Forward Today: We wish to see Jesus

Dear friends in Christ,

Today the church celebrates the feast of Saint Philip and Saint James. We know almost nothing about James, and Philip shows up only a few times in the scriptures. One of the more well-known mentions comes in John 12:20-21:

Now among those who went up to worship at the festival were some Greeks. They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and said to him, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.”

These Greeks got right to the point. Perhaps they had heard about this famous teacher, and they wanted to meet him. “We wish to see Jesus.”

I spend a lot of time preaching across our church, and it turns out that quite a few pulpits have the words of these Greeks written on the pulpit where only the preacher will see it. In the language of the King James Bible, it’s “Sir, we would see Jesus.” In our NRSV translation, it’s “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.” It’s a pretty powerful reminder to the one standing in the pulpit that people who show up in our churches really want to meet Jesus. Preachers might talk about other things, but sermons should always be about Jesus. And churches might offer plenty of things, but it should all be about Jesus.

It’s easy to lose sight of this. Churches always have lots going on, and once we are part of the group, we might be tempted to focus on relationships with others or on the work to run a church. But the fundamental point of everything in a church is always Jesus. In our day and age, when someone shows up for church the first time, it probably isn’t because of peer pressure or obligation or status. Our guests are very likely to echo what those Greeks said, “We wish to see Jesus.”

If someone shows up this Sunday in your church, will the preaching, the teaching, the activities, and everything else be about Jesus?

Yours faithfully,

Scott Gunn
Executive Director
Image and inspiration: Tim Schenck

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