How Does God Love the World? John 1

This morning’s gospel (John 1:43-51) reading is unexpected. We are in the year where we focus on the gospel according to Mark but today we detour to the gospel according to John. In John’s narrative, this scene takes place after Jesus meets John the baptism. Jesus begins to find his disciples. Peter and his brother Andrew are two of the first disciples Jesus calls. And then Jesus goes to Galilee to find Philip. Exactly where Philip was, scripture doesn’t tell us. In fact, scripture doesn’t tell us much about Philip at all. We really don’t know who Philip is or what he was doing when he met Jesus. We don’t know if Philip was religious or if he attended synagogue every week. We don’t know if Philip was seeking the Messiah or if faith was important to him at all. All the gospel according to John tells us is that Jesus went to Galilee and found Philip. For John, what Jesus does here and what Philip does next is what being a follower of Jesus is all about.

If we want to follow Jesus, we need to trust that we cannot follow Jesus unless Jesus comes to us. And that visit by Jesus happens in a variety of ways. Jesus comes to us in the moment of our baptism, when we gather to worship in church, when we sing together as a community, and when we share Jesus’ body and blood in communion. Jesus also comes to us when we are praying for a friend, when we are hiking far from civilization, and when we are stuck on a crowded subway car. Jesus makes himself known to us by by sending us a feeling of peace when peace feels impossible. He sometimes speaks words of hope that only we can hear. And he shows up by pushing us to love our neighbors even when we don’t want to. There’s no “right” way that Jesus comes to us. Rather, Jesus comes to us over and over again wherever we are. Jesus finds us because we are worth being found.

And once we are found, we are sent to find others. As we see in this text, following Jesus means living like Jesus does. Jesus finds Philip and so Philip finds Nathaniel. Our faith isn’t a commodity only for ourselves. Our faith, instead, compels us to share it with others. We are called to invite folks to know Jesus. We are called to invite folks to church. We are called to listen to the questions others have, to answer them as best we can, to be honest if we don’t know the answer, and still to be brave enough to tell them to “come and see.” We are called to be like Jesus and to be like Philip. Because when Jesus finds us, we become more than just ourselves; we become part of Jesus himself (aka the body of Christ). And when we find others, God is using us to love the world (John 3:16).

Each week, I write a reflection on one of our scripture readings for the week. This is from Christ Lutheran Church’s Worship Bulletin for the 2nd Sunday After Epiphany, 1/14/2018.