October 2, 2016 – 20th Sunday after Pentecost
by Pastor Pete Scheele
Grace and peace to you as you live in the assurance of God’s love, from God, our Father, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Have you ever been surprised? Surprises can be quite pleasant. After a romantic stroll to a waterfall, a man gets down on his knee, pulls out a beautiful ring, and asks his college sweetheart, “Would you marry me?” A young wife eagerly shares the big news with her unsuspecting husband: “Guess what? We’re having a baby!” Surprises can also be unpleasant. After planning for an outdoor wedding for years an unexpected rainstorm pours down on your much anticipated wedding day. An optimistic job seeker receives a letter of rejection after a seemingly great job interview. The surprise of the sudden death of a loved one can be a crushing blow.
All surprises, by definition, are unexpected. But not all surprises are received in the same way. People can have vastly different reactions to the same surprise. The results of the latest presidential election are in. Some will celebrate, while others will lament. Think of a movie or a restaurant reviews on the Internet. One person’s favorite film or café is another person’s worst entertainment or dining venue. Perhaps you have heard someone describe to you an artist’s new style or their latest song by saying, “People will either love it or hate it.” The same surprise but a different response.
The dynamics of a surprise and the different responses are exactly what we encounter when we hear about the joy of a surprise shared with Simon Peter and then a little later the same surprise is shared with Nathaniel with a completely different reactions. The surprise in both cases is seeing and hearing Jesus for the first time. Through God’s only Son, He reveals His greatest surprise for all the world in the darkness sin and death. Jesus Christ, the Light of the World that has come from above to dispel this darkness of sin and death from our world but will we come and see Him. Yet we can each have an entirely different reactions to this news just as Andrew, Peter, Phillip and Nathaniel did.
In our Gospel reading for this morning we heard about Andrew and another man hearing John the Baptist telling them as Jesus walks by, “Behold, the lamb of God!” and then they follow Jesus to where he was staying so that they could come and see who he was. After Andrew spent a surprising day with Jesus he went and told his bother Simon, “We have found the Messiah” (which means Christ). He brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said, “So you are Simon the son of John? You shall be called Cephas” (which means Peter or the rock). (Jn. 1:41-42) Simon Peter’s responses to the offer to come and see Jesus was similar to that of Andrews yet different, still the result was that of belief in Jesus.
We are told, ‘The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. He found Philip and said to him, “Follow me.” 44 Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter.45 Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found Him of whom Moses in the Law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.”46 Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.” 47 Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him and said of him, “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no deceit!” 48 Nathanael said to him, “How do you know me?” Jesus answered him, “Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.” 49 Nathanael answered him, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!” 50 Jesus answered him, “Because I said to you, ‘I saw you under the fig tree,’ do you believe? You will see greater things than these.” 51 And he said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you will see heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.” (Jn. 1:43-51)
Four people are all given the same surprise, an invitation to come and see their Lord and Savior. Three of them come with wonderment following the invitation to “Come and See” and believe in the one they see, Jesus Christ. The forth one could not see the possibility of a Savior coming from Nazareth, so his prejudice gets in the way of him coming or seeing with hope. Yet, as he comes to hear and see the Savior, he to comes to believe in Jesus Christ.
Wouldn’t it be nice if everyone that we invited to “Come and See the Savior” would truly come to see their Lord and Savior in this world so that they would be with Him here and now in this world, where He can give us His comfort and assurance, and for all eternity in the heavenly home He has prepared for us. Each of us have come to see Jesus as our Lord and Savior. Yet, how often do we take the time to share with someone else the surprises we have come to know about, our God who loves us, cares for us and calls us to be with Him for all eternity? We are asked to share this surprise with an invitation to Come and See our Savior.
Today on this LWML Sunday we are encouraged to ask our family members, our friends or our neighbors to “Come and See” the great love, grace and mercy that God has given to us. Will we invite others to “Come and See” our savior like Andrew and Philip did, who came to see Jesus and wanted to share that surprise with a friend or are we afraid that we might get the response like Philip got, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Can anything good come out of the Middle East, that’s what we want to share with our family, friends and neighbors? Come and See what Jesus Christ can do for you in this life and for all eternity, that’s all that the LWML is ask us to remember to do. For what God has done through others for us in the past can be a big surprise with incredible results for others through us as we invite them to come and see their Savior. Come and See what Jesus Christ can do in your life even if you are a hater of God’s church and a murder. That’s what we have been learning about over the past four months as we have been reading through the book of Acts of the Apostles.
Come and see what we can learn from another surprise in the live of the Apostle Paul who once hated God’s Church and murdered those who believed in God’s only Son, Jesus Christ. Some would say that it is a big surprise to see this man on his third missionary journey for Jesus Christ, so come and see what we can learn from his experiences today as he gives a surprising farewell speech to the elders of Ephesus.
The Apostle Paul says to us, “You yourselves know how I lived among you the whole time from the first day that I set foot in Asia,  serving the Lord with all humility and with tears and with trials that happened to me through the plots of the Jews;  how I did not shrink from declaring to you anything that was profitable, and teaching you in public and from house to house,  testifying both to Jews and to Greeks of repentance toward God and of faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. (Acts 20:18 – 21)
Through the years the women in the LWML have humbly served God with their time, talents and treasurers, so that the Good News of Jesus Christ could be shared with others in their neighborhood, state and the entire world. The Apostle Paul was doing the same and often with tears of sorrow. Why the tears of sorrow? Because of his great commitment for all people to receive the Good News of Jesus Christ in their life was often rejected. Yes the gift of Jesus is emotional because we know the path that those who reject the invitation to come and se are taking. How emotional is it for you to invite some one to come and see their Savior and then have some of your family, friends and neighbors tried to stop you from inviting others to come and see the promised savior of the world.
There were those who tried to stop the Apostle Paul from sharing the gift of God’s love, grace and mercy with others in this world and yet the Apostle Paul continued to share the knowledge of God’s Love, grace and mercy with others. Do we shrink from declaring all that someone needs to know about their savior because their response is like that of Nathaniel’s, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” All people need to know how through repentance God is working the miracle of faith in our lives that will change our lives eternally. Do we have the desire to ask all people to come and see the work of God through His only Son, Jesus Christ?
The Apostle Paul tells us, “And now, behold, I am going to Jerusalem, constrained by the Spirit, not knowing what will happen to me there,  except that the Holy Spirit testifies to me in every city that imprisonment and afflictions await me.  But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God. (Acts 20: 22–24)
How important is it for you to invite other to come and see their Savior? The LWML throughout its 82-year history have asked all their members to make the invitation to come and see their savior an important mission for all people in their neighborhood, their state and the world. Just as the Holy Spirit was working in the Apostle Paul’s life to lead him on the path that he needed to travel with unknown surprises waiting. So we are asked by the Holy Spirit to let Him work in our lives to share the surprise we have seen with an invitation to come and see what God has done for us. If God was willing to send His only Son, Jesus Christ to die for all our sins and give us eternal live through Him what can He do through us as we share the invitation to come and see our Savior? We need to ask ourselves, “What is more precious than the blood of Jesus Christ shed for us? It is the blood of Jesus Christ that makes us clean so that we can live in the perfect love, grace and mercy of God now and for all eternity. Isn’t that the ministry that we all have been given by the Holy Spirit to invite all people to come and see the surprise that the Savior can do in our lives through His Word and Sacraments. Amen.