Podcast: Follow Me

When we think of Epiphany (The revelation of Christ as The Son of God) we often overlook the obvious. Traditionally January 6 is considered the day of Epiphany. However, we see Epiphany in…The Nativity (Shepherds)…The Magi…The Baptism of Jesus (John the Baptist)…We also see it in the calling of the first few disciples in John’s gospel. John begins by telling us:

 

The next day John was there again with two of his disciples… When he saw Jesus passing by, he said, “Look, the Lamb of God!”  John 1:35-36

 

John (the gospel writer) had already mentioned the significance of  Jesus who John testified: The Spirit came down from heaven and remained on him/he will baptize with the Holy Spirit…John had been preaching about someone who was coming to take away sin (permanently)…someone of God’s choosing..to take away those things that separate us from God. Now we are told about one of those Disciples of John-that listened to John and began following Jesus: 

Andrew, (Simon Peter’s brother), was one of the two who heard what John had said …    John 1:40 

Andrew—in Greek-Andro which is the Greek version of the Hebrew name Adam. Andrew was the first disciple named to follow Jesus (in a sense the first Christian). Andrew had his own  Epiphany…because John (the Baptist) pointed him toward Jesus. When we think of our relationship with Jesus, who have been the ones pointing us toward Jesus? In addition to Andrew’s Epiphany, John also tells us: 

The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon and tell him, “We have found the Messiah”  John 1:41 

What is the 1st thing we do when we have an Epiphany?…do we tell others? particularly those closest to us? It was obvious that Andrew & Simon were close (brothers). However, we don’t hear a lot about Andrew throughout the gospels..we do hear a lot about Simon Peter. It is similar to Albert McMakin. Albert had an Epiphany. He met Jesus through a revival in a small town in North Carolina. Albert had to tell his closest friend…who happened to be named Billy Graham. Not many people have ever heard of Albert McMakin , however because he shared his Epiphany with Billy Graham countless people have come to know Jesus. Thank God for the Andrews and the Albert McMakins in our lives. Then John tells us: 

Then Andrew brought Simon to meet Jesus. Looking intently at Simon, Jesus said, “You are Simon, the son of John — but you will be called Cephas”(which means Peter ).  John 1:42

 Cephas (Aramaic) left untranslated…Peter ( & Andrew were from Galilee (as was Jesus)..Jesus addressed him in a way that any Galilean would understand. Jesus speaks into our lives the same way when he calls us. God speaks to us in a way we would uniquely understand. My  own personal calling would be defined by scholarly theologians as “providing a Hermeneutical Homiletic of Theology” if that is what God said to me I would probably not have answered that call. Instead Jesus has called me to “Present the Good News of Jesus as Revealed by the Holy Spirit.”  John goes on to tell us in this text that again the Next Day…Jesus went to Galilee (followed by these 3 Disciples)…then John continues: 

Finding Philip, he said to him, “Follow me.” Philip, like Andrew and Peter, was from the town of Bethsaida.  John 1:43-44 

We learn the other of John the Baptist’s disciples was Philip (who was also from Galilee). The Good Part..the Fishing Village of Bethsaida (Waterfront Property). The important thing Jesus says specifically to Philip is…”Follow Me.” The only thing is…Hadn’t  Philip already “followed Him?” He left John the Baptist (to follow Jesus)…and now had followed Jesus back to Galilee. Here’s the problem. When we think of the concept of Following someone we think of walking behind…

However, we can better understand Jesus command after translating a very long compound Greek word which ultimately means… “accompany me /on the road /by being one with me” Like a parent with a young child. Hold my hand as we walk down this road together. Isn’t that what Christ calls each of us to do? So now Philip has his own Epiphany and John tells us: 

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.”    John 1:45 

Philip did the same as Andrew (and even the Shepherds before that) he found someone to share his Epiphany with. He knew Nathanael might be suspect so he invoked  the name of Moses…a type of celebrity endorsement. Now first we need to realize the name Nathanael is significant (it is NOT a Greek name)..it is Hebrew meaning-Gift of God. Having said that, Nathanael’s initial response to Philip’s Epiphany according to John is: 

“Nazareth!  Can anything good come from there?”     John 1:46 

Nazareth…not Lakefront  property…a primarily Gentile town …way off the beaten path…never mentioned in Hebrew Scripture)…besides the Messiah would have to come from Bethlehem…But Philip knew Nathanael needed to Encounter Christ.. before he could truly realize the significance of who He was..John tells us: 

Come and see,” said Philip. When Jesus saw Nathanael approaching, he said of him, “Here is a true Israelite, in whom there is nothing false.” John 1:46-47

How many of us have had our own Epiphanies by an Encounter/s that began by someone inviting us to “come and see” (with our spiritual eyes as well as our physical eyes). Jesus (being who he is) realized Nathanael as being about God’s word..Being discerning by challenging claims through scripture. A True Israelite. Then John tells us how Nathanael responded to this Encounter: 

Nathanael replied, “Teacher, you are the Son of God – the King of Israel!”   John 1: 49 

Three things Nathanael realized about Jesus. He was a teacher (Rabbi)…I now defer/submit to you (and your instruction)…He was the Son of God (a term generally ascribed only to David)…and as the “New David” Jesus would be the King of Israel (The Awaited Messiah). All based on his understanding of scripture (including the law & prophecy). So as we encounter Jesus in our lives. As we have our Epiphanies. Will we invite others to “Come & See”..how to “Follow Christ” (accompany HIM /on the road /by being one with HIM). The Apostle Paul taught: 

For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus   Romans 15:4-5 

May we like Andrew, Simon Peter, Philip & Nathanael..Come & See and receive that Encouragement..That Hope.. and that Spirit of Unity…In Christ Jesus and Follow Him.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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