A sermon idea based on John 1:35-42.
John 1:35-42 NRSV
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).
The relevant topic I would be addressing, based on this text…
Jesus invites us to surrender absolutely everything about our lives to follow him, but he doesn’t start there. He starts with a simple invitation anyone can say “yes” to: “Come and see.”
The heart of the message, a potential outline, key truths to share, special notes for interpreting the text, etc.
What kind of commitment does Jesus expect from people? That depends on where you are in your relationship with God right now.
I come from a tradition that tends to emphasize what I would call “all-in discipleship” from day one. As evangelicals, we sometimes skip over the earliest parts of the gospel stories and jump right into the middle. Here’s what I mean…
In the fifth and sixth chapters of the Gospel of John, we hear the part of Jesus’ message that winds up turning people away. It’s a message about how hard the journey will be, how much commitment is required (and it’s all-in), and what the consequences may be for those who do follow him.
We don’t want to offer a bait-and-switch “easy-believism” gospel so we share Jesus with this all-in commitment in mind on the front end. We want people to understand that to commit their lives to Jesus requires an absolute and complete surrender of everything we are and all that we have to him.
Here’s the problem with this approach: we skip over chapters one through four in which Jesus gathers his first disciples, talked with Nicodemus, and meets with the woman at the well in Jericho. All of these stories have a common theme – Jesus simply invited people who wanted to know more about him to give his message a hearing and see what he was all about.
He doesn’t coerce anyone to follow him. He doesn’t sell an easy life, but he also doesn’t open with the concept of suffering for the gospel’s sake. He answers questions. He asks questions when people think they have answers. And then, he invites people to walk with him.
This passage in John shows us a three-part progression in the lives of his first disciples. His invitation is simple: Come and see.
And their responses follow an interesting track.
First, they follow him.
Not in the spiritual sense, but in the literal sense. They start walking behind him as he goes. They go and watch what he does next. They observe. They listen. They take it all in.
Second, they stay with him.
Again, this isn’t to be spiritualized into a lifetime commitment. Rather, they have seen enough of Jesus to know that he is indeed worthy of their further attention, and perhaps even their devotion.
Third, they bring others to him.
Once they’re convinced, they start gathering others.
Don’t misunderstand. The message we should take from this isn’t See? Following Jesus is actually easy and doesn’t require much at all!
Rather it’s You will never regret taking your next step in following Jesus – his life, his teachings, his story, and his redemptive work are all incredibly compelling, to the point that we dont’ have to use guilt trips, sales pitches, or scare tactics to get anyone to commit to him. We just need to represent him accurately and allow seekers to take one step closer.
The gospel is beautiful. Jesus is beautiful. And the beauty of Jesus is compelling enough without any manipulation on our part.
The big call-to-action in the message…
If you follow Jesus already, know that you don’t have to pressure or manipulate your friends into believing what you believe. You simply need to represent Jesus well. Embody his love to those around you and the Holy Spirit will do the work of drawing people to Christ.
And whether you’re a seasoned believer or you’ve never made any sort of commitment to Christ at all, there is always a next step for you to take to get closer to him.
About the Cover Art: Pencz, Georg. Christ Speaking With the Disciples, from Art in the Christian Tradition, a project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library, Nashville, TN.