Psalm 27:4 —One thing have I asked of the Lord, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to inquire in his temple.
Psalm 27:8 —You have said, “Seek my face.” My heart says to you, “Your face, LORD, do I seek.
Isaiah 45:3 –The nations shall see your righteousness, and all the kings your glory, and you shall be called by a new name that the mouth of the Lord will give.
Evangelism is simply sharing good news. And what better news is there to take others than the message that God has made a way for us to be reconciled to him?
While some are called to the full-time ministry of evangelism, we are all called to share the gospel. Here are 40 verses that give insight into this privilege/responsibility. Some of these verses are instruction, and others can be memorized in order to inspire you to speak boldly of what God has accomplished in Christ for each of us.
1. Evangelism is about increasing God’s renown.
Give praise to the Lord, proclaim His name; make known among the nations what He has done (Psalm 105:1, New International Version).
Throughout the Old Testament, God sets Himself above all other gods. He creates a nation with the intent that its people will make His name known among the nations and share the great works He has done.
These great works culminate in the reconciliation of the Cross and in His defeat of death in the Resurrection. I can imagine no greater motivation to make His name known.
2. Evangelism is wise work.
The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life and the one who is wise saves lives (Proverbs 11:30, NIV).
When this Proverb was written, the idea of “saving lives” had more to do with delivering them from evil paths which lead to death. In light of the gospel story, it takes on a whole new significance. When considered within the context of Christ’s work, the fruit of the righteous is quite literally a tree of life and the work of saving lives!
3. Evangelism is about our willingness to go.
Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I. Send me!” (Isaiah 6:8, NIV)
God never coerces us to serve Him, but He continually offers us a choice. The sixth chapter of Isaiah tells of the prophet having a vision of the Lord in His throne room. This sobering vision helped propel him to volunteer to share the Lord’s message.
We, too, are motivated in direct proportion to our experience with God. If we struggle to find the inspiration to share the good news, perhaps it’s time to pray for a deeper revelation of God’s glory and holiness.
4. Evangelism is simply telling what God has done.
In that day you will say: “Give praise to the Lord, proclaim His name; make known among the nations what He has done, and proclaim that His name is exalted” (Isaiah 12:4, NIV).
Much of the Book of Isaiah operates as a twofold prophecy. It has immediate import as a prophecy about Judah, but also points at the coming Messiah who will deliver Israel—and subsequently all humanity.
Here Isaiah speaks of an evangelism that works in both timelines. Judah will be able to proclaim what the Lord has done to deliver the nation from its sin, and God’s future people will be able to exalt God’s name for what he’s done for mankind.
5. Evangelism points to our only source of salvation.
“Turn to Me and be saved, all you ends of the earth; for I am God, and there is no other” (Isaiah 45:22, NIV).
In the 45th chapter of Isaiah, God turns His focus on Israel’s surrounding nations who fashion idols to worship. Instead of worshipping idols they can carry with their hands, God encourages these nations to turn to Him, a God who can carry them in His hands.
This is an appropriate reminder to all of us who follow the Lord. There is still only one God and one salvation. There is no other. As awkward as it feels to speak this truth in a pluralistic and tolerant world, it’s no less true.
6. Evangelism is a divine responsibility.
“Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the people of Israel; so hear the word I speak and give them warning from me. When I say to a wicked person, ‘You will surely die,’ and you do not warn them or speak out to dissuade them from their evil ways in order to save their life, that wicked person will die for their sin, and I will hold you accountable for their blood. But if you do warn the wicked person and they do not turn from their wickedness or from their evil ways, they will die for their sin; but you will have saved yourself” (Ezekiel 3:17–19, NIV).
In this passage, God gives the prophet Ezekiel the task of being a “watchman” for Judah. The main point of this commission is that Ezekiel would deliver God’s message and warnings faithfully. A sobering element of this calling is the knowledge that when Ezekiel neglects to share the Lord’s warning for Judah’s wickedness, he will share in the responsibility.
This passage should shake us, Christ’s followers, out of our slumber. We, too, are watchmen of sorts. We have a message of salvation to deliver, and some responsibility lies on the messenger who neglects to give the message.
7. The evangelist makes God’s greatness known.
“And so I will show my greatness and my holiness, and I will make myself known in the sight of many nations. Then they will know that I am the Lord” (Ezekiel 38:23, NIV).
God reiterates to Ezekiel the Old Testament theme that He desires for Israel and the prophets to be the vessel that communicates God’s awesomeness. It’s always been God’s desire that He would have a people through whom the rest of the world would be blessed as they made His virtues known.
8. We share God’s goodness with all of creation.
“My name will be great among the nations, from where the sun rises to where it sets. In every place incense and pure offerings will be brought to me, because my name will be great among the nations,” says the Lord Almighty (Malachi 1:11, NIV).
The Old Testament closes with Malachi reiterating God’s desire for fame among the nations. The picture of God’s goodness being known everywhere the sun touches is poignant and important. We, too, bear a responsibility to share God’s goodness to every tribe, tongue and nation—everywhere the sun touches.
9. Our goodness is a form of evangelism.
“Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:15–16, NIV).
Why don’t people light a lamp and put it under a bowl? Because it’s wasted effort. If you light a lamp, you’re bringing light to your home. Here Jesus reminds us that He doesn’t want to waste His efforts either. Our lamps have been lit with the intention that we would give light to others as well.
It’s important to note that, in this instance, our good deeds are the light He is talking about. When we do good works, we give credence to the gospel. It’s not just the evil that we do that works against the gospel, but also our unwillingness to do good.
10. Prayer is an important part of evangelism.
Then He said to His disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field” (Matthew 9:37–38, NIV).
In a world full of hungry people, is there a more heartbreaking picture than ripe fruit rotting on the vine because there just aren’t enough harvesters to bring it in? The same is true in a world full of pain and heartbreak. The gospel desperately needs harvesters to share the message with those whose hearts are ripe to receive the good news.
The Lord has given us the responsibility to make evangelism a priority in the church. This is more than rushing around telling people about Jesus. It’s also about praying that the Spirit will move in others to feel the importance of joining the work of evangelism.
11. Evangelism promises immediate results.
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28, NIV).
The gospel isn’t something that only pays dividends in the sweet by-and-by. If we simply share the benefits of the gospel as something that saves people after they die, we’re doing it a disservice. The gospel has immediate benefits to those who are weary and broken, and we need to make sure that we are communicating the supernatural strength available to those who submit to the Lord.
12. Evangelism has a gold standard.
“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:19–20, NIV).
When we read this passage, we need to read it as Jesus’ marching orders. There isn’t a person who has made the decision to follow Jesus who is exempt from this commission. This is about more than just getting someone to pray the “sinner’s prayer.” It’s about equipping them to grow in grace and truth—and be people who take up this mission themselves.
13. Evangelism is important.
“Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned” (Mark 16:16, NIV).
Until we begin to really internalize what’s at stake in evangelism, we will struggle to rightly prioritize it.
14. Evangelism is for Christ’s pleasure.
“I tell you, whoever publicly acknowledges me before others, the Son of Man will also acknowledge before the angels of God” (Luke 12:8, NIV).
Imagine Christ publicly acknowledging you among the heavenly host for your willingness to identify yourself with Him. I don’t think Jesus will neglect to share His pleasure for every time we’ve communicated the good news of the gospel to another.
15. Evangelism isn’t about having all the right arguments.
“When you are brought before synagogues, rulers and authorities, do not worry about how you will defend yourselves or what you will say, for the Holy Spirit will teach you at that time what you should say” (Luke 12:11-12, NIV).
Jesus is telling the disciples that a time is coming when the cost of sharing the gospel will be high. He encourages them not to be concerned about what they will say when they’re dragged before those in authority; the Holy Spirit will move on their behalf.
Sometimes we’re so worried about having the right answer to every question that we neglect to open our mouths. It’s helpful to remember that the Holy Spirit is there helping us to communicate and also working in the hearts of those with whom we’re sharing.
16. Evangelism is good news.
For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him (John 3:16-17).
We’re often so focused on what happens to those who deny Christ, that we forget that the gospel is good news. We’re not sharing a message of condemnation, but one of a God who loves humanity so much that He’d be willing to make the ultimate sacrifice so that they could be reconciled to Him.
17. Our behavior is a form of evangelism.
“By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:35, NIV).
There are a lot of philosophies and religions vying for attention. In the end, there has to be something that sets one apart and confirms its truth and value.
We’d like to think that the gospel is confirmed by our lofty arguments. The truth is that it’s the gospel’s fruit that proves the gospel’s message—and there is no greater fruit than the love God’s people have for each other.
It’s so important that we realize that the opposite is also true. Our inability to love and affirm one another undermines the gospel’s message of reconciliation.
18. Jesus is the doorway to God.
Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6, NIV).
Why is evangelism so important? Because there is no other way to be reconciled to God but through Jesus Christ. Period.
19. Disciples bear fruit.
“This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples” (John 15:8, NIV).
In keeping with John 13:35 (#17), it’s imperative that we accept that our behavior and our fruit is a form of proof that reinforces our evangelism. The word “holiness” literally means “set apart.” We are set apart for God’s work, and this will set us apart in our culture.
People will judge our words by our works. We need to have fruit that communicates the truth of the gospel we preach.
20. Our evangelism is empowered.
“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8, NIV).
Jesus speaks in future tense of the empowerment that will come through the Holy Spirit. This power will give potency to the disciple’s message as they take the gospel to the ends of the earth.
This power that was to be given via the Holy Spirit came soon afterward, and is available to all of us who seek to be obedient to our commission. We have the power we need to fulfill our high calling!
21. The church is the light of the world.
For this is what the Lord has commanded us: “I have made you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth” (Acts 13:47, NIV).
To the first-century Jew, the idea that God’s salvation would extend beyond Israel was completely foreign—despite the fact that God had always told Israel that through them all the nations would be blessed.
All of us who follow Christ are part of His goal of redeeming the whole world to Himself. We are the light of the world. There is no plan B.
22. We must finish our task of evangelism.
However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace (Acts 20:24, NIV).
If you’re looking for inspiration, tape up this verse all around your home. Paul’s single-minded focus to fulfill his responsibility of sharing the gospel as widely as possible should energize us all.
23. We share God’s power through evangelism.
For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile (Romans 1:16, NIV).
Our willingness to share the gospel puts us at the mercy of those who may scoff at our devotion. It only takes a couple times of being laughed at, ridiculed, or treated roughly for sharing the gospel before you’re tempted to downplay your faith.
Don’t be afraid or ashamed. The gospel is the power of God!
24. Evangelism helps God share His gift of life.
For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 6:23, NIV).
Apart from the gospel, we would all receive our wages as workers of inequity. Christ’s gospel has the power to swap out those wages for a free gift of eternal life!
25. Evangelism is a necessary part of the salvation process.
For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. As Scripture says, “Anyone who believes in him will never be put to shame.” For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
How, then, can they call on the One they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the One of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”
But not all the Israelites accepted the good news. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed our message?” Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ (Romans 10:10–17, NIV).
God has always wanted a people who labor beside Him. It is entirely possible that God could magically place the message of the gospel in the hearts of every person, but He doesn’t. Why? Because He wants His bride, the church, to play a part.
26. Evangelism isn’t about fancy arguments.
“And so it was with me, brothers and sisters. When I came to you, I did not come with eloquence or human wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified” (1 Corinthians 2:1–2, NIV).
The New Testament is full of Paul’s intelligent defense of Christianity, so it’s heartening to hear that his method for evangelism was not based on crafting the most eloquent and air-tight arguments. On the contrary, he came with a simple message of Christ and His sacrifice.
The best evangelists aren’t the greatest orators; they’re the ones who are single-minded in their desire to share what God has done.
27. Evangelism isn’t always about securing a commitment.
I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow. So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. The one who plants and the one who waters have one purpose, and they will each be rewarded according to their own labor. For we are co-workers in God’s service; you are God’s field, God’s building (1 Corinthians 3:6–9, NIV).
We share God’s message, but God causes it to take root and grow into faith. And even if we don’t always get to see the fruit, we can take solace that we are playing an important role in the harvest.
28. Empathy has an important role in evangelism.
Though I am free and belong to no one, I have made myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law. To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some. I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings (1 Corinthians 9:19–23, NIV).
God’s Word manifests itself differently in each of us. So our goal isn’t to get others to conform to our cultural standards as proof of their faith. Rather, we are sensitive to their traditions and experiences so that we don’t insult or confuse them before we’ve had a chance to introduce them to Jesus.
29. We should be open to the Spirit in evangelism.
For I do not want to see you now and make only a passing visit; I hope to spend some time with you, if the Lord permits. But I will stay on at Ephesus until Pentecost, because a great door for effective work has opened to me, and there are many who oppose me (1 Corinthians 16:7–9, NIV).
It was Paul’s desire to invest some quality time with the church at Corinth—and with the issues going on there, it’s obvious they needed it. Yet, Paul was aware that the Spirit is making opportunities to share the gospel in Ephesus, and following the Lord’s movement is Paul’s priority.
It’s important to remember that we will be pulled in multiple directions, but we need to follow the Lord’s prompting—and not see opposition as a reason to quit.
30. God makes His appeal through evangelists.
We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making His appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God (2 Corinthians 5:20, NIV).
It’s God’s desire that the world would submit to be reconciled to him, and he is making that appeal through us, the church. We are the diplomats that God has sent to represent him in this foreign territory.
31. Follow your prompting, let others follow theirs.
On the contrary, they recognized that I had been entrusted with the task of preaching the gospel to the uncircumcised, just as Peter had been to the circumcised. For God, who was at work in Peter as an apostle to the circumcised, was also at work in me as an apostle to the Gentiles. James, Cephas and John, those esteemed as pillars, gave me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship when they recognized the grace given to me. They agreed that we should go to the Gentiles, and they to the circumcised (Galatians 2:7–9, NIV).
It’s easy to feel God is prompting you toward a specific work and think His prompting is universal. This was a problem that was brewing in the early church. Peter felt called to witness to the Jews and struggled with Paul’s contrary calling to preach to the Gentiles. In the end, don’t be dissuaded from reaching the people you feel called and empowered to reach.
32. Evangelism is always about God’s work.
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast (Ephesians 2:8–9, NIV).
We do well to remember that salvation is not something we earned by the work we’ve done. In the same way, the successes we see in evangelism are a response to God’s grace at work in someone’s life, and not because of our works, so we still can’t boast!
33. Salvation isn’t the goal of evangelism; discipleship is.
He is the one we proclaim, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone fully mature in Christ. To this end I strenuously contend with all the energy Christ so powerfully works in me (Colossians 1:28–29, NIV).
Paul was all about sharing the gospel, but he never saw that as his only responsibility. He worked tirelessly to ensure that systems were set up so that people could grow into maturity. This is in keeping with Christ’s commission that we not only share the good news, but that we teach them to do everything that Christ commanded.
34. Use the evangelist’s rule book.
Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains. Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should. Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone (Colossians 4:2–6, NIV).
In these four verses, Paul hits on the six elements of responsible evangelism:
Pray regularly for opportunities to share the gospel. If you’re serious about sharing the good news, you will be asking God to give you more and more opportunities.
Be watching and thankful. Since you’re praying for opportunities, you’re going to be on the lookout for them, thankful when they occur.
Pray for opportunities for others to share the gospel clearly. You’ll also pray for others to have opportunities to share the gospel, and that they would do so with power and authority.
Be wise about how you treat outsiders. You’ll learn to think of every conversation as an important part of your evangelism. It’s not that you’re always sharing the gospel; it’s that you don’t want to do anything that undermines you before you do.
Make the most of every opportunity. Making the most of your opportunities requires a lot of vigilance and grit. You need to be on guard to recognize your opportunities, and you need to have the resolve to take advantage of those opportunities when they surface.
Ensure that your conversations are full of grace. It’s so important that we recognize that our conversations reflect the gospel—even when we’re not talking about the gospel.
1 Peter 3:15 –But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.
2 Corinthians 5:20 –We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.
2 Timothy 2:15 –Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.
2 Timothy 2:5 –But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.
Acts 2:38 –Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
Ephesians 2:10 –For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
John 14:16 –Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
Mark 16:15 –He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.
‘We need to remember that all those who wrote the New Testament or provided the material for it were trained by Jesus.” In his book After Heaven, Robert Wuthnow says the watchword of Americans today is spiritual. People say, ‘I’m spiritual, but I’m not religious. I am searching for spiritual reality, but I don’t expect to find it in religious institutions or sets of dogmas.’ What Wuthnow articulates so well here is Americans’ combined rejection of the idea that secular science and reason alone can give us meaning in life or a life worth living’ that their real interest is in the supernatural and in the eternal. They don’t want to go back to the perceived creativity-stifling, smug moralism of ‘traditional religion,’ so they say, ‘Ah, the new spirituality, not the old traditional religion.’
In John 1:35-51, we see the account of how Jesus Christ met his first disciples. We see something offered to us that is neither the new spirituality nor the old traditional religion. It’s not a vague or general sense of spiritual well-being or a new set of rules. It’s an encounter with a living Person.
I have chosen this biblical passage because there are patterns here. If you want to find this spiritual reality through Jesus—this man who bridges the gap between spirituality and religion, and who offers us something different from either the new spirituality or the old traditional religion—then you need to see what the key is. The key is this repeated phrase: ‘Come and see.’ What does that mean? Let’s look at it together.
‘COME AND SEE’ MEANS ‘COME AND THINK: EXAMINE THE EVIDENCE’
The first time ‘Come and see’ happens, the disciples are kind of nervous. They were just told Jesus is this incredible person, so they follow. He says, ‘What do you want?’ What they want is to know if what they have heard is really true.
Jesus doesn’t demand belief at the moment. He doesn’t say, ‘Well, let me tell you who I am and how I demand obedience.’ He says, ‘Come and get to know me. Come and see how I live. Come and see how I speak. Come and see what I do.’ The second time we see ‘Come and see’ in the Gospel passage is when Philip says to his friend, Nathanael, ‘I found the Messiah.’
Nathanael responds with a valid question. Everybody at that time knew the Messiah would come out of Bethlehem, out of the line of David. So Nathanael looks at Philip and says, ‘He is from Galilee. He is from Nazareth. How could he be the Messiah?’ Philip’s answer is to say, ‘Let’s go find out. Come and see.’
The question we ask today is: ‘How could there be a loving and merciful God when the world is the way it is with all the injustice?’ This is another valid question, so let’s see how Jesus would answer it.
He doesn’t define the ‘new spirituality’ by saying, ‘It doesn’t matter what you believe. Figure out what works for you.’ Although that would be convenient—no critical thinking, no assessment—instead he says, ‘Come and think.’ He does not say to you what traditional religion has often said: ‘Don’t question. Just believe what we’re telling you because we’ve told you.’ No, Jesus says, ‘Come and think.’ How different this is from either the neo-spirituality or old religion.
Although the Gospel writer was addressing people who lived two thousand years ago, those people were in the same boat as we are today. How can they go and look at Jesus? How can they listen to him? How can they look at the evidence of what he said and how he lived? Here is the answer: ‘The next day John [the Baptist] was there.’ When he saw Jesus passing by, he said, ‘Look”’
There are two important points here. All through the first chapter of John, we’re told that John the Baptist saw and said. The Greek word used here means essentially, ‘I was actually there. I really saw this, and now my testimony is admissible evidence in court.’ John the Baptist is not talking about an inward experience. He’s not talking about an impression. John is saying, ‘I’m seeing this.’
As we read this passage, we see it has the marks of an eyewitness account. It says they saw where he was staying and they spent the day with him until the tenth hour, which is 4:00 pm.
In Reynolds Price’s introduction to his book Three Gospels, he makes the interesting point that in the ancient world, fictional narratives such as epics, legends, and myths never used details.
You don’t see, ‘Oedipus went to see the Oracle at Delphi, and she came out around 4:00.’ Our Gospel passage, however, states, ‘The next day,’ not ‘Once upon a time.’ Price says that when you see such detail, it means that the author is signaling the reader that this is a legal testimony, not an urban legend. This is John’s way of saying, ‘This is an eyewitness account. I’m showing you exactly what he said and did. If you read my account, you will be able to come and see and examine the evidence the way we did.’
How can you come and see? Read the account of the Gospels. Then you will have to decide whether you believe these were deliberate, intricate lies by people who died for those lies, or that a human being was the Creator God who came to earth to save us. But there is nothing in the middle that is warranted.
The only way you know you’ve come and seen is if you have a position that, frankly, is extremely hard. It’s very hard to believe that a human being would be God, and it’s very hard to believe that this incredible movement and these incredible people, who died for this, consciously and deliberately told us lies about it. You have to decide which one is easier for you to believe, but don’t you dare stand in the middle. If you have, it means you haven’t come and seen.
‘COME AND SEE’ MEANS ‘COME AND FOLLOW: CHANGE YOUR LIFE’
The word come means that I move from where I am to here. I make a change. The reason Jesus says ‘Come’ is because he wants them to follow. He doesn’t just want them to believe.
The text gets that across in a couple of ways, but here is the best one. In John 1:29, the Baptist says to his disciples, ‘Look, the Lamb of God.’ It’s not until verse 35 that they actually follow. This is a way for us to see the difference. When John the Baptist told his disciples ‘This is the Messiah,’ surely they believed, but they weren’t ‘followers’ until they actually began to follow Jesus.
That’s the difference between being just a person who ascribes to beliefs, who says, ‘Oh, I like Jesus. I believe in Jesus. I’m trying to follow Jesus,’ and knowing Jesus personally and becoming a follower, a disciple. Now how does that happen in your life? In verse 51, Jesus says, ‘I tell you the truth.’ What the Gospel writer tells us he really says is, ‘Amen, amen.’ The word amen is an Aramaic word that means, ‘This is true.’ Every commentator and historian, anybody who knows ancient cultures, knows this is a unique usage of it. As one commentator puts it, ‘Jesus Christ’s use of amen to introduce his own words is without analogy in all of Judaism and among any other New Testament writers.’ Amen was only used to affirm and approve and accredit the words of another.’
For example, when someone was preaching in the synagogue, the elders would stand up. When they were all done, they would say, ‘Amen.’ Why? That was their way of saying, ‘We’ve checked out what this person says with our understanding of the Scripture, and it’s true.’ Maybe all the people would say, ‘Amen.’
Of course, Jesus Christ made it even harder for us because he affirms the Bible. It’s not that just his words printed in red in your Bible are the ones we have to obey. Jesus himself says, ‘The Scriptures shall not be broken. Not a jot or a tittle will pass away until all is fulfilled.’ We need to remember that all those who wrote the New Testament or provided the material for it were trained by Jesus. If you want to come and see and believe—that is, investigate the evidence—all you have to do is believe that the Bible is reliable reporting. But if you want to be a disciple and if you want to know Jesus personally, you have to be willing to listen to what the Word of God says, whether you like it or not.
Personal following without an infallible Bible is impossible. If you read the words of Jesus and say ‘That’s great’ about some things and ‘I can’t believe that; that’s primitive’ about others, what kind of Jesus do you have at the end of your reading? You have a Jesus of your own heart’s making. You think you’re following Jesus, but you’re following your own heart under the guise of following Jesus.
Unless Jesus compels you to say, ‘I’m going to do this. I’m going to listen to this. I’m going to wrestle with this. I’m going to submit to this even where I hate it’, if you don’t have that, then you don’t have a personal Jesus.
‘COME AND SEE’ MEANS ‘PROCESS THIS WITH FRIENDS’
What’s really interesting about this encounter in the Gospel account is that John the Baptist leads Andrew and the other person, whoever it is, to Jesus. Andrew leads his brother Peter to Jesus. Philip leads Nathanael to Jesus. When Philip says, ‘Come and see,’ what he means is, ‘Let’s go together. Let’s figure this out.’ This is a very important point. While there are exceptions, the general rule is that the way to find Jesus is almost always through someone you know. In this case, it was a friend who had already found Jesus.
Christianity is not a philosophy through some great teacher by which you can save yourself. No, Christianity is an encounter with a Person, and we see in the Bible that people find Jesus through their friends. After being introduced to Jesus, then we need friends who are a couple of steps ahead of us spiritually to help us in our walk.
There are some of you who have already experienced the blessing of having found Jesus through friends. Some of you have a lot to offer, but you’re not finding anybody for Jesus. If you want to know how you can finally be effective and really be helpful to people, then look at the Gospel text. There are three things we see here.
1. First, patience. John the Baptist says repeatedly, ‘Look, the Lamb of God.’ Finally, they follow Jesus. You have to be patient. Who knows how many times you have to say ‘Look’ before they follow.
2. Second, courage. Philip says, ‘We found the Messiah, and here he is.’ Nathanael asks him a tough question that he has no idea how to answer. Isn’t this the reason why we’re all such chickens? Aren’t we afraid of being asked a question we don’t know the answer to? But the way to get good at answering those questions is practice by floundering and blowing it for years. Unless you’re willing, unless you have the courage to do that, you’re never going to be effective.
3. Third, confident humility. What does Philip do when he gets the total stump question of ‘Isn’t the Messiah supposed to be from Bethlehem?’ He says, ‘I don’t know. Let’s talk about it. Let’s study. Let’s go talk to him. Let’s go look.’ There is a humility here because he takes Nathanael seriously enough to say, ‘We do need to think about this, and I don’t know the answer.’ But he also has the confidence to say, ‘If you come, you will see.’
‘COME AND SEE’ MEANS ‘COME AND WONDER’
When Nathanael meets Jesus, Jesus says, ‘You believe because.’ You will see greater things than you can imagine. ‘Come and see’ means come and wonder. I am calling you into an adventure so wonderful that it is beyond your imagination.’ How does he do this?
First of all, he calls us to the wondrous adventure of personal transformation. I’ll put it to you this way. Do you remember ever meeting somebody you suddenly realized really understood you? It could have been a counselor, a new friend, or an older, wiser person. It could have been somebody you were falling in love with. Why was it so heady and addicting? I’ll tell you why. To begin with, you’re excited about the possibility of finally being able to figure yourself out.
We’re all riddles to ourselves. ‘Why do I do what I do? Why do I feel what I feel?’ You’re also excited that this wise person, this person you love and respect, thinks about you, considers you significant enough to think of you, to ponder you, to consider you. The two together, the prospect of new information and that incredible affirmation, just blow you through the roof. But even this kind of revelation and fulfillment has its boundaries—ultimately, you always find there is a limit to how much that person really knows you and loves you.
When Nathanael walks up to Jesus, he is blown away by something no rabbi ever has done or ever will do. Jesus says to him, ‘Behold, an Israelite in whom there is no guile’ (KJV). What Jesus is talking about is his character. He uses a word that means unpretentious and transparent. Nathanael looks at him and says, ‘You nailed me. Yeah, I am that kind of person. I’m plain spoken. I’m kind of blunt. How do you know me?’ Then Jesus says, ‘Know you? I saw you under the fig tree.’ Nathanael’s eyes get as big as saucers. He says, ‘How could you’? How could any’? You are the Messiah!’
What does that mean? I don’t know. We don’t know. That’s one of the marks of an eyewitness account. But I’ll tell you, it was something so private, so significant, so absolutely impossible that any human being could know that Nathanael is astounded. ‘This is not just somebody who knows me somewhat; he knows me completely.’
That’s not the only reason he is blown away. Jesus Christ is not just saying, ‘I know you.’ He is praising him, even though Nathanael doesn’t know him. Isn’t that astounding?
JESUS CHRIST KNOWS YOU TO THE BOTTOM AND PRAISES YOU TO THE SKIES. THERE HAS NEVER BEEN A COUNSELOR LIKE THIS. THERE HAS NEVER BEEN A FRIEND LIKE THIS. THERE HAS NEVER BEEN A LOVER LIKE THIS. THIS IS THE WONDERFUL COUNSELOR. THIS IS THE FRIEND YOU’VE ALWAYS BEEN LOOKING FOR. WHEN GOD COMES AND CALLS YOU IN LOVE, BY HIS CALL HE MAKES YOU WHAT HE CALLS YOU.
First, Jesus says, ‘Nathanael, I will give you greater things than that. You have no idea what you’re going to become, transformed by my love.’ Second, Jesus talks about an upward journey, an outward journey. He says, ‘Verily, verily I say to you, you will see heaven open and the angels ascending and descending on the Son of Man.’ What he is saying here is astounding.
In the Old Testament story of Jacob, Jacob was running through the desert, fleeing for his life, despairing that he had lost God, that he had lost everything. Going to sleep for the night, he dreams of a ladder on which angels were ascending and descending.
Jesus Christ says to Nathanael, ‘Let me tell you something beyond your imagination. I am the gate of heaven Jacob saw. That was not just a dream; that was a promise. I am the way through that wall into that cosmic reality that is behind this world.’ What does it mean? It means that story is about him. It means all the stories in the Old Testament are about him.
When John the Baptist says, ‘Look, the Lamb of God,’ what is he saying? He is referring to that night long ago in Egypt when the angel of death passed over those who had blood on their doorframes. For those who didn’t have the blood of the lamb on their doors, the firstborn of that house died. John the Baptist says, ‘Jesus is that slain Lamb. That story was about him, about his life, about his death.’
But it goes beyond that. When Jesus Christ says, ‘I am the door and the gateway into the cosmic reality behind everything,’ he is not just saying, ‘All the biblical stories are about me.’ He is saying, ‘All the stories are about me.’ Jesus says, ‘My story is the story to which all the other stories are pointing. Therefore, the stories are true. You can know me, and this same cosmic power from that cosmic, glorious center will come into your life. You will be in the story. Evil spells will be broken. I am the reality to which all the legends point.’
‘COME AND SEE’ MEANS YOU CAN GET IN. ‘COME AND SEE’ MEANS I CAN’T EVEN BEGIN TO DESCRIBE WHAT IS GOING TO HAPPEN IN YOUR LIFE IF YOU COME AND FOLLOW HIM.
You say, ‘Okay, I have to change my life, right? Obey the Bible, right?’ You’re excited. You’re ready. ‘I have to tell my friends about Jesus. I have to study the Bible.’
No. The key to getting in is not to do anything. Jesus does not say, ‘I’m at the top of the ladder.’ He doesn’t say, ‘Angels are ascending and descending to the Son of Man.’ He doesn’t say, ‘If you try really hard, you can ascend.’ No, you can’t. Psalm 24 says, ‘Who shall ascend into the presence of God? He who has clean hands and a pure heart.’
How are we ever going to get up there? Jesus says, ‘I am the ladder. I came down to bring you to God. I lived the life you should have lived, died the death you should have died. Trust in me. If you do, you get in.’
COME AND SEE. THINK. COME AND SEE. FOLLOW. COME AND SEE WITH FRIENDS. ‘COME AND SEE’ MEANS BE AMAZED AT HIS GRACE. HE CAN’T WAIT TO SHOW YOU WHAT HE IS GOING TO DO FOR YOU. COME AND SEE.
Source: Modern Reformation Magazine; Who Is Jesus? VOL 24; ISSUE 6, 10/31/2015