“The Flying Horse” from L.Willows, C.S. Lewis; Pastor Tom Holliday (redemption, miraculous living, for Christ, a new creation)

Friends, reviewing these thoughts and teachings offered in October 2019 was an encouragement so I share all again- L.Willows

C.S. Lewis on Transforming a Horse into a Winged Creature

–For mere improvement is not redemption, though redemption always improves people even here and now and will, in the end, improve them to a degree we cannot yet imagine.”

“God became man to turn creatures into sons: not simply to produce better men of the old kind but to produce a new kind of man. It is not like teaching a horse to jump better and better but like turning a horse into a winged creature. Of course, once it has got its wings, it will soar over fences which could never have been jumped and thus beat the natural horse at its own game.

But there may be a period, while the wings are just beginning to grow, when it cannot do so: and at that stage the lumps on the shoulders — no one could tell by looking at them that they are going to be wings — may even give it an awkward appearance.” ) Mere Christianity.

The Flying Horse from L.Willows

Last week, our Pastor Tom Holliday of Alexandria Presbyterian Church repeated the challenge “Do you want to live like a “Flying Horse”? Really? How are you going to do that?”

I loved the image of a Flying Horse! He told the story of the C.S. Lewis quote weeks before. I was intrigued. He dared us to live like Flying Horses. Could we be challenged to live with radically transformed hearts? In lives that soared beyond and above fences that we had not even dreamed lifted and towards heights far beyond and above what our imagined “ceiling” was?

Are you sensing how it captured my heart? I even turned it into a song. (privately) Enjoy my passion. The image of a flying horse, of being transformed into one – made me thoroughly filled with joy.

We all need to lift off – to grow wings. We need to become Flying Horses.

What does that mean?

The horse in the story is us as we move through spiritual transformation. More, it is about Miraculous Living and how to overcome hindrances by redemption. We can only Fly through the power of Christ in us. His Spirit is the agent of our transformation. His Heavenly Father, our God draws us towards Himself. He sent His son to live amongst us and drew him back to the Heavenly Places, calling us lovingly to rise from the fallen- become the ‘new man’, the redeemed, grow “wings” and answer His Call. 

Lewis speaks about the hindrances within each of us that we face when we try to fly using “other means”. We ask for power to rise above.

We try to be kinder, nicer more pleasant people seeking all means of adapting to fit this world. We “work” at it. We depend on our own ability to improve our status in this world. We keep trying to improve the status of being kinder and continuing to “better ourselves”, gaining ground of status; similar to a horse in a race horizontally. Yet Lewis suggests a better way. Let the horse grow wings.

There is only one way to grow Wings. We become a New Creation.

He describes the awkward stage when the wings are still growing. At this stage, when the wings are just beginning to grow, they are like “lumps on the shoulders”. No one could even tell that one day they will be wings. I get that lumpy shoulder stage. How many can relate to that? Spiritual transformation, breaking through to the “Lift Off” can be experienced in many stages of joy, challenge, quest, trust, hope, effort, trial, and joy again.

2 Corinthians 5:17: “So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!”

Inevitably, we become witnesses to the old, everything that ‘becomes old’ in ourselves and in our environment- experiencing a form of death. It starts to pass away as we ourselves become a new creation. The work of Christ “works” in us. Our work ceases to “work”. We surrender to Him, our lives surrender and we trust in him, completing the work that He began in us with the gift of Grace.

Trust in God allows Miracles to Take Flight.

When we trust in Christ, we begin to learn to Fly. We become Flying Horses.

We must trust in him to complete the work he began in us as he prepares for the coming day, new creations in a new heaven and earth.

What forms does that trust take? What does it look like?

Trust happens inside of an intimate relationship. It is honest. When your heart is honest before God, it can relate in an intimate and trusting way. It is the ability to form a two-way dynamic. There are many examples of Trusting God in Scripture.

Look for the examples of the prophets in the Old Testaments and the apostles in the New Testament. I love Moses in Exodus. What do you find? Trust in a relationship requires honesty, listening, and humility. Are there more qualities that you notice? Do we need perseverance? How is trust built? What is it built upon?

  • Learn to form an honest dialogue with God. Seek Him out as your most important Consultant and Source of Wisdom and Discernment. He Is.
  • Bring your heart to God and ask Him to search it. Ask for help knowing that you do not have the ability to “see” your own heart. He will answer you. Let Him lead you.
  • Pray. Seek God in prayer as the most important part of your life. It is the most intimate relationship to cultivate in life.
  • Find God in Scripture. Know Him through His Word. He is there. Allow the Holy Spirit to bring it to your heart by praying before reading.
  • Seek God’s guidance and wisdom in all things. Let God lead you in life. Know that He sees the details as well as the whole, the before and the after. Listen.
  • Trust in His Promises (Scripture). Keep them with you all the time.
  • Keep encouragement and Encouragers near to you all the time. Notice that He places this near to you. Recognize it and express gratitude, it can make “a horse fly”, it can change the most ordinary life into one that is extraordinary.

Prayer that was dry becomes vivid with the Presence of God. Hearts that were lost are found. Broken places are healed. Revival becomes a word with new meaning. It starts to shake the foundation of self like a wondrous new birth. Something winged emerges. A joy that cannot be suppressed takes hold even in the midst of challenges. The Longing is like nectar that grows so sweet, life seems dim without it. It, The Promise of His Holy Blessing and Return becomes Hope, a Hope deeper and more glorious than any other.

Fly. Fly. Fly. (still singing)

© 2019 Linda Willows

“All of Life as Worship” by John Piper (Renewal, God’s Glory, Transformation)

All of Life as Worship by John Piper

“All of life is the outshining of what you truly value and cherish and treasure. Therefore, all of life is worship. Either of God, or something else.” John Piper

In the message on worship, the main point was, first, that in the New Testament there is a stunning indifference to place and external form: “Neither in this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship God, but in spirit and in truth” (John 4:21–23). Not in Samaria but in spirit; and not in Jerusalem but in truth. And, second, there is a radical intensification of worship as an inner experience, “This people honors me with their lips but their heart is far from me” (Matthew 15:8). Worship is real, authentic experience in the heart with God, or it is nothing.

The Key to Praising Christ Is Prizing Him

Then, I tried to show what the vital essence of that inner experience of worship is. And I argued from Philippians 1:20–21 that it is a cherishing of Christ as gain, or a being satisfied with God in all that he is for us in Jesus. Paul said that his expectation was that he would magnify Christ by life or by death, because for him to live was Christ and to die was gain. So we magnify Christ in death and in life by counting him to be more gain than anything the world can offer. The key to praising Christ is prizing Christ. Christ is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him.

Worship Service — Being Served by God

It is not insignificant that what we do on Sunday mornings are called worship “services.” What do we mean, “services”? What is a “worship service”? And my point last week from Acts 17:25 and Mark 10:45 was that “God is not served by human hands as though he needed anything, but he himself gives to everyone life and breath and everything.” And, “Christ came not to be served, but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Whatever else a worship “service” is, it must first and foremost be served by God.

“Whatever else a worship ‘service’ is, it must first and foremost be served by God.”

God is magnified when we cherish him as gain above all things, and come to him tell him that and to find more of him.

God serves us by giving life and breath and everything about himself that goes to the deepest recesses of our hearts.

We worship first and foremost by thirsting and hungering after God above all things.

And that means that we worship first and foremost by being served by God. It is a worship service, because the service starts with God’s serving us what we so desperately need, namely, himself.

Connecting All of Life with Worship

If the vital essence of that inner experience we call worship is a being satisfied in God or a cherishing Christ as gain above all things, this accounts for why Romans 12:1–2 portrays all of life as worship. You remember that I asked last week, “Well, what is the Christian life if God cannot be served by human hands but loves to serve us? What does life look like?” And the answer would seem to be that we get up in the morning and we get our hearts fixed on Christ. We go to him and renew our satisfaction in him through his word. And then we enter the day seeking to express and increase that satisfaction in all that God is for us in Jesus.

Let’s look at Romans 12:1–2, which connects all of life with worship.

Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.

A Sacrifice That Lives and Moves and Does Things

So verse one says that presenting your bodies to God as a living and holy sacrifice is worship. Now, what is this referring to? A sacrifice was usually a dead body, not a living one, so he says “living” to make sure we know he doesn’t mean literal human sacrifice. A sacrifice was usually laid on the altar and parts of it were eaten by the priests and that was the end of the animal. It had no more existence. But that’s not what Paul means, because at least three times in Romans 6 (verses 13, 16, 19) he speaks of presenting our bodies or our members to God like this, and in every case it is so that our members — our arms and legs and tongues, eyes and ears and sexual organs would become instruments of righteousness. So the sacrifice is not only living, it is moving about and doing things in the world.

So how is it a sacrifice? And practically how do you present your bodies to God as sacrifices? I think the best answer is to see the connection between verses 1 and 2. My suggestion is that verse 2 is the realistic explanation of the more symbolic verse 1. Verse 1 talks about sacrifices and worship. Verse 2 talks about your mind being renewed and doing the will of God.

The explicit link to show you that Paul is thinking this way is the repetition of the word “acceptable” in verses 1 and 2. Verse 1: “Present your bodies . . . holy and acceptable to God.” Verse 2: Use your renewed mind to prove what is the will of God, what is good, acceptable and perfect. So there is probably a close link between offering your body to God as an acceptable sacrifice to God, and doing the acceptable will of God.

Not Conformed, but Transformed

So if verse 2 is likely a realistic explanation of the symbolic picture of verse 1, let’s look at it for a moment. There is a negative command and a positive one: negatively, don’t be conformed to this world; positively, be transformed. Not conformed, transformed.

Devote your life as a Christian to being changed. Don’t settle in at the level of transformation you now have. Oh, how many Christians throw away their birthright by coasting. Be transformed! It’s present tense, ongoing, continual growth in un-conforming yourself to the world.

But how does this happen? What is involved? Does it mean we should just study what the world wears and watches and listens to and buys and plays, and then do the opposite? Well there will be a difference at most of those levels probably, but that’s not what the text focuses on, is it? It says, “Be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”

The focus is not first on getting the outside of the cup cleaned up, but on getting the inside cleaned up. In other words, transformation and non-conformity on the outside must flow from a new mind. Be transformed in the renewing of your mind.

So you might say, “Okay that means we must learn to think differently than the world thinks, and that will transform us from the inside out.” Well, that is true. But there is a word in verse 2 to show us that it is not the whole truth, and may not even be the main truth — depending on what you mean by “thinking.”

What is the function of the mind according to verse 2? What is the goal of a renewed mind? Right thinking is surely essential. If you think illogically, you will probably live badly. For example, you might think something like this: “Premise 1: Most TV ads entice me to want things that I don’t need. Premise 2: Watching more TV causes me to see more such TV ads. Conclusion: Therefore the more TV I watch the less I will be enticed to want things I don’t need.” That is simply illogical thinking and it will cause you to live badly if you don’t think better than that.

Prove and Approve

But that is not what verse 2 stresses. There is a very crucial word that we have to get right. The NASB says that our renewed mind is so that we may “prove what the will of God is.” The key word is “prove.” It is a tremendously important word. It has two implications: one is the idea of testing and proving something’s value. And the other idea is the capacity to assess it and approve of a value when you see it.

It is very hard in English to bring out both these ideas with one word. The NIV does it in fact by using two words. It refers to the renewing of your mind, then says, “Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is.” That is the full idea. Test and approve.

“The root issue is more than right thinking. It is right valuing.”

So what is the root issue in verse 2? The root issue is more than right thinking. It is right valuing. Not just right proving, but right approving. Not just right testing, but treasuring.

Let me see if I can help you see the difference like this. It would be possible, perhaps to teach an uneducated person to recognize some of the traits of gold without his knowing how valuable gold is. So you might give him a job panning gold with you in a stream and pay him a dollar an hour while he accurately tests the yellow stones and tosses thousands of dollars worth of gold nuggets into your bag.

That is not the kind of renewal Paul is talking about. He is not saying: read enough books or listen to enough tapes or sermons so that you can spot a good deed when you see it and then work up the discipline to do it. He is saying, be renewed so deeply in your mind that you not only can test and spot gold when you see it, but also love gold — approve gold, treasure gold. That’s what the word means. (See Romans 1:2814:221 Corinthians 16:3.)

Now you can see that the renewal involved is more than a logic lesson.

If you want to find out if a certain material is sweet, you might reason logically: it is brown, gooey, comes from a beehive, crystallizes if you drop water in it, and makes the eyes of a two-year-old light up if you put it on toast. Therefore, you infer, it must be honey, and honey is sweet. That is not the main way Romans 12:2 means for you to find the will of God. The way to know if this material is sweet, is by the power of taste, not logic.

Renewed in the Spirit of Your Mind

Ephesians 4:23 has the closest parallel to this verse and there Paul says, “Be renewed in the spirit of your mind.” That is a very strange phrase, “the spirit of your mind.” I think it means something like the capacity of your mind to taste the spirit of a thing. One of the reasons some simple, uneducated people live much more holy and upright lives than some Christians who are very educated is that their minds are far more deeply renewed.

That is, they are so renewed that they can taste, or you might say smell, the rottenness of a temptation way before others and turn away before the least contamination happens. And they can taste and smell a beautiful opportunity for love before others see it coming.

In other words, mind-renewal is a deep spiritual change in how the mind assesses things and values things. In Ephesians 4:18 Paul says that ignorance (of mind) is rooted in hardness of heart.

So if the mind is going to be wise and discerning about the will of God, the heart must be soft and susceptible to spiritual reality. In other words, the renewal Paul is calling for is profound, and deeper than any mere mental effort can achieve. This is why prayer is utterly essential. The constant prayer of the Christian is, “Open my eyes that I may see” (Psalm 119:18); and, “Let the eyes of my heart be enlightened” (Ephesians 1:18); and, “Cause me, O Lord, to taste and see that you are good” (Psalm 34:8). In other words, God must do the renewing through his word and Spirit.

A Profoundly Renewed Mind

Now let’s step back and see what Romans 12:1–2 looks like with this insight.

The root of Christian living in verse 2 is a profoundly renewed mind. It doesn’t just think clearly, but assesses truly and values accurately and approves strongly and treasures passionately what is good, acceptable and perfect.

This is utterly relevant to our daily lives because 95 percent of the things we do during the day, we do without any extended logical reflection. We just act spontaneously out of the spirit of the mind that is in us (Ephesians 4:23) — or as Jesus said, out of the abundance of our heart (Matthew 12:34). So to live the Christian life with any authenticity we must be in the process of a deep renewal deep beneath right thinking.

Then verse 2 says that this deep renewal of the way we approve and assess and value reality leads us to a transformed life that is not conformed to the world. Now the non-conformity is not just external and forced, but internal and natural and free. It flows from our new values and assessments and where our treasure is. But it does change us externally and put us out of conformity with the world. We find ourselves doing things that Paul calls the “will of God.” God has a pattern of life that he calls us to live that accords with new powers of approving what is good and beautiful and true, and new values and new treasures. There are good things, acceptable things, perfect things — different ways of talking about what God calls us to do in different contexts.

Now how does this relate to verse 1? How does this relate to the living sacrifice of our bodies offered to God, which is our spiritual worship? I think it is simply a way of describing what that offering of worship is. What verse 2 describes is a living sacrifice because in the renewal of our minds a whole way of tasting and assessing and approving and valuing and treasuring the world dies. We are, as Paul says, “crucified to the world and the world is crucified to us” (Galatians 6:14).

So the renewal is a dying of old values and the coming to life of new ones. It is the dying of old ways of treasuring television and food and money, and the awakening of new spiritual taste buds.

God Is My All-Satisfying Treasure

So our spiritual worship is to come to God each day and say: “O God, there is nothing that I want more than to approve what is most worthy, and value what is most valuable, and treasure what is most precious and admire what is most beautiful and hate what is most evil and abhor what is most ugly. I reckon myself dead to all that is unspiritual and worldly and deadening to my soul. Renew me, O my God. Awaken spiritual capacities of right assessment.”

And then we say, “And take me, body and soul, and make me the instrument of your glory in the world. Let the renewal you are working from within show on the outside. This is my spiritual worship. To show the world that you are my all-satisfying treasure.”

“The essence of worship is a being satisfied in God and cherishing of Christ as gain.”

There it is. Now we are back at the beginning. The essence of worship is a being satisfied in God and cherishing of Christ as gain. Romans 12:1–2 are not saying anything different. This is what it means to have a renewed mind. The renewed mind perceives and approves and treasures and cherishes the will of God (and thus transforms all of life), because it first and foremost perceives, and approves and treasures and cherishes God.

And doing the will of God is the outshining of God in his glory. “Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good deeds and give glory to your father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).

All of life is the outshining of what you truly value and cherish and treasure. Therefore, all of life is worship. Either of God, or something else.

Therefore, be transformed in the renewal of your mind. Cherish God in all his works and all his ways. Reckon the old mind dead and offer yourself to God as a living sacrifice that he may put you on display by the outshining of his worth and his value in your life. Worship him with your life.

John Piper (@JohnPiper) is founder and teacher of desiringGod.org and chancellor of Bethlehem College & Seminary. For 33 years, he served as pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church, Minneapolis, Minnesota. He is author of more than 50 books, including Desiring God: Meditations of a Christian Hedonist and most recently Why I Love the Apostle Paul: 30 Reasons.

“Come and See” by Tim Keller, be amazed at God’s Grace (Follow Jesus, Courage, confident Humility)

Come and See by Timothy Keller

‘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.

Timothy Keller

Source: Modern Reformation Magazine; Who Is Jesus? VOL 24; ISSUE 6, 10/31/2015