Reflection January 19, 2020 by Rev Sun-Young (Sunny) Kim
John 1:35-42/ Isaiah 49:1-7
Come and See
Do you know what Netflix is? It’s where we can watch movies or TV shows. When I was thinking of subscribing to Netflix, I was invited to use it for free for a month and then decide if I wanted to keep on. I would only start paying for the subscription fee from the second month. And if during the trial period, I wouldn’t be satisfied with the service, I could cancel it. But Netflix is not the only company that allows testing before selling their service or product. Think of shopping for a car; we get to test drive to see if we like it. It’s because to know something, we have to experience it firsthand. People are the same; we have to experience them to get to know them.
Today, we read the story of Jesus calling his first disciples. Before we look at John’s accountof the story, let’s quickly take a look at the stories of the first disciples in Matthew, Mark, and Luke. Mark and Matthew tell a very similar story; Jesus spotted two sets of brothers (Simon and Andrew, and James and John) and invited them to follow him. They immediately left their boats and followed him. No details. No reason given as to why they followed Jesus immediately. Luke’s account is the one I told the children today. How is Luke’s account different from Matthew and Mark? Let’s discuss. (discussion)
Matthew, Mark, and Luke are called Synoptic Gospels because they share a lot of the same anecdotes, which means they must have used a lot of the same source materials. The Gospel of John, on the other hand, is quite different from the Synoptic Gospels, which means, the authors didn’t use the same source materials. But because we have four different testimonies about the life and teachings of Jesus, we can learn different aspects of the ministry of Jesus. In today’s story where Jesus gains his first disciples, John tells a different story from the rest of the gospels. The prospective disciples seek Jesus out as opposed to Jesus calling them to follow him and them going along. The important aspect of John’s account of the first disciples lays in the sentence, “Come and see.” How do they know Jesus is the right one? “Come and see.” You have to experience something or someone to truly know them. They gained the conviction because they came and stayed with Jesus. They experienced him. With that experience of staying with Jesus, Andrew was convinced; he went to his brother Simon and told him that they had found the Messiah, God’s Anointed One. When Jesus met Simon, he called him Cephas, which means rock. Cephas, in Greek in which the New Testament is written, is Peter. That’s our Peter, the same Peter who tried walking on water with Jesus in Matthew’s gospel, and later on denied knowing Jesus when he was arrested.
“Come and see,” Jesus said, because being called into discipleship is a deeply personal experience. Why discipleship? Why does God need disciples for the ministry of God’s kingdom? Because “Christ has no body now but yours,” as we will sing after this reflection time. These song lyrics, which are from a poem attributed to Teresa of Avila, a 16th century Spanish mystic, expresses what is called incarnational theology. It means God has become flesh in Jesus Christ to fully embody God’s love for the world. And because God became flesh for us, in turn, we are to become God’s body that brings God’s love to the world. God works through us. Let’s take some time to think about our personal experience being called by God. I come from an activist background, so, when I was called into ministry, I understood that God wanted to somehow use me in spreading the justice of God’s kingdom, although nobody knows how exactly. Because I have made a lot of unwise decisions in my life and suffered the consequences, I understood that it will help me to relate to regular people with regular life experiences, “sinners” as the traditional church language would call them, unlike someone who has led a good life full of good choices. Let us take some time now to reflect on our personal journeys with God. How, where, and when did you feel the call to be a part of God’s family, community of believers and disciples? Let us share. (sharing time)
No matter how and when it happened, we are all a part of this church community because we have accepted God’s invitation. Of course, not everyone who attends church has conviction of their calling. If you are one of them, take today’s lesson as an opportunity to pray and reflect on it. It might be a long process; but know that it will be a worthy journey. If you are one of the lucky ones who have clearly felt the call, take this opportunity to recommit yourself to God’s call. We all become complacent after some time. We need periodic recommitting. Let us commit or recommit ourselves to the ministry of God’s kingdom, and find our place in this ministry.