Epiphany 2 B 2021
“Come and See.” With these words, Phillip invited Nathaniel to come and hear the Good News of Jesus Christ our Lord. It was not an overly complicated evangelism program. It was a simple invitation to come and hear the Word of Christ.
When we think of evangelism, that is not what we normally think about. There are those who would like to sell the idea that evangelism is a complicated process. And there are those who would like to sell us on the idea that evangelism is all about handing out bracelets that state “What Would Jesus Do.” Or that we need cleverly designed cards and pamphlets to assist us in or efforts.
But evangelism is a whole lot easier than that, and cheaper too. You do not have to buy expensive kits. You do not have to memorize “clever” sayings or slogans. Evangelism is as easy as saying “Come and See.” Or “Come to church and hear the Good News.”
Let’s face it. You cannot convince someone to believe.
I cannot convince someone to believe. The only way that anyone comes to faith is through the Word of Jesus. The only way that anyone comes to faith is through hearing the message that we all are sinners and in need of forgiveness and that Jesus died for each one of us and gives us His forgiveness freely.
And this is what we hear when we come to church and when we hear the Good News of Jesus Christ our Lord.
Unfortunately, we fight against this simple truth because we think it is too easy and way too cheap. It does not involve our work or our effort. It does not require an evangelism committee or an evangelism budget. All it simply requires of us is to say, “Come and See.”
It has been said that the average Lutheran invites someone to church once every twenty-three years. And if that is not bad enough, research shows that it takes three invitations before the invited person actually shows up. That makes for sixty-nine years before Lutherans complete the process – and I think you would agree with me when I say that we do not have that much time.
Why is this so? Well, inviting someone to church is for some a little embarrassing. And for some they feel that there is not much to see anyways.
Inviting someone to go to the football game. That is exciting. And inviting someone to our favorite concert. Well, that sounds great. But inviting someone to church? Boring. Not much to see here, we think.
And I suppose we do not have a whole lot for people to see. We do not have a band. We do not have a huge choir. We do not have flashing lights and plenty of activities to keep the invitee entertained. In a world where all the world’s problems are solved in 30 minutes on tv (including commercials), the church does seem rather dull.
But let me ask you this. Do you think there was a whole lot of entertainment and visual excitement for Nathaniel to see when Phillip invited him to come and see? Phillip invited Nathaniel to “Come and See” Jesus of Nazareth, the one living in the despised City of Nazareth, the city where no one expected any good to come.
Phillip invited Nathaniel to “Come and See” the carpenter’s son who was laid to rest as a baby in a manger and had to flee from danger like any ordinary, weak human.
As Isaiah wrote, the Christ Child would have no form or majesty that we should look at Him, and no beauty that we should desire Him. He would be despised and rejected by men; and would be a man of sorrows and well acquainted with grief. Isaiah 53:2-3
As the Bible tells it, Jesus could not have looked weaker, more miserable, more detestable, or even more despised than when He hung on the Cross. The sight of Jesus on the Cross was not a beautiful sight to behold. Yet, that is where the One that Phillip invited Nathaniel to “Come and See” would shed His blood for you and for me.
It is true. No one can convince someone to believe. The only way that anyone comes to faith is through the Word of Christ. The Word that states that everyone is in need of forgiveness, and that Jesus died for us on the Cross, and that He freely gave of Himself for the forgiveness of our sins.
And that is what we invite people to “Come and See.” We invite people to “Come and See” our joy that we are forgiven sinners, who gather to hear God’s Word and sing our praise as we give thanks to God for His redeeming activity in our world.
And that is why we do not need flashy gimmicks or well thought out programs because the only way that anyone comes to faith is through the Word of Christ.
As we begin a New Year, let us pray that God will empower us to be bold witnesses to the faith and that God will use us to invite others to worship so that they too may hear the “Good News” of Jesus and His love. Amen.
Let us pray: Lord God of our salvation, it is your will that all people might come to you through your Son Jesus Christ. Inspire our witness to him, that all may know the power of His forgiveness and the hope of His resurrection. We pray this in the Name of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.