us, with you, with me, with this church, this congregation or this town or this world, just yet. There are many great things that await us in the future.  Today is only the beginning.  Your task, as followers of of Christ is to do some serious inviting.  You don’t need to have a systematics degree.  You don’t need all these fancy robes.  You don’t even need to have a good idea of who this Jesus character is.  You simply need to say, “Come and see.” For God has seen each and everyone of you, and knows you on a intimate level - knows your potential, knows what you have said and done, (End) and yet still loves you and wants to be with you.  

In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

 

 

 

 

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