Come and see

Second Sunday after Epiphany, Year B (RCL)
1 Samuel 3:1-10
Psalm 139:1-5, 12-17
1 Corinthians 6:12-20
John 1:43-51

After the prologue of John’s Gospel, the gospel writer gets down to business with the calling of Jesus’ first disciples. John the Baptist points to Jesus and says, “Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world.” Two of John’s disciples are intrigued and follow Jesus. He turns and says to them, “What do you seek?” They reply, “Rabbi, where do you remain?” (or “Where are you staying?”). This seems to me to be the central question of John’s Gospel — where shall we find God, now that the Temple has been destroyed; where is God staying? Jesus replies, “Come and see.” It’s the readers’ invitation into the Gospel. Come and see the community where Jesus resides.

In the passage we hear today, Nathaniel is sitting under a fig tree, a good place to be studying Torah. Philip says to him, “We have found the one of whom Moses in the Law, and also the prophets wrote, Jesus bar Joseph, from Nazareth.” Nathaniel says, “Can anything good come from Nazareth?” to which Philip replies, “Come and see.” When Jesus meets Nathaniel, he calls him an Israelite in whom there is no trickery — the antithesis to Jacob, whose ladder he will see. Nathaniel is startled that Jesus knows him, and calls him “Son of God; Emperor of Israel” — quite treasonous. Jesus then turns to the readers of the Gospel and says, “Truly, truly, you all will see the heavens opened and the angels of God ascending and descending on the human being.”

The human being has become the new Bethel, the throne room of God. Where does God take the decisions that influence the way the world goes? In human community. But notice that the call of all these disciples is not a call to do anything, to change the world, to feed the hungry, to fish for people, to right the wrongs. It is a call to see, to witness what God is doing. All we have to do is “come and see.”

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