Posted by: lepages | July 17, 2010

Jesus – tried, tested & proven!

A couple of weeks ago I went to preach at North Arbury Chapel in Cambridge. I don’t think they have a website, so the preach isn’t available as audio online.

I really felt the Holy Spirit’s help in delivery and believe the Lord spoke beyond my notes here. Have to say though, taking time to pray and reflect on John 1:35-51, under the above title was a real blessing to me. Hope some of my reflections in my sermon notes below are a blessing to you too.

Introduction
A cowboy from the midwest walked into a bank in New York City and asked for the loan officer. He told the loan officer that he was going to Paris for an international rodeo for two weeks and needed to borrow $5,000 and that he was not a depositor of the bank.

The bank officer told him that the bank would need some form of security for the loan, so the Cowboy handed over the keys to his new Ferrari. The car was parked on the street in front of the bank. The cowboy produced the title and everything checked out. The loan officer agreed to hold the car as collateral for the loan and apologized for having to charge 12% interest.

Later, the bank’s president and its officers all enjoyed a good laugh at the backwoods cowboy for using a $250,000 Ferrari as collateral for a $5,000 loan. An employee of the bank then drove the Ferrari into the bank’s private underground garage and parked it.

Two weeks later, the cowboy returned, repaid the $5,000 and the interest of $23.07. The loan officer said, “Sir, we are very happy to have had your business, and this transaction has worked out very nicely, but we are a little puzzled. While you were away, we checked you out on Dunn & Bradstreet and found that you are a highly sophisticated investor and multimillionaire with real estate and financial interests all over the world. Your investments include a large number of wind turbines around the midwest. What puzzles us is, why would you bother to borrow $5,000?”

The good ‘ol boy replied, “Where else in New York City can I park my car for two weeks for only $23.07 and expect it to be there when I return?”

We come to the fourth in your series, looking at the person of Jesus – what better theme could there be?!

This week we’re thinking about ‘Jesus – tried, tested and proven’ – the theme drawn from John’s gospel, chapter 1 and verses 35-51.

In that little humorous story I told to start us off each of those words could be applied in different ways to the story.

We’re going to look at this account of Jesus and the coming of and his calling of people to be his disciples, to come and follow him, and we’re going to ask ourselves what these words ‘tried’, ‘tested’ and ‘proven’ can mean for us.

So lets begin with the word ‘tried’
Have you tried Jesus out?
Have you explored what it means to know him?
Maybe that’s why you’re here this morning, because you’re wanting to know whether there’s more to life than what you’ve experienced so far, and you’re wondering whether the Christian faith has anything to offer?

If you haven’t got your Bibles open at our reading for today, then can I encourage you to turn to it.

John 1:35,36
The next day John was there again with two of his disciples. When he saw Jesus passing by, he said, ‘Look, the Lamb of God!’

Its interesting that it says that Jesus was ‘passing by’ – he didn’t particularly come and seek out these 2 men at this point…. its possible that he could have just passed by and the two men might have been oblivious to him…. but John said ‘Look, the Lamb of God!’…. drawing attention to him.

Today, I want to say to you about Jesus, ‘Look, the Lamb of God!’ I want to draw your attention to him. He is the most important person in history – the whole of our Western time scale is based around his life, even if some try and hide the fact now. He is someone worth following. He is worth trying out – because when you try him out, he changes your life for the better.

But its worth unpacking this phrase that John used to point Jesus out with – to a Jewish mind it was immediately attractive and filled with meaning – to your average 21st C Brit, it means absolutely nothing!!

To us today you say the word ‘lamb’, and you either think of some sweet creatures gambolling about in a field, or you think of mint sauce and a tasty dinner!!

To a Jewish man at that time they thought of sacrifice – their religious custom was to sacrifice a lamb to cover their sin and make them acceptable to God, to make it possible for them to come before God. So here was someone they looked up to saying ‘Look, the Lamb of God!’ – this caught their attention!

Why was this man being described as a ‘lamb’ and not only a lamb, but the lamb of God!??

And so, they followed him.

You’ve got a choice, I can tell you about Jesus, about how he came into the world to rescue you, to enable you to become a child of God, as you thought about a couple of weeks ago, to tell you that he wants to give you an offer of new life, not only in this life, but beyond the grave. Jesus said ‘I have come that you might have life and have it to the full’ or have it more abundantly. But you have a choice as to whether you follow him or not. Will you try him out or not??
The two disciples in our account set off to follow Jesus.

READ John 1:37,38
When the two disciples heard John say this, they followed Jesus. Turning round, Jesus saw them following and asked ‘What do you want?’ They said, ‘Rabbi’ (which means teacher), ‘where are you staying?’

What a bizarre question!!
You’ve got this guy, who has just been described in the most incredible way. He turns to talk to you and you ask him where he’s staying???!!!

But reality is, sometimes we’re like that.
We’re intrigued by something, and we can’t quite grapple with the big questions and so we begin with small ones that we can cope with.
But it set these two men up to ‘try out’ Jesus.

Jesus replied, v39 ‘Come and you will see.’ So they went and saw where he was staying and spent that day with him.

Their little question opened up a time for them to spend with him when they tried him out, and were convinced about him as a result of having done so, to the extent that the first thing Andrew was to do after his time with Jesus was to find his brother Simon and tell him v41 ‘We have found the Messiah’ (that is, the Christ). And he brought him to Jesus.

You know when people try Jesus out, they’re usually convinced, so convinced that their lives are transformed and they want to tell others about this amazing person – in a sense that’s why I’m here this morning doing what I’m doing, because I want others to know the incredible joy that I know through a living friendship with God through Jesus.

I think if you come to him today and say ‘Jesus, I’d really like to get to know you. Can I come and stay with you for a while?’ or if you’d like to come to him with your simple question, I’m sure you’ll find that he will meet with you and just as Andrew was convinced, so you will be too.

At our church in Bedford, the Seniors are just exploring starting a ‘Carpet Bowls’ club as a means of building friendship with others and helping them to share their faith. On Wednesday they invited me along to a first trial session. I had a try at carpet bowls, I wasn’t brilliant, but it was enough to convince me that this was an activity which could attract and engage others.

Try Jesus out. You’ll be blessed if you do!

The next phrase in our title was the word ‘tested’.

Lets read a bit more from our reading for today.

READ John 1:43-46
The next day Jesus decided to leave for Galilee. Finding Philip, he said to him, “Follow me.” Philip, like Andrew and Peter, was from the town of Bethsaida. Philip found Nathanael and told him, “We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote—Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.”
“Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?” Nathanael asked.
“Come and see,” said Philip.

Some people are naturally suspicious.
England win the world cup? Humph… a likely story.
In the last year I’ve got into doing triathlon. Had a reasonable racing bike. But been out with others training and been told again and again how I need to get some tri bars, some aero bars so I can get a better position on my bike. Always had questions about it. Never sure it could really make much difference to my performance. Got my first set about a month ago. Went out and did a time trial the next day and took over a minute off my personal best – and it certainly wasn’t down to extra effort on my part!!

I had tested what others were saying and found it to be true.
Nathanael questioned whether what Philip was saying about Jesus was true. And Philip’s answer was ‘Come and see.’
Nathanael was up for testing this Jesus out, seeing whether he was the real McCoy or not!
READ v47-49
When Jesus saw Nathanael approaching, he said of him, “Here is a true Israelite, in whom there is nothing false.”
“How do you know me?” Nathanael asked.
Jesus answered, “I saw you while you were still under the fig tree before Philip called you.”
Then Nathanael declared, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the King of Israel.”

Some of us need not just to have a try at things, but we need to test them for ourselves.

Nathanael needed to test Jesus out – to find out whether he was for real or not. As soon as he met Jesus and heard how he spoke to him, what he knew about him, what he was able to say about him, he was convinced.

Do you identify with Nathanael? Tend to be a bit sceptical? Wonder whether all this that you’ve heard from friends and family about this Jesus is really real?

Well come to Jesus with your questions! Come and see, as Philip said to Nathanael.

If you need to test out whether Jesus is who he said he was – the Son of God, well ask him to prove it to you! He may choose to put you in your place, but at least you’ll know the truth!

Our last word was the word ‘proven’

READ v50,51
Jesus said, ‘You believe because I told you I saw you under the fig tree. You shall see greater things than that.’ He then added, ‘I tell you the truth, you shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.’

At this point Jesus had done nothing to show that he was the Christ – he had done nothing to show that he was the Son of God – he had done nothing to show that he was the Lamb of God. But, over the days, weeks, months and several years to follow he was to show that he was all these things, he was to prove who he was – his ministry was to be marked by incredible teaching, by great compassion, by remarkable healings and miracles that no-one would have imagined or anticipated, that all proved who he was.

Since he left this earth he has continued to prove who he is again and again through the pages of history, down through the centuries right to today.

I remember 30 years ago realising that if I wanted to know this God who had created everything, who had put it all in place and even now kept it all functioning (and I became convinced that there must be a Creator as I did my biology A level, because I reached the conclusion that there was no way something as complex as a single cell, let alone a whole human body could have come into being as a result of random acts of chance) – that if I wanted to know this God, I could only do it through this person Jesus – I was caught up with his words ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No-one can come to the Father, except through me.’ John 14:6

No-one can come to the Father except through me.

He is the only way we can know God for ourselves.

I received him into my life at that time…. and since that time he has proved himself in my life again and again and again.

As a young father in my mid twenties, God called me to leave my job as a Contact Lens Fitter and Dispensing Optician to go to Bible college. We left my job with debts of around £4000 – even though we received far less than my salary during that year, by the end of the year we had no debts! Jesus is faithful to his promises that if we seek first his kingdom and his righteousness all these other things will be added to us as well.

4 ½ years ago I was knocked off my bike in a road traffic accident – I had two brain injuries – a haemorrhage on one side, a clot on the other, a severely broken pelvis and dislocated hip. I was unconscious in hospital for 9 days – they didn’t operate on my pelvis and hip until my head injuries were controlled – they didn’t know whether I would survive or not, and if I did the likelihood was that I would be left with permanent significant brain damage that would affect my day to day living.

Against all the odds, 21 days after the accident I went home. The Lord has proven that he is the same God today that he was in the Bible. Just as Jesus healed in the pages of scripture so he brought healing to my life.

Andrew and another disciple tried Jesus out, they followed him to find out what he was about. Nathanael tested Jesus, as a sceptic he came, met with Jesus and was convinced.

Jesus went on to prove himself again and again over the following years. He is still proving himself in people’s lives today.
Come to him today, try him out, test him. He will prove himself true and you will be blessed as you give your life to him and follow him for yourself. Don’t let him just ‘pass by’……

If you decide to try/test/prove Jesus out in your life, then please let me know.

Last week I was preaching in my home church – I’ll post notes from that preach in the next few days.

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