“Come and See…Go and Tell” #2

(Sunday May 17th, 2015)

Rev. Mouris Yousef, Pastor

Come and See … Go and Tell!” #2

Psalm 34:8; John 1:43-51

 

Last Sunday we started a new series of messages that we called, “Come and See … Go and Tell.” The series is based on John chapter 1. As I pointed out last Sunday, in John 1, we see a simple yet a very profound pattern. Through this pattern we see people coming to see the Lord, and as they discover the greatness of Jesus, they go and tell others. This pattern very much summarizes the Christian message in its simplicity and depth. We come into the presence of God and get to see what God has done.  And then go into the world and tell others.  It is a peculiar movement of coming and going, always coming and going.  The temptation has always been for God’s people to come, but then just to sit at the feet of Jesus.

 

“Come and see” ~ said Philip to his friend Nathanael in John 1:46. Philip’s invitation is a great challenge to the complacency and timidity of the Christian church today. How often we offer the invitation, “come and see?” In John chapter 1 we see three examples of such a great truth. First, Andrew meets Jesus and sees in Him the long-expected Messiah ~ the Hope of Israel. After getting a glimpse of the wonder of Jesus of Nazareth, Andrew said to himself, the teaching of Jesus is so good. I can’t keep it for myself. I will be selfish if I do not share this good news with others. I have to share Jesus with family and friends. So, Andrew goes and looks for his brother Simon. He brought Simon to Jesus. Jesus meets Simon and gives him a new name, Peter, a rock for he will stand boldly for the gospel.

 

The next day, Andrew goes back to his hometown, Bethsaida in Galilee. He found Philip and told him the good news and asked him to come and see and he will not be the same again. Philip came to check out Jesus and the Word took a hold of Philip so that when Jesus commanded him saying “follow me,” he immediately did so. Once again, we see that all you have to do is ask your family and friends to come and check out Jesus. Ask them to come and see and they will not be the same again. What we see here is evangelism, reaching out to people, by asking them to just come and see.

 

The pattern continues in John 1 with a third example. Now the found people find people. They have been found and now they are in the business of finding others! Philip, who has been introduced to Jesus by his friend Andrew, is now tries to introduce his friend, Nathanael, to Jesus. In John 1:45 we are told that 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.” But Nathanael doubted. “Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?” Nathanael asked in John 1:46. “Come and see,” said Philip. As we continue looking at John chapter 1, please allow me to underscore two important thoughts:

 

First: The Disturbing Truth

The Bible makes it very clear that those who have met Jesus are expected to go out and find other people who don’t yet know Him. Why on earth do we find this such a difficult task to do? Why aren’t we continually seeking out other people who don’t know Jesus, telling them about who He is, and then inviting them to a place where they can meet Him? I want to share with you some statistics that were recently compiled and published about “unchurched” people in America. According to surveys, “Eighty-two percent of the unchurched are at least somewhat likely to attend church if invited” ~ Dr. Thom Rainer, The Unchurched Next Door. “A study including more than 15,000 adults revealed that about two-thirds are willing to receive information about a local church from a family member and 56 percent from a friend or neighbor.” The message is clear that the unchurched are open to conversations about church” ~ Philip Nation, LifeWay Research. Yet here is a sad truth about the church’s response to such a potential harvest of souls. The same research found: “7 out of 10 unchurched people have never been invited to church in their whole lives. Only two percent of church members invite an unchurched person to church. Ninety-eighty percent of church-goers never extend an invitation in a given year” ~ Thom Rainer, The Unchurched Next Door.

 

Second: Nathanael States His Objection to the Gospel

“Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” said Nathanael in John 1:46. What good would come out of that little town of 200-300 people called Nazareth? It is the same question we may have to face today: Can anything good come out of Elmer? Or let’s be more specific: Can anything good come out of the Elmer Presbyterian Church? Those may be the kind of questions in the minds of the people we meet and talk to. Believe it or not, some people may not think very much of those little towns, or of those little churches. I do not know if people have even heard of them in the first place. And this, in turn, can create doubts and even embarrassment in our own minds. We might become reluctant or even ashamed to speak up for, and invite people to, our church.

 

Now let’s see how Philip handled it. This may give us some guidance and encouragement for our own life of witness. Remember this was early on in Jesus’ public ministry. He was just starting out, and not many had heard of Him yet. Thank God, Philip did not give up on his witness to Nathanael. He persists. He pleasantly persists. He doesn’t get into a long, heated argument with Nathanael over the relative merits of Nazareth, its good points and its weaknesses. Instead, Philip simply invites Nathanael and says, “Come and see.” “Come and check Jesus out,” said Philip to his friend, Nathanael.

 

Philip’s response is very instructive for us. Philip doesn’t get sidetracked into a discussion over how great or not-so-great Nazareth is. Instead, he’s going to focus on getting his friend to come with him and meet the Lord. “Come and see,” he says. The focus is not on our congregation, how great it is, because, frankly, there are a lot of congregations with a lot more to boast about in that regard.

 

But what we do have–and this something no one can take away from us–what we do have, by God’s grace, is Jesus. We have the gospel. Jesus dwells among us. This is where Jesus is doing His thing – forgiving sinners, giving life, giving direction and power for Christian living, calling disciples to follow Him, granting eternal life to all those who believe in Him. All this Jesus is doing here, yes, here in this little town and this little church. Friends, never be ashamed or embarrassed about bringing people to where Jesus is, no matter how lowly that place may seem. “Can anything good come out of Elmer?” your neighbors are wondering. And, like Philip, you can tell them, “Come and see.”

 

Friends, this morning I want to remind you again with the initiative we launched last week ~ The Come and See Initiative. Maybe this is scary territory, or maybe you just don’t know what to do and say. There are two practical steps we can all take today to overcome the things that hold us back from introducing people to Jesus. (1) Like Paul did in Colossians 4:3, ask God for an open door to share the gospel with people. (2) Invite them to church. And if you aren’t sure how to do that, here are a few tips for making an invitation that gets a positive response. (a) Make the invitation specific – Don’t just invite guests to come “sometime”; say “join me this Sunday” (b) Make the invitation personal – offer to pick them up. If they don’t like that, then offer to meet them at the door, so they don’t have to enter or sit alone. (c) Make the invitation generous – offer to take them out or have them over for lunch after the service. (d) Make the invitation clear – let them know expectations for dress, music, childcare, etc. so that they will feel prepared for this new step. Above all, just ask. What’s the worst that could happen? They might say no. But in this case, in God’s sight, we did our part. Let’s see what happens when we put our faith into action. Amen!

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