Come and See – Br. Jim Woodrum

Read by Br. Jim Woodrum“The Son of Man was revealed….”  In my prayer on the scriptures appointed for today, this snippet from the 1st letter of John is what jumped off the page at me.  “The Son of Man was revealed.”  It almost has a game show quality to it doesn’t it?  It’s as if we’re watching “The Price is Right” and Bob Barker has just asked Rod Roddy to reveal to us what is behind door number one.  What are we going to see?  What is going to be revealed?  In the gospel lessons yesterday and today, John the Baptist is the equivalent to our Rod Roddy.  John is revealing the Messiah, the long hoped for deliverer of Israel, the one spoken about by the prophets.  John says “Here is the Lamb of God!”  What do you suppose the reaction is of those who are in ear shot of John’s proclamation?  We don’t immediately know, although we hear John expound a little bit more in yesterday’s gospel lesson.  He says, “’I myself did not know him; but I came baptizing with water for this reason, that he might be revealed to Israel.’  And John testified, ‘I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him.  I myself did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain is the one who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’  And I myself have seen and have testified that this is the Son of God.”  This poor, homeless, itinerant rabbi of questionable lineage, from the wrong side of the tracks:  THIS is the Son of God.[i]

In today’s lesson, John is standing with two disciples and we hear him proclaim to them as Jesus is passing, “Look, here is the Lamb of God!”  We can almost see the two disciples look at each other, shrug and in curiosity start to follow Jesus….although at first, at a distance.  Where is going?  This future king of Israel must have a decent place to stay somewhere around here?   I’m sure his royal vestments which he’ll put on when he overthrows Rome must be in his closet there.  Where is this “Lamb of God” going?   Jesus turns and sees them following and asks a key question:  “What are you looking for?”  I want add my own emphasis on the word ‘you.’  What are YOU looking for?  Naively, we hear them answer, “Rabbi, where are you staying?”  Jesus answers simply, “Come and see.”  And for these disciples and a few other nefarious characters who join them, the saga of blown expectations begins.

Now, we all know that Jesus delivered some pretty amazing stuff or else we wouldn’t be sitting in this Chapel today.  But imagine the amazement or perhaps bewilderment of those who witnessed this “word made flesh,” as the gospel writer puts it.  I identify with the passage from the Chapter 11 of Matthew’s telling of the gospel where after all this hoopla, John the Baptist finds himself in prison, his future dwindling like his hope and he wonders, “How did I end up here?  Why hasn’t God delivered on his promises of deliverance?  Have I led all these people astray in proclaiming Jesus as the Messiah?  Am I going to be ‘that guy,’ and go down in history as a false prophet?”  In a bit of irony, John sends two of his disciples to ask Jesus, “Are you REALLY the one?  Are you REALLY going to be able to ‘deliver?’  Should we wait for someone else?”  Jesus replies, “Go and tell John what you hear and see:  the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have good news brought to them.  And blessed is anyone who takes no offence at me.”[ii]  Rome has not been overthrown, but Isaiah’s prophesy has been fulfilled![iii]  What Jesus delivers defies the expectations of those around him.  Deliverance looks different than what they were imagining.  In my own experience, Jesus has lured me in with an expectation, but has changed my life in a manner that I in my humanity could never have imagined.  Maybe this rings true for you also.  How has Jesus blown your expectations out the water?  How is it, at this time and place in your life, you find yourself sitting in this chapel?  What are your circumstances and where is Jesus in your life?  Maybe you’re not quite sure yet.  Maybe there has been a Rod Roddy or even a John the Baptist in your life that has pointed out to you this poor, homeless, itinerant rabbi of questionable lineage, from the wrong side of the tracks and said “Here is the Lamb of God.”  And you’ve have shrugged and started to follow…..although at a distance at first.  Maybe, in your prayer life you’re asking the question of Jesus, “Where are you staying?”   Jesus is answering, “Come and See.”


[i] John 1:29-34

[ii] Matthew 11:2-6

[iii] Cf. Luke 4:16-21; Isaiah 61:1-3

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  1. Walter Edgar on September 1, 2018 at 08:41


    Thank you for your thoughtful message. Walter Edgar

  2. James Rowland on September 1, 2018 at 07:29

    Today I work helping serve food at our parish food pantry. I am new to this and eveyone else is an old hand. Am I doing this right? Do they really need me? Thank you for reminding me, Br. Jim, that all I actually need to do today is, “Come and see.”

  3. David Cranmer on November 27, 2015 at 01:25

    I too have struggled with why did God not take away a certain infirmity after I received Christ as Lord and Savior. During my first year of a new life in Christ, it looked like I was free of an emotional infirmity. But since my second year walking in my new relationship, I have been struggling with this infirmity. For many years I felt abandoned by God. Now I have come to more fully appreciate the fact that the struggle is the gift, that as some of our New Testament writers have said we need to realize that these things come our way to help us grow in our faith. I have come to understand that the struggle can help shape us to be like Jesus and to serve more effectively. I know that the struggle I face keeps me coming to Jesus on a daily basis, and if only for that I am grateful for the struggle.

    • Betsey on September 2, 2018 at 19:38

      I wonder if the struggle is to be able to relate to others in a more compassionate way. Do you think that we can continue to believe and expect that God can ‘exercise the infirmity’ if indeed it is ‘self-inflicted’ by our thoughts and beliefs? Just a thought on relieving some of our infirmities.

  4. Jane Byers on January 9, 2014 at 20:47

    I hope you can reason me out of this thinking but….

    How can we have hope in our lives when we read about John the Baptist. ?
    Jesus did not rescue him infact, it looked like he abandoned him. When I apply this to my life I wonder if I should just accept the way things are . My husband died 4 years ago and my life has been unsettled since. I pray, seek advise , do everything everybody tells me to but it seems I have been left with a life of loneliness. I read in James where we are to give thanks and I am thankful for many, many things. People tell me I am a blessing to them, I know life is not all about me.
    That being said I am beginning to feel like John the Baptist and afraid of the years to come. He had a horrible outcome.

    • Leslie on November 25, 2015 at 08:21

      Jane, I am sorry for your loss and your pain. I hope that in this year you have found the redemption in your pain. John the Baptizer did not have a horrible outcome. He perfectly fulfilled his call. That is a glorious outcome, which I earnestly desire for myself. May God bless you with peace.

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