I have a generic face, almost like the guy in this stock picture. Often when I go somewhere new, they “remember” me from the last time I was there. Except, I’ve never been there. Sometimes this works to my advantage if someone had fond memories of the “other me,” but at least once, it caused significant confusion.
Ruth Ann and I had been married for about eight years when I first went to college. I looked similar enough to one of the single students that all the single ladies thought he was married. We decided to clear things up during a student chapel. I introduced myself to the student body and then carefully made sure that everyone knew that I was the married man and my friend was single. In this case of mistaken identity, I just kept pointing to my single friend.
The Gospel of John is a narrative form of literature. John selects and arranges historical events to teach theological truth about Jesus. Chapter 1:19-51 presents four scenes that show the transition from John the Baptist to Jesus.
In the first scene, John the Baptist gets interrogated by the Jewish leadership. He doesn’t provide much in the way of answers, he just points to “the one who comes after me.” John points to Jesus and doesn’t get off message. In the second scene, John points out Jesus as the “Lamb of God” to his (John’s) disciples. John gives testimony that this is God’s chosen one, establishing a prophetic witness to Jesus’ identity. In the third scene, some of John’s disciples begin to follow Jesus. They quickly realize that Jesus is the Messiah, and Andrew goes to get his brother, Simon. In the final scene, Jesus calls Philip, who then gets Nathanael. Nathanael represents the honest Israelite who then says, “you are the Son of God, you are the king of Israel,” both concepts that point to Jesus as the Messiah.
There are two important points about witness in this passage from John. The first is that there are good witnesses to Jesus’ identity: John the Baptist is the prophetic witness and Nathanael is representative of the honest Israelite. Andrew and Philip demonstrate the second point about testimony, namely, that we “come and see” because someone else “came and saw.” When Andrew went to tell someone that he had found the Messiah, he didn’t start with random strangers, he went to his brother. Likewise, Philip went to someone he knew, who also knew him.
There are good reasons to believe in Jesus; and to follow him. And the best way to spread the message is from life to life. Just like John the Baptist, and Nathanael, stay on mission and just keep pointing to Jesus. Especially as you get pressured that Jesus is not the way, remember the good testimony that He is the way!
This same process continues to happen today. You are witnesses of what Jesus has done in your life. Some of you have overcome significant family problems, traumatic life events, and struggles with sin because of your relationship with Jesus. Others of you have had a blessed life because you were raised in a Christian home (and thank God for that!) this is also a unique witness to what God has done in your family.
We have to avoid a case of mistaken identity. Too often we introduce people to church, but forget to point people to Jesus!
And if you want the full sermon, here’s a link to the video: https://youtu.be/UuRoaFY4jHE