Church of England Diocese of St.Albans Elstree and Borehamwood

Thought for the Week, 17 January 2021

15 Jan 2021, 12:15 p.m.


17 January 2021 – 2<sup>nd</sup> Sunday of Epiphany

In the first chapter of John’s Gospel, Jesus calls his first five disciples. In John 1 verses 35 to 42, he chooses Andrew, John and Simon Peter; and then in verses 43 to 51, he chooses Philip and Nathanael (also known as Batholomew). As we too are Jesus’ disciples, some 2000 years later, we can learn an important lesson from these verses.

That lesson is: Andrew, John, Peter, Philip and Nathanael did not choose Jesus: HE CHOSE THEM. And so it is with us. In our arrogance, it is all too easy for us to assume that we CHOSE to be followers of Jesus. But no! John chapter 1 teaches us that we DIDN’T choose Jesus: HE CHOSE US. And what a great honour that is!

God has constantly been seeking out his people since the days of Adam and Eve. They didn’t choose God – he went looking for them. We read that in Genesis 3, verses 8 and 9:

Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden.  But the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?”

God has been seeking out us, his people, ever since. It is no use our trying to hide from him like Adam and Eve did in the Garden of Eden! He knows all about us long before he finds us, just as Jesus knew all about Nathanael, saying to him in verse 47 of our Gospel passage:

‘Here truly is an Israelite in whom there is no deceit.’

Nathanael was amazed, and he asked Jesus in verse 48, ‘How do you know me?’ Jesus replied, ‘I saw you while you were still under the fig-tree.’ And so it is with every one of us. We may not be under a fig-tree, but wherever we are, God sees us. In Nathanael’s case, Jesus saw that he was not just called an Israelite, but he lived up to the name. Let us hope that he can say the same of every one of us: that we are not just called a Christian, but we live up to the name.

The Gospel passage ends, in verse 51, with that wonderful promise from Jesus to his disciples (the word “you” in this verse is plural): “You will see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.” Amen to that!

John Auton, Licensed Lay Minister, St Nicholas Church, Elstree