Three years ago I was getting ready to come up and see you all for the first time. We met and introduced ourselves, letting each other know something of ourselves. And today we remember and hear again the meeting of our Lord and a few of our siblings in Christ; Philip, Nathanael and Samuel. When He met them, He let them know something of Himself, and this is how we know God, by meeting Him and hearing His Word. And today you come into Christ’s presence, as a servant to the King, we meet Him again and He reveals Himself by His Word and through the Sacrament, where He serves you with Forgiveness and Life! He doesn’t argue with us, or debate, try to convince us; He simply tells us the truth, simply He is serving you now. So, I join with Philip, “come and see.”
This is the call of the evangelist, the preacher, parent, and here especially of the friend. “We have found the one whom Moses and the prophets wrote about.” Like those shepherds 4 weeks ago, this is Good News, and Philip tells it to his friend with joy! And you who have had your sins taken away according to His promise (), Christ takes away your guilt and you need not steal it back; taking away your guilt and giving you wonderful joy and peace according to the Word of God (). And so Philip goes to Nathanael, and appeals to what interests him, God’s Word, the Law and the Prophets; Nathanael first questions, because he knows God’s Word, there’s no prophecy of the Christ coming from Nazareth. And he says, “can any good come from there?” Now, Philip doesn’t argue or try to convince, just responds, we can imagine with excitement, “Come and see.” And Nathanael does.
Come and see Jesus. How I wish it was so obvious none could deny. Come and see Jesus, His life at work in the Church, the Creed, the Liturgy (being prepared to hear His Word and receive His gifts, then following Him out under His blessing), our Church year; and Jesus’ life in yours. When I meet with parents to baptise their child I bring out this small catechism, this summary of the Christian life, the Life of Christ at work in His Church and His people. Come and see God’s Word at work in the life of the Christian; the 10 Commands, Creed, Lord’s Prayer, Baptism, Holy Communion, Confession, our daily prayers and our callings. If they don’t have one or don’t know where it is, I give it and ask them to take that 20min to read it and maybe talk it over; and by God’s grace they may show and teach Christ’s life to their child. It’s no argument, no debate, just stating things as they are. And Luther himself never understood the depths of this little booklet, the life of the Christian, so let’s all reread, come and see that the faith is not just Sunday, in the evening and bible studies, come and see the help God gives through daily prayer and meditation on His loving Word for you. His joy, strength and trials.
But Philip didn’t show a catechism, or his own life, so what does Nathanael see? Jesus, a man who saw Him under a fig tree. But the epiphany today is what Jesus tells Nathanael when they meet, “Amen, amen, I say to you: you will see the heavens open up and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.” The angels ascending and descending on Jacob’s ladder, to strengthen Jesus in prayer on His final night and to announce His resurrection (Lk 22:43; 24:4, 23). That ladder Jacob, whose name is deceiver, saw in a vision and so named the place Bethel, house of God (Genesis 28:12-19). The same man who wrestled with God and saw Him face to face, being given the name ‘Israel’ (Genesis 32:24-30). As Jesus said, Nathanael is a true Israelite, in whom is no deceit; he wrestles with God’s Word and sees Jesus face to face, just as Jacob become Israel did, and Nathanael leaves behind the deceit of Jacob and bluntly declares the truth, even though He don’t understand it yet, ‘Jesus, you are the Son of God, the King of all who wrestle with God and see Him’.
And Jesus gives you something to wrestle with, you know it better than I. One thing is that Jesus is Jacob’s ladder, the meeting of heaven and earth. You might meet Him in many places, yet He has promised to be here in the gathering of His people, to reveal more of Himself to you, and to reveal more of yourself to yourself, that we might truly know God and see Him face to face. To come and see Jesus.
And as you do, the peace of God which surpasses all understanding guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus, now to when we see Him face to face. Amen.
Pastor Joseph Graham.