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Sunday, 07 January 2018

January 7, 2018

"Come and See" - Epiphany 1

Jesus Says, “Come And See” – Epiphany 1

January 7, 2018

John 1:35-51


They say that first impressions are important.  People often develop conclusions about who we are within minutes of meeting us.

Psychology Todaypublished an article which contained five strategies to making a good first impression.  Here are the five strategies:

1.     Be yourself... but be yourbest self. It doesn’t matter if we impress people if we’re not being who we truly are.  And we all have some qualities that are better than some of our other qualities.  It works best if we can share our best qualities.

2.     Get yourself organized and centered before having the first interaction. If want to impress people, we need to be ready to present ourselves in a way that will make them able to find us interesting and worth paying attention to us.

3.     Pay close attention to your non-verbals. People don’t just pay attention to what we say, they also pay attention to what we do. 

4.     Clothes matter.  We do pay attention to what other people wear and how they look, especially when we meet others for the first time.

5.     It's never about you. How often when we meet others are we more concerned about what they think of us than being concerned about finding out who they are and what their lives are all about.  It’s about being truly interested in others.  THAT will make a good impression.

A recent episode of “Young Sheldon” found the young Sheldon Cooper from the “Big Bang Theory” trying to make friends.  To do so he checked out a copy of Dale Carnegie’s book, “How to Win Friends and Influence People,” from the library.  He tried following the advice in Carnegie’s chapter on “Six Ways to Make People Like You.” The ways are:

  1. Become genuinely interested in other people.
  2. Smile.
  3. Remember that a person's name is, to that person, the sweetest and most important sound in any language.
  4. Be a good listener. Encourage others to talk about themselves.
  5. Talk in terms of the other person's interest.
  6. Make the other person feel important – and do it sincerely.

Unfortunately for Sheldon, even though these were great suggestions, he failed to make friends using them.  Why?  Because he didn’t really want friends.  He was doing it for his mother who thought he needed friends.  He could pretend he was interested in people, he could pretend he cared about them, but people quickly understood he wasn’t really interested and didn’t really care.

Today we begin where Pastor Stuart left off last week.  John the Baptist is pointing other people to Jesus.  “Look, here is the lamb of God!” He’s specifically pointing Jesus out to two of his disciples, two of his followers.  It finally occured to them that John wants them to follow Jesus and not him.

So they begin to follow Jesus and he notices them.  That makes a difference, doesn’t it?  Jesus was paying attention and noticed them. He asks them what they are looking for and they ask where he is staying.  Jesus issues an invitation, “Come and see.”

I have to believe there were some non-verbal messages in this exchange.  Something about Jesus impressed the two men and they had to tell others about him.  Andrew was one of the men and he went and told his brother Simon.  He told him that they had found the Messiah. That was a pretty powerful conclusion to have reached.

When Simon met Jesus, Jesus knew his name before he told him . . . and he gave him a nickname, Cephas, which, in Aramaic, means, “the Rock”.  The name is also translated as “Peter”.

The next day Jesus “found” Philip and when he said, “Follow me”, Philip followed.  Like Andrew, Philip had to tell someone else about Jesus, too.  Nathanael was skeptical.  He asked, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?”  Once again there was an invitation, “Come and see.”

Nathanael did. Jesus seemed to already know him.  He called him an Israelite in whom there is no deceit.  When questioned how he knew him, Jesus said he had noticed him under a fig tree.  That’s all it took.  The first impression was huge.  Nathanael believed right away that Jesus was the Son of God!  Now that’s a huge first impression.

Jesus said that those who chose to follow him would see more, and they did.  The first impression that caused the first disciples to follow Jesus would be magnified.  They would hear him preach and teach like no one else ever had.  They would see him turn water into wine and heal deaf, blind and lame people.  They would watch as he shared and cared and gave.

Other disciples would join the band of followers, but not all would stay. In the sixth chapter of John, Jesus would let his followers know that following him had to be the most important thing in their lives.  When some left, Jesus turned and asked those who remained if they also wanted to go.  Simon/Cephas/Peter replied, “Lord, to whom shall we go.  You have the words of eternal life.”  Peter believed that only Jesus could give them what would last forever.

The first impression Jesus gave was that he cared. He was interested in those who followed him, and others.  He cared about those who followed him, and others.  He loved them.

Jesus’ followers would see his love shared in a most dramatic way.  He would allow himself to be arrested and tortured. Jesus would allow himself to be crucified.  But he would come back.  He not only had the words of eternal life, he had the power of eternal life. In Jesus and only Jesus we can find forgiveness and eternal life and love that never ends.

Two children are sealed in that promise today.  Even before they can be impressed, they are promised forgiveness, eternal life and God’s love forever.  No one will ever love them more than God.  We will see how they live out their invitation to follow him.

Why would we follow Jesus when there are so many other choices in life?

A young woman told a friend that she had fallen in love with two young men.  She said it was a challenge but she had chosen one over the other.  A friend asked her why she had chosen the one she did.  She replied, “When I’m with Jason, I think he’s the most interesting person in the world. But when I’m with Nathan, he makes me think I’m the most interesting person in the world.”

To Jesus, we are all the most interesting and important people in the world.  The cross gives us that impression.  The cross and empty tomb give us that promise.  John also shares a message of God’s interest you may have heard before: “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son . . .”  God cares. God loves.  We learn that when we meet Jesus. AMEN