“See and Be Seen”                                                                             January 19, 2014

Isaiah 49:1-7 & John 1:29-42                                                           Stephens City UMC

 

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

 

I.                   In the realm of politics it is vital that you see and be seen.

A.    You have to be able to evaluate and see things as they are and from there see where things are going if you want to win the election.

1.     Perhaps that is good enough for you because all you want to do is get elected in order to enjoy the perks of the office.

2.     But, you might be passionate about some matters which will mean that after you have surveyed where things are and have ensured your election that you develop a strategy for moving things in a different direction.

3.     That takes political clout which will require you to be seen, to be visible, and to be viewed by others as a person who can deliver.

4.     Change is usually a little easier if other powerful people are seen with you and are seen as being on your side.

5.     To get where you want to go in life you have to see and be seen.

B.     In Gospel lesson for today there are some people who want to see and they want to be seen and their desire will make all the difference in their life and in the life of others.

1.     As Jamie Clark-Soles has written in her commentary on this passage John the Baptizer wants to be seen not for his own sake but for the one he is proclaiming – Jesus.

2.     John triply confesses that he is NOT the Messiah (John 1:20) nor is he Elijah (verse 21) because as far as he is concerned the important matter is not who he is but who Jesus is. (Clark-Soles, Working Preacher, 1/11/11)

3.     John clearly states that he is not the light, but that he is a testifer.

4.     In today’s world there are not as many testifiers to Jesus as one would like.

5.     There are plenty of self-centered folks who think life is about them, but what the world needs now is not only “love sweet love” as the old song puts it, but testifiers to Jesus.

6.     It is due to his testimony that John and Jesus interact.

7.     And this is the first of our “see” part.

8.     John the Baptist sees Jesus and having seen him testifies about who he is by pointing and saying, “SEE the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.” (John 1:29)

9.     Because of the testifier other people want to be seen with Jesus, most specifically because they simply want to be with him and learn of his life.

10.             These men had been disciples of John the Baptist but in light of John’s testimony they move beyond John to Jesus.

11.             That tells us a lot about John.

12.             So many celebrities – entertainers & sports figures – want their entourage.

13.             They’d be devastated to lose those closest to them, but not John.

14.             John knew that his purpose in life was to be an effective preacher, to be a powerful witness, not in order to build up his own following but to help create a following for the Lamb of God.

15.             So Andrew and another of John’s disciples begin to follow Jesus.

16.             They approach Jesus and he asks “What do you seek?” which is actually a pretty pointed question.

II.                 Today we might phase the question Andrew and the other disciple ask this way, “What are you looking for?”

A.    By the way, just what are you looking for?

1.     A way to simply get by from one day to the next?

2.     An answer to your financial difficulties?

3.     A vision for what you are to do with your life?

4.     A dream for this church?

B.     This is a profound question and it is not an easy question, but it sure is an important question.

1.     What are you looking for?

C.     Michael Marsh in a sermon entitled “Looking for the Way Home” (1/17/11) has said that this is a question that lies at the heart of our discipleship, our very relationship with God.

1.     How you and I answer that question determines how we live, how we celebrate when things go right, how we manage our way through painful tragedies, and how we relate to both God and our neighbor.

2.     And we may not realize it but every decision we make, every priority we set, whatever we do or fail to do and every word we utter or withhold from uttering is a manifestation of our answer.

3.     Since Jesus would like for us to be more aware of our answer to his question and its meaning, he is encouraging us to go on a journey and it is a journey into our own heart, mind and soul.

4.     Our heart, our mind and our soul are within us, but some of us have trouble traveling there.

5.     What are you looking for?

6.     Being introspective is a far and difficult journey for many of us.

7.     Paranthetically, this is one reason Bishop Cho is encouraging all of us to grow in our prayer life so that you’ll find that journey within yourself easier to make with the result being that you will know more of yourself and of God.

8.     A number of you are sharing that your prayer life has expanded by 5 minutes each day so that you are learning more about yourself and about God and what He would have you do as His disciple. 

9.     One reason some of us don’t want to deal with the question Jesus asks “What are you looking for?” is that we know the answer is “I have seen that I’m looking for something to fill the emptiness in my life because right now I am seen with nothing. I’m looking for something to counter the loneliness. I’m looking for a purpose for my life because right now I feel purposeless.”

10.            “In fact, if you push me then I will tell you that my life and what I do everyday feels temporary and fleeting.” (Marsh, Looking for a Way Home, 1/17/2011)

III.              It appears that what I just said is what Andrew discovered about himself.

A.    Because Andrew had an epiphany if you will, he responds to Jesus’ question with a question.

1.     He asks Jesus, “Where are you staying?”

2.     Michael Marsh points out that this means a number of things such as:

a.     Andrew in essence feels homeless.

b.     Andrew is asking for Jesus’ address.

c.      Andrew wants to go home and he believes that Jesus knows the way.

d.     Andrew trusts that Jesus is the home he is longing for.

3.     So Andrew asks Jesus where he is staying so that Andrew can be with him in order to see and be seen with the Messiah.

4.     The Greek word used here is “meno” which means “abide” and in today’s language what’s going on is that Andrew is asking if he can hang out with Jesus. (Clark-Soles, Working Preacher, 1/11/11).

5.      This is a vital step for Andrew to move from John the Baptist’s faith in Jesus, to having his own faith in Jesus so that he too can be a testifier.

B.     If your inward journey is similar to Andrew’s you will encounter emptiness and beware of too quickly trying to fill that emptiness.

1.     Sometimes we move too fast to easy answers rather than live with the hard questions.

2.     We identify quick fixs to our problems instead of pondering and waiting on the Lord.

3.     We settle for the first solution rather than undergoing a process that would transform our lives.

C.     I know this sounds strange but the longing and wondering that we experience may not be God’s absence but may be God’s way of leading us, calling us, seeking us, loving us, guiding us home. (Marsh, Looking for the Way Home, 1/17/2011)

1.     The confused, empty experience may be a stepping stone to a place in life where you see Jesus and come to be seen with Jesus.

2.     So though it is scary don’t run away from the longings, the restlessness, the uncertainty, the homelessness you feel, but instead embrace them and follow them, (Marsh, Looking for a Way Home, 1/17/2011) for that inner journey that is prompted by the question “What are you looking for?” can lead you to Jesus who will help you find the answer.   

IV.              To find his answer Andrew asked Jesus “Where are you staying?” so he could hang out with Jesus and Jesus’ response was “Come and see.”

A.    When Jesus said that he was doing something much more than guiding Andrew to where he, Jesus, physically lived.

1.     Instead, Jesus was inviting Andrew to follow all the way into the very heart of God which is our true home.

B.     So when Jesus says to you concerning your questions and longings and emptiness as he did to Andrew, “Come and see,” the only proper response is to get up and go see.

1.     Andrew did and whatever emptiness, confusion, uncertainty or homelessness he felt inside of himself began to be filled and questions about his purpose in life began to be answered.

2.     That filling was so great and so wondrous that it overflowed and the current of that overflowing carried him to his brother Simon.

3.     He told his brother, “We have found the Messiah” and he brought him to Jesus so that Simon could see and be seen.

4.     The result of Simon coming to see and of seeing and being seen was a radical transformation for Jesus renamed Simon calling him Peter which means rock and it is upon the faith of those like Peter that the Church of Jesus Christ was built.

C.     Today give thanks for John the testifier and Andrew the testifier and Peter the testifier and whoever the testifier was for you so you could see and be seen with Jesus and have your emptiness filled and your life given purpose.

1.     For all I know your life may have many purposes but one purpose all of us have in common is to be the next person that chain that began with John, Andrew and Peter.

2.     One person can make a difference and all it takes is three words, “Come and see” and the blessing of which you will be a part is that one more person will be added to the kingdom.

3.     One more person to see and to be seen.