Come and See
[John the Baptist] saw Jesus coming toward him and declared, “Here is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! This is he of whom I said, ‘After me comes a man who ranks ahead of me because he was before me.’ I myself did not know him; but I came baptizing with water for this reason, that he might be revealed to Israel.” And John testified, “I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him. I myself did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain is the one who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ And I myself have seen and have testified that this is the Son of God.”
The next day John again was standing with two of his disciples, and as he watched Jesus walk by, he exclaimed, “Look, here is the Lamb of God!” The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus. When Jesus turned and saw them following, he said to them, “What are you looking for?” They said to him, “Rabbi” (which translated means Teacher), “where are you staying?” He said to them, “Come and see.” They came and saw where he was staying, and they remained with him that day. It was about four o’clock in the afternoon. One of the two who heard John speak and followed him was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. He first found his brother Simon and said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which is translated Anointed). He brought Simon to Jesus, who looked at him and said, “You are Simon son of John. You are to be called Cephas” (which is translated Peter).
“What are you looking for?” Jesus asks the two disciples of John the Baptist when he notices that they are following him; Andrew, the brother of Peter, and another unnamed disciple.
“Where are you staying?” is all they can think of to ask Jesus when they are put on the spot like that. Although they must have had other questions. John the Baptist had just put them on Jesus’ tail by pointing him out as the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. They must have wondered what that was all about, but instead they can only think to blurt out, “Where are you staying?”
Jesus doesn’t tell the disciples where he is staying. Instead, he extends an invitation; Come and see.
Come and see. When somebody says that it usually means that the answer to the question that has been poised is difficult to explain or to put into words, but here, let me show you, come and see; your question will be answered when you see the answer. The phrase is roughly the equivalent of, or an extension of what we say these days; let me show you something. Let me show you something. Come and see.
I’ve been thinking about those phrases this week, because after Jesus said, let me show you something (come and see) to Andrew and the other potential disciple, after they came and saw what Jesus offered to show them, the place where he was staying among, perhaps, other things, they were converted! We have found the Messiah! Andrew brags to his brother, Peter.
Well what, I wonder, did Jesus show them? What did they see at the place where Jesus was staying that convinced them that Jesus, who John the Baptist called the Lamb of God, was actually, factually, the long awaited Messiah; the Savior promised by God?
Let me show you something. When somebody says that to you, let me show you something, what kind of something do you anticipate you are going to see? Will it be a good something? Something the person that is doing the showing, is proud of? Will it be a surprising something? Will be be something that cannot be described; you just have to see it to believe it? When somebody says to you, Come here, I want to show you something, do you brace for the worst, or get ready for something special?
It depends, doesn’t it, on the context, and on who is doing the showing.
I took our big Landcruiser that we used for towing our tent trailer into the dealer some years ago for an oil change. Something I am not as regular about as perhaps I should be, but then my general philosophy is, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. And the Cruiser had been running just fine. After waiting in the quote, unquote, “lounge” area of the service department somewhat longer than the thirty minutes advertised above the garage bay, my name was called and I went to the counter to pay the bill and retrieve my keys.
“Let me show you something,” the mechanic whose greasy shirt was embroidered with the name Trevor said to me, instead of either handing me my keys or a bill. “Come and see,” he said, leading me back into the repair shop.
When your mechanic says, let me show you something, it’s almost never good news. Trevor marched me over to the front of my Landcruiser, lifted the hood and pointed to some kind of nest built of sticks, dry grass, and small animal droppings, tucked in between the battery and the air cleaner. Trevor looked at me accusingly.
“Wow,” I said. “Where did that come from?”
When was the last time you opened your hood,” Trevor wanted to know. I furrowed my brow as though thinking hard, but really I was trying to determine how old that mouse nest really looked. “Last week?” I said hopefully.
Let me show you something. If your mechanic, or sometimes your doctor, wants to show you something, you usually need to brace yourself. They’re going to show you something, that you don’t want to see. Something that will explain the painful news that you’re going to get next.
On the other hand, if your child or grandchild says to you, Come and see, it usually means that you are about to be treated to a new something that they have learned to do or a new something that they have made or a new discovery that they excitedly want to share.
What did Jesus show Andrew and the other disciple at four o’clock in the afternoon when he took them to the place where he was staying, that so impressed them that they went out and immediately rounded up their relatives and friends in order to say to them, Guess what we’ve found! Come and see!
Did Jesus multiply loaves for the two disciples that afternoon? Did he, like a mechanic, show them the mouse nests of their sins that fouled up their lives and convict them of their need for forgiveness and salvation? Did the two curious disciples come to the place where Jesus was living and see it decorated with crosses on the walls, or was there sitting in a back corner an old manger, saved as souvenir for the past thirty years? Come and see, Jesus said. What do you think they saw that so changed them?
We don’t know exactly what transpired between Jesus and the two first disciples that afternoon. We can imagine a variety of things, but I imagine what the disciples saw in the place where Jesus was staying, was simply Jesus himself.
What they saw and what they encountered was God’s grace and compassion brought to the flesh and bone of human life. What they heard, I imagine, was hope, was good news, was God’s inclusion rather than exclusion of people in need, was invitation to be active participants in new ways of relating both to God and to one another.
We are the Andrews of today, you and I. We are invited, on the one hand, to come and see; to seek out, to open our eyes to the places where Jesus is staying in our world today, and to recognize him there; to see Jesus in the homeless shelters, along the bike trail just a few hundred yards from here, to recognize him living in the midst of the people of the Congo, to see that he has made his home in our homes and that his mission and ministry is to redecorate our homes and our world with grace, with love, with expansive hospitality, with peace.
We are invited, as well, like Andrew, to go to our brothers and sisters and give witness. We have found, we have met, we have been embraced by the Messiah. We are the ones today to say to others, come and see. Sometimes our faith may be difficult to explain, to put into words. We don’t have to explain it. We just need to show it. Come and see.
Let the world see in our homes, in our churches, in our lives, the love, the hope, the compassion, the humor and the joy of our faith. Let us be inviters, let us show off the love of Jesus and so convince the world of God’s reality that more and more will come to say; We’ve found the Messiah.
~Rev. Brian J. Claasen