Grace and peace to you from God our Father, and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
We are continuing in John’s gospel today, in the second half of the first chapter. We see John still baptizing by the Jordan River. He is with two of his disciples, when he sees Jesus in the distance. “Look, here is the Lamb of God!” Remember that John had seen the Holy Spirit descending on Jesus in the form of a dove. That was the sign he was told to look for, that would show who the Lamb of God was. His two disciples hear John say this, and they immediately leave John to follow Jesus.
But Jesus won’t let them just tag along. He questions them, “What are you looking for?” The disciples are so flustered they barely respond with “Uh, where are you staying?” The word used in John’s gospel that we translate as staying is closer to abiding or living. The disciples want to know where Jesus is abiding because they want to abide with him. Jesus’s response is, “Come and see.”
They spend the day listening to Jesus and abiding with him. Then Andrew runs off to find his brother and brings him to Jesus. Jesus changes his name to Peter, which means rock. There is no just hanging around with Jesus. If you come to him, you become part of his family. Again, when Jesus calls Philip, Philip runs to find Nathaniel. And again, when he arrives, Jesus makes clear that he had heard what Nathaniel had said about Nazareth. And Nathaniel is so overwhelmed that he blurts out, “My Lord, and My God!”
I am starting to think this Jesus is dangerous. It seems that no one who sees Him is unchanged. The first two disciples may have wanted to follow along and see what Jesus was up to. And Nathaniel too was skeptical of who this Jesus could be. But once they see and hear Jesus, they are committed to following him. So, what are we to understand about Jesus from this first chapter of John’s gospel? I think the first thing we can hold on to is that following Jesus changes us, just as the disciples are changed.
Jesus makes clear God's love for all God's people. We know that Jesus came to redeem humanity from sin, and we know that it is through Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross that we are granted eternal life. But most importantly, we learn that we too are called to be disciples, to follow Jesus, to share the story of God's love through Jesus. We are to show by our lives and actions what it means to see Jesus.
Frederick Buechner, a great teacher of the Scripture, once told a story about a Christmas eve worship service. There was a pageant as part of the service, complete with Mary and Joseph, shepherds and all the other characters, including a chorus of angels who came up and surrounded the manger. Among the angels, there was one small girl who was the last to arrive because she was smaller and slower than the other angels. She arrived at the end of the line and couldn’t see what was going on. She tried to push through the others, but she was just too little. Finally, she cried out in tears, “Let Jesus show!”
You might say that we are called to do just that – to let Jesus show through our actions. We do not need to stand on street corners and shout at people to repent. We do need to share Jesus’s message of God's love for all people in whatever way we can. We need to let Jesus show, so that everyone is able to see we are changed by God's love. Amen.