This sermon is counter intuitive in its message. We naturally think that first we see something, then we sort it out, and eventually form beliefs based on those observations. That is not what John in the text or the small catachism say about faith.
Third article of the creed…what does this mean? I believe that I cannot by my own reason of strength believe in Jesus Christ, my Lord, or come to Him, but the Holy Spirit has called me by the Gospel….
In the text Jesus asks Nathanael if he believes because I told you you were sitting under a tree? The answer is no, but becuase he does believe he will see greater things than that. John is full of these encounters with Jesus and how people come to believe or has deficient belief. The Strongest might be Mary Magadelen at the resurrection (John 20:10-18). She “sees” Jesus, but doesn’t believe it. She thinks he’s the gardener, but then Jesus calls her, and she “sees” Jesus. If your firm belief is dead people don’t rise, you can’t see the risen Lord, at least not without intervention.
The true Israelite, unlike the original Israel is Gen 28:16, “sees” the Lord in this place. The Son of God might be hidden behind a cross, the face of a homeless person, bread and wine, the frailty of a minister, but surely the Lord is in this place, and I did not know it.
I putting the sermon together I stumbled accross the scientist story. I thought it was a great example coming from the ultimate ground of seeing in believing where seeing was shaped by belief.
Ultimately we as Christians have a vocation more like Philip who called Nathanael. Can anything good come from Nazareth? Come and see! We invite the blind to see. And leave the miracle to Jesus.