John 1:43-51

The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. He found Philip and said to him, “Follow me.” Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. 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.” Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.” When Jesus saw Nathanael coming towards him, he said of him, “Here is truly an Israelite in whom there is no deceit!” Nathanael asked him, “Where did you come to know me?” Jesus answered, “I saw you under the fig tree before Philip called you.” Nathanael replied, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!” Jesus answered, “Do you believe because I told you that I saw you under the fig tree? You will see greater things than these.” 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.”

I’m never sure what to make of Nathaniel. Andrew and Philip are much easier. They both seem to take things at face value. Andrew’s teacher, John the Baptist, commends Jesus to Andrew and off he goes after Jesus. Jesus commands Philip to follow him, and he does.

But not Nathaniel. Philip tells Nathaniel that he believes he has found the one Moses and all the prophets foretold in the person of Jesus of Nazareth, and Nathaniel isn’t simply skeptical, but downright insulting. “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” he asks sarcastically, his tone likely providing an answer to his rhetorical question.

And in response to Nathaniel’s scorn, Philip does an amazing thing. A grace-filled thing. A thing Jesus himself had done a little earlier. Philip invites Nathaniel to “come and see.” All of which brings us back to the heart of Christian evangelism: it is nothing more or less than inviting people to come and see Jesus, God’s gracious Word made flesh, for themselves. To come and see those who are inspired by Jesus enough to try to follow him. To come and see how God continues to work in the world and in our lives.

That’s it. Nothing fancy, nothing heroic, and certainly nothing threatening. Just a simple invitation.

Most of us aren’t very practiced in making that kind of invitation. We worry it will seem inappropriate or even aggressive. But I’m guessing that if you’ve ever been invited by someone to share something they enjoy, love, and value, it hasn’t felt that way at all. Philip invites Nathaniel. He doesn’t cajole or coerce or intimidate. He just invites. And we can do the same.

Perhaps those we invite will like what they find. And perhaps they won’t. Perhaps skeptics like Nathaniel will find something they didn’t expect. Or perhaps they’ll want to keep searching. None of that matters all that much, or at least isn’t up to us. All we’re called to do is invite — Come and see! — God will do the rest.

Prayer: Dear God, give us the courage to share what we know and enjoy about our life of faith with others, trusting that you will take care of the rest. In Jesus’ name, Amen.