We invite and we’re invited. There’s something about an invitation that makes us feel special. Even though others may also be invited, we’ve been included in this elite group. The pleasure of our company is requested. Our opinion is being sought. We’re being asked to share our expertise. We’re invited.
Jesus was all about the invite. All the time. I bet there are some things we all can learn from his invitation style. The gospel of John has one account.
John the Baptizer is hanging out with a couple of his own followers when Jesus walks by. Anyone who was with John the day before recognizes Jesus. John is taken by Jesus’ celebrity and is recounting to his followers the cosmic commotion that occurred when he was baptized.
When Jesus comes walking by them again the next day, John wants to make sure his followers were paying attention and he again draws attention to Jesus. This time, not only do they notice, they start following after him!
The next day John again was standing with two of his disciples, and as he watched Jesus walk by, he exclaimed, “Look, here is the Lamb of God!” The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus. When Jesus turned and saw them following, he said to them, “What are you looking for?” They said to him, “Rabbi” (which translated means Teacher), “where are you staying?” He said to them, “Come and see.” They came and saw where he was staying, and they remained with him that day. It was about four o’clock in the afternoon. One of the two who heard John speak and followed him was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. He first found his brother Simon and said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which is translated Anointed). He brought Simon to Jesus, who looked at him and said, “You are Simon son of John. You are to be called Cephas” (which is translated Peter). ~ John 1:35-42 (for the whole context, read John 1:29-42)
I love the subtlety and uniqueness of each invitation. There is not a one-size-fits-all approach to God … as demonstrated by Jesus!
We know that one of the men who followed after Jesus was Andrew. My guess is the other is John who later recounts this story in what becomes the gospel of John. When Jesus realizes they’re following after him, he asks them, “What are you looking for?”
These two have been hanging out with John the Baptizer. Only those seeking something would hang out with someone who is more on the margins, than in the mainstream, of polite society. John and Andrew are looking for something. They’ve been hanging with John the Baptizer long enough to know that maybe he’s on to something about Jesus. Now they’re going to find out.
These two have probably been ridiculed enough by family and friends for hanging out with Crazy John, that they’re cautious in revealing too much to this still-unknown-Jesus. Besides, they don’t really know what exactly it is they’re looking for. They decide to give a safe, benign answer: “Where are you staying?” That’s like asking, “Are you staying at the Marriott or Motel 6?”!? Maybe they’re hoping to learn a bit more about him by where he’s staying?
(I love this:) Jesus extends a provocative invitation: Come and see. Those two – who are curious about what they don’t yet know – are now very intrigued. They follow Jesus and hang out with him the rest of the day.
Andrew can’t wait to tell his brother Simon about this. Not only does he tell Simon, he drags Simon to Jesus. Simon is not like Andrew. He’s not looking for anything. He’s probably one of those who chides Andrew about hanging out with Crazy John. He probably rolled his eyes when Andrew started talking about Jesus, thinking his brother is so gullible. He only agrees to go with Andrew to see Jesus to shut him up.
(I love this too:) Jesus meets Simon and re-names him! No polite invitation. No warning. No further invitations. Jesus skips all the stuff that Simon doesn’t care about and welcomes him. In essence he says, “I know I don’t know you, but I want you on my team. And to show you how important this is to me, I’m giving you a new name as a symbol. I want you.”
Jesus invites. Jesus welcomes. Simple. We’ll find out just how hard this was for people to accept soon enough. What we must ask ourselves today is how simple do we keep our invitations and our welcomes? Is our invitation simple or selective? Do we welcome everyone or must they meet a certain criteria before we fully embrace them? Do we meet and accept people where they are or do we start screening and eliminating them when something’s not quite right in their background? Are we really willing for the judgments we harbor to be exposed and eliminated?
Will we come? Will we see?