Sermon for Sunday, 11/18/2018
Part VI of Series: The Disciple’s Path
Texts: John 1:43-51
Theme: “Witnessing to Christ’s Love”
Good news is difficult to keep. When we watch a movie, read a good book, or
make a wonderful trip, we just can’t wait to tell a friend. We want to share the
story, and by doing so, we witness to the awesome experience we
have had and invite others into that experience.
This is how we Christians ought to be. We are people who have experienced the saving grace of God through Christ and are experiencing his love each day. Each day our lives are being transformed by God the Holy Spirit. This is an awesome experience worth sharing. We must invite others into this wonderful experience that we have found in Christ, and bear witness of this love to those who are missing out on it.
Bearing witness, which is sharing the love of Jesus Christ with others, so that they too may become his disciples is a theme that runs through the gospel of John. We see the at the very inception of the book. Chapter 1:6-7 reads,
“There was a man sent from God whose name was John. He came as a witness,
in order to bear witness of the light, that through him all might believe. This was
John’s mission. It’s our mission as well.
In our gospel reading (John 1:43-51), Jesus is recruiting his disciples and finds
the young man Philip to whom Jesus extends the simple invitation, “Follow Me.”
When Philip finds his friend Nathaniel, he just could not keep the good news.
“We have found Him of whom Moses in the law and the prophets wrote-
Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph,” To Philip, this was a news too good to keep.
It’s like saying to Nathaniel come and meet this Jesus, whom I have found.
As followers of Christ, our ministry is to invite others to Jesus. We are to bear
witness to the love of Christ to others, just as we too have experienced.
As Godet said, “One lighted torch serves to light another.” Each of us must show
another person the way that leads to life through Christ.
Nathaniel’s response to his friend Philip was “Can anything good come
Nazareth?” This is not the kind of response you would expect from a friend being
invited to something thought of as good. Nathaniel’s reaction was to declare that
Nazareth was not the kind of place anything good would come from. Some people
kind of think of the church like that. But Philip was wise. He did not argue. He
said simply, “Come and see.” Philip was saying, come and experience him for
yourself. And when Nathaniel experienced Jesus, his attitude changed. His words
became, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel.”
The ministry of witnessing to the love of Christ is assigned to us by Christ himself.
In John 15:27, Jesus tells the disciples, “You shall be my witnesses because you
have been with me from the beginning.” You and I are called to witness to the
love of Christ. But if we are to carry out this ministry, we must employ the
wisdom of Philip. It is not about putting up the smartest argument. William
Barclay writes, “Not very many people have been argued into Christianity. Often,
our arguments do more harm than good.”
So, instead of putting up the most clever argument, we use Philip’s simple response; “come and see.” We can also learn from the Samaritan Woman at
the well, who after encountering Jesus, ran back to the village, inviting
everyone to Christ, “Come and see the man who has told me everything that have
John 4:39a says, “Many of the Samaritans from that village committed
themselves to Jesus because of the woman’s witness,” And in verse 42, they told
the woman, “Now we believe, not because of what you said, for we ourselves
have heard Him and we know that this is indeed the Christ, the Savior of the
Church, when we witness to the love of Christ by inviting others, God through the Holy Spirit will do the rest. It is God who touches people’s hearts to follow him.
We must learn to be an invitational church, but in today’s world, no one will
follow a person whom she doesn’t know. This is where building relationship,
especially with new people is key. Every time a new family moves into our
neighborhood let’s reach out and develop relationship with them. As we
get more acquainted, it becomes likely for them to respond to our invitation.
In addition to being invitational, the next way we can witness to God’s love is by
sharing Christ’s love with others in practical ways, especially those outside of
the church circle. In his book, The Conspiracy of Kindness, Steve Sjogren writes,
“God is seeking to enter the hearts of every person on this planet, but He
faces a significant obstacle. The problem has never been a message; we
have that straight, for the most part. Nor the problem the lack of audience;
plenty of people need to hear the good news. His problem is the reluctant
army He calls the Church.” He continues, “God is looking for people who
are willing to participate in acts of love and kindness to those outside of
their present circle.” Are you willing to be one of those people God is
The author adds, “God is looking for people who believe that a humble demonstration of love plants a seed of eternity in the hearts of others that may blossom into faith in Christ.
I have always asked, what if we open our thanksgiving dinner to those outside the church who may be far from family and friends. We will be saying to them, “come on in; we are your family and friends. That would be heart touching to some folks.
I think there is no shortage of words about God’s love that people have heard. But people want to see and experience God’s love in practical ways. This is a very powerful means of witnessing to Christ love to the community around us.
Using Steve words, may I conclude, “When people see the love of God in action, a hot button is touched deep inside them. They feel God’s presence and see that he is real.” May we become the vessels through which Christ is experienced by all.
God bless you.