If I had to choose a favorite Gospel, it would be the Gospel of John. Among the Gospels, John plays a unique role. It’s written much later than the other three Gospel accounts and it seeks to do something different. Rather than offer a historical, narrative account of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection, John wants the reader (or hearer) to understand who Jesus was. Specifically, John wants to make sure the reader knows that Jesus was God.
That’s why the words of John 1 are so striking, “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.” Literally, God became human flesh and bones and moved into the neighborhood.
That means, when we see Jesus, we learn something about God.
It’s why I love John’s version of the calling of the first disciples. After being pointed in the right direction by John the Baptist, two disciples start walking with Jesus. Eventually Jesus turns, looks at them, and ask, “What do you want?” They reply, “Where are you staying?” And Jesus simply replies, “Come and see.”
It is perhaps my favorite invitation in scripture. It’s three simple, but profound words.
“Come and see,” Jesus says.
It’s an invitation to come and see God. Because by going with Jesus, by joining Jesus for a meal, by witnessing Jesus’ actions, by learning from Jesus, the disciples will see something of God. They will see something of who God is and learn something of what God is up to in the world.
And what we know, because we know the end of the story, is that they will be forever changed by what they see and by what they experience.
Jesus’ invitation leaves me with the question, how will others come to know God if they are not invited to first see God?
Fast forward a few chapters in the Gospel of John to the story of the woman at the well (John 4). After a long journey Jesus finds himself at a well, with no way to get water, then a woman comes along. She and Jesus have an unusual conversation during which Jesus tells her everything about her life. She then runs back to her town saying,
Could she have gone to her community and just talked about Jesus? Yes. But she didn’t. Instead, she invited her community to come and see for themselves. To come and experience this man named Jesus.
The story ends with the words, “It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is truly the Savior of the world.”
By inviting her community to come and see for themselves, she invited them to experience something she believed would change their lives. And it did!
Here’s my point. We can talk all we want. We can talk about God’s love and grace and forgiveness. We can even say we are kind and welcoming and loving community. But perhaps we really need to say, “Come and see!”
Perhaps it is a way of saying, “Come and join us, and experience for yourself the love and grace and forgiveness of God. Come and join us, and experience for yourself the kindness and welcome and love of our church family.”
We invite people to come because we believe we have something unique to offer, something they cannot find anywhere else. And when we have something like that, we can’t help but share it with others.
Grace and peace