Sermon – John 1:43-51 – What you believe effects what you see


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.

2 thoughts on “Sermon – John 1:43-51 – What you believe effects what you see

  1. By Third article of the creed, do you mean the 3rd part of the Nicine Creed. the part about the Holy Spirit? I got onto this thinking that the whole of last Sun sermon would be there. I agree that often we do not “see” withut something to motivate us. Is this the role of the Holy Spirit? The scientist story: I guess that waht I wanted to see in writing so I could think about it, esp. since there weere concepts completely new to me

  2. Paul,

    Yep, by third article of the creed I mean the 3rd part of either the Nicene or the Apostles Creed. Luther’s explanations in the Small Catechism, which I am quoting there, are to the Apostle’s creed, but both creeds follow the same structure: 1st article = Father/Creation, 2nd Article = Jesus/Salvation, and 3rd Article = Holy Spirit.

    Note that text of the Sermon is present in MS Word format. You just need to click on the word cloud picture and the text should launch. Sorry about the confusion. I should probably start adding an explicit link and not just the pretty picture.

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