Spring 2010 Chapel - March 5th

Spring 2010 Chapel Message - 03/05/10

Listen to the recorded version here:


A Song, A Story, A Picture

Dr. David Alexander

Chapel Address

March 5, 2010

 Good morning.  Ive been anticipating my time with you.  This morning Id like to share a song, a story and a picture with you. 

 Wrapped up in these three components is a choice.  Its a choice you have to make. 

Some of you have already made it. Some of you wont be asked to make it for a while.  Some of you may be asked to make it today.

 Id like to set the tone for todays message by asking you to listen to this song.

 [Play I Still Havent Found What Im Looking For by U2]

 I really like this song.  Its simple, raw and honest.  It is a declaration of lifes primary searchthe search for meaning.  If you trace the lyrics of the entire song, it outlines the things were looking for, the things we pursue in our search for meaning:

fortune, fame, flesh and power.  Yet none of these ultimately satisfy.

 I think Augustine may have said it best when he identified the nature and goal of our lifes search, our yearning for understanding of how things are and where we fit into the scheme of things when he said, You have made us for Yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in You.

 I want us to look at a story, a scene from the life of Jesus.  Its just eight verses of Scripture from the Gospel of John.  But this encounter that takes place in the first week of that three year period we call Christs earthly ministry, has compressed into it potent examples of lifes primary choice.  Lets hear the Word of the Lord.

 The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee.

He found Philip and said to him, Come, be my disciple.

Philip was from Bethsaida, Andrew and Peters hometown.

 Philip went off to look for Nathanael and told him,

We have found the very person Moses and the prophets wrote about!

His name is Jesus, the son of Joseph from Nazareth.

 Nazareth! exclaimed Nathanael.  Can anything good come from there?

 Just come and see for yourself, Philip said.

 As they approached, Jesus said, Here comes an honest mana true son of Israel.

 How do you know about me? Nathanael asked.

And Jesus replied, I could see you under the fig tree before Philip found you.

 Nathanael replied, Teacher, you are the Son of Godthe King of Israel!

 Jesus asked him, Do you believe all this just because I told you I had seen you under the fig tree?  You will see greater things than this.

~John 1:  43-50

I want to take a moment and unpack the powerful phrases that are layered one on top of the other in this story.  We should remember that Jesus has just begun His earthly ministry.  Hes been to the Jordan, been baptized by John, heard His Fathers voice, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased, and now people are taking notice, listening to what John has to say about Jesus.

 And Jesus begins to call some to join Him to be his disciples.  Earlier in the chapter, Jesus has called Andrew, who in turn, brings his brother, Simon Peter, to meet Jesus.

 Then our story begins:

The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee.  He found Philip and said to him

 Jesus finds us.  We think were searching around, trying to figure out life.  But in the midst of all this human wandering and wondering, God is seeking us.  Jesus has come to us.  He found Philip.  He can find you.

 Come, be my disciple. 

 A funny thing happened when Jesus found Philip.  He called him outbut not to forgive him.  Come here sinner, repent and be made clean.  Thats just like an introductory offer.  The real call is to follow, to leave your way of living and follow Jesus in His way.  And His way is the way life is to be lived.  His way is only learned by joining up with Jesus, to be His disciple, to learn to be like Himto follow Jesus.

 Philip was from Bethsaida, Andrew and Peters hometown.  Philip went off to look for Nathanael and told him, We have found the very person Moses and the prophets wrote about!  His name is Jesus, the son of Joseph from Nazareth.

 Philip does an interesting thing.  He goes and tells his friend Nathanael what hes going to do.  We have found Him.  The One worth searching for.  The One with the answers to lifes secrets.  I think this man is Messiah.  Philip told his friend about his decision to follow Jesus.

 Nazareth! exclaimed Nathanael.  Can anything good come from there?

 Nazareth?  Caldwell?  Pick the little town next to your town that you like to make fun of.  That was Nathanaels skeptical response.  When we first hear about the One with THE answer, its natural to be skeptical, to be sarcastic.  What do you mean youve found the One?  How do you know?

 Just come and see for yourself, Philip said.

 Friends dont have to explain Jesus.  Friends just need to introduce Jesus.  Jesus can stand for Himself.  But Jesus can use the good intentions of a true friend.

 As they approached, Jesus said, Here comes an honest mana true son of Israel.

 Jesus gives us a peek at what it means to be the Son of God.  Jesus knows Nathanael before Nathanael meets Jesus.  Jesus had found Nathanael before Nathanael found Jesus.  Jesus said enough to let Nathanael know, Jesus knew Nathanaels nature.

 How do you know about me? Nathanael asked.

 Nathanael is caught off guard.  How do you know about me?  Jesus knows Nathanael.  What a startling realization.  He knows me, tooin depth, no secrets, knows me.  What happens when Im this well known by someone?  To be exposed by and to Jesus.

 And Jesus replied, I could see you under the fig tree before Philip found you.

 Jesus knows whats gone on before.  Jesus welcomed Nathanael into His presence.   Despite the skeptical act, there was a place for Nathanael.

 Nathanael replied, Teacher, you are the Son of Godthe King of Israel!

 Nathanael was presented with the choice.  What to do?  Who to follow?  Nathanael took the leap.  His logic didnt necessarily reach all of its conclusions.  His reason wasnt ignored, but it also wasnt the only part of himself he consulted.  In his heart, he knew.  This is the One.  This is Messiah.

 Jesus asked him, Do you believe all this just because I told you I had seen you under the fig tree?  You will see greater things than this.

 I have been wondering about you as Ive prepared to speak to you today.

As I mentioned earlier, this song about searching for meaning and this story about choosing to follow the One who is meaning highlight the fact that each of us has a choice to make.

             Some of you have already made it.

            Some of you wont be asked to make it for a while.

            Some of you may be asked to make it today.

 I said I had a song, a story and a picture.  Let me show you the picture.

[SLIDE OF MORRISON HALL BROOM PHOTO]

 This is Morrison Hall.  It used to be a residence hall here on this campus.  In fact, its where my mom lived as a student.  It would have been where the parking lot and swing are between Ford and Dooley.

 Its kind of a funny picture because theres a broom above the entrance.  You know why that broom is there?  Because students used to hang it up there in the 40s and 50s when they had a clean sweep.  That meant they had interacted with everyone in the dorm, particularly those who hadnt made the choice yet, and told them about Jesus and that they had chosen Him.  In their mind, their dorm was filled with people who had chosen to follow Jesus, to be His disciplesa clean sweep.

 I know its partly cheesy, and Im not advocating their methods.  But I sometimes wonder if weve gotten so polite and courteous in our politically correct, religiously diverse society, that we may bypass the chance to say:  We have found Him.  Come and see.

 You see, its not your work or my work that causes salvation.  Only Jesus can see us under the fig tree.  But on occasion, He welcomes the helpthe loving, tender help of a dear friend, who says:  Come and see.

 Now its time for me to ask you:  Where are you in all of this?  Do you enjoy the song more than the story?  Are you comfortable in the search for meaning? Or have you already met Him and answered His invitation to follow?       

Im not nave.  I dont think we have such a thing as a clean sweep.  Thats not how we welcome students to this place.  But I do want to stand before you and say:  I know the very person Moses and the Prophets wrote about, His name is Jesus, and Hes asked me to follow Him and become His disciple and Ive said yes.  I believe He is the Son of God and Ive yielded my life to Him.

I want you to come meet Him.  I hope you choose to follow Him too.  I would love to walk alongside you, as we follow Him together.

Lets pray.