Thursday, January 29, 2015

Come and see. . .

Sermon for Epiphany 2B, preached on Sunday, January 18, 2015.

    We spend a lot of time telling people what is important to us, what we find funny, touching, entertaining, or meaningful. Our email boxes are filled with things passed on by others.  Half of the stuff we post on Facebook is this kind of stuff.  So when we talk of faith or invite people to Church we tend to talk in the same way – telling people what we have enjoyed about church, what touches us in church, or what has helped us.
    But not Philip.  Philip does not talk about what he liked about Jesus, how Jesus made him feel good, or how Jesus touched him.  Philip focused on the Word fulfilled in Him who kept the Law with all its demands and fulfilled the promise of the prophets.  Nathaniel was pretty blunt in saying he was not convinced (What good comes from Nazareth) but Philip did not argue with the skeptic.  He simply said, "Come and see for yourself. . . Him of whom the Law and prophets spoke...."
    That is what we often miss.  Religion is not an idea or a methodology or self-help wisdom or something to tweak our emotions.  We do not have faith in an idea but a Savior, the Son of God in flesh and blood.  There is no idea or feeling which can bear the heavy weight of the Law.  Certainly we cannot.  But Jesus can.  The Law lie in wait not for us to obey it but for Him who came to fulfill it.  There is the most radical of truths. 
    There is no idea which can live up to the blueprint laid out in the promise of the prophets.  Certainly we cannot.  But Jesus can.  The prophets' message was a script written for Him whom God would send to fulfill its every word and keep its every promise.  His life unfolded just as the prophets had said and this is our confidence, certainty, and assurance.  Christ the Word, keeps the Word.
    Jesus is a surprise.  Who comes from Nazareth?  Jesus is not what we expect and He may not even be close to what we want.  But how much of that matters.  Jesus is Him whom God has promised.  Before He was incarnate of the Virgin Mary by the Holy Spirit, the Word was fully promised – where He would be born, what He would do, and what it means for you and me. 
    Nathaniel was no harder nut to crack than the people we meet at work or on the street, or even more, the people in our families and among our friends.  But Philip does not argue or debate or testify to what Jesus meant to him.  No, he does some thing very different.  "Come and see for yourself. . . "
    Come and see. . . not a church or a program or an idea or something entertaining or meaningful.  No, come and meet the Savior enfleshed in Word and Sacrament for us.  He is the One who keeps the Law we cannot keep and fulfills every word and promise of the prophets.  Philip could not point to the miracles – they had not yet happened.  He could not point to the cross – he had no idea what Christ would do. Not even the resurrection.
    Philip did not introduce Nathaniel to his Jesus but to the one who kept the Law and fulfilled the prophets' promise.  He had not yet seen any miracles nor had he even heard Jesus speak of the cross that was to come and the resurrection from the dead was the farthest thing from Philip's mind.  So what did Philip have to talk about at all?  "Come and see Him of whom the Law and Prophets spoke."  In other words, if you read the Scriptures they will point you to Christ.
    You know we have lowered the bar, lowered expectations.  We speak of good ideas or of words that tug at our heartstrings or something that was fun or entertaining.  We think of pastors instead of Christ, of worship we like instead of worship that delivers Jesus to us, and of things that fit us instead of the Savior who fits us for heaven.  It is no wonder the world is not all that impressed with our witness.
    We have settled for an idea or a feeling instead of the flesh and blood of Jesus.  Who God offers us is much more than this. Christ is the commandments have waited for to keep them and  Christ is the Messiah the prophets waited for to fulfill their words.  In the end, the miracles, the cross, and even the resurrection did not help the disciples – they terrified them.  But they stuck with Jesus as the one and only who kept the Law and fulfilled the promise.  That is our witness today.  That is our witness to the world.  "Lord, where can we go?  You have the words of eternal life..."  To this flesh and blood Savior, we invite the world.  "Come and see...."  Amen.

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