Come and See

Series: Why Jesus?

March 12, 2017 | David Crosby
Passage: John 1:35-39

The Expectation:

“We have found the Messiah”

I believe with perfect faith in the coming of the mashiach, and though he may tarry, still I await him every day- Principle 12 of Rambam's 13 Principles of Faith (Jewish Rabbi Maimonides from 12th century Judaism).

  • Jews debated whether there really was to be a Messiah. Many secular Jews would claim now that few Jews actually expected a Messiah to come.
  • But the Old Testament record is full of this expectation including the Torah which anticipates the coming of the “seed of the woman” and the prophet like Moses. 

The Messiah would accomplish seven tasks according to one prayer that devout Jews prayed three times daily:

  1. Ingathering of the exiles
  2. Restoration of the religious courts of justice
  3. An end of wickedness, sin and heresy
  4. Reward to the righteous
  5. Rebuilding of Jerusalem
  6. Restoration of the line of King David
  7. Restoration of Temple service

Andrew felt for sure that “we have found the Messiah” (verse 41). This does not mean that Andrew is right about his claim. What it most certainly does mean is that Andrew, along with his brother, Peter, were expecting the Messiah. 

This expectation ran high in Israel throughout the Roman occupation. Whenever Israel was under the heel of a foreign power the expectation of the deliverer would surface again. During the time of Jesus the Jews were longing for someone to set them free. The most fundamental wing of Judaism was in continual preparation for war. The most radical sects were ready to commit suicide rather than surrender as was evident on Masada.

Other potential Messiahs had been identified in and around the time of Jesus. Two of them are mentioned by Gamaliel when the Sanhedrin are considering killing Peter and John (Acts 5:35-39): Then he addressed the Sanhedrin: “Men of Israel, consider carefully what you intend to do to these men. Some time ago Theudas appeared, claiming to be somebody, and about four hundred men rallied to him. He was killed, all his followers were dispersed, and it all came to nothing. After him, Judas the Galilean appeared in the days of the census and led a band of people in revolt. He too was killed, and all his followers were scattered. Therefore, in the present case I advise you: Leave these men alone! Let them go! For if their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail. 

  • Both of the cases cited were military in nature. This conforms to the popular expectation of the Messiah—not a Savior but a General.
  • Both were of human origin. But the potential existed in the mind of the great Gamaliel that God could intervene through the Promised One and deliver his people.

The Invitation:

"Come and See"

Nathanael is expecting the Messiah. This is the religious context of his people and his time. A great expectation infused every discussion in the temple and synagogue. “Come and see” is based on his initial reaction to the claims of Jesus.

“Come and see” is a fairly common expression. It is an invitation to move from where you are to some other place and to view what is there at that other place. The little sentence is used in all kinds of contexts and is a response to many different questions: “What has happened?”

“Come and see” could be an invitation to investigate a disaster or to discover the cause of a great transformation. It could be a child showing you his latest hideaway or a general showing you his most recent entrenchment. 

Most prominently, the sentence is identified with a 1985 Soviet war movie about the Nazi occupation of Byelorussia and the Russian resistance fighters. Some say it is the greatest war movie ever made. The movie title actually refers to the arrival of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse from the Book of Revelation: Death, famine, war, and conquest.

Messianic Jews who believe in Jesus as Messiah have produced a Bible study under the theme, “Come and See.” 

“Come and See” is a website originating in modern-day Nazareth and produced by a group of Arab Christians there. They spread the news about the church in the Middle East.

Two variations of the phrase “come and see” in our text.

  • In verse 39 Jesus invites Andrew and another disciple of John the Baptist to come and see where he is staying. The phrase here seems to be about physical location.
  • The one most cited, when Philip says to skeptical Nathanael, “Come and see” in verse 46. Here it invites both physical movement and a visual, intellectual, and spiritual evaluation of the person and work of Jesus. 

This is an invitation to a journey of discovery about a curious and surprising figure, Jesus of Nazareth. This is the journey we are taking for these weeks leading up to Easter. We are tracking Jesus in the Gospel of John as he interacts with people who are asking, like Nathanael, “Why Jesus?”

The Answer:

“Can any good thing come from there?”

In the KJV, “Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth?”

The question is about “any good thing”? Is there something that could come from the small hamlet of Nazareth, unknown and unregarded?

The certain answer we know today: Yes. A person came from Nazareth who will start a powerful spiritual movement that will inspire billions of people, gain strength for the next 2,000 years, and fundamentally change the human experience on Planet Earth.

Series Information

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