20 January 2019

posted 19 Jan 2019, 02:39 by C S Paul   [ updated 19 Jan 2019, 02:50 ]

20 January 2019

Scripture reading and Sermon

Based on the Lectionary of the Syrian Orthodox Church 

 Second Sunday after Denho (Baptism of our Lord)

Reading from the Scripture for this Sunday

John 1:43-51 New King James Version (NKJV)

Philip and Nathanael

43 The following day Jesus wanted to go to Galilee, and He found Philip and said to him, “Follow Me.” 

44 Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. 

45 Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found Him of whom Moses in the law, and also the prophets, wrote—Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.”

46 And Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?”

Philip said to him, “Come and see.”

47 Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward Him, and said of him, “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom is no deceit!”

48 Nathanael said to Him, “How do You know me?”

Jesus answered and said to him, “Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.”

49 Nathanael answered and said to Him, “Rabbi, You are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!”

50 Jesus answered and said to him, “Because I said to you, ‘I saw you under the fig tree,’ do you believe? You will see greater things than these.” 

51 And He said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, hereafter you shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.”

The Anointed One

by Beth Scibienski

Why did these men decide to follow Jesus? It seems so sudden. One day they were John's disciples; the next day they were Jesus' disciples. It seems sudden except they were clearly looking or waiting or searching for the Messiah. Andrew says to his brother, "We found the Messiah." Messiah - the anointed one.

Two other times in the Hebrew scriptures we find the term Messiah applied. David was the Messiah. King Cyrus was the Messiah. And again, the people of Israel are looking for the Messiah. The anointed one.

Andrew and an unnamed disciple of John leave John and follow Jesus. Why didn't John follow too? Or maybe he did and he's wrapped in the "they." Andrew and the unnamed one, Peter and then Philip and then Nathanael. They were all on alert for the Messiah and upon hearing he is found, they responded to the words, "Come and see."

Come where? See what? We who have read beyond this passage can say they were in for a life-altering, mind-blowing, bumpy, rough, exhilarating journey with this Anointed One.

I'll be honest, I read and enjoyed Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth I mention it because the author does such a good job describing the world in which Jesus lived. The political, social climate of the world where these Jewish men search for and find the Anointed One. These men wanted a regime change. They wanted freedom from occupation. They wanted to overthrow the government for very practical, tangible, human reasons. Their world was unsafe and unjust. But this is the argument for why these men followed Jesus in perhaps Mark's gospel or Luke's gospel. But what about this fourth gospel? What is the literary reason in John's gospel? In other words, what motivation is this fourth gospel writer giving for these men to search for the Anointed One? And when they allegedly found him in the beginning of this story, why did they follow him?

I guess I have more questions than answers at this point of this gospel. As it should be. We're only at the beginning after all. And if I am to do any justice in preaching it or teaching it or following its strand through this narrative lectionary, I want to stay in this chapter. I don't want to read chapter 19 into chapter 1. That's not how we read a book. (Unless you're the type of person who reads the last page... just in case.)

The creative force of the universe has come to earth, wrapped itself in the flesh of a human named Jesus. A distant cousin was looking for the Anointed On, waiting for God to once again wrap an anointing around a human. The etymology of the English word "anoint" comes from the verb to smear on. It makes me smile a bit thinking of Jesus as a human with God smeared on him. The smear of the Spirit soaking into the fiber of his being, claiming him in a unique way, for a unique purpose.

I've found the one who is smeared with God. Are you the one who is smeared with God? And Jesus says, "Come and see." You know what... when I put it that way, I'm in. I want to see what God is up to.