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Greater Things With Jesus (Jn 1:43-51) Epiphany 2

January 15, 2012

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St. John 1:43-51


“Phillip, come on! A complete stranger gets in your grill, barks out the order to follow him, and you say that’s exactly what you’re going to do?  Are you feeling all right?  Did you forget to take your meds this morning?  Here, sit down with me under this fig tree.  You’ve been in the sun way too long!  Take a deep breath!  Take a swig of water!  Let me call old Doc Horowitz to take a look at you.  I’m really concerned about you.”


“What’s that Phillip?  No need to call Dr. Horowitz?  Absolutely I do!  I mean … really …. Phillip!  You’re not yourself!   We all know that nothing good can come from Nazareth?   Really!  Nazareth?  In all of Israel’s history, Nazareth is a nothing!  Always has been!  People from Nazareth are nothings too!”


“And then you Phillip, all of sudden, just out from left field, you expect me to believe that this very odd Nazarite — what’s His name? – Jesus  — who got in your grill —  is the promised Messiah?  That this out of the blue Jesus is the promised descendant of Eve who will crush Satan’s  pointy head?  That this Out Of No Where Nazareth Jesus is the Prophet Moses promised?  You expect me to believe, Phillip, that this zero named Jesus is the promised eternal royal son of David?  You’ve got to be joking Phillip!  Next, I suppose you’ll try to sell me ocean front property in Jerusalem!  Come on Phillip!  I may look like I’m a few bricks short of a load!  But Jesus from Nazareth?  Really?”   


“Nathanael,” Phillip begs, “come and see!  Check out this Jesus for yourself!  He truly is the Messiah! You’ll see!  I promise!” 


Nathanael, no doubt, goes reluctantly with Phillip to check out this Jesus from Nazareth.  Probably just to humor Phillip.  The two have never met.  They aren’t properly introduced.  And yet Jesus knows Nathanael!  “How do you know me?” Nathanael asks.  “I saw you,” Jesus declares, “while you were under the fig tree even before Phillip begged you to come and see me.” 


Whoa!  Now that’s something from the Nazareth Jesus dude!  But He’s not just a dude.  He’s – and this now comes from skeptic and mocker Nathanael – “Rabbi, you are the Son of God!  You are the King of Israel!”   


That’s quite a switcheroo!  A total 180!  One minute this Jesus is a nothing!  The next minute He’s confessed as God’s very own Son and the promised Davidic king whose reign would be forevermore!  All because Jesus saw Nathanael and knew him before they officially met! 


Nathanael’s confession is correct.  Bang on!  So is Phillip’s!  Both men believe that Jesus is the whole enchilada – the entire fulfillment of the Old Testament promises!  In addition, He is God in the flesh!  God’s Son!  When you see Jesus of Nazareth, you see God Himself!  When you see Jesus you see the forever King descended from King David! 


Now if you all thought Jesus seeing Nathanael under the fig tree was whiz-bang stuff, there’s more from the Nazarite God-Man!  And that “more” will blow your mind further!  “Greater things are to come,” Jesus promises.  “Your eyes – your eyes of faith will get even bigger!  Bulging out of the sockets faith eyes!  You will see greater things than my seeing you under the fig tree Nathanael!”


What in the world could that possible be?


Are you ready for Jesus’ answer?  Well, are you?  Good!  Here is it!


Jesus says:  “You’re going to see heaven cracked wide open!  Torn open completely!  And, of course, when that happens you’ll see God Himself!  God revealing Himself!  With God in heaven are all the archangels and angels!  Millions upon millions of them will be ascending and descending – flying all around God – surrounding Him!” 


Where is all this happening?  Where do we see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending? Glad you asked!


I’ll let Jesus answer that one too.  He says it’s all happening in Him!  He’s the very gate of heaven!  The angels ascend and descend on Him!  He is the Son of Man!  Heaven comes to earth in Jesus! 


Or to put it another way – as Jesus preaches, teaches and carries out His ministry – it is the very ministry of God!  It is the very ministry of heaven itself on the earth.  The Most High God of heaven comes all the way down!  He roams the earth!    Where we sinners live!  When you see Jesus you see God.  You see heaven’s work and heaven’s voice! 


And this Jesus – He’s on a mission!  To save sinners!  To do a Good Friday!  For the world!  For you!  For Phillip, Andrew, Peter, and Nathanael!  


The very Son of Man from heaven itself – He comes and finds you!  Just like He found Philip, Andrew, Peter, and Nathanael!  And this is what He has to say to you:  “I died for you.  I rose for you.  I forgive you all your sin.  You are mine.  Heaven is yours.”


The absolution is His ringing-cracked-open-from-heaven-voice heard right here on this earth!  So too when Jesus of Nazareth – now crucified and risen Jesus of Nazareth – gathers you at His Supper!  He speaks.  He gives.  His body.  His blood.  And He promises that your sin is forgiven! 


Doesn’t get any more “you will see greater things” than that does it?  For at the Sacrament of the Altar heaven is open.  Wide open!  And innumerable angels are present in joyful assembly around the Host – Son of Man Jesus! 


And there, not only are your eyes all a-bulging, but also your mouths – fed with His most holy body and blood.  Hearts too!  Hearts all a-bulging with faith!  Faith in Jesus!  He is “greater things!”  No, He’s the greatest!  The Savior.  He saved and found you! “Rabbi, you are the Son of God!  You are the King of Israel!”  Indeed He is!


In the Name of Jesus.  

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