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Jesus the Living Word; The source of the presence of God on earth

Jesus the Living Word  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  22:35
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We desire a place of security

The thought of being homeless is incredibly unsettling.
Some of us here have been in the situation where we had to be out of the place where we were living and didn’t have anything definite lined up next.
Now a motel for a few nights is probably something which can be arranged, but that isn’t a long term solution and may be out of the question if finances are depleted. Possessions and place are important to us and temporary accommodation simply doesn’t offer either.
There have been a couple of occasions when accommodation was a last minute thing and I can let you know that I really didn’t like being in that situation.
There is something about security which we all crave; if we believe that we don’t have security of employment, income, housing or safety then there is this pervading sense of insecurity, anxiety, fear.
A sense of place is incredibly important. We naturally look for place as it forms part of our identity. We determine both status and security through our attachment to this concept of having a place.
When two disciples of John the Baptist decided to follow Jesus he challenged them with the question, “What do you want?”
Their reply was “where are you staying?”
John 1:38
John 1:38 NLT
Jesus looked around and saw them following. “What do you want?” he asked them. They replied, “Rabbi” (which means “Teacher”), “where are you staying?”
Now this might have been a purely practical question on the part of these two men, it was late in the day they had heard what John the Baptist had said about Jesus and they wanted to ask him some questions.
Or it could have been one of those cases when they didn’t know how to respond to the question so they asked the first thing that came into their mind.
Jesus response of “Come and see” doesn’t actually deal with their question. Yes they follow him to where he is staying but more importantly they follow him.
Throughout Jesus’ life place isn’t important, relationship is.
In Luke 9:57-62 and Matthew 8:20 we read
Luke 9:58 NLT
But Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens to live in, and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place even to lay his head.”
Matthew 8:20 NLT
But Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens to live in, and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place even to lay his head.”

Christ offers security in relationship

This is the existential question for all of us who encounter Jesus.
He asks us, “What do you want?”
If we seek place we have the wrong answer to his question.
Peter in Mark 9:2-6 made this mistake
Mark 9:2–6 NLT
Six days later Jesus took Peter, James, and John, and led them up a high mountain to be alone. As the men watched, Jesus’ appearance was transformed, and his clothes became dazzling white, far whiter than any earthly bleach could ever make them. Then Elijah and Moses appeared and began talking with Jesus. Peter exclaimed, “Rabbi, it’s wonderful for us to be here! Let’s make three shelters as memorials—one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” He said this because he didn’t really know what else to say, for they were all terrified.
If we seek status we have the wrong answer to his question.
James & John the sons of Zebedee made that mistake in Matthew 20:20-22
Matthew 20:20–22 NLT
Then the mother of James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to Jesus with her sons. She knelt respectfully to ask a favor. “What is your request?” he asked. She replied, “In your Kingdom, please let my two sons sit in places of honor next to you, one on your right and the other on your left.” But Jesus answered by saying to them, “You don’t know what you are asking! Are you able to drink from the bitter cup of suffering I am about to drink?” “Oh yes,” they replied, “we are able!”
If we seek wealth we have the wrong answer to his question.
Jesus dealt with that in Luke 12:16-21
Luke 12:16–21 NLT
Then he told them a story: “A rich man had a fertile farm that produced fine crops. He said to himself, ‘What should I do? I don’t have room for all my crops.’ Then he said, ‘I know! I’ll tear down my barns and build bigger ones. Then I’ll have room enough to store all my wheat and other goods. And I’ll sit back and say to myself, “My friend, you have enough stored away for years to come. Now take it easy! Eat, drink, and be merry!” ’ “But God said to him, ‘You fool! You will die this very night. Then who will get everything you worked for?’ “Yes, a person is a fool to store up earthly wealth but not have a rich relationship with God.”
If we seek escape from the pressures of this world then we have the wrong answer to his question.
Jesus dealt with that in Matthew 6:25
Matthew 6:25 NLT
“That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing?
The answer to his question, “What do you want?”
Is relationship, it is you are the Messiah, the Son of God the King of Israel. John 1:41 John 1:49
John 1:41 NLT
Andrew went to find his brother, Simon, and told him, “We have found the Messiah” (which means “Christ”).
John 1:49 NLT
Then Nathanael exclaimed, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God—the King of Israel!”
When Jesus says come and see he is giving you the opportunity to explore relationship with him.
This is what happened with these two disciples.
“Come and see” Jesus said in John 1:39
That night as they spent time with Jesus, almost certainly over a meal they would have talked with him and listened to him.
They would have learnt some of what he was on about. Some of their questions would have been answered.
A sense of who he is would have started to dawn upon them.
The joy and love and peace of his presence would have began to effect them.
The there comes the challenge. “Come follow me” John 1:43
When he says come follow me, he is inviting you into relationship with him.

It is a relationship which will transform your life.

Transformation is easy to say, difficult to really comprehend.
People use the illustration of the caterpillar that becomes the butterfly.
But that isn’t what we are talking about here.
It isn’t the transformer robot from the science fiction series that changes from a car or a truck to a walking talking robot, nor is it the change of a plastic to a solid like concrete in the mixer to the concrete slab on your driveway.
Transformation in Christ is the change from being outside God’s family to being inside God’s family.
It is as the Apostle Paul says being made a new creation.
2 Corinthians 5:17-18
2 Corinthians 5:17–18 NIV
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation:
We get a glimpse of this transformation in Simon’s encounter with Jesus in John 1:42

Simon Peter, the importance of a name

John tells us in John 1:42 that Jesus gave Simon the name Peter.
In ancient times people associated knowing the name of a person that you had never met, as Jesus does here, with supernatural knowledge.
For the Jews this was a sign of a prophet.
In the Old Testament God changes the name of Abram to Abraham in Genesis 17:5 and tells him that he will be the father of many nations.
When Jesus changes Simon’s name to Peter he is making a statement.
Simon in relationship with Christ is transformed from a humble fisherman into the rock, upon whose confession the church is built.
Matthew 16:16-18, demonstrates this transformation.
This is the same confession which transforms us.
“You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God” This declaration is the beginnin gof relationship. This declaration is the beginning of transformation. This declaration is the moment at which we become a new creation.
In a similar way Jesus encounter with Nathanael demonstrates another aspect of how we are transformed

Nathanael, a representative of transformation

John 1:47-50
John 1:47–50 NLT
As they approached, Jesus said, “Now here is a genuine son of Israel—a man of complete integrity.” “How do you know about me?” Nathanael asked. Jesus replied, “I could see you under the fig tree before Philip found you.” Then Nathanael exclaimed, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God—the King of Israel!” Jesus asked him, “Do you believe this just because I told you I had seen you under the fig tree? You will see greater things than this.”
Jesus’ encounter with Nathanael draws upon a rich Old Testament story which would have been immediately apparent to those who read this account.
Jesus declares that Nathanael is a true son of Israel, a man of complete integrity, yet his ancestor Jacob, who God renamed Israel, was anything but.
The story of Jacob, the deceiver begins in Genesis 25 .
Jacob deceived his Father and cheated his brother out of his birthright.
He deceived his uncle Laban to achieve great wealth by some clever management of the flocks and was himself deceived by his uncle Laban firstly when Laban didn’t give Jacob the wife he was expecting.
It is a bit awkward to wake up with the older sister after the wedding night when you were expecting the younger sister to be by your side.
Jacob was renowned for his deception.
In contrast Nathanael represents the change of character which comes about because of the transformation of relationship with Christ.
The arrival of Christ is God’s transformation of Israel and his descendants.
In Christ all is transformed.
It is a new day, a new creation.
That which was is no more, that which has come is Christ the Messiah.
The previous ways of doing things are gone.
Once again we see that Jesus has incredible insight into people he hasn’t met.
Nathanael is amazed at Jesus words, “How do you know about me?” he asks Jesus in John 1:48.
And once again there is a meaning in Jesus’ answer.
“I saw you under the fig tree before Philip found you.”
It was the custom of Jewish rabbis to study the Scriptures sitting under a vine, fig tree or olive tree.
This was a sign of serious study of the Law of God and also a pragmatic way to get some shade.
Jesus’ statement about Nathanael sitting under the fig tree affirms what he said before about Nathanael being a man of complete integrity.
Here is a serious student of the Scriptures.
Here was a man that hoped to see these Scriptures fulfilled and standing in front of him is Jesus, the Christ; the one who is the embodiment of all Israel’s hopes.
Nathanael’s recognition of this fact declares to us the very presence of God is with us.
The one who calls us to understand that in this relationship is the path and presence of heaven.
John 1:51 NLT
Then he said, “I tell you the truth, you will all see heaven open and the angels of God going up and down on the Son of Man, the one who is the stairway between heaven and earth.”

It is a relationship which understands that Christ is the path and presence of heaven

This isn’t about us.
This is about Jesus, who he is what he does.
Again Jesus picks up a picture from the life of Jacob the patriarch. The one whom God renamed Israel, the father of the 12 tribes.
When he was fleeing from his brother Esau who had been cheated out of his birthright he stopped for the night and whilst he slept he dreamed of angles ascending and descending a ladder joining heaven and earth.
This is the story of Jacob’s ladder.
Above the ladder stood the Lord, who made promises to Jacob about land, descendants and that the world would be blessed through them.
When Jacob woke up he realized that the Lord was in this place. He had not recognized this fact but now knew that this was an awesome place the gate between heaven and earth.
Jesus is now claiming that this place where people encounter God is now in the person of himself.
John: An Introduction and Commentary iii. Jesus Calls Philip and Philip Brings Nathanael to Jesus (1:43–51)

The greater things people were to see, then, would be the revelation of God in the life, ministry, death, resurrection and exaltation of Jesus.

Do you want to see heaven, then be in relationship with Jesus.
Do you want the presence of God in your life, then invite Jesus in and accept his claim of Lordship over your life.
Do you want to walk with the power of God in your life so that you have peace in the midst of strife, joy in the midst of suffering. hope in the face of adversity.
Then dwell in the place where that power flows from heaven to earth; In relationship with Christ.
But do not make the mistake of thinking that you can climb that ladder to heaven.
You can not.
The New American Commentary: John 1–11 (3) Philip’s Witness to Nathaniel (1:43–51)

Humans do not climb up to God. God instead makes the divine presence known on earth just as it happened to Jacob at Bethel and more decisively as it took place in the incarnation of Jesus.

Instead take the time to come before Jesus who is the Christ, the Messiah.
When he says come and see. Take hi at his word, see what he is doing, see what he can do. Experience the joy of his love, the comfort of his presence, the awe of his Holiness.
When he says come and follow then accept the offer of relationship. It is a relationship that will change your life, transform you into someone new.
Be someone who lives no longer for self but for Christ
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