Greeting: Hold onto instruction. Do not let it go. Guard it well for it is your life.
Text: 45) The next day Jesus decided to leave Galilee. Finding Philip, He said to him: "Follow Me." 44) Philip, like Andrew and Peter, was from the town of Bethsaida, 45) Philip found Nathanael and told him, "We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote - Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph." 46) "Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?" Nathanael asked. "Come and see," said Philip. 47) When Jesus saw Nathanael approaching, He said of Him, "Here is a true Israelite in whom there is nothing false." 48) "How do You know me?" Nathanael asked. Jesus answered, "I saw you when you were still under the fig tree before Philip called you. 49) Then Nathanael declared, "Rabbi, You are the Son of God; You are the King of Israel." 50) Jesus said, "You believe because I told you I saw you under the fig tree. You shall see greater things than that. 51) He then added, "I tell you the truth, you shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of God."
Introduction: "Just what is it that you see in him?" That's the question of a person with reservations. It's the voice of a family member or friend who senses that there is something that you didn't notice about a person previously. It's the request of a person who wonder what the attraction is that make you think a certain person is special? "Just what is it that you see in him?" Perhaps it is a question that you have been asked or have answered a number of times. What is it that you see or know that escapes the notice of another?
"Just what do you see in him?" is also a question that can be asked of a believer in Jesus Christ about Jesus. Jesus is very attractive to many people. Because of Jesus Christ, people will do some interesting and uncommon things. For the sake of Jesus, people will openly admit their flaws and failings. Because of Christ, they will beg for God's mercy and be most grateful to receive it. For the sake of Jesus, people will confidently approach God and ask of Him things that are humanly impossible. Because of Christ, they will set aside their worries and fear and sleep soundly. For the sake of Jesus, people will attend church regularly, sing His praises joyfully, give money to His cause generously and serve Him most eagerly. Some people will look at this kind of behavior and wonder: "What is the attraction to Jesus Christ? Just what do you see in Him?"
Years ago a man named Nathanael asked that question of his friend, Philip, in regard to Jesus. Philip replied, "Come and see for yourself." Sometimes people do not get a clear picture of Jesus Christ. Their view and opinion of Him is obscured by ignorance, misinformation and/or unreasonable prejudices. The remedy to this is to come and see for oneself. Today we are going to take Philip's advice and take a careful personal look in order to find out what others have come to know about Jesus.
1. I See The One God Meant For Me To Meet
What do you see in Jesus? The first answer to that question comes from the disciple Philip. He tells us: "We have found the One whom Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote - Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph." In saying this Philip tells us: "I see the one God meant for me to meet."
The coming of the Christ had been promised for thousands of years. God had carefully predicted Jesus' coming through the Old Testament prophets. Philip read the Bible, learned to expect the Messiah, and was ready to recognize Him when He came. Philip expected a person who would be great and yet who would give Himself in service to deliver people from their sins.
God meant for people to meet and trust this Savior. The maxim goes: "It is hard to find something when you are not quite sure what you are looking for. That sentence sums it up when we are discussing the many people who are not expecting to encounter the special Person God sends them. It is not surprising that they wonder what others see in Christ. Through His Word, God leads us to expect a Messiah. He tells us things about Him. God sends the Savior so that we can know Him. What I see in Jesus is the One God meant for me to meet.
2. I See The One Who Lovingly Knows Me
What else do you see in Jesus? The second answer to that question is supplied by the apostle Nathanael. John writes: When Jesus saw Nathanael approaching, He said of him, "Here is a true Israelite, in whom there is nothing false." "How do You know me?" Nathanael asked. Jesus answered, "I saw you while you were still under the fig tree before Philip called you." Then Nathanael declared, "Rabbi, You are the Son of God; You are the King of Israel." Nathanael tells us: "I see the One who lovingly knows me."
Jesus surprised a skeptical Nathanael. As Nathanael approached, Jesus identified him as a true Israelite, who was honest and sincere. He also told Nathanael that He had seen him under the fig tree before Philip came to talk with him. Jesus knew all there was to know about Nathanael. Jesus knew where Nathanael spent his time, what kind of a person he was. Jesus knew this man who didn't know Him on a very deep level, both inside and out.
A loving, thorough knowledge of someone is a powerful and attractive thing. There is a longing in the human heart to be known and understood by others, a strong desire to have someone care about you deeply and to not have that person be put off by your weaknesses.
Jesus both knows us and loves us. Peter once confessed about Jesus: "Lord, You know all things." Jesus knows all about us. Our lives are an open book to Him. He knows all we reveal to others by our words and actions. He knows all that we conceal from others in our private thoughts and deliberate silences. Jesus knows our character and qualities, our strengths and weaknesses, our doubts and desires, our sins and deceits, our goals and our dreams. To know that the holy Lord God knows all about is frightening and terrifying - and it would be tragic, if the holy Lord God did not also love and care for us.
But, in fact, Jesus Christ does loves us. He loves us dearly and deeply. The prophet Jeremiah wrote: "God loves us with an everlasting love." God's knowledge of us is thorough, but His love for us is deep. Here is our hope. Jesus' ultimate goal is not to reject us, but to reclaim us. He exposes our sin so we can acknowledge it and be forgiven for it. Jesus understands us so well - in the depths of our emptiness, loneliness and lostness. Jesus loves us dearly, even if no one else will. What we see in Jesus Christ is the One who lovingly knows us.
3. I See The One Who Gives Me Heaven Itself
Finally, in answer to the question: "What do you see in Jesus?", our Lord Himself responds. In His words to Nathanael, He gives us the great promise: "You believe because I told you I saw you under the fig tree. You shall see greater things than that. He then added, "I tell you the truth. You shall see heaven open and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man."
Jesus' promise refers to an amazing story from the Book of Genesis in the 28th chapter. When Jacob was fleeing from his angry brother, Esau, he camped out at a placed called Bethel. In a dream, God showed Jacob a stair way with God at the top, Jacob at the bottom and with God's holy angels going up and down the stairs. This image fills Jesus' words to Nathanael in which He tells Nathanael that he would see heaven open and God's angels ascending and descending on the Son of Man.
In His promise, Jesus identified Himself as the stairway in Jacob' dream. Jesus is the One who links sinners on earth with God in heaven. During His earthly ministry, people caught glimpses of Jesus' ability to bring heaven's help to people on earth. They saw it revealed in His teaching, His prayers, His miracles and His sacrifice on the cross. By His innocent life and sin-bearing death, Jesus proved to be the one true, reliable Way to God and His eternal blessing.
When people think about those they appreciate, they often consider the difference that person made in their lives and the gifts they gave them. People will say: "This person turned me around. He changed my life for good. This person made it possible for me to have a good life." Jesus gives the greatest gifts. He gives us the Way to the Father. He gives us heaven itself. He gives gifts beyond calculating.
What we see in Christ, we do not see and cannot see in anyone else. Jesus holds the allegiance of our hearts because of what we see:
- The One whom God meant for us to meet.
- The One whom lovingly knows us.
- The One who gives us heaven itself.
May we always remember our reasons for living a joyful, loving, giving and serving life. May we regularly share our reasons for these who just can't see it yet. May we invite them to look for themselves and see just what is so special about Jesus Christ. Amen.