Stand Alone: Follow • Sermon • Submitted • Presented • 1:00:45
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In Genesis, chapter 3, we see what the church and what theologians have called for a long time now the fall.
The fall is when humankind decided to rebel against their Creator and in so doing fracture the universe as God had designed it to operate and be.
If you've read through the first chapter of John, you've seen all the collateral damage of that rebellion.
If it is true that we have been made by Jesus for Jesus, then that move isolated us from the thing we needed most.
In that space where humankind has gone, "Forget you, the Creator; I think I'd be better at this myself," God's response is a stunning one.
It reveals to us how he's going to operate with us from the moment that our relationship with him is fractured right up until this very moment.
This is what the Bible says: when Adam and Eve rebelled against God, now, outside of their designed purpose, they hear God in the garden walking toward them, and they hide.
Then there's this crazy question that God asks, and it's in the question that I think you begin to see how God is going to operate in his relationship with rebellious humankind moving forward.
In the garden, God's voice says, "Where are you?" Now let me tell you why that's significant: because God doesn't need to know stuff.
In what universe does God not know where Adam and Eve are? Even if you think about the foolishness of the hiding place…
You have Adam and Eve who know God, who have walked with God, who are in the midst of God's creation, who realize they are naked for the first time.
That word naked isn't just a physical nakedness. It's the idea of shame and guilt. They realize, "Oh my gosh! We are guilty. Oh no. What have we done?"
Have you ever had that question enter your conscience? "What have I done?" Well, God shows up. "What have I done? Quick! Get some leaves!" and they jump into the bushes.
God says, "Hey, where are you?" God knows where they are. It's not that God doesn't see them, but when you're small, sometimes you think in ways that aren't the ways things are.
If you've had children or been around children, I think you see this. There's this time period in which a kid in the game hide-and-go-seek thinks that if they can't see you, you can't see them.
It’s so funny because their hiding places are terrible. It's like lying on the living room floor with their blanket covering their faces, giggling and actually saying, “You can’t see me.”
You're like, "What? Do I need to get help for you? This is not a hiding place. You're just lying on the floor. You're just under the covers. I can see your body in the covers."
This is Adam and Eve trying to hide from God, but God shows up and says, "Where are you?" I don't know what kind of home you grew up in.
The most terrifying sentence my mother could ever utter was "Wait till your dad gets home," because Mom could whip me, but she couldn't hurt me. I think that's universal.
I think Mom can give you a decent whipping, and then you hit this age where you're like Pow! "All right."
Then the dreaded, "Wait till your daddy gets home," because Daddy, regardless of age, has man strength. He's got some velocity that Mama ain't got.
What we see happening in this text is the rebellion of God's creation against the Creator, and our heavenly Father steps into the garden…
He doesn't kick open the garden and go, "Where are you? You're not going to believe what the Holy Spirit just told me about you." The Father shows up and says, "Hey, where are you?"
"Well, we felt guilt and shame, so we hid." "Who told you you were naked? Did you do what I told you not to do?" "Yeah, we did."
"Okay. Well, let me make clothes for you, because the leaves aren't going to cut it." God clothes them.
The rhythm you see established that I've tried to press into our guts for 3 years now, that God is an initiating God. He pursues us. He chases us regardless of our rebellion.
This is what's happening in the book of Exodus. God among us is what we see as the prophets herald.
God keeps moving toward us, and in Christ, in the incarnation of the Son of God, coeternal with the Father, do we not see the ultimate moving toward?
As we covered several weeks ago, God put on flesh and moved into the neighborhood.
In fact, the writers of the Synoptic Gospels, Matthew, Mark, and Luke, would record Jesus himself saying this as His mission statement:
"The Son of Man comes to seek and save the lost." Not that he shows up like, "You're a bunch of screwups. I'm going to burn it to the ground." He didn't show up with tablets with more rules.
He came to seek and save the lost, and that's what we're about to look at even again today as Jesus begins to call his disciples.
Let's look at this together. John, chapter 1. We're going to pick it up in verse 35. Read: John 1:35-51
35 The next day again John was standing with two of his disciples, 36 and he looked at Jesus as he walked by and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God!” 37 The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus. 38 Jesus turned and saw them following and said to them, “What are you seeking?” And they said to him, “Rabbi” (which means Teacher), “where are you staying?” 39 He said to them, “Come and you will see.” So they came and saw where he was staying, and they stayed with him that day, for it was about the tenth hour. 40 One of the two who heard John speak and followed Jesus was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. 41 He first found his own brother Simon and said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which means Christ). 42 He brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said, “You are Simon the son of John. You shall be called Cephas” (which means Peter). 43 The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. 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 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 there is no deceit!” 48 Nathanael said to him, “How do you know me?” Jesus answered him, “Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.” 49 Nathanael answered him, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!” 50 Jesus answered 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, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you will see heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.”
What we see happening in this text is Jesus beginning to do what Jesus does: seek and save the lost, call unto himself men and women to follow him.
He's doing this same thing right now even unto this day. Jesus, even in this moment, is walking by and calling to himself those who would follow him.
It might be helpful for us to note that what's happening in John the Baptist's ministry is that a revival has broken out.
If you just read it in pieces, you kind of miss it, but if you read the Synoptics and came here to John, John the Baptist actually starts preaching outside of town.
The Holy Spirit starts moving, and people start coming out to the wilderness to hear. They're being baptized and repenting of their sins. He's old-school revival.
If you go read John's sermons, they read something like this: "Repent! For the kingdom of God is at hand." Tell me that isn't old school.
"Repent!" Some stuff about vipers. "Produce fruit in keeping with repentance." These are John's sermons, and it's resonating. People are going, "I want to repent. I want to turn."
They're being baptized and are following John. This revival has gotten so big that people of real influence in the social order of the day are coming out just to check it out.
John, with one message, keeps preaching the same thing: "Behold, the Lamb of God!" More come out. "Hey, behold, the Lamb of God!"
He does this in all sorts of different ways. "There's one coming, and I'm not worthy to untie his shoes. There's one coming, and I'm not worthy to be considered anywhere near him.
There's one coming who was before me, even though I'm older than him." "Behold, the Lamb of God" is his only message.
What we see happening on this day is that John the Baptist has brought two of these disciples who are following him. We don't know why these two, other than the providence of God.
They intentionally stand where they know Jesus is going to walk by. As Jesus walks by, he says, "Behold, the Lamb of God!"
He yet again proclaims the Word of God, and these brothers hear it, they understand it, and they follow him.
To this day, Jesus gathers to himself men and women to follow him through the proclamation of his Word. Where it is proclaimed and people hear it and understand it, they will follow him.
This becomes a pattern in the New Testament: gospel proclamation that sees men and women come to follow Jesus Christ.
We're going to do something a little bit different today. I want to introduce you to Jeff Martens if you don’t already know him. I've known Jeff quite some time.
He's a pastor and elder here. He has a story of when the Word of God just hit him, and the scales fell off his eyes and his calling went from 0-90 real quick like.
While Jeff was in the church and in ministry of sorts, the Lord has not fully landed Jeff yet. Since then, he has followed the Lord ever since and been in full time service to Him.
I wanted to do this as a way of encouraging you. If that's your story… Maybe there were other people involved, but you were sitting in a pew like this.
Maybe somebody opened the Book and started to preach it, and something broke loose in you. Scales fell off. Something changed.
If that's your testimony, would you do me a favor and just stand up where you are, proclaiming while you were listening to a sermon, Jesus wrecked your life in a good way. If that was you, praise God.
Let me talk to you for a second. What happened in that moment is God yet again asked the question, "Where are you?" but he asked that question for you, not for him.
He opened your eyes to see, and he gave you a new heart, and the Bible says he transferred you out of the domain of darkness and into the kingdom of his beloved Son.
I want you to remember again today that he saw you and he loved you and he came and found you. You were a lot more of a mess back then than you are right now.
I don't want you to doubt his love for you. He began the work. He'll be faithful to complete the work. It's not up to you to complete the work. He's going to complete the work.
I want you to breathe and remember that he saw you, he found you, and he saved you, and he's not going to let go of you. Praise God.
What we see in the text is this isn't the only way Jesus walks by. The next way you can see is in verse 40-42. Read: John 1:40-42
40 One of the two who heard John speak and followed Jesus was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. 41 He first found his own brother Simon and said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which means Christ). 42 He brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said, “You are Simon the son of John. You shall be called Cephas” (which means Peter).
I love this. You have Jesus, who gives this offer to Andrew. "Come, and you will see." What does Andrew do? He's like, "Man, I have to tell my brother about this."
Andrew runs, and it's the invitation to me that, as I thought about it this week, really reminded me, stirred up my affections in some keen ways toward the Lord.
He says, "Hey, we found the Messiah. We found him!" What Andrew is saying to his brother is far more significant than just "He's the Messiah."
If you remember, the light shining in the darkness is Jesus' victory over sin, over guilt, over shame.
So when Andrew runs up to Peter and says, "Hey, I've found the Messiah," he's saying, "Hey, man, all that guilt, all that shame, all of our mistakes… “We found the Messiah!
You have to come check this out, Peter. It's the Messiah." If you think about supernatural, dark spiritual bondage, "We found the Messiah. That's over."
If you want to talk about oppression, "We found the Messiah. Oppression is over." What we see in this text is, families of faith, a brother going to a brother that leads to homes that are built upon beholding the Lamb.
Let me tell you why that's significant. Not perfect homes, because that does not exist. Not perfect parents, because there are no perfect parents.
This is an example of homes that, by the grace of God, as best they know how, are trying to behold the Lamb of God.
When you behold the Lamb, you become like the Lamb. Homes built on beholding the Lamb become an environment where a child can figure out who they are and be okay with that.
Why? Because you're beholding the Lamb. When you're beholding the Lamb, now that brokenness in you that wants to protect them from being like you allows you to speak a gentle truth.
The world will tell you “You can't love like Jesus and be a man. You can’t be tender. You can’t cry. You'd better grow some chest hair."
The Word of God would say, "No, no, no. You be you. God made you. God designed you for you to be you."
It's by beholding the Lamb that we're freed up to finally be who we are. Not only is that okay, but God rejoices in that.
I want to introduce you to Elijah White today. I love this guy. He feels deeply, but he also has a bit of warrior in him. That's my kind of guy.
He grew up in a home that constantly was saying, "Hey, look at Jesus. Hey, how amazing is Jesus? Hey, look at Jesus." So, Elijah, how did you learn to follow Jesus when He called you?
How many of you have this story? "By the grace of God, I was born into a home where I heard about Jesus. I hardly remember what it was like to not understand that he loved me and he was after me"?
If that's you, would you stand up? We don't raise our hands right now. We raise our hands when we sing. Right now, we're standing. Look at me. You do not have a boring testimony.
You have the testimony that we all want for our children and our friends and our family, that Jesus walked by you by his grace, through no act of your own.
Through faithful, imperfect mamas and daddies who did the best they could with where they were. God saw you and walked by you through the failures and the faithfulness of your mamas and daddies.
He has not forgotten about you, and you are in his sight to this day. God's plan is to continue that line of faithfulness through your imperfection until he returns. Praise God.
There is a third way we see Jesus walking by people in the text. Look at verse 43. Read John 1:43-51
43 The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. 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 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 there is no deceit!” 48 Nathanael said to him, “How do you know me?” Jesus answered him, “Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.” 49 Nathanael answered him, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!” 50 Jesus answered 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, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you will see heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.”
We don't know how Jesus knows Philip or came across Philip. But we see he invites Phillip to follow Him. All the text lets us know is that he's from the same city as the other two disciples.
Apparently, Phillip knows Nathanael pretty well, well enough to believe that Jesus can impact him. So he quickly tells him about Jesus.
Nathanael is a little bit of a theologian. He knows about the law of Moses. He knows what the prophets say.
Notice that in each of these there's this different invitation extended, but it's all the same invitation. He meets us where we are. He comes at us where we are, like we are.
Some of us are naturally skeptical or maybe there have been some things in our lives that have created a skepticism in us, so maybe God comes toward us with some apologetics.
I've met people who have a hard time coming and seeing, following Jesus, even as he walks by, because something really dark has happened to them or somebody they loved.
What we see here in the invitation, it's different than anybody else's. "Hey, come meet Jesus. He's the fulfillment of all that Moses and the prophets said."
He's like, "Nazareth? Oh man. There ain't nothin' good in Nazareth." He's like, "Well, just come and check it out."
He walks up, and Jesus is like, "I know who you are. In fact, I saw you while you were under a fig tree before we even got here" He's like, "Whoa, what was that?"
Now all of a sudden, Nathanael immediately goes from "Nothing good comes from Nazareth" to "You are the Son of God, the King of Israel. I'm going to follow you wherever."
The other way Jesus walks by… Through the proclamation of the Word of God, through families of faith, and via faithful servants willing to take a risk.
So, I want to introduce you to Michael Kates. I love this brother. He's one of our volunteers on Wednesday evening, a godly man, and doing great things in the KOG.
He teaches history over at Robinson Middle School right down the block and has a deep knowledge of many things. As much as he thought he knew about God, God want Him to really follow Him deeper.
Please welcome my brother Michael Kates: Michael Kates
Michael is standing up here on this journey with God today because someone took a risk. Michael had a plan in his journey and paused long enough for God to work.
We have this incredible brother here, a friend and a leader in our community and church, who is here with us because someone just took the step of faith, a risk. Praise the Lord.
Who has this testimony today? Where you are here and following Jesus because someone took a risk? Stand up please if you can and will.
Jesus continues to walk by, and the sermon from friends and families and faithful preachers is still the same: "Behold, the Lamb of God."
I want to end our time today with the same question God asked in the garden…Where are you? Most of the time when God is pursuing us, we're not even aware he's pursuing us.
As a faithful friend, I've been saying to you, "Come and see," and for whatever reason, you just keep coming and seeing.
To you, you haven't put it together, like, "I'm not sure I believe this, but why do I keep coming?" Or are you haunted by the faithfulness of Mom and Dad? You don’t know if you can fully dive in like them.
If you have a high school kid right now and you're like, "Oh my gosh. I don't know. I'm hoping…" Right?
I don't know where you are. If you know, "I was listening to this sermon. It was in this season. It was because of faithful friends. I have a lineage of faith in my life," then praise God.
He sees you. He knows you. He loves you. He began the work. He cannot fail. He will complete the work. But if you're here and you haven't said, "Yes. Oh my gosh, I'll come and see. I'll follow you…"
Jesus never says, "Hey, know about me." He says, "Follow me." It's not the same thing. Knowledge of the person and work of Jesus is not the same thing as saying, "Yes" to his lordship in our lives.
Still, he walks by us this morning, saying, "What do you seek? Come, and you will see." Let's pray.
Father, thank you for my brothers and sisters in this room. I thank you for those who will be my brothers and sisters and may not know it yet.
I just ask that you open eyes, that you'd let scales fall off, that you would encourage hearts. I pray for my brothers and sisters.
Build them up in love. Remind them of your faithfulness. Remind them of your goodness and grace on their lives.
Let us leave emboldened as we remember, as we have been re-immersed in what is true about the gospel today.
Father, for those blind to see, heart hardened, God, I just ask for the merciful gift of salvation. I ask that you get involved, Jesus. Help us. We need you. It's for your beautiful name I pray, amen.