January 15, 2012
TEXT: John 1:43-51/I Corinthians 6:12-20/I Samuel 3:1-20
“COME AND SEE” THE ONE WHO READS YOUR HEART!
Rev. Kenneth W. Wieting

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ (1 Cor 1:3). Dear hearers of the Word made flesh:

First opinions – unrealistic expectations – biased perspectives. We all have them. Others have them of us. Our time and culture invests heavily in selling faulty opinions, presenting an image, controlling the spin. Because of our nature as sinners we often take the bait.

For instance consider Nathanael. He was from Cana - a town not far from Nazareth – but considerably larger than Nazareth. Nathanael used his intelligence and keen sense of human observation to determine how God should and should not fulfill what Moses and the Prophets foretold. Philip said, “We have found him…Jesus of Nazareth.”  Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?”  


January 15, 2012
TEXT: John 1:43-51/I Corinthians 6:12-20/I Samuel 3:1-20
“COME AND SEE” THE ONE WHO READS YOUR HEART!
Rev. Kenneth W. Wieting

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ (1 Cor 1:3). Dear hearers of the Word made flesh:

First opinions – unrealistic expectations – biased perspectives. We all have them. Others have them of us. Our time and culture invests heavily in selling faulty opinions, presenting an image, controlling the spin. Because of our nature as sinners we often take the bait.

For instance consider Nathanael. He was from Cana - a town not far from Nazareth – but considerably larger than Nazareth. Nathanael used his intelligence and keen sense of human observation to determine how God should and should not fulfill what Moses and the Prophets foretold. Philip said, “We have found him…Jesus of Nazareth.”  Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” 

How like us sinners to base our opinions on outward appearance or statistical size or personal familiarity. How like us to be a bit cynical if they’re not from our crowd – our clique!  Conversely, how like us to minimize and grow weary of those who are close at hand, those whom God has put right next to us. Familiarity can breed contempt just like unfamiliarity can!  Can anything good come from that bunch – from the power of wall street brokers – from the power of union bosses – from that other political party (whatever “other” might be)?  Or conversely, can anything good come from my spouse – with so many faults?  Can anything good come from that peculiar East side congregation? Can anything good come from that clay pot of a pastor?

Nathanael had clear disdain for Nazareth. Unlike the Chief Priests and Pharisees who belittled all of Galilee (John 7:52), Nathanael was from Galilee (John 21:2). Being from a region that was low in the pecking order of others did not stop him from adopting a pecking order of his own. His opinion is definite and demeaning. With a tinge of scorn and town rivalry he asks, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?”

Jesus, on the other hand thought a lot of Nathanael. “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no deceit!”  The word translated “deceit” means cunning and scheming. It is used when you are catching fish or something else with bait. In Greek literature, for example, this word is used for the baiting and deceit at work when the Trojan Horse is used to defeat the city of Troy. Jesus is saying of this prejudiced man Nathanael – he is no Trojan Horse. This man who looks down on Nazareth is nonetheless truly looking for the Messiah. He is an Israelite who is not interested in baiting and switching.

Notice that even though Nathanael and Jesus had never met, Jesus had already read his heart. The omniscient God/Man had surveyed Nathanael’s hopes and rendered a surprise verdict. Concerning the heart of skeptical, questioning Nathanael, Jesus said, “Behold an Israelite indeed in whom there is no deceit.”

Jesus did not mean that Nathanael was without sin. He did mean that Nathanael’s hope in the promised Messiah was real and genuine. Nathanael belonged to the small number of those in Israel who did not depend merely on physical descent from Abraham. When Philip found Nathanael and said, “We have found him of whom Moses in the Law and also the prophets wrote…” he was speaking about the center of Nathanael’s faith and life. God’s Word had already found Nathanael and given him hope in the coming Messiah. It was this God-given faith that moved him beyond his cynicism concerning the humbleness of Jesus’ location.

“Come and see,” Philip said to him. And he did!  Soon Nathanael was saying to Jesus, “You are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!”  Soon Jesus was saying to him, “Amen, amen, I say to you, you will see heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.”    

Dear Christians, when it comes to God’s presence and God’s promises each of us has doubting family or friends. Each of us also has his or her own personal doubts about God’s presence and God’s promises. This is true especially in the face of suffering or weakness or darkness of feeling. In the face of what is undesired by us – what  our Introit set forth as the miry bog and the pit of destruction - we can easily ask Can anything good come from that?   

Because of an inherited defect the human heart fancies itself wise enough to sort out and judge spiritual things by its own experiences. For example Greek philosophy taught that the spirit was good but the body was bad. Some of those in Corinth therefore had the deadly perspective that they were in charge of their bodies and that they could divorce bodily actions from life in the Spirit. In response St. Paul wrote, The body is not meant for sexual immorality but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. And God raised the Lord and will also raise us up by his power. Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ?  Shall I take the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? Never!...Flee from sexual immorality…You are not Your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.

The growing philosophy of our time is that nothing good comes from denying the desires of the body?  Therefore, why not assume that I’m autonomous and that I can do with my body what I want to. Why not operate with the same reasoning for a little body that may be living and nourished in the womb of a mother’s body?  Why not indulge as I please in viewing pornography or in lustful looking or in defending and promoting homosexual sin?  Can anything good come from denying my personal desires and trying to glorify God in my body?   Can anything good come from speaking His word of truth in this environment?  The world and our sinful flesh tell us to trust our feelings or to go with the flow and not the Word of God.

Whether it is in regard to our own bodies or the embodiment of God working in the flesh, there is only one remedy for our skepticism and prejudices and the temptations that assault us.  That ongoing necessary cure is to “come and see” the greater things Jesus promised Nathanael that he would see.

Those greater things for the King of Israel included betrayal and mocking and bloody death by crucifixion. Can anything good come from such as these?  Can anything good for our bodies and souls from a tomb in which the corpse of the Son of God was laid?

Here, only the eyes of faith can see!  You have multiplied, O Lord my God Your wondrous deeds and Your thoughts toward us!  None can compare with You!  Come and see!  His deeds are so great that heaven is now standing open to us sinners again. Everything that is good and that lasts forever, everything that death will not take from us is found in His cross and open tomb. And by His promise, all of those blessings are now found in the humble means of water and word and bread and wine. You are not your own. You were bought with a price. God who raised the Lord will also raise you up by his power – bodily. Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ?   

Remember how, even though Jesus and Nathanael had never met, Jesus had already read His heart. The same Jesus is here right now and sees you, sitting not under a fig tree but sitting right there in that very pew. Just like He read Nathanael’s heart, so also, He reads your heart this morning (evening). Nothing is hidden from His view.  He sees the wrong desires of our hearts, the misuse of our bodies, the rebellion of our tongues. He is the Lamb of God who takes it all away!

What does He see in you – right now?  What does He read from your heart?  Does He see skepticism and doubt?  Yes, He does. He knows our hearts!  He sends the Holy Spirit, in part, to convict our unbelief in Him. But graciously, that is not all that He sees!  In the weary heart that comes to Jesus for rest, in the heart that hungers for Jesus’ forgiveness and righteousness Jesus sees something else. As He reads your heart, this is His verdict – “Behold, here is an Israelite in whom there is no deceit, in whom there is nothing false.

That verdict is a gift to you that comes from the gift of Christ Himself to you!  It comes with His Word of washing and absolving and feeding!  It doesn’t come because you heart is free of all skepticism and cynicism and doubt. It comes to forgive your skepticism and cynicism and doubt. Come and see the one who reads your heart – its idolatry, pride, dullness and worry!  Come and see the one who reads your heart and sees His own righteousness – His own holiness!  

Every time you confess the Apostles’ Creed at home, your tongue says also to your own heart – Come and see!  Every time you pray the Lord’s Prayer at home, your mouth says also to your own heart, Come and see!  Every time you fight opposite feelings and receive Christ’s gifts in the Divine Service, Jesus who says, Come and see – also says “come and be at rest.”
 
God grant us faithfully to perceive the Lord calling us in His Word and faithfully to respond as did Samuel – Speak Lord for your servant hears!   God also grant us faithfully to invite others to “come and see.” Amen.


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