It’s really exciting to receive an invitation through the mail. When we are invited to share special occasions, we are welcomed to embrace the intimate moments of those that we care about. When we read about Jesus, He offered the most personal invitation to humanity – Himself. Jesus did not turn crowds and individuals away. Far from being the life and soul of the party, Jesus was interested in those He came into contact with. He met the deepest longings of the human heart. And He continues to do that today.
We are invited into a relationship with God, but it is up to us to accept the invitation. As we read the first chapter of the gospel of John, we can see how an invitation from Jesus impacted the lives of the early disciples and how it matters for us today.
Come and see Jesus for yourself
When something out of the ordinary grabs our attention, we have to know, don’t we? If we see a crowd of people gathering around something, we want to know what’s going on. If we are slowly making our way through traffic and we are getting nearer to an incident, we crane our necks to try and get a clearer look. John the Baptist had disciples who followed his teaching, but when Jesus passed by, John said: “Look, the Lamb of God!” Imagine heads turning, trying to catch a glimpse of who John was referring to. That message was enough for two of John’s disciples to begin to follow behind Jesus.
Jesus turned around and asked them “What do you want?” (John 1:38). This question should make us stop and think. What is our motive in following Jesus? We may have several answers to this question but Jesus says that we must deny ourselves, take up our cross daily and follow Him (Luke 9:23). It’s not an easy road to follow. It’s a small gate and narrow road but it leads to life (Matthew 7:14). Yet whatever our motives are, only Jesus can fill the deepest needs of our heart and promises to be with us to the end of the age (Matthew 28:20).
The disciples asked Jesus where He was staying. They wanted to know Him and hoped for an opportunity to do just that. Rather than being too busy or important for these eager young men, Jesus invited them by saying “Come and you will see” (John 1:39). What an opportunity!
Jesus promised not to turn those away who are looking for Him. He said “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened” (Matthew 7:7-8). What an amazing promise to those who want to come and see Jesus.
Spend time with Him
With social media, it is possible to have thousands of friends and followers. But when was the last time we invested ourselves into each and every one of them? The answer to this is we can’t. We only have 24 hours in a day and have lots to do in that time. But when it comes to those we love and care for, we make the time. We do what we can do change our schedules to prioritize our friends.
Jesus had time for the crowds, but He had time to teach His disciples separately. He also made sure to have time alone with His Father through prayer. It’s wonderful to see the two disciples of John spending the day with Jesus and being a part of his daily life. In our busy lives, can we make time to be intentional in our time with Jesus?
The first thing that Andrew (one of the two disciples) did was find his brother to tell him that they had found the Messiah. It’s wonderful that this was his first response in encountering Jesus. He chose to tell someone close to him. Like any news that we receive, we look to tell those who are closest to us first. We want them to celebrate with us or come alongside us through our trials. When we meet Jesus, this is an excellent starting point for telling others about Him. As we are being transformed by His Spirit, the desire to share this life-altering, hope-filled news should be on our hearts and minds, leading us to share our faith time and again.
Bring them to Jesus
“And he brought him to Jesus” (John 1:42). Andrew didn’t just talk the talk; he walked his brother to Jesus. It’s like saying “Don’t take my word for it, let me show you.” What a beautiful picture of coming alongside someone and going on a journey with them to see Jesus for themselves.
We sometimes timidly invite family, friends and neighbors to Christmas and Easter services or other special church events in the hope that they might catch a glimpse of Jesus. But why wait until then? We know that Jesus is with us by the power of His Holy Spirit, yet some of us live as if He is caged in until a Sunday service or an important event in the Christian calendar.
Through our prayers, our hospitality, our acts of service and our love and compassion for others, Christ is there. He is the reason for the hope that we have (1 Peter 3:15). Hebrews 4:12 says His Word is “alive and active” and we can be confident knowing that our God is with us wherever we go.
Jesus gives us a new life
When Andrew brought his brother Simon to Jesus, he was given a new name, Cephas, which, when translated, is Peter. Peter means ‘rock’ and he would go on to be a foundational ‘rock’ in the early church and his faith in Jesus was important in the spread of the gospel. His life would never be the same again.
As believers in Jesus, we have a new life. We are partakers in God’s mission plan for the world. In Christ we are a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17). When we believe in Jesus, we become children of God (John 1:12). We are adopted as sons in Christ because of what He did on the cross. Whatever our past, wherever our weaknesses are, whenever we feel like we do not measure up, God the Father looks at us and sees Jesus.
God sees us as we are
Jesus found Philip and said to him “Follow me” and he did (John 1:43). The invitation was too good to turn down and keep to himself. Like Andrew bringing Simon to see Jesus, Philip found Nathaniel and told him that they had found “the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote—Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph” (John 1:45). Like Jesus inviting the disciples, Philip told Nathaniel to ‘come and see’ for himself. Nathaniel was skeptical and did not believe anything good could come from Nazareth. But he went with Philip to see Jesus anyway.
At times, we can feel like Nathaniel and our minds are flooded with questions we have for God. It’s OK to have questions. But Nathaniel had a better response. He didn’t linger in disbelief, but he went to find out more about Jesus. The amazing thing is that Jesus already knew all about Nathaniel. He knew that he was an “Israelite in whom there is no deceit” (John 1:47). When Nathaniel asked how Jesus knew him, Jesus answered by saying, “I saw you while you were still under the fig tree before Philip called you” (John 1:48).
Jesus knows and sees us before we ever consider Him. Even in our incredulity and doubt, we are loved and noticed by Him. We can bring all of our frustrations to Him with confidence. It should bring us to a place of knowing how loved and accepted we are, as while we were at our worst, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8). What a wonderful Savior and Lord we have in Christ. Will we accept the invitation and follow Him?
Photo credit: Unsplash/Marc-Olivier Jodoin