SIMPLICITY

 

John 1


As I grow older I look back with fondness to simpler times. As a boy growing up in my birthplace of San Felipe I remember getting onto my bicycle and riding around my town. I would go everywhere around that town and explore neighborhoods and side streets and imagine myself on a great adventure. I would return home to simple pleasures, like fresh doughnuts or cookies and a home filled with love from my family. Ahhh simplicity; an immigrant to Canada could tell you of a simpler life in a mountain village in a far off land when they had less money but life was less complicated. The furrow in their brow is a testament of a different life they now live. Even those who have had difficult upbringings often will have memories of places they escaped to, whether in their minds or even a quiet place that allowed reality to disappear for a while.

A few weeks ago a group of us spent a few days in a small village in the mountains of Panama. It was a beautiful setting of tropical vegetation and wildlife. We were impressed with the simplicity of the people we were ministering to. Their lives were busily occupied with working their land; but the simplicity of their lives was evident. The most unhappy people in the area were the wealthiest……seriously.

Now please don’t get me wrong; life as we know it has great advantages. We have technology, education and opportunities that simpler lifestyles may not enjoy and I am not discarding these as lesser in any way. I do believe though that being simple in how we live and share our faith has merit and deep spiritual reward.

In the gospels we read the four separate accounts of the Lord’s life. He lived in a very clearly simple way, no accumulation of possessions or any office. His life was simple. In the first chapter of the gospel John, the Lord Jesus Christ is introduced as the Word, and that through His life He brought light to mankind. His cousin John the Baptist who preceded Him in his own simple and unique way introduced Him to those that listened by saying “Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (verse 29). For many this was a confusing statement; simply said though, it encompassed the symbol of a perfect Lamb that was able to take away sin. It really was the full significance of what the Passover meant to the Jewish people all wrapped up in one succinct phrase. The life of the Lord Jesus was often punctuated by short and concise statements. This was accompanied by parables or everyday occurrences that described spiritual truth in a very simple manner. Statements like “I am the bread of life” or “I am the door” to “go and sin no more” just to name a few, showed a simple yet profound way that Christ conveyed truth.

In the latter part of chapter 1, Jesus calls the disciples in a very simple manner. The phrase he would use is “follow me” (verse 43). Often when we give instructions or teach we use a multitude of words which in the end can confuse and distract people. The Lord Jesus just simply said, “follow me”. The content of those words are very simple yet spoke volumes to the men who became His disciples. They had waited for the hope of Israel and finally He had come. No fanfare, no massive army, no white steed or regal robes, just a gaze of assurance to follow Him.  The man with the worn hands of a carpenter was inviting them to follow.

The second statement that is quoted here is used both by the Lord and also by  the disciples. When some of John the Baptists disciples decide to follow Jesus he says “come and see” (ESV), later on as Philip invites Nathanael to meet the Lord he uses the exact same statement “come and see” in verse 46. The simplicity of this phrase encouraged them just to take action – come and observe. How often when we describe an event have we said “oh you should have been there”, or “its difficult to describe, I wish you could have seen it”. To see the Messiah and to recognize who He was, required them just to “come and see”.

Jesus’ invitation to “follow me” simply spoken so long ago still applies today. As we grow and recognize His grace and kindness in our lives we say to others, “just come and see”.  Our witness does not require an impressive spectacle or something incredible that’s a showstopper! God just wants simplicity, He will do the rest.

 

By: Pastor David Jones