“[Jesus] found Philip and said to him, ‘Follow me.’ . . . Philip said to [Nathanael], ‘Come and see.’ . . . [Nathanael] said, “Rabbi, you are then Song of God! You are the King of Israel!’” John 1:43, 45, 49
There is a lot of “finding” going on in the passage from John 1:43-51. Jesus found Philip and invited him to follow him. Philip found Nathanael who was apparently a friend of his and invited him to go meet Jesus. Nathanael found Jesus, and his skepticism and doubt about Jesus’ identity was removed.
It’s interesting that Jesus initiated through invitation, and Philip followed his example. In spite of Nathanael’s rather nasty remark in verse 46, “Can anything from Nazareth be good?” he went to see Jesus. Maybe he wanted to prove Philip wrong or satisfy his own curiosity about someone from Nazareth. Obviously he considered Nazareth to be a worthless place and believed that it was certainly not the place from which the Messiah would come.
But meeting Jesus changed his mind. It may have been Jesus’ interactions with him or maybe it was something about him in general. It’s clear that Jesus attracted a lot of people even before he became known as a great healer and teacher. Even John the Baptist’s disciples abandoned John and followed Jesus.
Jesus was someone worth following after all. We often think that we have the power to choose to follow Jesus, and of course we do need to make that choice when it comes right down to it. But even before we reach the point of choosing, Jesus has invited us to follow. Jesus calls us and seeks us out, so we have been found far before we decide to follow.
Like Nathanael, there are many people who are skeptical about this Jesus. People question his presence, his life, his resurrection, and all that he brought and continues to bring to this world. Perhaps our calling as followers isn’t so much to find people (because Jesus has already done that) as it is to invite people and allow them to “come and see.” It’s really not up to us to make sure they accept Jesus into their lives. Our job is to invite through our words and actions.
Someone once said that we are the only gospel most people read. How do we invite others to “come and see” Jesus through the way we live our lives?