"Come and See!"
The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. He found Philip and said to him, “Follow me.” Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found him about whom Moses in the law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus son of Joseph from Nazareth.” Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.”
"Come and See!"
How many times have I read this passage before realizing that Nathanael wasn’t the one wrong in his assumptions? We look at Nathanael and use his words, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” as a way of showing how wrong it is to have prejudice.
But there is more to it than that.
Philip, anxious to share Jesus with his brother Nathanael, gets two things wrong. First- Jesus may have lived in Nazareth, but he was born in Bethlehem.
“Jesus of Nazareth - So Philip thought, not knowing he was born in Bethlehem.” When I read those words of John Wesley, I realized for the first time that Nathanael may not have been questioning the propriety of Nazareth as much as he may have been raising the concern that the prophets indicated the Messiah would come from Bethlehem. This could have been enough to keep Nathanael from taking Jesus seriously.
And second- Jesus is not the son of Joseph. He is the Son of God.
Philip introduces Jesus as the son of Joseph. John the Baptist has told his disciples that Jesus is the Son of God. Andrew and Peter, both from the same town as Philip have heard this statement. And yet, Philip doesn’t acknowledge that fact.
So why does Nathanael follow? Perhaps it is his brother’s enthusiasm. Perhaps it is his open mindedness and curiosity. Whatever it is, it gives me hope that although I may not get all the facts straight all of the time, I can still be a messenger of the good news. I can still ask people to follow. I can still say “Come and see!” And with God’s grace, they will.
O Gracious God, keep me mindful that my enthusiasm and my love for You may be more important in the making of disciples than my knowledge and education. Bless both my words and my spirit. Amen
Rev. Sandi Hire is pastor at the Camargo United Methodist Church, in Camargo IL.