‘See Jesus, 10:30 Sunday’

“The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. He found Philip and said to him, ‘Follow me.'” (John 1:43)

So what does it mean, to follow Jesus? How can we follow someone we can’t even see?

Philip seems to have had an advantage, in this regard. When Jesus spoke to Philip, Jesus was standing there, right in front of Philip, and Philip’s choice was black and white: follow or not, yes or no. And when Jesus walked ahead, Philip could see the direction Jesus was heading, and Philip’s steps lay clearly before him.

But with us, Jesus isn’t visible, in the same way he was to Philip. Ever try to follow a vehicle through heavy traffic, whose driver knows the way to a place that you don’t, and you get stopped at a light, but they keep going? Now, what do you do? How do you find your way? And how can we follow Jesus, when we can’t even see him?

“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.'” (John 1:45, 46)

There is a church that has one of those fancy, electronic, digital signs that continuously scrolls different messages across the screen. One of the messages is for their weekly service, and it has caught my attention and captured my imagination several times: “See Jesus, 10:30 Sunday.”

Now by that, I don’t think they mean, literally, that the carpenter from Nazareth is physically present in the room at that hour. In fact, every church could post that very same message, as long as its congregation is willing and able to back up the claim with conduct becoming faithful followers of Christ.

If Jesus went back to heaven, 40 days after Easter, and if the Church is Christ’s body on earth, as the apostle Paul clearly taught, then seeing Jesus, whether at 10:30 on Sunday, or 9:00 on Sunday, or any other time during the week, means that people see Jesus in his followers, in us. In what we do and say. In our lives and lifestyles. In our character. Who we are, what we have become.

Or as Luther put it, 500 years ago, God’s intention is that we would be “little Christs,” to one another and our neighbors.

That is how we follow Jesus, even when we cannot see him. And that is how others see Jesus, today, when his followers truly live as Christ lived.

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Finding Faith is written by area pastors. This week’s column comes from Rev. Bruce Wallace, a retired minister serving as Assisting Elder of the State College District, United Methodist Church.