Today’s service continued on in the theme set by Tim last week.
Jonny led our worship, assisted by Amanda, Roy and Tim.
Judith brought the word today using the message from John 1 43-51. she used this to bring forward a message of new beginnings. She opened with a prayer for the Holy Spirit to point us to Jesus and let us have a new walk with him. Verses 50 and 51 in New Living Translation offer us a vision of a stairway to heaven. Tim last week explained God was the author of creation. He made everything for us his children. God’s plan was for a new beginning. Unlike the other gospels, John doesn’t start with a helpless babe. Jesus is the Word of God. Jesus is that word the light in the darkness. Verse 14 sets the scene clearly. A new beginning with God connecting with man, full of love and faithfulness. Jesus came offer a way for everyone, Jesus identified himself and begins to call his disciples. He is identified as the Lord and the Son of God. Nathanael uses these messianic titles. Joseph in Genesis had the dream of angels ascending and descending . Jesus builds on this, he says he is the way, a new covenant for everyone. Jesus says he is going to be the sacrifice. The people he calls are just like us, regular people. We’re happy to have a saviour but not necessarily happy to have a leader. Do we change our ways, what’s our heart condition like?
This new beginning is Jesus saying come and see! This is the Word of God not our own thinking. These disciples were getting excited. The first disciples were from Bethsaida. Despite Jesus saying it was unbelieving and unrepentant he chose his first from there. Jesus finds his people in the most unexpected places, he uses people who are not likely material as well. We mustn’t be afraid , we may not be skilled theologians , yet we believe. The woman at the well ran back and asked people to come and see. Nathanael jumped to a judgement, he was religious and initially he was stereotyping. This Jesus was a builder, and he therefore was working with, mixing and meeting a lot of unbelievers rubbing shoulders with him in the workplace. Jesus was a working man and had a regional accent from a place like Nazareth that did not have a good reputation. Nazarenes were unclean. God looks at the heart condition. It doesn’t matter where you come from. He offers a new beginning. Thankfully Nathanael was curious and he went to see. Jesus, when he saw him, knew his heart condition . He admired his honesty and integrity. Jesus welcomes the questioner. Jesus knew Nathanael wanted to know more. Jesus tells Nathanael he saw him under the fig tree. What does this mean? As soon as Jesus said it, Nathanael was captured. Under the fig tree was a common phrase to illustrate that you took yourself away to pray. When Jesus said this he was really saying “ I saw you in your time of prayer”. Nathanial knew only god knew this. Immediately Nathanial recognised Jesus. What’s our fig tree? We need to come to that place recognising Jesus as our leader.
Lamentations 3:23 shows every morning we have a fresh start . If we blew it today, we still get a fresh start. It is never too late. When we reflect on Jacobs ladder, we know that despite everything, God promised he would not leave him in the wildness, Jacob awoke and realised God was in the hard place. Jesus identified himself to Nathanael as the gate and stairway to heaven. Jesus was inviting people with strange backgrounds and complex histories to follow him and to serve to carry his message. We can demonstrate Jesus we can invite people. If we’re in hard places, dry places, He’s promised to be living water, a light in the dark. Jesus says come and offers the new beginning for everyone. Jesus offers the new beginning, regardless of our mistakes. Come and see, is what he offers. Nathanael could have stuck to what he knew. But he didn’t. The glory cloud might be moving on for us offering us a new change, a new beginning. The challenge is not to limit God and to see the new beginning.