Malankara World Journal - Christian Spirituality from an Orthodox Perspective
Malankara World Journal
Come and See - Evangelism
Volume 6 No. 325 January 15, 2016
II. This Week's Featured Articles

'Come And See' - The Backbone of Evangelism

by Dr. Jacob Mathew, Malankara World

We are now officially in the Public Ministry of Jesus. After overcoming the Temptation by Satan in desert, Jesus triumphantly comes to Jordan river basin and get baptized by John the Baptist, the forerunner of Messiah. Holy Spirit lands on his head in the form of a dove. The God, the father, proudly proclaims from heaven, "Here is my beloved son in whom I am pleased"- a rare occurrence when all the three persons of Trinity joins together. (Trinity will have another manifestation when Jesus gets transfigured.)

After the Baptism, Jesus concentrates on assembling his disciple team. He also starts preaching his core message, "repent, the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand." As we have mentioned in the last Journal, this message of Jesus, namely 'Repentance and Remission of Sins' is the core message of the New Testament. Jesus exhorts his disciples to continue preaching this message to all people in all nations - the four corners of the earth.

This brings us another part of the core strategy of Jesus - the evangelism. To preach the core message of Jesus, we need a viable evangelism strategy. We need to assemble a team, teach them and they will preach it to others who teach others, etc. This strategy is what we call 'viral marketing' or 'direct marketing' now. It is a very effective technique if we do it right. Some churches does it well and makes mission a core part of their ministry. Our church does it very poorly. We have practically no evangelism outreach program. We are too worried about offending others when we talk about Christianity.

Jesus' ministry was more or less a "show and tell" ministry. Instead of giving a fiery one hour speech Jesus was low keyed in his message. People who come to him know that he cares for them. He heals their sick, he feeds the hungry and he empathizes with them - provide a shoulder to cry and sometimes even cries with them like in case Lazar's dealth. Jesus has a good understanding what we are going through and he acts. This emant a lot for the person affected and he/she will tell others. Later Jesus told us that we should be the light of the world. We should reflect the light of Jesus in our faces. When people look at us, they should know what Christianity is without having us to say a word. We are part of the thousands of light that reflects the light of Jesus; anyone who look at us will learn from our lives what Jesus' message - a message of love; a message that no matter what we did, we can still inherit the Kingdom of God by repenting our sins and changing our ways like the Prodigal son.

Another message, Jesus taught us is that in the end the toll collectors, prostitutes and other sinners will inherit the Kingdom of God while the establishment people in high places like the High Priests, Pharisees and Saducees will not. The later will be too comfortable in where they are to mend their ways. So, the ordinary people will go ahead of the "big" people.

Jesus' whole life was an outreach to common people. He was born to poor people in a manger. He was brought up in a village called Nazareth that no one has heard of. He was followd by disciples who were fishermen and toll collectors - none of them had any training on ancient scriptures or Moses' Law. His message: God takes ordinary people and enpowerst hem to do extraordinary things.

All these concepts are embroiled in today's bible reading, John 1:43-51, where Philip introduces his friend Nathaniel to Jesus. Philip does evangelism 101, tells his friends about what he learned of the new rabbi - the messiah prophesied by Moses and other prophets. Nathaniel was very skeptical. He hjas learned the scripture and knew that nowhere in the scripture has any mention of Nazareth. In fact he comments, "Can anything good come out of Nazareth?"

Philip didn't give him any big speech in rebuttal. His simple answer, "Come and See."

Dr. David Lose, President of Luther Seminary, explained the significance of these simple words that formed the core of John's Gospel:

Come and see.

Think, for a moment, about the effect of those words might have on you, were you to hear them in an everyday context. Would they generate a certain sense of excitement about whatever it might be you were being invited to witness? Perhaps curiosity? Or maybe gratitude that someone thought to include you?

Come and see.

The words are both simple and warm, issuing an invitation not only to see something, but also to join a community. To come along and be part of something.

Come and see.

These words, this invitation, form the heart not simply of this opening scene but much of John's Gospel. John's story is structured around encounters with Jesus. Again and again, from these early disciples, to the Pharisee named Nicodemus, to the Samaritan women at the well, to the man born blind, to Peter and Pilate and eventually Thomas, characters throughout John's Gospel are encountered by Jesus. John structures his story this way, I think, to offer us a variety of possibilities, both in terms of the kind of people to whom Jesus reaches out and the kinds of responses they offer…and we might offer as well.

These three simple, powerful words are the fundamental message of evangelism. Mother Teresa has made it the central point in her ministry. No fiery speeches, just "come and see". When people came and saw how life was being transformed in her simple missionary house in Calcutta, when they see Jesus in the face of the simple nun, nothing more need to be said.

Now we come to Evangelism 201. The subject has agreed to see you. But he/she is very skeptical. What do you do?

This is the same situation Jesus faced with Nathaniel.

Nathaniel was a tough cookie. He had studied the torah and other scriptures.

He knew that "nothing good will come out of Nazareth - at least not a Messiah." When Philip suggested that he met the Messiah as spoken by Moses, Nathaniel just did not believe him. He said, "can anything good come out of Nazareth?" But because of his respect for Philip and curiosity, he agrees to see Jesus. He knew nothing good will come out of this meeting.

So, Jesus had a problem. Here is a skeptic. How do you handle him? Dr. Sharon Watkins describes the meeting:

In so many ways, it (the meeting between Jesus and Nathaniel) was the unlikeliest meeting. Nathanael didn't even want to meet Jesus. He was just doing it as a favor to his friend. I mean, honestly? The one of whom the prophets spoke? Some self-appointed teacher from that back woods little town of Nazareth?

It turned out, though, that this guy, Jesus, at least had a sense of humor. He quipped right back-- Glad to meet you, Nathanael . . . an Israelite without deceit.

Now, it might have been a backhanded compliment. Maybe Jesus was saying he appreciated Nathanael speaking his mind--didn't take offense at the whole Nazareth comment.

But we who are overhearing this conversation realize there's a double meaning here. Jesus' calling Nathanael an "Israelite" also brings echoes of the Jacob story into the conversation. Jacob of the First Testament. Jacob, the deceiver, who would be known as Israel.

But Nathanael is an Israelite without deceit.

We are talking about Jacob's ladder referred to in the Book of Genesis 28:12

We wonder what did Jesus find in Nathaniel? Jesus could have had anyone as his disciple. If he tells people that he is the Messiah, people will line up in front of his dwelling to join him like the people who line up outside places that sell the Powerball tickets when the jackpot hit 1.5 billion and climbing (as is the situation when I am writing this article.)

Jesus was very careful in selecting his disciples. What did he find in Nathaniel?

1. Jesus was impressed by the fact that Nathaniel was a straight talker. He talked his mind. When we listen to him, we know where he is coming from. God liked Jacob ('Israel') as opposed to his brother Esau, who was a cunning man. Nathaniel was a genuine son of honest Jacob, not only of his seed, but of his spirit.

2. Nathaniel was a sincere professor of the faith of Israel; he was true to the religion he professed, and lived up to it: he was really as good as he seemed, and his practice was of a piece with his profession. He is the Jew that is one inwardly (Rom. ii. 29), so is he the Christian.

3. Nathaniel is one in whom is no guile-that is the character of an Israelite indeed, a Christian indeed: no guile towards men; a man without trick or design; a man that one may trust; no guile towards God, that is, sincere in his repentance for sin; sincere in his covenanting with God; in whose spirit is no guile, Ps. 32.

Jesus liked Nathaniel's integrity. He was like Joseph, the earthly father of Jesus.

When Nathaniel came to Jesus at the invitation of Philip, Jesus just said:

"Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom is no deceit!"
- John 1:47

Nathaniel was floored. He had never met Jesus before. How did Jesus knew all about him in such a personal level?

God knows us better than we know ourselves; we do not know what is in a man's heart just by looking at his face; but all things are naked and open before Christ, Heb. 4:12-13. He knows us by our name. Nothing will happen to even a strand of our hair without His knowledge.

Nathaniel was absolutely floored.

Nathanael said to Him, "How do You know me?"
- John 1:48

Matthew Henry explains:

Here is Nathanael's modesty, in that he was soon put out of countenance at the kind notice Christ was pleased to take of him:

"Whence knowest thou me, me that am unworthy of thy cognizance? who am I, O Lord God?"
- 2 Sam. vii. 18.

This was an evidence of his sincerity, that he did not catch at the praise he met with, but declined it.

Jesus answered and said to him, "Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you."
- John 1:48

Two short sentences from Jesus and Nathaniel believed. No need for long discourses. A look at his face was enough. Nathaniel gives the first testimony of Jesus being the Messiah and Son of God immediately:

Nathanael answered and said to Him, "Rabbi, You are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!"
- John 1:49

We see three instances in the New Testament where Jesus was acknowledged as the "son of living God". The most celebrated is the case when Peter does it prior to Jesus establishing the church on that "rock" or faith and gives him the keys to the church.

But then St. Thomas did by calling Jesus, "My God and My Lord."

Nathaniel was the first recorded instance in the bible when a disciple has testified Jesus as the son of God. The testimonial of Nathaniel and Thomas are hardly remembered whereas the testimony of Peter is always referred. All these testimonials are equally important.

Evangelism is completed. The skeptic Nathaniel became the disciple of Jesus absolutely convinced that He is the 'Son of God, the Messiah.'

Matthew Henry explains:


[1.] How firmly he believed with the heart. Though he had lately labored under some prejudices concerning Christ, they had now all vanished. Note, The grace of God, in working faith, casts down imaginations. Now he asks no more, Can any good thing come out of Nazareth? For he believes Jesus of Nazareth to be the chief good, and embraces him accordingly.

[2.] How freely he confessed with the mouth. His confession is made in form of an adoration, directed to our Lord Jesus himself, which is a proper way of confessing our faith.

First, He confesses Christ's prophetical office, in calling him Rabbi, a title which the Jews commonly gave to their teachers. Christ is the great rabbi, at whose feet we must all be brought up.

Secondly, He confesses his divine nature and mission, in calling him the Son of God (that Son of God spoken of Ps. ii. 7); though he had but a human form and aspect, yet having a divine knowledge, the knowledge of the heart, and of things distant and secret, Nathanael thence concludes him to be the Son of God.

Thirdly, He confesses, "Thou art the king of Israel; that king of Israel whom we have been long waiting for." If he be the Son of God, he is king of the Israel of God.

Nathanael hereby proves himself an Israelite indeed that he so readily owns and submits to the king of Israel.

"Come and See." A simple but powerful invitation that is the basis of evangelism. We see in today's Gospel reading how it was perfected by Philip and Jesus.

Come and see.

Such easy, warm, and hospitable words. The heart not only of John's Gospel but Christian evangelism, as we are called not to cram our faith down another's throat or question their eternal destiny or threaten them with hellfire, but instead simply to offer an invitation to come and see what God is still doing in and through Jesus and the community of disciples who have chosen to follow him.

Come and see.

  • Come and see souls redeemed.
  • Come and see lives transformed.
  • Come and see the heavens opened.

We close with a quote from Mother Teresa who has adopted the words, "Come and See" as the basis of her Evangelism Outreach - doing rather than talking - showing it in service.

Mother Teresa uses such phrases as "Love until it hurts" and "If it hurts, then it'll be better because of it." She believes that through understanding and willingly accepting the pain, one is able to see its ultimate worth. This idea is connected with the redemption of the suffering Christ:

"Jesus wanted to help by sharing our life, our loneliness, our agony, our death. Only by being one with us has He redeemed us. We are allowed to do the same: all the desolation of the poor people, not only their material poverty, but their spiritual destitution, must be redeemed, and we must share it, for only by being one with them can we redeem them, that is, by bringing God into their lives and bringing them to God."

- [M. Muggeridge, Something Beautiful for God (San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1971), pp. 67-68]

Text This Week: John 1:43-51
43 The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. He found Philip and said to him, "Follow me." 44 Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. 45 Philip found Nathanael and said to him, "We have found him about whom Moses in the law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus son of Joseph from Nazareth." 46 Nathanael said to him, "Can anything good come out of Nazareth?" Philip said to him, "Come and see."

47 When Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him, he said of him, "Here is truly an Israelite in whom there is no deceit!" 48 Nathanael asked him, "Where did you get to know me?" Jesus answered, "I saw you under the fig tree before Philip called you." 49 Nathanael replied, "Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!"

50 Jesus answered, "Do you believe because I told you that I saw you under the fig tree? You will see greater things than these." 51 And he said to him, "Very truly, I tell you, you will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man."
- John 1:43-51 (NRSV)

Come and See -- Lectionary Reflection on John 1:43-51

by Bob Cornwall

Gospel: John 1:43-51

"Come and See." That's what Philip told Nathaniel after Jesus called him to be a follower. The season of Epiphany is a moment during which we pay attention to the ways in which God is manifested in Jesus. Led by the star we come to pay homage to the one in whom God is made known (Matthew 2:1-2). Those who follow the star, who see and hear the good news, have the opportunity to bear witness to the one who has come into the world as the revelation of God.

It has become a well-known fact that many Christians find it difficult to share their faith. Several years ago Martha Grace Reese published several books that share the news that mainline Protestants struggle with the "e-word." We tend to keep our religious beliefs to ourselves. For one thing, we consider religious beliefs to be private, but we also have an aversion to offending others. Thus, religion, like politics remains off-limits in polite company. But, can we keep silent about that which defines our very being?

When Jesus went to Galilee, after his time at the Jordan where he had called Peter and Andrew to join him, he added to his band by inviting Philip, who happened to be from the same town as Peter and Andrew, to join them. Perhaps Peter and Andrew introduced Jesus to Philip. After Jesus invited Philip to join him as a disciple, Philip decided he had to share the news with Nathaniel, who might have been a brother or a friend. Philip told Nathaniel the good news. We have found the one the Scriptures talk about. He is Jesus, son of Joseph, from Nazareth. Philip is excited. He's ready to join up. He's willing to spread the news. But he meets a skeptic in Nathaniel. How often is this story - we've got good news to share but the one we want to share it with is seemingly unimpressed. Perhaps Nathaniel has heard this kind of news before!

In the case of Nathaniel, at least in John's story, the issue seems to be Jesus' hometown. Nathaniel and Philip come from Bethsaida, along the Sea of Galilee. Nathaniel, like many people are wont to do, isn't always impressed by people from rival communities. Apparently he's not a big booster of Nazareth's virtues - how can "anything good come out of Nazareth." But, perhaps it's not normal community rivalry (growing up in Klamath Falls, we looked with disdain at our rivals in Medford). Nor is it necessarily that Nathaniel is thinking of the moral virtues of Nazareth's citizenry. Perhaps the issue is where Nazareth fits in Jewish Messianic expectations. As a community Nazareth was nothing special - just a small village lying near the never mentioned capitol of Galilee, Sepphoris. There was nothing in Scripture that connected it with messianic expectations.

Surely, one should be looking to someone from a place more significant than Nazareth to be the redeemer of Israel, which may explain the importance that Luke and Matthew give to Bethlehem. We don't expect great things to come from small insignificant communities (though history is littered with examples). Nathaniel expresses the same skepticism that many of us have applied to this story.

But Philip isn't deterred by Nathaniel's less than enthusiastic embrace of his message. He just says - "come and see." Let your eyes and ears determine whether or not I'm right about this man who is teaching in the area. Isn't that the point of evangelism - not to convince with arguments but simply invite people to come and see what this faith is all about?

Nathaniel may have come with Philip reluctantly, but his encounter with Jesus would be mind-altering. Jesus gets his attention with a comment about his being an Israelite without deceit. Nathaniel's response appears at first to be a bit cocky: "Where did you get to know me?" How did you know I'm an honest man who tells the truth (as I see it)? Part of me wants to read Jesus' statement as a piece of sarcasm, which elicits the sense that Nathaniel might be a bit taken by himself. Whatever the nature of Nathaniel's sense of his own righteousness, Jesus seems to answer rather straightforwardly: "I saw you under a fig tree." I saw you talking with Philip a long way off. With this John introduces us to a Jesus who is not bound by at least some human limitations. When we read these words, we need to read them in light of the earlier prologue. Jesus may be fully human, but there is something very different about him. He is the Word of God in the flesh (John 1:14). He can see things that you and I cannot.

With this response, the once skeptical Nathaniel is immediately converted. He had agreed to Philip's invitation, and now he understands why Philip was excited. This man standing before him had to be the promised one. Filled with awe, Nathaniel addresses Jesus with three important titles: Rabbi, Son of God, and King of Israel. He affirms that the one whose origins are in Nazareth is now worthy of veneration.

That Nathaniel recognizes him to be a teacher is not surprising. The more significant - long term - titles are Son of God and King of Israel. These are messianic titles, reflecting John's belief that for all his humanness Jesus embodies the divine presence. He is the chosen one who represents God and will rule over God's chosen people.

Jesus' response to Nathaniel's confession of faith in him is once again intriguing. It is almost as if Jesus is saying to him - well, you're impressed by my ability to see you from afar, just wait till you see the angels ascending and descending on "the Son of Man" (another title, and here we probably should be taking our clues from Daniel's vision of the Son of Man). There is certainly an allusion here to the story of Jacob's ladder, where Jacob has a dream where he sees a ladder connecting heaven and earth with angels descending and ascending. In response Jacob declares: "Surely the Lord is in this place - and I did not know it!" Jesus seems to be inviting Nathaniel to come and witness the ongoing connection between heaven and earth that is centered in his own being. Jesus is the one who serves as the "gate of heaven" (Genesis 28:10-17).

Nathaniel came to Jesus as a skeptic and followed him as a disciple, for even if he didn't understand it all, he knew that he had found the one he was looking for. But even more than that, he had been found by Jesus.

Source: Ponderings on a Faith Journey

Nathanael: A True Believer?

by Dr. Ray Pritchard

Nathanael couldn't figure out how Jesus knew who he was. They had never met, and Nathanael knew nothing at all about Jesus. Though he had no opinion about Jesus, Jesus had a high opinion of him, saying, "Here is a true Israelite, in whom there is nothing false" (John 1:47). That's high praise coming from Jesus who could spot hypocrisy a mile away. (Since He was the Son of God, distance didn't matter. He knew a hypocrite before he opened his mouth and made it official.)

Evidently Nathanael was a true believer among the ancient Israelites, a man patiently waiting for the coming of the Messiah. But how would he recognize Him? In that day, as in our own day, there were many spiritual counterfeits. How could Nathanael know? Or how would the Messiah make himself known?

The answer is not hard to find. Jesus revealed his divine knowledge of all things to Nathanael.

Nathanael immediately comes to the proper conclusion: "Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the King of Israel" (John 1:49). I feel like I can see Jesus smiling a bit as he replies to Nathanael's eager profession of faith.

God bless Nathanael. Though his faith was imperfect, he rested it on the right object, the Lord Jesus Christ. And Jesus says to him, "You will see greater things than this," meaning that Jesus himself is the one true way to God. He is the "door" to heaven (John 10:9, NASB) and anyone who enters through Him will be saved forever.

So we see in this story Jesus commends the simple faith of an honorable man and then uses that "teachable moment" to reveal enormous spiritual truth that Nathanael would not have completely understood.

Source: "How Do You Know Me?" by Keep Believing Ministries.

The Call to Discipleship

by Greg Laurie

So he departed from there, and found Elisha the son of Shaphat, who was plowing with twelve yoke of oxen before him, and he was with the twelfth. Then Elijah passed by him and threw his mantle on him.
-1 Kings 19:19

The ministry of the great prophet Elijah was coming to an end. God had directed him to pass his mantle on, which meant the calling that God placed on Elijah's life was about to be placed on Elijah's successor. It would be symbolized by Elijah's pulling off his mantle and giving it to someone else in a symbolic way.

Interestingly, the man to whom Elijah passed his calling had a similar name: Elisha. Elisha didn't have to take up the calling to be the prophet to the nation of Israel. He had a choice in the matter. He could have said, "That's okay. I'm out. This is too much for me." But he didn't. He accepted it.

Elijah was doing what every mature Christian should do. Whether you're a preacher, a missionary or a believer just living your life in this very harsh world, you are called to help others. After you have known the Lord for a while, you need to mentor other people. Older women should mentor younger women. Older men should mentor younger men.

Quite frankly, this a part of the Great Commission. The Great Commission is not merely to preach the gospel. The Great Commission is to go and "make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that [He has] commanded you" (Matthew 28:19-20).

The goal is to tell people about Jesus, try to lead them to the Lord, and then prayerfully take them under your wing and help them get on their feet spiritually.

We all have a part to play. I think somewhere along the line, evangelism has been isolated from discipleship. But you need younger Christians - and younger Christians need you.

Copyright © 2015 by Harvest Ministries. All rights reserved.


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