Lenten Reflection for March 21

Blooming natural prairie flowers

Scripture: John 1:43-51

Verses 43-51 of this scriptural passage tell of Jesus finding Philip and saying, “Follow me.”  Philip invites Nathanael to come see Jesus.  Within this selected passage is the beginnings of Jesus’ discipleship.  “Follow me” is Jesus’ standard invitation.

There is cynicism expressed by the statement, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?”  One could say Nathanael’s comment reflects small-town rivalry.  Nathanael was from Cana.  Cana and Nazareth are a few miles apart.  Young men are loath to think well of anyone, especially young men, from a rival town.  Have we not heard that similar negative regard and cynicism being expressed today?  Could it be said that the same cynical notion be extrapolated to include tribes, nations, races and religions as further examples?

Philip does not argue with Nathanael.  Instead, he invites him to come and see.  We can learn from this exchange.  The message expressed is seeing the good in others, regardless of their tribe, race or religion.  Nathanael accepts the invitation to see Jesus.  Fortunately for Nathanael, he went to meet Jesus and becomes a disciple.  If he had stuck to his prejudice without investigating further, he would have missed the opportunity to follow the Messiah.

There are lessons here.  We often have to get outside of our comfort zone.  Wonderful things can happen when we do.  Do not pre-judge.  Sometimes we can miss spectacular opportunities.  We need to have blind faith.  Do not let people’s stereotypes about Christ cause them to miss his power and love.  Invite them to come and see who Jesus really is.

The passage emphasizes that, within these verses, there is a heartening revelation of the kinds of men on whom Jesus stakes his hopes.  They are ordinary people.  Yet, Jesus uses them to change the world.  Perhaps this should hearten us when we assess the strengths and weaknesses of our congregation or when we assess our own personal strengths and weaknesses.

We might be ordinary.  But, in the eyes of God, ordinary people are chosen to accomplish extraordinary things.

By Marilyn Clare


God, I am rather an ordinary person.  I haven’t climbed Mount Everest.  I haven’t invented a cure for cancer.  I haven’t much to offer—just myself.  Please take and use the gift of me for your purposes in the world.    AMEN

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