I've just returned from an interstate trip where I interviewed two elderly men for the upcoming FW Boreham Documentary. Both of these gentlemen were in their nineties and had been friends for over 70 years. After from sitting under the preaching of F.W. Boreham, they had many other things in common, but their one joint passion was for their local church and their Saviour. These men radiated the presence of Christ and such there was something peculiarly attractive about them. This was the same with the first followers of Christ as well.
¶ Now among those who went up to worship at the feast were some Greeks. So these came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and asked him, "Sir, we wish to see Jesus."
Jesus chose to be represented by people. These representatives are called the Church. The genius of having people represent you, is that you reach more people. In this episode in John 12 where these Greeks say to the disciples, "We wish to see Jesus", there is something very profound going on. Over the years I've heard many preachers use this passage to say that people often get in the way of other people seeing Jesus. "The church should just get away of people wanting to see Jesus", they preach. But the problem with that conclusion from this text in John 12 illustrates the exact opposite point. Far from followers of Christ being a hindrance to people seeing Jesus, followers of Christ are the means by which people come to see Jesus.
Jesus has called you to follow Him so that others might see Him. Keith and Russell, the two gentlemen in the nineties, had spent their lives helping others to see Jesus. There are some people that might not ever see Jesus because of me - but these same people may well see Jesus because of you! When these Greeks approached the disciples of Jesus, I guess they could have asked any of the disciples to introduce them to Christ. But they didn't ask Matthew, or Judas, or Thomas, or Simon, instead they went straight to Philip. Did you notice something in that list of names? Philip is a Greek name. These Greeks went to a disciple of Jesus with whom they felt they could relate. If we read on in this passage we see that Philip went to another of Christ's disciple's who also had a Greek name.
Philip went and told Andrew; Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus.
This week I was contacted by someone interstate who knew me primarily as a tennis player. (In my early life, tennis was my life.) They wrote to me reminiscing about watching me play tennis and knowing that I was a Christian. He then shared a small summary of his recent journey to Christ after having been delivered from alcohol and drugs. Tennis become the connecting point for our relationship. Yet other people connect with me because they hear me on radio. In fact, yesterday as I checked in for my flight, the stewardess asked, "Are you the Andrew Corbett on radio?" This became another connecting point for me to reach out. Jesus has strategically invested in you certain connecting points with others. Like the disciples, Philip and Andrew, it might be your ethnicity and family history. It could be the school you went to. It could be your sport, or sporting team. It could be your job or profession. It could be your love of craft. It could be your children or even your parents. It could be your choice of music.
FOLLOWING PRODUCES FOLLOWERS
Far from the Church being in the way of people coming to know Christ, the Church is the greatest means by which people can! When these original Greeks approached these original disciples, they lived at a time when so much about life was uncertain. The Romans were swift in dealing with those who displeased them. And many people displeased them. Death and the after-life were extremely important issues to the people of the first century. Today, without the looming threat of a Roman sword, most people in the Western World (which includes much of Australia) do not ponder these deeper matters. Arguably, many people in these more affluent societies are blinded to their real need by the utter deception that they have no needs. It's into these peoples' lives that God sends a follower of Christ with a connecting point. They observe in this follower of Christ a deep peace that comes from having the deepest need met - a need thay they now begin to recognise because of this Christ follower. This is a need that a Mercedes cannot fill. It is a need that having the right address does not address. It is a need that a Mastercard cannot buy. And while there are many followers of Christ who have similar stations in life to these need-blind people, they see their wealth and possessions as resources at the King's disposal so that even more people can be healed of their blindness. It is followers of Christ which produces followers of Christ.
For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked.
WHERE TO FIND JESUS
These Greeks of John 12 knew where to find Jesus. Find His disciples and you'll find Him! The same is true today. Find His followers and you'll find Him. When Joseph and Mary wanted to find the twelve year old Jesus, they went to the House of God. The same is true today. When the family of Christ followers gather, Christ is in their midst (Matthew 18:20). When the Church gathers with Christ in her midst, everything she does is worship of Him. If anyone would find Jesus, they should look in church. If they also want to see Christ they should look at the One the Church is worshiping.
so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another... ¶ For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ.
Romans 12:5, First Corinthians 12:12
THEY WOULD SEE JESUS
This Sunday we will have people join with us who have never been to church. These people are not interested in becoming religious. They are not coming to be controlled or duped. They have, however, been given a glimpse of their true need and painfully come to realise that stuff, although momentarily numbing, does not (because it can not) meet this need. They've discovered that what the world calls medicine is actually the very poison that made them terminally ill in the first place. They need to see Jesus. They have come to where He can be found. As the followers of Christ assemble to worship Jesus, people are drawn to Him.
After I met with these two veteran followers of Christ to film them for the FWB documentary, they chatted about their church (Kew Baptist Church). Russell, who enjoyed better health than Keith, warmly invited Keith to come to their next Chat and Chew outreach morning. Russell then turned to his pastor, Nick, and told him how he had been encouraging his great-granddaughter to come along to church. There are some who have grown fed-up with the church. Through their immature response to some offense they have chosen to despise the flawed followers of Christ like you and me, and have instead justified their detachment from the Body of Christ as somehow being more spiritual, and even more Biblical. This is sad and unnecessary. When these Greeks wanted to see Jesus, they came to His flawed disciples. And Philip and Andrew then brought them to Jesus. In the next verse, Jesus announced that the hour had come for the Him to be glorified. When people are drawn to Jesus because of His followers, He is glorified.
And Jesus answered them, "The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified."
And every time when the church assembles to worship God The Son through praise, giving, prayer, reflection on the Lord's Table, the ministry of the Word, and fellowship with one another, Jesus is most glorified. And when Jesus is most glorified we help more needy people to see the only One who can eternally meet their need.
to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.