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“Come and See” Evangelism, Part 1: Our Love for Jesus

January 20, 2012

Inviting people to “come and see” Jesus requires the love of Jesus in our hearts.

This means, first of all, love for Jesus.

Jesus said to Nathaniel:  “Very truly, I tell you, you will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man” (John 1:51).

This is an allusion to story of Jacob’s dream in the wilderness in Genesis 28:12-13 and 17: And he dreamed that there was a ladder set up on the earth, the top of it reaching to heaven; and the angels of God were ascending and descending on it. And the Lord stood beside him. And Jacob said, ‘How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.’ So Jacob called that place Bethel.

Bethel, which means House of God, became one of the great sanctuaries where early Israelite worship was carried on. The people believed that when they worshipped God in God’s house, God was really present, with God’s angels coming and going to link heaven and earth.

Earlier in this chapter (1:14), John has said: The Word became flesh and tabernacled with us. These words would have brought to mind to his readers the Tabernacle in wilderness, which was followed by the Temple. Throughout John’s Gospel, we see this kind of imagery being used of Jesus.

In the very next chapter (2:19-21), Jesus says,  ‘Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.’ – speaking, John says, of his body. In John 14:9, Jesus says, “‘Whoever has seen me has seen the Father.’

Throughout John’s Gospel, this truth is set forth that in and through Jesus we find God, and experience God’s Presence.

Tom Wright thus interprets Jesus’ words to Nathaniel to mean:

Don’t think that all you will see is one or two remarkable acts of insight, such as you witnessed when I showed you that I knew about you before you even appeared. What you’ll see from now on is the reality towards which Jacob’s ladder, and even the Temple itself, were pointing like a signpost. If you follow me, you’ll be watching what it looks like when heaven and earth are open to each other.  

What Jesus said to Nathaniel, he says to us. Be with me,” Jesus says, and you will experience God’s being with you.”

And not just with, but within: God’s dwelling within by the Spirit, transforming us, making us into Jesus’ likeness. As Paul says in 1 Corinthians 6:19: Your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you.”

Jesus is all this and so much more to us, and our hearts are filled to overflowing with gratitude to him.

And so, we invite people to come and see him, as D. T. Niles said, like one beggar telling another where they have found bread” – the Bread of life.

(adapted from the sermon at our January 15 Services)

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