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Sermon: You Haven’t Seen Anything Yet
Scripture: John 1:29-51 (excerpts)
Date: May 5, 2019

We’re going to begin this morning with a question. Do you have
stories in your family that have been passed down from generation to
generation and when the family gathers around holidays or reunions,
someone tells that story around the dinner table or in some other
setting? They have never been written down anywhere but rather by
telling them over and over again they have become imprinted on the
minds of generation after generation. They have become a part of the
history of your family and so your own personal history. And are there
people in your family who function as the storytellers? The ones who
keep the stories alive and so become the historians, the chroniclers of
your family history. A good storyteller can make you feel that you are a
part of the action, interacting with those who populate the stories, even
though they lived their lives in previous generations. And in doing so,
the stories transcend the generations and become the story of our
family.

I ask these questions to begin in order to say this. Scripture is the story
Of God’s family. Most of the stories that are contained within this book
began as stories told around the campfire, or the dining table.
Sometimes for thousands of years, through generation after generation,
before someone was able to write them down. The Bible is, in essence,

a compilation of the stories of God, that were told over and over again,
until we became a part of the story, and then they became not just the
story of God, but also the story of God’s family. Scripture was never
intended to explain God, but rather invite us in to His story so that we
might experience God for ourselves. The intent is for the reader to be
able to visualize all that’s happening so that we then become a part of
God’s. story. And so the story begins with creation. Now the writer of
the creation story could have tried to explain the how and why of
creation, much as the scientists do now, but that’s not how the story went. There
was no scientific observer at the moment of creation. So instead the
writer tells us the story of God’s creative spark and power. I can just
imagine the storytellers telling about God calling the light out of
darkness, and putting his breath into a ball of clay and calling forth life.
And then looking around at the captivated faces and saying that in the
fullness of time He put His breath into us and called forth life. And we
become a part of the story of creation. The story of God’s family. And
can’t you just imagine the story teller sharing the story of Noah loading the animals on the Ark. Or
Abraham after giving up everything to come to the promised land to
receive the blessing of family, lifting the knife to sacrifice his only son
Isaac and then spotting the ram in the thicket. Moses holding out his staff and the sea parting. Daniel in the den with the lions. The writers
don’t want us to just know about God, they want us to “see” God. And
the same can be said about the Gospel writers, Matthew and Mark and
Luke and John, as they tell us the story of Jesus. We learn about
Jesus through the stories they share. The story of His birth. We
“see” angels and shepherds. Mary and Joseph. The baby in the
manger. None of the writers take much time to explain all of this to us.
They leave us like Mary, to ponder these things in our hearts.
And there are other stories, aren’t there? Jesus calming the storm.

Jesus drawing the children to him. Jesus walking on water. Jesus

before Pilate. Jesus on the Cross. The empty tomb, No great

theological or even scientific explanations are offered for any of

these. We’re told the stories and each of us must come to our own

understanding of our place in them. Jesus himself was a great

storyteller. He told stories

of lost sons coming home, and Father’s waiting and watching to see

them coming, and helpless figures lying beaten

beside the road and only enemies stopping to help.. He tells the stories, and the

leaves us to draw our own conclusions.

So when John the Baptist sends friends to ask if Jesus really is the Messiah,
Jesus says

“look around and see what’s happening. Go back and report to John not
what you’ve heard but what you have seen: The blind receive sight, the
lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are
raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor.”.

And so listen to the story of God that John begins his compilation of
stories, which we call the Gospel, with.

The next day John (the Baptist) was back at his post with two
disciples, who were watching. He looked up, saw Jesus walking
nearby and said, “here he is, see for yourself, God’s Passover
lamb. 11
The two disciples heard him and went after Jesus. Jesus
looked over His shoulder and said to them, “What are you after?”
They said, “Rabbi (which means ‘teacher’) where are you staying?”
He replied “Come and see for yourself”

You see, it should not come as a big surprise that Jesus’ call to

discipleship did not include an explanation of what was going to

happen to the disciples or what they should expect. He called them

to “come”, but more than that to “come and see.” Because Jesus knew

that they would not come based on words alone. That if they were going to
follow, they. would have to “see”. “Come and see” is the call
to Discipleship.

Jesus makes it clear that Disciples are ones who “see” God. And

once they “saw”, they gave their lives to follow.

The scriptures talk a lot about the inability to “see”. And blindness

often carries with it a double meaning. It is not only a physical state,

but also a spiritual one. Before Paul could “see” Jesus, the scales

had to fall from his eyes. John Newton says that because of God’s

amazing grace “I once was blind, but now I see.” And Jesus says “if

you see me, you see the Father” Come and see calls us to live

and witness to a life of Discipleship and service.

But the problem is that most of us just catch glimpses of Jesus.

One writer says:
The problem is, Jesus is notoriously difficult to see. Not because He
is like a busy executive who does not have time for us, but because
we are hindered in our vision. We look for Him in the wrong places
and in thewrong ways. We look for Him through our own
presumptions that blind us.
Leonard Sweet says:

The point is this: Disciples are those who want to stay with Jesus,
wherever that stay may be and wherever it may take them. . . when
Jesus calls us to “come and see” this is what he’s talking about.
Come and see what abundant life is all about. Come and see what a
life of meaning and purpose and God service looks like.
If you’re looking for a life of abundance and meaning and purpose,

you won’t find it in that which you will “see” in the faces of this world.

For that kind of life, Jesus invites you and me to “come and see.”

But there’s more to it than that. . Those two disciples who received
Jesus’ invitation to come and see, went and saw and they were
changed. forever. And Jesus invitation becamethe invitation they
offered to others.
John continues his story:

Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, was one of the two who heard
John’s witness and followed Jesus. The first thing he did after
finding .. Jesus. . was find his own brother, Simon, telling him,
“We’ve found the Messiah. Come and see” He immediately led
Him to Jesus.
The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. When He got
there, He ran across Philip and said, “Come, follow me.”
Philip went and found Nathanael and told him, “We’ve found the
One that Moses wrote of in the Law, the One preached by the
prophets. It’s Jesus, Joseph’s son, the one from Nazareth!”
Nathanael said, “Nazareth? You’ve got to be kidding.
“But Philip said: “Come and see …”
I think that above the doors of every church or on the sign board out

front should be the words “Come and see”. That is what our

invitation should be, “Come and see”. Because that is ultimately

why people come to the church in the first place.. We come to seeGod.

A preacher tells a story about a woman in his church.
She works three nights a week at our church’s center for the homeless.
Three nights a week! No one in the congregation is so thoroughly
involved in this demanding ministry.
Most of us think that she does it because she is such an exemplary
Christian. She really knows Jesus and she knows how to serve Jesus.
And that’s true. But when I commented to her about her great
commitment to the work, saying to her that her commitment was a sign
of her great faith, she replied, “Great faith? I don’t think so. I don’t really
have that much faith. That’s the point of why I am here. I need all the
help I can get seeing Jesus , understanding Him, being with Him. So I
have to keep very close, and keep close very often, to those whom
Jesus keeps close to. That’s why I’m here. If I didn’t have this place to
see Jesus, I reckon I’d never be near Him.

Come and see becomes the ultimatechallenge for the church.
When people come through our doors, they come wanting and
needing to see Jesus in us. When they look upon our witness in this
world, they want to see Jesus. If we want people to see Jesus, then
we must be where He is, and we must do what He does.

I read about a Presbyterian minister in Atlanta who runs a homeless
shelter through one of the downtown churches. And one day she was
the guest on a talk radio program and described the ministry that they
were involved in. “We take in homeless people; we provide lodging and
food.”
But the host of the show was suspicious. “What has this to do with the
Gospel of Jesus Christ?” he asked.
“Well” she said, “we try to show the compassion of Christ’s vocational
guidance.”
“You didn’t hear my question “, he said, “What has this to do with the
gospel of Jesus Christ.”
“Well, we try to take care of not only their physical needs, but also
their spiritual needs – we try to show them compassion. We are
concerned for them as human beings.”
But the host persisted, “You’re not listening to my question. I want to
know where is Jesus Christ in all that?”
And the pastor thought for a minute and realizing that nothing she said would
convince him, she responded, “You just have to be
there to know what I’m talking about. You would just have to see it for
yourself.”
Come and see. We cannot witness to the love and compassionand
saving grace of Jesus with words alone. We must invite people to come and see

Jesus in us. Come and see is a challenge to us as individuals and a church
to be about the work of inviting persons to come and see Jesus.
Years ago, it was common that when a pulpit was constructed and
placed in one of the great cathedrals of Europe it would have a little
engraved plate that would be placed so that when the preacher
stood to deliver the message he would see it. No one could see it
but him. It was there to remind him or her of the task at hand. And engraved on
the plate were the words from John’s
Gospel: We would see Jesus. A professor tells about visiting one of those
Cathedrals in a small village in Scotland. And he said he was
the only one there, and knowing the tradition, he climbed up the stairs to the
pulpit and he looked for the plaque. And sure enough, it was there. But when he
looked closely at it he discovered that instead of the words from John,
“We would see Jesus”. it said, “Remember Edna Bailey.” And he tells the story
this way:
At first I was disappointed. I wanted to see, “Sir, we would see Jesus.”
But then I began to inquire in town about who Edna Bailey was, and
discovered that she was known by nearly everyone for her selfishness
and service. Everywhere he went, he found lives that had been
touched by her in someway. And, so it dawned on me that maybe God
was teaching me a truth: that the only way to see Jesus is to remember
Edna Bailey (and others like her) to get involved with the people of God
in doing the work of God in the world. That the way we live our lives
should become the invitation to come and see Jesus.

Come and see must be our invitation to a seeking world. Come
here and see Jesus in us. Because we are to be the story tellers in
todays world. The way we live, love and serve should tell the story of God.
So look at the rest of the story. Because the glorious news
is that God rewards a faithful witness with blessings that are beyond our sight.
That we can only imagine how the story finishes.

When Jesus saw Nathanael coming he said, “There’s a real
Israelite, not a false bone in his body. 11
Nathanael said, “Where did you get that idea? You don’t know
me.11
Jesus answered, “One day, long before Philip called you here, I
saw you under the fig tree.11
Nathanael exclaimed, “Rabbi! You are the Son of God, the King
of lsrael 11

Jesus said, “You’ve become a believer simply
because I say I saw you one day sitting under the fig tree? But
You haven’t seen anything yet! Before this is over you’re going
to see heaven open and God’s angels descending to the Son of
Man and ascending again. 11
You haven’t seen anything yet! That’s really the promise of Resurrection.
And for those of us who just catch

glimpses of God in this life, what a glorious promise that is. We can

only begin to imagine what it will be like to truly “Come and see”

Jesus in all his gloryand splendor. Imagine a world that is at peace.

The nations shall not learn war anymore. Come and see! Imaginea

life where our sorrows are lifted and our tears are wiped clean. He
will wipe every tear away the story tellers say. Comeand see!

Imagine a savior who will lift from us the burdens of this life.
My yoke is easy and my burden
light. Come and see! Imagine our sinful lives wiped clean . Behold
the lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world, John the story teller says.
Come and see! You haven’t seen anything yet!

Bart Millard captured the spirit of that in his song entitled I Can Only

Imagine.
I can only imagine what it will be like
When I walk by your side
I can only imagine What
my eyes will see
When your face is before me
I can only imagine.
Surrounded by your glory, what will my heart feel
Will I dance for you Jesus or in awe of you be still
Will I stand in your presence or to my knees will I fall
Will I sing hallelujah, will I be able to speak atall
I can only imagine
I can only imagine when that day comes
And I find myself standing in the Son
I can only imagine
Have you come this morning seeking new meaning for your life.
Something to hold on to no matter what. Answers in the swirl of questions that
sometime blind us. Well It is. Jesus that you seek. And Jesus intended this
sacrament to be a visual representation of the sacrifice He made for all who would
come and see. So the invitation is really to come now and see for yourself.

© 2019 St. Luke UMC
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