Jesus found Philip. Philip found Nathanael. Nathanael found Jesus. (John 1: 45-51) As I read today’s Gospel message in the first chapter of John, I prayerfully inserted my name: Jesus found Debbie. Debbie found a neighbor, a friend, an acquaintance, a family member, a teenage girl . . . and they found Jesus.
What a beautiful and simply stated chain of events that reflects such an important challenge for all of us as disciples. We are called to help others find Jesus, the living and true God, so they can help others do the same.
So, what holds me back? I am afraid that I won’t have the right words to say, or answers to complex questions, or enough theological understanding. But Philip models for us the perfect opening line, which he heard Jesus say earlier to two followers: “Come and see.”
“Come and see” is an invitation I can offer for others to see who Jesus really is, to suspend their judgments, preconceived notions, or negative experiences of the Church, and journey to the place of encounter with a Person who is not just waiting to be found, but is the One in pursuit. When I extend this simple invitation, the pressure is no longer on me to have all the answers. It's God’s job, and His deepest desire, to show people that His Son is the Answer.
What I’ve learned in the 35+ years since “Jesus found Debbie” is that “come and see” means an offer to faithfully accompany others as they walk the path toward Christ. It means rejoicing with them when they rejoice and weeping with them when they weep. In addition, I invite others to come and see my life, which is far from perfect, but by God’s grace reflects the reality of His love and mercy.
Philip’s simple invitation has a beautiful effect. Nathanael encounters Jesus. The Lord sees him, He knows his innermost heart. From this intimate connection with the Messiah comes Nathanael’s profession of faith: “You are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!”
Today, Jesus calls out to each of us, “Come and see! Draw closer to Me. See Me in prayer, in all the circumstances of your life, and in the people around you.”
Today, Jesus asks us to be like Philip—eager and ready to invite others to “come and see” Him—and to be like Nathanael by sincerely acknowledging Him as our Lord and King.
Have I invited anyone to come closer to the Lord?
Debra Herbeck, a Jewish convert to the Church, has worked extensively in youth and women’s ministry. She has directed Pine Hills Girls Camp for the past 32 years, is the founder and Director of the Be Love Revolution, and also helps lead a ministry called i.d.916. She has written a number of books that can be found here. Debra and her husband Peter live in Ann Arbor, Michigan and are the parents of four children and five adorable grandchildren.