Come and See
“Come and see.” This is the invitation Jesus first offers to his disciples. They have heard that Jesus is the Lamb of God. They have heard that he is the promised one, the Messiah they have been waiting for. So a few men drift into his presence, curious to see if what they have heard is true. They ask Jesus where he is staying. “Come and see,” he says to them. And then, curiously, the men follow, but they also invite others. Andrew runs to find his brother, Simon Peter. Philip goes and hunts down Nathaniel sitting under a fig tree. When he tells Nathaniel that they have found the one the prophets wrote about, Nathanial scoffs. “Can anything good come from Nazareth?” And Philip echoes the words of Jesus. “Come and see.” He’s already becoming like the teacher he follows.
There’s something even more interesting about this invitation to come and see. As the disciples begin to trickle in, as they drift into the presence of Jesus, wondering if this really is the Word made flesh, they don’t just see. They are seen. When Simon Peter is first introduced to Jesus, Jesus tells him, “You are Simon, son of John. You shall be called Cephas.” Cephas means rock in Aramaic just like Peter does in Greek. Jesus is looking at Peter, and he sees his strength, his bullheadedness, his brash confidence, and his unwavering stability. He sees this man, a man who will walk on the water with him, who will witness miracles, argue with the disciples and crowds, and who will falter, but never fall. This is a man who will be instrumental in building the church after Jesus departs. And though they are only meeting for the first time, Jesus looks at him and truly sees him for all that he is and all that he will be. Peter is invited to come and see, but Jesus also lets him know, “I see you.”
The same thing happens when Nathaniel comes to meet Jesus. He is hesitant, uncertain if Jesus is really who he claims. As he meets Jesus, Jesus says, “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no deceit.” Again, Jesus is looking into his heart and truly seeing him, a man of honesty and integrity. Nathaniel still isn’t convinced. How can Jesus know him, see him? Jesus tells him, “When you were under the fig tree, I saw you.” Nathanial doesn’t need to hear any more. He’s in. Why? Because he was invited to come and see, but he does so as someone who is truly known.
There is a lot to be learned from this first exchange between Jesus and the disciples. Perhaps they were so quick to come and see because they realized that they were seen by Jesus. Their journey began in genuine relationship. Jesus’ willingness to get to know them in authenticity was attractive and refreshing. Being known is something we still crave today. Look at the rise of influencer culture and the popularity of social media. Each of us, in some way or another, wants to be known. But while our online profiles allow us to primp and prune our image to be one that we find most attractive and tolerable, often only those close to us know who we are genuinely. In those authentic relationships, we realize that we are worth loving despite our flaws and quirks and insecurities. That is how Jesus loves us, too.
At Camp Wyoming, we want camp to be a mirror of this invitation. “Come and see.” Come and see the love of God, the beauty of creation, the joy of community. But do it in a place where you will also be known and loved authentically. We don’t care if you are sweaty, muddy, and stinky. We don’t care if you snort while you laugh or never eat the crust of your pizza or are afraid of deep water. We don’t care if you have never been to church before or if you are captain of the school sport’s team or if you bite your fingernails. We see you and we love you anyway. So come and see. Come and see the beauty and wonder and love and mercy of our God. Each of us should ask ourselves if we are creating spaces of genuine relationship, like Jesus did, so that others can be seen and known. And in turn, so that they can know God. We like to throw around lots of buzz words – hospitality, graciousness, relationship, fellowship – but it all boils down to what we see here with Jesus and the disciples. Come and see. Have confidence to step into the unknown because you are known. You are seen. You are loved.