July 2017

July 2017

Come and see

(John 1. 39)

Read the first chapter of John's Gospel and you cannot avoid noticing the importance given by the evangelist to sight and vision. He begins in the negative: No one has seen God at any time (v. 18). After that, between verses 29 and 51 there are no fewer than fourteen positive references to looking and seeing.

Bishop Stephen Verney reckoned that we should consider John's first chapter as a Prologue to the whole book which actually begins at chapter two. There is much realistic and dramatic storytelling in the Gospel, but it has always been accepted that the evangelist continually and deliberately invites us to see below the surface. This means focussing our attention not so much on the literal meaning of the words as on the spirit and life to which they are pointing (6.63). Insight rather than eyesight. 

When you listen contemplatively to these three Words you gradually become aware that this simple command from the Lord is, in effect, a compelling invitation. Come implies that you are to move from the familiar to the unfamiliar, to leave your comfort zone and to enter a different domain in which new things will be found and experienced in the closer presence of God-in-Christ. Ultimately, this is for our infinite good, yet this newness of life will also be disturbing and challenging.

It is significant that near the centre of his Gospel, John uses a whole chapter (9) to teach his readers the importance of insight, using the healing of a blind man by Jesus as the springboard for this vital lesson. Today we live in an age which is strikingly visual, dominated by media images and electronic pictures. One of the dangers of this is that our focus is far too often limited to what other people want us to see: and most of this information is both transient and superficial. A consequence of this is to be seen in a tragic lack of spiritual vision and insight in the present generation. This in turn brings about a profound loss of wisdom and considered judgment. 

Jesus says Come and see. This simple command invites us to re-focus our lives on the realm of the spirit in the company of Jesus. That in itself will enlarge our vision: You will see greater things...heaven opened (v.50-51). And as we use the Saying in contemplative intercession, our prayer becomes evangelical. Come and see invites any person or group to change direction and discover Jesus to be the clear and obvious Way, Truth and Life.