We move forward in the 1st chapter of the Gospel of John as we continue to look at the first week of Jesus’ ministry.
Take note that Jesus‘ earthly ministry begins immediately after He is baptized. This whole week is the start of ministry for Jesus. He gets up out of the water and He goes to work.
Now, we’ve already said when He received baptism, that was the moment in which He is being equipped for earthly ministry, through the power of the Spirit. We know when He took the water baptism it was picturing our own baptism of Spirit which we do to picture that as well through water. So it stands to reason that we should conclude our own Spirit baptism, the moment of our faith would be the moment we should launch our earthly ministry as well. Whatever form that takes. We are just as equipped by the Spirit as He was, to whatever purposes God has. And we have a mission to serve the Father just as Jesus had. I wonder how many Christians really begin their time of service in that early moment. I wonder how many spent a long time figuring out what it is all about. I suspect many of us took some time to figure out if we even had a mission. Perhaps some are still trying to figure out what it is to serve Christ. Don’t hesitate to follow Jesus’ example…it’s never too soon to start serving someone in the name of Christ. And to make that your purpose in life.
So on this day, John testified to his own disciples, who were there in the moment. John said to them, this man, this person you see walking toward me, He is the One I have been telling you about, He is the Lamb of God. His purpose in telling them this is to direct them to follow Jesus. To turn their attention from being John’s disciples and becoming Jesus’ disciples. To literally leave John and go follow Jesus. Gospel of John
But apparently, not everyone takes John’s advice right away. So John records a third day, the next day in this week when Jesus makes yet another trip back to John at the river. And on this day, the third day, a couple of John’s disciples will finally heed John’s advice and begin to follow Jesus. Gospel of John
John 1:35-42 (NKJV)
The First Disciples
35 Again, the next day, John stood with two of his disciples. 36 And looking at Jesus as He walked, he said, “Behold the Lamb of God!”
37 The two disciples heard him speak, and they followed Jesus. 38 Then Jesus turned, and seeing them following, said to them, “What do you seek?”
They said to Him, “Rabbi” (which is to say, when translated, Teacher), “where are You staying?”
39 He said to them, “Come and see.” They came and saw where He was staying and remained with Him that day (now it was about the tenth hour).
40 One of the two who heard John speak, and followed Him, was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. 41 He first found his own brother Simon, and said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which is translated, the Christ). 42 And he brought him to Jesus.
Now when Jesus looked at him, He said, “You are Simon the son of Jonah (John). You shall be called Cephas” (which is translated, Peter – A Stone).
So here we are, the third day of this week. On this day John sees Jesus again and repeats his declaration that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God. Imagine how thrilling it must have been for those who were around John at the water and were among the very first in the world to know who the identity of the Messiah was. The Messiah is a Person who has been promised literally since Adam and Woman fell in the Garden. All Israel had been taught over the centuries of this coming Deliverer. Young girls grew up in ancient Israel dreaming and hoping they would be privileged to be the one selected by God to birth the Messiah. That’s how important it was. Religious men in Israel were forever asking each other how would they recognize the Messiah’s coming and what would be the signs and they were dissecting scripture for that answer. Yet on this day, those who had come out in answer to John’s call to be baptized in repentance, those at the river Jordan learned for the first time who the Messiah was. What a thrill to be them on that day. Gospel of John
Two of John’s disciples, we are told, leave John and seek to answer the call to follow Jesus. They begin walking behind Jesus, following Him as He walked. They had not even approached Him, perhaps intimidated, they don’t know what to say. Finally, Jesus just turns on them and says what do you want? Why are you following me? Immediately, they call him teacher, which John helpfully translates for his Gentile audience. When they call Him rabbi or teacher, they are acknowledging He has a certain degree of spiritual authority in their lives or could have it. They are suggesting they may want to follow Him as a disciple. But they are only willing to ask Him where He is staying, which simply means we want to hang out with you for a little while. See what you are all about. They aren’t committing at this point to being His disciples, not just yet, but they are curious and want to know more. At this point, all this tells us is they don’t really understand what John the Baptist has said concerning Who Jesus is. Gospel of John
They may know what the word Messiah means. That is a word that is common in Jewish vocabulary. But they don’t understand what a Messiah is. The word Messiah means the anointed one in Hebrew. Israel saw any prophet, any king, as anointed by God. To call someone the anointed one doesn’t necessarily suggest they are any different than an ordinary man. It just suggests they are going to do more than the average man does. So the Messiah had that sense in the way the Jews had come to understand it. Only by spiritual revelation from God could someone come to understand Jesus was God in the flesh. That’s a leap too far for human understanding. That would require the revelation of God by the Spirit. And that hasn’t come to these two men yet.
In answer to their question, Jesus tells them to come and you will see. In the context of this narrative, Jesus is simply saying follow me to where I am going to stay and you will get the answer to your question. But Jesus’ choice of words here, are very revealing and powerful. He says anyone who wants to know Jesus must come to Him. We have to enter His house, so to speak. And then by coming to Jesus, we will see. We will have a spiritual life, spiritual insight, and spiritual knowledge. This is the offer Jesus makes to these men, though they don’t obviously appreciate the meaning of what He is asking.
John identifies these two men. One of them is Andrew (we don’t know who the other man was…some speculate it was John himself, John the writer of this gospel, but we don’t know). Andrew eventually becomes one of the twelve disciples designated as apostles. And his first response after meeting Jesus we are told is to go tell his brother, Peter, to come, see this Messiah that he’s found. What a wonderful first response to meeting the Messiah. What an example really, of what we should do. At the first exposure of the Messiah, your next thought is who can I introduce to this Messiah.
Andrew goes and finds his brother. Now Peter’s first meeting with Jesus, Jesus immediately identifies Peter by name. He says you are Simon and He gives his ancestry. He knows his father. The scene would strongly suggest that Jesus was never told these things in advance. He’s using this for some shock value to impress upon Peter that He had some knowledge that should cause Peter to think twice of Who He is. I am guessing at this point Peter is a little surprised when Jesus has all this information. Then Jesus goes the next step before He hears Peter say anything. He says I am going to change your name. Simon probably comes from the Jewish name Simeon, which is one of the original twelve names of the sons of Israel. He says your name is not going to be Simon anymore, it’s going to be Cephas, which is an Aramaic word for rock and the word for rock in Greek is Petros. Petros means rock in Greek. Cephas means rock in Aramaic so it is Peter. Now go back to who Simeon was in the Old Testament, Simeon was that son of Jacob who acted rashly and impulsively at times. And Peter, as you may remember from the other Gospels, chose a healthy streak of Simeon, acting rashly and impulsively in that respect at times in his own life. But later, Peter was the man who founded the early church in Jerusalem in the face of fierce opposition stood up to kings, stood up to persecution truly a rock upon who’s ministry the early church began. So it is interesting he took a name that had a certain kind of connotation for who he was and gave him a name for who he would become long before he reached that point.
As we end chapter 1, we enter the fourth day of this opening week in Jesus’ public ministry.
John 1:43-51 (NKJV)
Philip and Nathanael
43 The following day Jesus (most likely because of Andrew’s suggestion) wanted to go to Galilee, and He found Philip and said to him, “Follow Me.” 44 Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. 45 Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found Him of whom Moses in the law, and also the prophets, wrote—Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.”
46 And Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?”
Philip said to him, “Come and see.”
47 Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward Him, and said of him, “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom is no deceit!”
48 Nathanael said to Him, “How do You know me?”
Jesus answered and said to him, “Before Philip called you when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.”
49 Nathanael answered and said to Him, “Rabbi, You are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!”
50 Jesus answered and said to him, “Because I said to you, ‘I saw you under the fig tree,’ do you believe? You will see greater things than these.” 51 And He said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, hereafter you shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.”
This is the day after meeting Andrew and Peter, this is the fourth day. Now in this fourth day, Andrew decides to travel back to his home in the Galilee. Your Bible might have the word “he” in verse 43 capitalized or the word Jesus, suggesting it was Jesus who decided to go to Bethsaida, there is no capitalization in the original Greek text, that’s an interpreter’s decision to capitalize. The interpreter concluded it was Jesus speaking. But that is not necessarily found in the text itself. How do we get to know who is speaking here? Well, a careful reading of the text leads us to a different conclusion.
First, notice in verse 41, Andrew when he brings his brother Simon to meet Jesus, John the writer specifically says he “first” brought his own brother Simon to Jesus. Suggesting, of course, Andrew brings ultimately two people before all is said and done. The first being Simon who is nearby in the same region of Judea where John was baptizing. Who would be the second? The second appears to be Philip, his friend who is in his home town back in the Galilee. Philip lives in Andrew’s home town we are told so in order for Andrew to introduce Philip to Jesus, he’s going to have to get Jesus to Philip. That is he has to bring Jesus to him.
That’s an interesting thought when you consider his options, his options would have been to go by himself.up to the Galilee, find Philip and say would you travel down to where John the Baptist is baptizing. There’s a guy down there I want you to meet named Jesus, He is the Messiah. On a map, this distance we are talking about is somewhere between 20-30 miles, so it took most of that day to travel if you were to walk that distance. Given the two options, Andrew decides the best option is to drag Jesus with him as opposed to trying to convince Philip to make the walk down. What’s the most efficient solution for introducing people to Christ? To take Christ to them or bring them to your church on Sunday? Seems the pattern should be to take Jesus with you. Speak to them where they are Introduce them to the Messiah at the point you find them. Don’t expect them to make the walk to something they have no interest in before they know about it. Ministry is about who you are, where you are. It’s not about a place inside four walls on a certain day of the week.
Once again, in that encounter, Jesus now speaking to Philip up in the Galilee. What does Jesus tell Philip? He tells Philip to follow Him. Interestingly, no one who is following Jesus at this point, none of the little gaggle that has surrounded Jesus at this point has ever found Jesus of their own accord. Everyone has met Jesus because someone else introduced them to Jesus. And that chain of introductions goes back to John the Baptist, who introduced Jesus to the first person just as his ministry was intended. So truly you can say everyone has found Jesus is because of John the Baptist. John introduced Andrew, Andrew introduced Simon and has introduced Philip. So no one has found Jesus on their own. That Pattern repeats here again when Philip introduces Nathaniel to Jesus.
Philip finds Nathaniel and when he does he announces Jesus by His earthly affiliation
and then he adds that this is the One that God’s word has been talking about from the beginning. It’s unclear to us how these men have become so convinced so quickly that
this lowly man from Nazareth is, in fact, the Messiah, but they all seem to get it right from the start. As we said, they aren’t sure what Messiah means yet, but they do
understand He is the One Who has been promised throughout all of history in the scriptures. And there is such great excitement in their life over this discovery and the need to share it with others and that follows immediately. For example, what would it say that Andrew was willing to walk 20-30 miles the very next day to make sure Jesus is introduced to one of his friends. What kind of urgency does that suggest? How far are we willing to go to do the same?
Nathaniel’s response is decidedly less enthusiastic, and he utters one of the most memorable lines in all the Gospels – a line he probably regretted later I am suspecting. He asks could anything good could come out of Nazareth. He is reacting to the ridiculous thought that God would raise up someone as important as the Messiah from such an insignificant place. His point isn’t so much to discredit Nazareth, although I am sure there was a degree of a bad reputation with it, his point is to say it makes no sense someone so important would come to light in such a manner. We would expect Him to be in Jerusalem. You would expect Him to come with a horse and chariot, not in this small way from Nazareth. But that also reminds us just how lowly Jesus’ beginnings were.
The Father chose to give His Son a human identity that would add absolutely nothing whatsoever to His appeal or credibility. If anything, Jesus’ earthly origins detracted from His appeal and credibility, at least in a human sense. That was in keeping with God’s purpose in bringing salvation by faith and not by sight. As the Bible says, He uses foolish things to shame the wise. It is annoying when Hollywood makes Jesus look like a rock star or a Calvin Kline model with an accent. Because those things are so opposite of what scripture says we should have been looking for. Instead, you need to imagine someone who was probably shorter than you expect, and far less attractive.
Once again take note of Philip’s response to Nathaniel’s tepid response. Philip just says “come and see.” If we want someone to understand who Jesus truly is, we simply have to extend the opportunity for them to come to Jesus. If they come, they will see for themselves what we say is true. But unless and until they make that spiritual trip, there is nothing we can say to convince them. Our offer is for them to come. And that offer is far, far more important than any rational argument we can conceive in an attempt to persuade them concerning the truth. In fact, trying to convince someone that Jesus is the Messiah before they are inclined to come is actually a reversal of the salvation call given in scripture. It does not say see Jesus as Lord so you can come to Him. It says come so you will see that He is Lord. It’s a willingness to humble yourself to submit to the possibility. And in that submission, God shows Himself. Each of these men when they finally came to see Jesus, you don’t hear a long argument pursued at that point. You don’t see Jesus launch into 20 points You don’t see Him open a book and start rationalizing with them. He shows up and says, oh you’re Peter from John’s family, you are now Cephas. And He’s loud. That’s not explainable in human terms. When Jesus said I saw you sitting under a fig tree, Nathaniel is ready to just take Him and put Him on the throne
“The author’s biblical interpretations and conclusions presented in this document rely on original teaching used by permission of Verse By Verse Ministry International (VBVMI). The author’s views may not represent the views of VBVMI, it’s Directors or staff. Original VBVMI teaching may be found at http://www.vbvmi.org.”
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