Scripture: John 1:35-51
The Gospel of John is 1 of 4 accounts of the life of Jesus in the New Testament. The writer tells us the purpose of the book: Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book. But these are written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, & that through believing you may have life in his name. (20:30-31)
John uses numerical symbolism in this gospel in showing the truth about Jesus by the 7 “I am” claims of Jesus, 7 miracles, & 7 sermons. Seven was a number indicating completeness.
Let’s recall where we began a couple of weeks ago: In the beginning was the Word, & the Word was with God, & the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, & without Him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, & the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, & the darkness did not overcome it… And the Word became flesh & lived among us, & we have seen his glory, the glory as of a Father’s only son, full of grace & truth. (1:1-5, 14).
After this, we are introduced to John the Baptist who came to be a witness to Jesus.
Today, I want us to see that after someone has tasted & seen that the Lord is good, their most natural response is to want to share Jesus with others.
But first, a question: How did you become a Christian? How many of you met Jesus at church? How many of you had a friend lead you to the Lord? Or a co-worker? How many of you had Jesus reveal himself to you? People come to faith in many different ways, as we will see in our text today.
The next day John was again standing with 2 of his disciples, & as he watched Jesus walk by, he exclaimed, “Look, here is the Lamb of God!” The 2 disciples heard him say this, & they followed Jesus. When Jesus turned & saw them following, he said to them, “What are you looking for?” They said to him, “Rabbi” (which translated means Teacher), “where are you staying?” He said to them, “Come & see.” They came & saw where he was staying, & remained with him that day. It was about 4 o’clock in the afternoon. One of the 2 who heard John speak & followed him was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. (1:35-40)
One of the things we learn about Jesus here is that he is the Lamb of God. Like the Passover Lamb in the Old Testament, Jesus’ death on the cross provides our forgiveness, our salvation, & our adoption into God’s family.
Here are 2 disciples – Andrew & most likely John – who start following Jesus. They found Jesus through a preacher – just like some people come to faith at church.
When they asked Jesus where he was staying, they were really inviting themselves over for dinner. They were seeking friendship with Jesus. Notice that Jesus didn’t make them memorize the Bible, or learn all of the right facts about him before they could follow him. He simply said, “Come & see.” Andrew & John’s journey with Jesus began by sharing a meal with him one night.
Think about how many Christians there are in the world today, & it all started with John the Baptist pointing out Jesus to two guys!
He first found his brother Simon, & said to him, "We have found the Messiah" (which is translated Anointed). He brought Simon to Jesus, who looked at him & said, "You are Simon son of John. You are to be called Cephas" (which is translated Peter). (1:41-42)
Here we learn another one of the titles of Jesus – the Messiah or the Christ. What does it mean that Jesus is the Christ, the Anointed One? The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor. (Luke 4:18-19)
Now, Andrew isn’t a famous disciple, but he was the one who brought Peter to Jesus. How did Peter become a follower of Jesus? His brother Andrew & one of his co-workers, John, who was in the same fishing business with Peter introduced him. Andrew simply said, “We found Jesus” & took Peter to Jesus too.
Jesus is here to change people’s lives. Jesus gives Simon a new name, Peter – the Rock. When we meet Jesus, we should want to share Him with our family & friends. And the primary reason we should is that Jesus has the power to transform them.
The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. He found Philip & said to him, "Follow me." Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew & Peter. (John 1:43-44)
Here’s a different kind of encounter: Jesus goes & he finds Philip. Sometimes Jesus reveals himself directly to people (like he did with Saul of Tarsus). This is rare – most often, people find Jesus through family, friends or coworkers, but it does happen.
Philip did have a geographic connection with Andrew & Peter – they were all from the same town. It’s like when you walk around Lexington wearing West Davidson green & gold. When you see someone else from West, there is an instant connection. That’s what it was like for these guys.
Philip found Nathanael & said to him, "We have found Him about whom Moses in the law & 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 & see." (1:45-46)
Now Philip goes & finds one of his friends & says, “I’ve found Jesus!” But Nathanael is skeptical. The Messiah came from a back-water hick-town named Nazareth? Not likely! But Philip doesn’t try to convince him. He simply says, “Come & see.”
When you invite your friends to come to Jesus or to come to church, you don’t have to have all of the answers. Just invite them to come & see!
When Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him, he said of him, "Here is truly an Israelite in whom there is no deceit!" Nathanael asked Him, "Where did you get to know me?" Jesus answered, "I saw you under the fig tree before Philip called you." (1:47-48)
The fact that Nathanael was under the fig tree symbolically represents that he was praying or reading the Scriptures. About this occasion, Bob Deffinbaugh, a Bible commentator, has written: “I am inclined to think that Nathanael had been reading & meditating about Jacob under the fig tree. Jacob was a man in whom there was much deceit. Most of his life he schemed & manipulated to get ahead at the expense of others. Jacob was also the first “Israelite,” in that God would soon rename him “Israel”. He was the first “Israelite, in whom there was much guile [or deceit].”
So it seems Nathanael picks up on the contrast & word of truth that Jesus is giving him, for we read next:
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." And he said to him, "Very truly, I tell you, you will see heaven opened & the angels of God ascending & descending upon the Son of Man." (1:49-51)
Because of this amazing word of knowledge, Nathanael puts his faith in Jesus. We also find 2 more titles for Jesus: Son of God, & the King of Israel.
What is Jesus’ reply? “You ain’t seen nothing yet!”
So in our reading today we find that John the Baptist points out Jesus as the Lamb of God, & 2 disciples immediately follow Jesus. Andrew then tells his brother Peter about Jesus the Messiah & Peter follows Jesus. The next day, Jesus calls Philip, & Philip tells Nathanael about Jesus & says, “Come & see.”
Are you a seeker here today because you are curious about this child whose birth the world just celebrated? Are you a skeptic, not sure if Christianity is true? Then I invite you to come & see!
Are you a Christian? Have you found Jesus, or more correctly, allowed Jesus to find you? If so, then tell others to come & see! In Mark 16, Jesus said, “Go into all the world & proclaim the good news to the whole creation.” (Mark 16:15). All of us have been given this great commission. What are you doing with it?
This is what Jesus wants us to do: Pray for your friends & family members to come to know Jesus. Invite your family & friends to come to church, to come & see.