John 1:29-42 • January 16, 2011
Brothers and sisters in Christ grace and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord and Savior Jesus, the Lamb of God. Amen.
A woman walked into a pet store one day looking for a new pet to offer her a bit of companionship. She had been thinking about this purchase for quite some time and had the perfect pet in mind. She was looking for a parrot and not just any parrot, but one that could be trained to talk easily. She eventually found the perfect bird. Along with the bird she bought a book on training parrots to talk that claimed to be able to get her parrot talking within one week.
A week went by and she returned to the pet store and complained, “I’ve followed the book explicitly but that parrot you sold me hasn’t said a word yet!”
The owner of the pet store was puzzled and asked, “Does it have a mirror? Parrots like to be able to look at themselves in the mirror. And then he’ll talk.” So, she bought a mirror and went home.
A few days later she was back and the bird still wasn’t saying anything. The store owner thought about it for a minute and said, “What about a ladder? Some parrots enjoy walking up and down a ladder.” So, she bought a ladder.
A few days later, the woman was back at the pet store again with the same story, the parrot still wasn’t talking. “Does the parrot have a swing? Birds enjoy relaxing on a swing. If he’s relaxed then he’ll talk,” thought the pet store owner. So, she bought a swing and went home.
The very next day the woman returned again and announced that the bird had died.
The owner of the pet store was quite upset and said, “I’m terribly sorry to hear that!” And then he asked, “Did the bird ever say anything before it died?” “Yes,” said the woman. “Just as it keeled over dead, it said, ‘Don’t they sell any food at the pet store?’.”
How many times do you and I miss the obvious that is right in front of us? I can think of hundreds, OK I’ll be honest – probably thousands of times when I have been looking for something at home or around my office. I look in every corner and overturned everything I can possibly think of turning over looking for this one particular something – only to discover that what I was looking for in the first place was right in front of me all the time.
Just this past week I spent two days looking for my sunglasses only to discover them sitting on my desk right next to the phone that I spend a great deal of time using each and every day. I literally turned my office, car, and home upside down looking for those sunglasses, when they were right in front of me all along.
I nearly did the same thing with our gospel reading today. When I first read this text a few weeks ago, I was pretty disappointed. It’s yet another reading, in what seems to be a never ending stream of scripture in the last couple of months that focus more attention on Jesus’ cousin John than they do on Jesus.
I was so focused on my frustration with another text about John the Baptist that I nearly missed the obvious message from Jesus himself that the writer of this gospel places in front of us.
This John in this gospel doesn’t want you and I to miss what God has placed right in front of us. Everyone in this text seems to be running around looking for something. They almost miss the fact that what they are looking for is standing right in front of them. Jesus ends up asking them, “What are you looking for?” and then simply invites them to, “come and see!”
I am so thankful for the witness throughout scripture of folks like John, and folks who I meet every single day who are witnesses to Jesus for me, who are good at pointing to the obvious for those of us who miss it at times. John is persistent to show us that Jesus invitation is not coercive or confrontational, but relational and intimate. When Jesus asks these first followers the question, “What are you looking for?” he is not trying to manipulate them. He’s inviting them to simply, “Come and see.”
The good news that you and I share in Christ Jesus, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world, is not meant to remove us from the world that exists around us or to receive this good news and then horde it and keep it to ourselves until we have more of it than anyone else. The good news that you and I share in Christ Jesus invites us into an intimate relationship with God who came to meet us right where we were. It’s an invitation that’s active, it’s exciting, it’s revolutionary, it’s life transforming, it’s world changing, and it’s always focused beyond ourselves.
So how do we respond to this kind of an invitation? It seems pretty obvious, but in reality I think you and I still wrestle with Jesus’ invitation to come and see even today? Or even more so – we can accept Jesus’ invitation to us, but we still struggle with extending that invitation to others like Andrew does in today’s text. And let’s not get stuck in the idea that the invitation to come and see is only about inviting someone to join you in church – although I don’t want to say that you shouldn’t invite someone to join you in church.
This invitation though, is where the relationship begins, not where it ends. In today’s gospel, Andrew and another disciple accept Jesus’ invitation and went to where he was staying. They didn’t go to where Jesus was staying so they could see what kind of furniture he had. They went to be with Jesus, in order for Jesus to be with them. And as a result of being with Jesus, and experiencing Jesus with them, they were compelled to go and invite others.
To come and see.
Receiving Jesus’ invitation to “come and see” is not about looking at ourselves in a mirror to see how perfect we think we are. If we look in this mirror, we see ourselves standing alongside our neighbors in need and respond by inviting them to “come and see” just like Andrew did.
Receiving Jesus’ invitation to “come and see” is not about working ourselves into extreme exhaustion as we climb a religious ladder with hopes that it will take us to heaven. With this ladder, we walk and climb together united as the Body of Christ as new opportunities to “come and see” unfold before us.
Receiving Jesus’ invitation to “come and see” is not about sitting around aimlessly on our lazy swings waiting for something to fall out of the sky or somebody else to do the work in front of us. On this swing, we rest and find peace with Jesus who stays with us always and never lets us go – no matter what we may face tomorrow.
May you leave worship today nourished and fed and renewed in Jesus’ invitation to “come and see.” And may his invitation to you free you to extend the same invitation to others in all you say and do.
Let’s give this a try. I invite you to turn to someone sitting near you right now and say to them, “come and see.”
Thanks be to God. Amen.