February 9, 2014: When You Have to Admit You’re Wrong

Posted on : Feb 6th, 2014 | By | Category: This Sunday's Service

A couple years ago at Christmas my brother and sister-in-law gave me a day-by-day calendar with funny and/or meaningful messages from church sign boards.   One of them that I particularly enjoyed was from January 18.  It said, “Keep your words soft and sweet in case you have to eat them.”   I actually saved that one and have it on my refrigerator door.  It’s a good daily reminder for me!

I remember some time ago attending a professional development seminar on relationship counseling.  The leader had a bunch of statistics about what strengthens relationships and what “kills” them.  One of the stats that greatly impressed me was that people find it significantly harder to say “I’m sorry” to a partner than “I love you;” and saying “I’m sorry” is more strengthening in a relationship than saying “I love you.”

This Sunday as we continue our “It Helps to Have Faith When…” series, we’re going to focus on “When you have to admit you’re wrong.”  I know, few among us think we need this message, but I have something important to tell you.  You’re wrong, Blanche!  You’re Wrong!  We all need to admit we’re wrong, more freely and easily.

Having grown up in the suburbs of Buffalo, NY, I have a special love for this Sunday’s scripture.  In this week’s scripture, dear Nathanael insults Jesus’ hometown – and Jesus as well – and then has to eat his words.   Here’s the story:

Jesus invited Philip to follow him as a disciple.  Philip was ecstatic and went running to his friend, Nathanael, to proudly proclaim to him, “We have found him about whom Moses in the law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus son of Joseph from Nazareth.”

Nathanael was obviously an A-lister, or at least a wanna-be A-lister.  Right up there with the Dowager Countess of Grantham from Downton Abbey (magnificently played Maggie Smith)!

Nathanael said to Philip, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?”  That was not a question.  It was a pejorative statement.

Philip, insightful and clever as one can be, decided not to debate with Nathanael, instead he simply answered Nathanael, ‘Come and see.’  Nathanael came and saw!  Upon meeting Jesus, Nathanael’s mind was completely changed.  He had to admit he was wrong.  What he said was prejudicial and mean-spirited.

One of the things I really love about this story is the graciousness Jesus shows to Nathanael when Nathanael admits he was wrong.  Jesus doesn’t “rub his nose in it” or go after him, he simply says, “Keep your mind open, Nathanael.  You haven’t seen anything yet!”  Oh that we could all be that open and gracious.  However that is exactly the point of this story.  Spiritually speaking, admitting you’re wrong is not about winning or losing.  It’s about seeing the presence of God or Christ at work in our world and in others in ways we had never before experienced.




~ This Sunday’s Scripture ~

John 1: 35-50

Nathanael asks, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?”

The next day John again was standing with two of his disciples, and as he watched Jesus walk by, he exclaimed, ‘Look, here is the Lamb of God!’ The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus. When Jesus turned and saw them following, he said to them, ‘What are you looking for?’ They said to him, ‘Rabbi’ (which means “religious Teacher”), ‘where are you staying?’ He said to them, ‘Come and see.’ They came and saw where Jesus  was staying, and they remained with him that day. It was about four o’clock in the afternoon. One of the two who heard John speak and followed him was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. He first found his brother Simon and said to him, ‘We have found the Messiah’ (or “the Anointed One”). He brought Simon to Jesus, who looked at him and said, ‘You are Simon son of John. You are to be called Cephas’ (which translates to “Peter” and means “The Rock”).

The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. He found Philip and said to him, ‘Follow me.’ Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. Philip found Nathanael and said to him, ‘We have found him about whom Moses in the law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus son of Joseph from Nazareth.’ Nathanael said to him, ‘Can anything good come out of Nazareth?’ Philip said to him, ‘Come and see.’ When Jesus saw Nathanael coming towards him, he said of him, ‘Here is truly an Israelite in whom there is no deceit!’ Nathanael asked him, ‘Where did you come to know me?’ Jesus answered, ‘I saw you under the fig tree before Philip called you.’ Nathanael replied, ‘Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!’ Jesus answered, ‘Do you believe because I told you that I saw you under the fig tree? You will see greater things than these.’

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