Now Philip was of Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. Philip findeth Nathanael, and saith unto him, We have found him, of whom Moses in the law, and the prophets, did write, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph. And Nathanael said unto him, Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth? Philip saith unto him, Come and see. -John 1:44-46 (KJV)
When I was a boy growing up in Dayton, Ohio, there was a small community not far from where I lived. This community had a bad reputation and anytime we learned someone was from there he or she was immediately suspect. I recall a transfer student who came to my school, and when we found he was from this neighborhood we figured he was a rough character and was going to cause trouble. While this young man did not cause any significant trouble, he did fit the description of “rough character.” Such was the reputation of this community; people believed nothing good could come from it.
We find in John chapter one how a similar feeling was held for the small town of Nazareth. Apparently, anyone from this area was looked at with suspicion. When word reached a man named Nathaniel that Jesus was from Nazareth he expressed misgivings about anything good coming from there; “Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth?” Nathaniel’s experience had been if someone came from this particular vicinity he must be someone of ignoble character. He wasn’t to be trusted, was not a person worthy of following, and was probably a criminal. This sort of prejudice is harsh, yet not at all uncommon. Admittedly, we often make the same unfair associations about certain people and places.
Something we should note in this passage is Philip’s patient reply to his friend; “Come and see.” Philip had already spent time with Jesus. He had listened to His words, taken in the wonderful truths Jesus shared, and He experienced for himself the power of being in Christ’s presence. He invited his prejudiced friend to simply come and experience Jesus Christ for himself; “Come and see.” He told him. The Scripture shows how after meeting Jesus Nathaniel was convinced; “Nathanael answered and saith unto him, Rabbi, thou art the Son of God; thou art the King of Israel” (V 49). We can almost hear the excitement in his voice. Jesus then went on to promise Nathaniel that he would see spiritual wonders beyond anything he had ever imagined possible. He would experience the power of God first hand.
Often we grow frustrated with the lack of faith and the skepticism of those around us. Remember, when we witness for the Lord ours is to invite them to “come and see” for themselves. We cannot force, coerce, or bully anyone into receiving Christ, nor should we ever attempt to do so. Rather, invite them to come and see for themselves.
Let us be living, breathing, walking testimonies of God’s grace. Invite those around you to “come and see” that Jesus Christ is Lord.