날짜: 2018년 10월 21일
제목: 복음으로의 초대
올리브연합감리교회 김배선 목사
20181021 Sunday worship sermon
“Invitation to the Gospel”
John 1: 43-51
We sometimes encounter unexplainable things in life.
It is because there are limitations within our human language.
We become speechless when we cannot prove our innocence, or when we are extremely happy or joyful, we have no words that can truly describe our emotions and feelings.
Such is God’s love.
It is not proper explaining God’s love to those who haven’t experienced it.
God’s love should be shown through our life, rather than explained by words.
God’s love cannot be expressed in words nor persuaded.
Even when we tell a person “God really loves you,” we cannot assume the person will understand God’s love if he or she has not experienced it.
Such unexplainable mystery’s inhabits the Gospel.
God’s unexplainable love and His grace cannot be described by human languages, it must be experienced.
I would like to describe this experience of grace as an “Invitation to Gospel.”
Today’s text is the story about Jesus' invitation of Philip and Philip's invitation of Nathanael.
The scene where Jesus says to Philip, “follow me,” does not fit well to the circumstances of that time.
In ancient times, there were hardly any cases where a teacher asked disciples to follow him.
Disciples usually chose and followed their teachers voluntarily.
The meaning of “following” here should be seen as the same as “becoming disciples.”
Therefore, when Jesus here said to Philip “follow me,” Jesus called on Philip to be His disciple.
Jesus called on not only Philip, but also other disciples as well.
The words in the book of Matthew, “Follow me, I will make you fishers of men,” were also a direct calling from Jesus to the disciples.
From the very beginning, Jesus called on the disciples directly.
The disciples did not choose Jesus, rather Jesus chose his disciples.
Yes, this is the grace.
We thought that we chose Jesus, but in reality Jesus selected and called us from the very beginning.
After Jesus' calling of Philip, Philip met Nathanael.
And Philip invited Nathanael to meet Jesus.
However, the problem was that Nathanael could not find a reason to accept Philip’s invitation.
Nathanael asked, “Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?” (Verse 46)
If we put this discussion between Philip and Nathanael in the language of a contemporary conversation, they would sound like the following:
“Hey Nathanael, I met this guy. He is really awesome. We’re going to meet him today. Let’s go and find this guy. He is called Jesus from Nazareth.”
“What? What Philip? What are you saying? How…Is there anyone who is good at anything from Nazareth?”
Then Philip hesitated.
He had a hard time trying to persuade Nathanael.
There was no way for him to explain who the person Jesus is.
So Philip said just one sentence.
“Come and see.”
“Come and see…” this is an invitation, an invitation to something that cannot be described in human language.
Philip couldn’t explain in words, the essence of which he couldn’t explain no matter how much he would try—regarding this, Philip just said, “Come and see.”
Brothers and sisters, Philip invited Nathanael.
He did not persuade him, nor did he argue with him to prove something good can come out of Nazareth.
He simply invited Nathanael to the person whom he couldn’t explain.
There is a Korean saying, “Seeing once is better than listening 100 times.”
No matter how many times you hear about something, it is better for you to see it once to clearly understand what it is.
Because he could not explain, the best he could do was to invite him.
He couldn’t debate, couldn’t persuade, nor explain it.
At the invitation, Nathanael came forward to Jesus with Philip.
Then Jesus said that He had seen Nathanael already before he came to meet Him.
Jesus said the following, “Here truly is an Israelite in whom there is no deceit.” (Verse 47)
This means that before we come to Jesus, Jesus has seen us first.
We thought it was our decision, but after experiencing His grace, we come to learn that His decision was before our own.
We thought we met the Lord, but the Lord had come to see us.
We thought it was because of our ability, but His grace and His love were there first.
We have come here only to learn that He has known us already.
This is why Nathanael was surprised.
He couldn’t help being surprised at Jesus, who had seen him first and known his past already.
Therefore, moved by His grace and love, Nathanael confessed, “Rabbi, You are the Son of God. You are the King of Israel.” (Verse 49)
Then Jesus foretold about things to come: he would see the heavens open and the angels of God would be ascending and descending on the Son of Man.
He would see for himself the glory of heaven.
Brothers and sisters, the invitation to the gospel is like this.
It is like seeing the heavens open, seeing with our own eyes the glory of heaven, and being invited to the place of glory that cannot be described in words.
Grace is like that.
I was not first, but He was first.
It was not my choice, but His.
Grace is not praises for the past, but being able to see the glory of the future.
Just because things unfolded in a way that we’d prefer does not mean grace.
That can be an obstacle rather than grace.
Grace is not what we can plan or set up.
Even when things go in the direction that I don’t want, it can be true grace.
Grace cannot be restricted to people or circumstances.
God’s grace is the gift that I, who is undeserving, will receive.
Seeing the glory of heaven is grace.
Falling deeply in such a love is grace.
Knowing that we are invited to this place of grace and the place of the gospel is true grace.
Some of you may flinch at the mention of mission work or spreading the gospel.
Some of you may feel withdrawn, saying, “How can I speak with someone that I do not know? How can I ask a stranger to come to the church?”
You are right.
It is not easy.
I am not saying you need to go to a stranger and spread the gospel.
If that is difficult, you can do it to the people you know well.
If one of your family members still does not believe in Jesus, you can invite them to the gospel.
You can invite your colleagues and friends.
Brothers and sisters, spreading the gospel is not about persuasion or argument.
It is an invitation.
Jesus whom I met, the grace of the cross that is given to me, God’s love that I experienced cannot be explained with human language.
That is why it is an invitation, not an explanation or persuasion.
I am not saying that we should first go to the people whom we do not know.
First, go to the people you know.
When a person is invited but the invitee does not see such grace and love in the life of the inviter, that invitation is not a true invitation.
How would you say to your children who asks you, “What is good if you go to the church?”
If there are reasons such as, “Well, if you go to the church, there is Sunday school, a delicious lunch, and a good message from the pastor…” it is a persuasion.
If the children say, “what is good if you go to the church? Mom goes to the church but she is no different,” there is no need to argue.
If someone says that there is no difference whether we go to the church or not, we should just listen to this as a voice of God, and repent so that we can truly reside in the gospel.
As we can see from Philip’s invitation towards Nathanael, we should be humble so we can have such invitation in our lives.
And invite again once more.
“Come and see God’s grace. God really loves you.”
Brothers and sisters, the Lord invites us to this gospel.
The Lord invites all of us to this gospel that is indescribable in human language.
I said to invite first the people you know, but we may have a problem before this invitation.
Many times, we forget where the invitation leads to.
It is not to the church.
It is first to the Christ.
It is not a blessing.
It is an invitation to a repentance that tears up your heart, this should come first.
It is not the merit of our life of faith, but it is God’s grace
If we do not dwell in the place where we are supposed to be in the invitation place, inviting others would be like a blind person leading the way.
Therefore, we need to examine whether we truly reside in the gospel.
The gospel has no relevance to our circumstances.