Sunday, February 3, 2008

The First Thing

Rev Steve Francis (Minister of the Word)

John 1:35-42

Steve spoke of the first thing Andrew did after he found out about Jesus: he went and told his brother Simon about Jesus and brought him to Him. Andrew hardly gets mentioned in the gospels, but Simon gets mentioned over 160 times in the New Testament. Yet it was Andrew who brought Simon to Jesus who then gave him his ministry.
"The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon" (v41). Andrew reached out. Andrew didn't just happen to be hanging around Simon and Jesus came up in the conversation. Rather, Andrew went to find Simon. Andrew went out of his way to tell Simon about Jesus. Authentic Christian faith always leads us outwards towards others. Steve reminded us of our congregation's mission: "Reaching our community and beyond with the love of Christ." If we are to act on this mission, we need to get out there! Steve challenged us to think of one person in our lives who is "our Peter", to whom we should be reaching out with the good news of Jesus Christ.
Andrew put into words his faith in Christ. He told him (v41), " 'We have found the Messiah' (that is, the Christ)." Andrew was not a silent witness, he didn't just expect his life to testify to the gospel for him, as sometimes Christians think is enough today. Telling and explaining the gospel is an essential dimension to Christian discipleship (cf Romans 10:14). In our society, it can be easy for people to grow up in the default belief of agnosticism (not so much "I don't know the truth" as "I can't be bothered finding out the truth.") or atheism. We need to tell these people about the claims of Jesus Christ (to be the Son of God; to be the Christ - chosen and sent by God; to have atoned for the sins of all people; to be the only Way to God). Otherwise, our friends, neighbours and relatives will find it easy to ignore Jesus.
Then Andrew extended an invitation to Simon (v42): "And he brought him to Jesus." According to Archbishop Temple, "This is the greatest service that one man can render another." It is a great privilege to invite another person to get to know Jesus.
In summary: Authentic discipleship is always outreaching, always proclaimatory, always invitational.

I'm glad that I've thought about this sermon a bit more since Sunday. Reflecting on the three parts of Andrews actions in leading his brother Simon to Jesus has given me encouragement for the long road ahead as I continue to teach my children about Jesus. We're reading through parts of the gospels at the moment, and I need to remember that we're not just reading the stories so that the kids know what Jesus said and did. We are reading through them so that the kids will get to know Jesus personally and learn Who He is and that they can trust Him.

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