come and seeDaniel J. Kearney

'Seeing is believing' as the saying goes. In the Gospel of John, vision accompanied by faith is seeing in a deeper sense, writes Daniel J. Kearney, a retired teacher of Religious Studies.

The first to see and to believe

The act of seeing is very important in the Fourth Gospel, and it is very often used in association with believing. When Jesus passed by John the Baptist and his disciples on the far side of the Jordan, the Baptist 'stared hard at him and said, 'Look, there is the lamb of God' '. Hearing this John's disciples followed Jesus and he turned round, saw them following and asked 'What do you want?' The disciples replied, 'Where do you live?' Jesus answered 'Come and see' (Jn.1.35-39). Andrew, one of the two, became a follower and a believer after he had seen Jesus. The following morning Andrew took his brother, Simon Peter, to see Jesus who looked hard at him and said 'You are Simon, son of John; you are to be called Cephas'. (Jn.1.40-42). The following day Philip joined the disciples of Jesus and said to Nathanial 'we have found (seen) the one Moses wrote about in the Law' (Jn.1.45-47) and he invited Nathanial to 'Come and see', to believe in Jesus as the Messiah.

When Jesus 'saw' Nathanial he said to him, 'There is an Israelite who deserves the name, incapable of deceit'. Jesus saw and believed in him. Nathanial asks how Jesus knows him and he replies 'I saw you under the fig tree'. Nathanial sees and believes and professes that Jesus is 'the Son of God' and Jesus assures him that he will see greater things, 'you will see heaven laid open and, above the Son of Man, the angels of God ascending and descending' (Jn. 1.49-51).

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