Following Jesus

Today’s Daily Lectionary Gospel reading is John 1:43-51

The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. He found Philip and said to him, ‘Follow me.’ Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. Philip found Nathanael and said to him, ‘We have found him about whom Moses in the law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus son of Joseph from Nazareth.’ Nathanael said to him, ‘Can anything good come out of Nazareth?’ Philip said to him, ‘Come and see.’ When Jesus saw Nathanael coming towards him, he said of him, ‘Here is truly an Israelite in whom there is no deceit!’ Nathanael asked him, ‘Where did you come to know me?’ Jesus answered, ‘I saw you under the fig tree before Philip called you.’ Nathanael replied, ‘Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!’ Jesus answered, ‘Do you believe because I told you that I saw you under the fig tree? You will see greater things than these.’ And he said to him, ‘Very truly, I tell you, you will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.’    (NRSV)  The “you” in verse 51(the last sentence) is plural.

These verses, and verses 35-42 before it as well, are interesting.

The modern idea of following Jesus has more to do with making a statement of faith and believing certain things. But in John’s Gospel, following Jesus seems to mean literally following him around. Phillip is asked to follow. Philip tells Nathanael to “come and see”. When Nathanael believes because of something Jesus says, Jesus seems to minimize that. “Do you believe because I told you…. You will see greater things than these.”

It is a good reminder for me that following Jesus is about imitating Jesus. I can’t physically follow Jesus around but I can read the gospels with an eye to noticing the things Jesus does and how Jesus treats people. Now I don’t expect to perform miracles and signs in the style of Jesus. My signs are smaller and much more mundane. But in today’s world -hospitality, compassion, treating people respectfully, helping people be fed and housed and healthy- well those can be downright miraculous.

If I imagined myself walking alongside Jesus as I go thought my day, would I behave differently? Hmm. That seems like a good practice to try.


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