Thursday, August 24, 2017

The call of His presence

Philip: "We have found Him..." John 1:45
TODAY’S SPECIAL: John 1:35-51

TO CHEW ON: Then Jesus turned, and seeing them following, said to them, ‘What do you seek?’ They said to Him, ‘Rabbi,” (which is to say when translated, Teacher), where are you staying?”
He said to them, ‘Come and see.’
They came and saw where He was staying, and remained with Him that day (Now it was about the tenth hour)” John 1:38,39

John’s gospel starts out telling the story of Jesus quite differently from Matthew, Mark, and Luke. There is no record of His birth. There is no mention of the 40 days of fasting in the desert that culminated in His temptation. We don’t see Him preaching in Galilee, calling the disciples from their boat, or teaching in the Caperaum synagogue

We do see him with John the Baptist who identifies and baptizes Him, and then on the next day, as Jesus walks by, speaks of Him to two of his own disciples - John 1:36.

On their own initiative those disciples follow Jesus who turns out to be a man of mystery and few words: “'What do you seek?… Come and see.'”

I like what the IVP Commentary says about this aspect of John 1:

John puts a great emphasis on Jesus' almost mysterious silence...
Jesus in John appears as one hidden and aloof. These first disciples, therefore, are characterized by initiative and willingness to examine claims they have heard concerning this silent one. Most importantly, they are not put off by his silence, nor do they seek to break it. Rather they are humbly receptive, seeking only to be where Jesus is staying….

…here at the outset John gives us a glimpse of the enormous depths of silence that lay behind all that Jesus does. Jesus is fully engaged in his historical circumstances, but he is not centered in them nor controlled by them. …

These disciples, who will shortly be so full of words, opinions and activity, are characterized at the outset by a desire for the presence of Jesus more than for answers to questions. Their immaturity will become evident immediately, but the crucial issue in discipleship is not whether we are mature but whether we desire to come and see and then abide in the divine presence, the only source of eternal life and growth in grace and truth (IVP Commentary on John 1:35-51 accessed through - emphasis added.

Nathanael illustrates this desire so beautifully. He goes from skepticism about this Man, that his friend is so high on, to outright worship in a heartbeat (John 1:46,49). What brings about the change?

The Bible doesn’t clearly tell us. But we infer from Jesus' and Nathanael’s back-and-forth that Nathanael recognizes Jesus is supernatural from His personal knowledge of a specific moment (“under the fig tree”) and what it meant to him.

I would submit that that is often the way Jesus still calls us to himself… not with many words but in the stillness of personal encounters that tell us He sees us, knows our deepest secrets and invites us to be with Him.

Dear Jesus, help me to hear You over the noise of everyday life and live in Your presence. Amen.

MORE: Feast of St. Batholomew

Today the church celebrates the Feast of St. Bartholomew (another name for Nathanael).

The liturgy for the day begins with this prayer:
Almighty and everlasting God, who gave to your apostle Bartholomew grace truly to believe and to preach your Word: Grant that your Church may love what he believed and preach what he taught; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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