If you’ve ever thought about the nature of faith, it’s a fascinating thing. You believe in something that you cannot see or tangibly hold. Yet as obscure as it may be, there are times where nothing could be more real. In John 1, we see this paradoxical sense of faith unfolding, as Jesus’ first disciples are called to follow. What we see in this text is that: As followers of Jesus, we are to invite others to come and see our Lord.
1. The Invitation to Follow Jesus: v.35-42
This scene opens with John the Baptist seeing Jesus and professing to a couple of his disciples that Jesus is the Lamb of God. Upon hearing this, the disciples leave John and begin to follow Jesus. While they are committed to following Jesus, they have no idea what that holds for them. Our following of Jesus is the same. We make the volitional choice to follow Him above all others, but we do not know all that will entail following Him. But trust me when I say that He is worth following and can be trusted in His leading of us. From this, we learn that one of those disciples is Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter. Upon realizing who Jesus is, he returns to his brother and brings him to Jesus. This is what we’re to invite others to. To simply bring people to come and see Jesus, and allow Him to show them Himself. When this truly happens, like Simon, who becomes Cephas (Peter) we have a transformed identity. No one has an encounter with Jesus without being changed! The invitation to follow begins with us choosing to follow Jesus above all others; bringing people to Jesus and Him transforming our identity.
2. The Initiation of Jesus that Leads to Following: v.43-51
In the second scene, the initiating work of Jesus is on full display. Jesus chooses to go to Galilee. He finds Philip and he calls Philip to follow Him. This is the initiating work of Jesus on our behalf. This is also the work that we’re to mimic in our lives, in initiating toward others in calling them to follow. We do this by inviting others to come and see our Lord. Philip goes to Nathanael and invites him to come and see Jesus. Before Nathanael even gets to Jesus, Jesus is moving toward and begins to engage with Nathanael. It’s here that we see Jesus’ role as the revealer. What’s so crucial for us to notice in this final part, is that while Philip is the one that goes to Nathanael and invites him to come and see Jesus, it’s Jesus who reveals Himself. Jesus is the one that will reveal that He is Lord; that He saves; that we have sin; that Jesus covers that sin and reconciles us to God! What a freeing truth this is. We are not responsible to convince people of Jesus. We are not responsible to change people’s hearts. We are responsible to initiate to invite people to come and see our great Lord!
You might say, I get it, but how do I invite people to come and see Jesus? It’s not like the disciples who could physically bring others to Jesus. You’re right, the specifics are different in our day, but the principle remains the same. Here are three practical ways we can invite people to come and see.
Invite People to Church: If God is not present in the gathering of the saints, church is a waste. But we know that’s exactly what God does, He makes Himself present among His people. While a lot of people do not come to church of their own accord, numerous studies have shown that many people would be willing to go if invited by friends, neighbors or co-workers. That’s a simple way to invite people to come and see.
Invite People to Discipleship: Another avenue is to invite them to join you in your discipleship. Invite them to your Life Group, your men’s group or women’s group. Let them join you as you open the Word with fellow believers and allow them to come and see Jesus.
Invite People to 1 to 1 Bible Reading: Finally, and I would unapologetically advocate for this, is that you offer to do 1 to 1 Bible reading with them. What better way to introduce them to Jesus the way we are all introduced to Jesus, in His Word! Mike, I’m afraid I won’t know the answer to their questions. And? I don’t know a single person that does know the answer (I know a few who might claim that…but I don’t trust it!) so my response would simply be, “welcome to the club!” But remember, someone coming to Jesus isn’t about us having the answers, because Christ is the revealer, we are simply the one who introduces them to Him.
As followers of Jesus, we invite others to come and see our Lord. God help us that, this would be true of us!