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Gospel of John 1: 43-51 (NIV)
43 The next day Jesus decided to leave for 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 while 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 Man.”
The Gospel according to John has described (1: 35-37) how two of John the Baptiser’s disciples began to follow Jesus. When they asked him, “Rabbi, where are you staying?” Jesus replied, “Come, and you will see.” One of those was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. The other remains unnamed. Without any delay, Andrew found his brother and brought Simon Peter to Jesus.
The passage above describes the events of the very next day. Whereas it was Jesus who found Philip and invited him to follow, Philip was the one who then found Nathanael, in much the same way that, on the preceding day, Andrew had found Simon Peter and spoken to him of his conviction that “We have found the Messiah” (1: 41).
Nathanael’s reaction to Philip’s claim may have been sarcastic, it may have been sardonic, it may have been droll. Whatever the tone of Nathanael’s voice and whatever the motive for his response to Philip, Philip’s subsequent invitation to him was exquisite. It passed no judgement on Nathanael’s comment, it was openly inviting and non-threatening and it left the decision with Nathanael just as Jesus had extended the invitation to Andrew and the other of John’s disciples and left the decision to them.
“Come and see!” is an invitation that we too can usefully apply. Whether we wish to invite somebody to an activity in our church building, to a chat over coffee or to a discussion intended to have Christ as its focus, it allows the invited one to gather more information, to observe and assess before making a decision and to “measure-up” the situation before considering any commitment.
We need to invite with sincerity and with the enthusiasm of the disciples of Jesus who, as they spoke, believed they had found something worthwhile and worth sharing. Extend your invitation to somebody today!