Lesson 4: Come and See

Come and SeeThroughout his book, John proclaims the Gospel is a love story that features the Word, a rational or spiritual principle, becoming human in order to woo his people. What was once an intellectual concept is now a human life.

That means we come to God not through a mental process, but a personal experience. Jesus shares fully God’s Spirit and offers to share that Spirit with us. As we enter this personal relationship, we become more like Jesus, and so more like God.

One implication of this is the “Come and See” theme that he picks up here in John 2: 19-51 and continues until the end of his book. Events from Matthew, Mark, and Luke are reframed as testimonies or witnesses. Rather than picture Jesus’ baptism, he reports John the Baptist’s witness of his experience. Rather than have Jesus appear on the seashore and call disciples to follow him, he has those who have come to know Jesus bring others to experience what they have found. “Come and see”.

By the end of the chapter John offers two clarifications to his claim that Jesus is God. First, Jesus is pictured as a very compassionate human being, a person who takes time to visit with people and notices them before they have any interest in him. He spends the afternoon with Andrew and takes note of Nataniel sitting under a fig tree.

Second, he quickly redefines the Word by making clear Jesus is the Lamb of God, another theme that will run through his entire book. To be God is to be a lover who shares the suffering of his people, even to the point of being willing to die for his loved ones.

This prepares us to hear the “I am” sayings not so much as egoistical statements of who he is and our need to accept his exalted status intellectually, but rather as proclamations about what he offers us in love: the bread of life, light, safety, the Way, the Truth, the Life, etc.

John makes clear the Gospel is good news that we must report like any other news story, so that others can “Come and See” what has given us great joy.

So much for the modern caution about avoiding political or religious talk. We soon come to see this is a ploy by those in authority to keep their control. To share Jesus’ Spirit is to reach out to the outsider, the poor, and the weak; to change the world as we know it. John says clearly the faith depends on each of us telling our neighbors, “Come and See what I have found”. Well, maybe even better, “Come and See who has found me”.

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3 Enlightened Replies

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  1. Concordia Hoffmann says:

    It seems to me that in the past few years some Lutheran sermons have acknowledged that we poor humans are capable of doing good because we have the Divine God within us. This attitude is very different from the previous emphasis of our sinful, wicked nature.

    Interestingly enough, the 19th century American transcendentalists , and poets such as Walt Whitman, believed that the divine was within all humans.

  2. Bob Nordvall says:

    A problem of the Gospels is this. They reflect different viewpoints and emphases because they are written by different people at different times. Are these simply different takes, all accurate in their way, of a very complex phenomenon? Or, on the other hand, are some accounts simply more accurate than others; they are not all perspectives worthy of the same level of belief and regard. Clearly the gospel writers were aiming at different audiences at different times in the early history of Christianity. Was each emphasizing aspects of the Jesus story (all of which are relevant and valid) that would be the most attractive to their particular audience or is one or more of them twisting and distorting the story somewhat in order to get the listeners to accept the GOOD NEWS of the Gospel? How much are they chroniclers and how much are they salesmen? Probably an unanswerable question.

  3. Derek says:

    I’d be curious about different takes on Bob’s question above.

    It somewhat relates to what I had thought of after reading this week’s topic, which is that I had forgotten the degree to which John’s gospel presents Jesus in a much more loving and approachable light. I suppose over time the Gospels had sort of merged together in my mind.

    However from an Evangelism perspective, actually reaching out to someone to come and see, John is something one could present that is clearly actual good news as opposed to the rather more horrifying good news one has to face and wrestle with in the other Gospels.

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