The Witness of Jesus' First Followers

John 1:40-51

One of the two disciples who followed Jesus was Andrew, Simon Peter's brother.  So he found his brother and told him that they had found the Messiah, the Christ, God's anointed and chosen One.  When Andrew brought Peter to Jesus in verse 42;

...Jesus looked at him and said, "You are Simon son of John.  You will be called Cephas" (which, when translated, is Peter).

Andrew brought Peter to Jesus.  And Jesus told Peter he would be His rock.  Jesus was calling him to be the head of His Church right there, built on solid rock.  "Rock" literally means faith built on a strong foundation, the bedrock.  It becomes unmovable.   John the Baptist knew this quite well.  He said that he must decrease, so that Jesus could increase.

Look at the enthusiasm that Andrew has. This is often called the "Andrew Effect."  What is this effect?  It is wanting to witness to everyone the good news of finding Jesus in your life, and hoping they will find it in theirs.  It's the reason we talk to people about the Lord.  It's the reason we get excited.   How do we get the Andrew Effect?  We don't get it by chance, or by osmosis.  We get it by setting ourselves apart for God from the getgo.

The next day Jesus went to Galilee and found Philip.  Now Philip was from Bethsaida, where Andrew and Peter were from.

Philip called Him Jesus of Nazareth, a person.  Nathaniel called Him the Son of God.   John weaves those two ideas into the words of two different witnesses.  The Philip Effect is the same as the Andrew Effect.  When you find out who Jesus is, you tell somebody right away.  Those to whom the Son wishes to reveal the Father come to know Him right away.  Jesus has to reveal it, or you will never know.  The person has to witness.   One is sovereign, the other is of the free will.  Both are necessary. 

One little village, Bethsaida, produces six apostles.  This is a very pagan spot.  Jesus is calling true believers from the darkest places. 

Philip found Nathaniel and told him they had found the One Moses and the prophets had spoken about in the entire OldTestament, in verses 45-46; 

"...We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote--Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph."  "Nazareth!  Can anything good come from there?" Nathanial asked.  "Come and see," said Philip.

Jesus and Nathaniel spoke in verses- 47-49;

When Jesus saw Nathaniel approaching, He said of him, "Here is a true Israelite, in whom there is nothing false."   "How do you know me?" Nathaniel asked.  Jesus answered, "I saw you while you were still under the fig tree before Philip called you."  Then Nathaniel declared, "Rabbi, You are the Son of God; You are the King of Israel."

Nathaniel, like David, was a man after God's own Heart.  Nathaniel had gone under the fig tree to pray alone, and he had a vision of heaven with God talking to him.  When Jesus said, "Here is a true Israelite, in whom there is nothing false," the voice was the same one from the vision.    

One of the two disciples who heard John the Baptist say to follow Jesus was Andrew.  The other one is the mytery disciple. 

Why didn't John ever tell us the identity of this mystery disciple?   Maybe, John wanted those who read his gospel to insert their own name.  Think about it.  He is saying that there were these people who were always seeking, always wanting to know when the Messiah came, wanting to be close to the Lord.  If you put your name in the place of the mystery disciple, you will always hear Jesus calling your name to believe in Him and follow Him.   What was Jesus trying to do?  He was trying to seek and to save those who were lost. 

I am so glad I was lost!  Are u glad you heard Jesus calling your name?  Everyone who responds in faith, even though we have never seen Him, will be given the title of the disciple who Jesus loved.  Is that encouraging or what?

I think that John purposely writes this masterful gospel so that every person will come to a living, personal relationship with Jesus Christ.  The entire gospel is written as a one-on-one personal encounter.  Everything Jesus says is personal.  "I Am the Way, and the Truth, and the Light" - (John 14:6)."   How many of you have a friend that you wish knew what you have?  It is the tendency of every new Christian to be excited about the joy, the hope that they have.   Who remembers being a new Christian?  

Andrew knows immediately, the minute he knows it's Jesus the Messiah; he immediately knows it's his mission in life to speak to everyone, but he wants his loved ones to come first.  He has found the greatest gift, he has found the pearl, the Christ.  And he must tell everyone, so he starts with his brother.  I think God is saying this to us about the Andrew Effect.  Oh, that My people would be new Christians every day.

Christianity is about being a new Christian every day, not in our growth with the Lord, but in our recommitment, our willingness to renew, our willingness to get up in the morning and start over again, and say "To you I give my life all over again, to you I commit this day."  

 

 

 

Every single apostle has made a declaration that Jesus is the Son of God and the Son of Man.  Nathaniel's testimony is synonymous with John the Baptist.  The rabbi John calls Jesus the Son of God, and the apostle Nathaniel calls Jesus "Rabbi."

At some point in our lives, we hear Jesus call us by nqme.  In that moment, we have God revealed to us by His Son, and we see what we could never see before.  Our blinded eyes are finally opened, and the Light shines in the darkness.  We now have a choice.  Will you place your faith in Him?  If you do, immediately, you become that new Christian, and immediately, the Andrew andPhilip Effect takes place.  You are so excited, you have to tell somebody.  Let's continue to witness every day of our lives.  Become His disciplel, be transformed every day of your life, and we are called His beloved.

John's Witness To His Followers

John 1:35-39

This reading takes place on the third day in the gospel of John.   What do you think of as Christians when I say "third day?"  The resurrection was on the third day. 

Looking at Jesus as He walked, John said, "Behold, the Lamb of God."  There is no crowd this time, only two of his disciples.  John says to them, follow Jesus.  In verse 38:

Turning around, Jesus saw them following and asked, "What do you want?"

What do you want in Me, from Me, to Me?   What are you really seeking in life?  Do you remember a time in your life when you heard Jesus call you by name?  He asks us to reaffirm the call every day. 

What should I consider every time Jesus calls me?  I must be honest when I hear His voice, honest about what He is truly asking of me.  I must be honest about what I truly desire to do, my commitment that I am willing to give.  I must be honest about my answer to Him.  I must be honest about my daily life, my witness for Him.  

This is what Jesus wants us to think about every day.  The call.  We should be so happy that we were called, not because we can gain heaven.  We should be so excited that it was He who called.  We should want to say, "Hallelujah, yes!" 

Jesus gave us everything.  I will give you everything in return.  Today.  I make this response with all of my heart, mind and soul.  I love you (the first commandment).  And when I go out to see other people, I will tell them you are calling, you are forgiving, you are loving.  This will be my witness to them.

Question: Am I growing closer to my Lord?  Introspective; looking inside the heart, the mind, the soul.  Am I spending enough time today in His presence?

Now comes a very unusual response by Jesus.  Jesus frequently does not answer with what you expect.  Jesus replies to the question of where He was staying.  He replies in verse 39:

"Come," He replied, "and you will see."

Jesus is saying, everything you ever wanted, you will find it in Me.  No wonder these two wanted to stay.  Jesus' words have a context of seeing Jesus taste death for our salvation.  Along with it comes a promise that we will not taste death.  Of course, we will live forever.  We have this hope that, just as He was raised, we will be raised on the last day.   

And what will we see?  His glory, His wounds in the flesh, and the glory of the kingdom that is coming.  Taste and see.  Every time you think about heaven, what do you see?  You see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering and death, crowned with glory and honor, that He by the grace of God might die for every one of us.

The disciples were about to taste the death of God, the grace of God, the bitterness.  They were about to taste the joy of the Resurrection, the sorrow of fairwell in the Ascension, the greatness of the coming of the holy Spirit.  Their whole life was changing in a moment, and they had no idea other than that this was the One.

I encourage you to draw close to the Lord, to see for yourself the Lamb of God who tasted death to forgive our sins, and who was raised again that you and I might live eternally with Him.  Taste and see today that the Lord is good.

John's Witness To Jesus

John 1:29-34

This sermon is trinity based.  The Father called John from the womb.  By the power of the Holy Spirit He sent John  to reveal (in the spirit of Elijah although he was not Elijah) God's only Son to the world, upon whom His favor rests.  Both the Spirit and the Father are revealed in Jesus.  No one has seen God.  The only Son of God has revealed His fullness to us.  The Spirit and the Son are now saying, see in Jesus our fullness, through John the Baptist.  See verse 29:

The next dayJohn saw Jesus coming toward him and said, "Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!"

Take a look at Isaiah 53:7 which says:

"He was  oppressed and afflicted, yet He did not open His mouth; He was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so He did not open His mouth."

This is the only place in the Old Testament where you will see what John was saying.

John was still baptizing the next day.  The audience here remains anonymous.  It could have been his disciples and others who came to hear him identify who the Messiah is.  John pointed to an individual coming down the road.  The testimony to the Jewish people must be seen in conjunction with the testimony of verse 36:

When he saw Jesus passing by, he said, "Look, the Lamb of God."

Right after this John will tell them, "Follow Him."  John the apostle, who brought these words to us in the gospel, sees Jesus Christ in a three-fold manner throughout the entirety of the gospel. 

1.  He is a lamb as a deliverer.  My deliverer is coming, my deliverer is standing by.  A deliverer of the flock, He will be a shepherd.  The shepherd, who is a male ram, spotless, will also give His life so that the whole flock will live.  So He saves us from our sins that we have committed; and He also begins to deliver us from our sinful nature, the way to wholeness, that we would take on the very image of His Son, who is spotless and blameless.

2.  The apostle also sees the lamb as a shepherd over the entire flock.  He leads and guides the flock as God the Father leads Him; and the words God the Father gives to Him, He gives to the flock

3.  He also sees Jesus as a ruler.  We have the lion of the tribe of Judah, a ram victorious, rising up out of the grave, once mortally wounded.  He is an eternal king, the King of kings.

When you hear "The Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world," you should see all three images at once.

The apostle John also sees Jesus Christ as  Messiah.  Lamb and Messiah, man and God.  Just like He was the deliverer, He is the redeemer and savior.  He is the anointed Son of God who wins salvation for His people through His death and resurrection.  He is a lamb that was slain from the foundations of the earth, because the decision was already made.  He is conquerer and Lord.  This is our lion of the tribe of Judah.

Isaiah chapter 52 talks about the suffering servant.  He died willingly.  In the book of Revelation, beginning in Chapter 5, the lion shall return and conquer and subdue the earth.  And He is judge and king.

Judge and king, ruler and conquerer, Lord and redeemer, savior and deliverer; they all go together.  The anointed of God, whose mission is to bring all the unrighteous (all of us), to take us out of that and to bring us before the throne victorious.  But for those who won"t bow the knee, He brings them to judgment.

A lion and a lamb.  For us, we choose both.

John's Witness To The Jewish Leaders

John 1:19-28

John would have been a priest as a profession.  But in all his years, he would never set foot in a temple setting.  Yet he would be the greatest of every person born of a woman.  John fulfilled his role as a priest through his witness to the Jewish leadership.  In verse 21:

"They asked him, 'Then who are you?  Are you Elijah?"

John strongly confessed that he was not the Christ. In verse 23 John tells them what scripture said in Isaiah;

",,,,,I am the voice of one calling in the desert.  Make straight the way for the Lord"

Then they asked John why he was baptising, if he was not the One, if he was not Elijah.  Who gave you the right then?  Look what John says in verse 26:

"I baptize merely with water, John replied, but among you stands one you do not know.  He is the One who comes after me, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie."

Verse 28 tells us that these things were done on the other side of the Jordan River, at Bethbara, where the river was shallow.  This was a very pagan place.  Evil sacrifice of human flesh was going on around there.  John is among pagans talking about a holy sacrifice, because the Great I AM is coming.  His harvest is not of human flesh, but of eternal lives.   All this is going on and John picks this spot to baptize people.  If you read Matthew 3:10-12, you will find that Jesus is the Holy One who is coming for His eternal harvest at the end of all times.  

Bethbara was mentioned in the Old Testament as a strategic place of conquest by Gideon.  Also,, the death of Saul was here.  He committed suicide.  It is also the site of the crossing of the Jordan River by Joshua with the Ark of the Covenant.  It parted, just like the Red Sea parted.  What a spot John chose!  Where John was baptizing was where the Passover would begin.  Where John was baptizing is where Jesus began to baptize, in the same spot.

Do you think the pharisees didn't like an upstart priest who didn't come to the temple, who didn't follow the rules, who didn't hold all the traditions with them, and was some wild man with goat's hair, and ate wild locust and yelled at the top of his lungs, a renegade priest like that?  They didn't know what was happening, so they sent some really choice people from the Sanhedrin to ask some questions.  In verse 19 they ask John who he is.  In the Greek it reads "Are you He?"  John strongly confessed, "No Way."  The strong language that John used was used in other places by Jesus (Luke 9:26):

"If anyone is ashamed of me and my message, the Son of Man will be ashamed of that person when He returns in His glory, and the glory of the Father and the holy angels."

There is a warning.  Never be ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ, for it has the power to bring salvation to you and everyone around you.   Never be ashamed.

Everyone was expecting the Messiah to come soon, according to the gospel of Luke.  They had been waiting for 430 years in silence.  There was a fever pitch when John got there.  It was a time when everything was going wrong, no one was speaking the truth.   God had been silent for so long, and then John the Baptist says, "Prepare the way for the Messiah.."     

In verse 21, they asked him another question,  ",,,,Are you Elijah?"  Elijah had to come before the Lord would return.   John used the same strong language.  Absolutely no way!  They asked him, Are you THE prophet that Moses talked about that would come in the name of the Lord Himself?  John answered no again.  

Notice that they saw these three, the Christ, Elijah, the  prophet, as separate people.  They thought the Messiah would be a person, Elijah would be himself, and the prophet would be another person.   They were  waiting for three people, but how many did they get?  Two.

The anointed One, the Christ, the Messiah, Jesus is also the prophet, the One who will come in the name of the Lord.  They had misinterpreted that one and three were the same God.  In this person, Jesus Christ, you not only have Messiah, you don't just have prophet; you have man and God inside the same person.  Can you see the confusion?

"Are you Elijah?" depended on the prophesy of Malachi 3:1:

"See, I will send my messenger, who will prepare the way before me.   Then suddenly the Lord you are seeking will come to His temple; the messenger of the covenant , whom you desire, will come," says the Lord Almighty.

Here is where they interpreted it wrong Malachi 4:5:

"See, I will send you the prophet Elijah before that great and dreadful day of the Lord comes."

Was the day Jesus came to us a dreadful day?  No.  It was the coming of the Kingdom, the coming of the day to repent, for the kingdom of Heaven was at hand.  This is your chance to come in.  The great and dreadful day was the end of the entire existence of the universe.  The Jews misinterpreted.  Elijah was not coming right away.  He was coming much later.

The pharisees thought that Elijah would anoint the Messiah, or baptize Him, and that would identify Him to Israel.  Well, that's what John did.  They further assumed that Elijah would have to come back in the same way he left, in a flaming chariot.

Finally, the religious authorites were only expecting Elijah to come one time.  Here is yet another misreading of the scripture.  They thought he would come and wipe out the Romans, makes  them the rulers of the Middle East; and God's kingdom and man's kingdom would be one and the same, and God would live with us forever, and the garden will be restored.  It will happen, but only after a big battle at Armaggedon, and only  after most of the population has been destroyed.

Another question.   "Are you the prophet?"  It's Moses' words in Deuteronomy 18:18 that makes the pharisees wonder:

"I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers; I will put my words in His mouth, and He will tell them everything I command Him.  If anyone does not listen to my words that the prophet speaks in my name, I myself will call Him to account.

In other words, you will be condemned if you do not listen to the voice and the words of Jesus the Christ, the Son of the Living God.  So, John says there will be a man who is greater than me, who is born a person right out of the brotherhood.  His words will be different than my words.  It will be word for word--the Father says it, the Son speaks it. 

The pharisees thought the prophet coming would lead them into a new eternal kingdom.   They did get one thing right, that He would enlighten the people to know God personally and reveal God fully.  The prophet was not the same as the Messiah in their minds. 

In verse 22, they said you are not the prophet, not the Messiah, not Elijah.   Who are you?

John replied in the words of Isaiah the prophet, "I am the voice of one calling in the desert, 'Make straight the way for the Lord."

How many people are comforted knowing God loves you, that you are forgiven and are going into Heaven?  Look what happens.   Whenever there is a decision to be made that is eternal, there is a consequence.  The opposites of comfort, love, joy, peace, glory are condemnation, separation, and darkness. Isaiah 40:1 says:

"Comfort, comfort my people, says your God.  Speak tenderly to Jerusalem and proclaim to her that her hard service (sin) has been completed, that her sin has been paid for, that she has received from the Lord's hand double for all her sins."

Where sin abounds, grace abounds ever the more, Paul says.  Bring down the lofty spirit.  Become humble, and bring up the lowly, the ones who have nothing.  Bring up your brother and sister with you, that the rough places may be made smooth; so that the glory of God can be revealed.  That's what Jesus is going to do when He comes back.  We will see His shining glory.  And ever eye, tongue and ear will have it revealed to them all at once.  Can you imagine?

This is John.  Comfort, joy, He's coming.  Everything will be made right. The biggest problem in the Christian Church today is that we get to the point where we feel that we have no more need for forgiveness, to be saved from our sins, and we don't have to go any further.  We've gone far enough.  We are saved.  They were doing the same thing back then. 

Look how John answers the pharisees who ask him why he was baptizing.  "I'm doing what a priest should do" was his answer in  verse 26.  But there is somebody else,  who is already here."  He is all around you, within you, by the power of the Holy Spirit.  He is so holy, so perfect, and so beautiful. 

 

The Word Of God Reveals God

John 1:14-18

The Word was spoken from the beginning of time by God Himself, and God Himself was in three persons;  one of the persons, the second person, was Jesus (Logos/Word).  Jesus reveals the Father to us.  In the beginning, the Word (the Logos) already existed.  The Word (Logos) was with God and He was God.  Through Him God made all things.  The Word (Logos) was the source of life, and it brought Light to people.  It shines in the darkness, and the darkness can't put it out.

God sent His messenger, John the Baptist, to give witness to people about the Light, so that people would believe. He himself was not the Light.  He came to testify about the real Light, the Light that was to come into the world, and shines on all people.  The Word (Logos) was in the world, though the world did not recognize Him.  He came to His own country, but His own people did not receive Him.   To those who believed Him, He gave them the right to become God's children.  They did not  become God's childlren by natural means.  God Himself was their father.  The Word (Logos) became a human being, full of grace and truth, and lived among us.  John gave witness about Him when he cried out as His messenger in verse 15, saying that this is the one he was talking about who comes after John, but He is greater than John.   The Word came and lived among us, and we saw His glory, the glory which He received as the Father's only Son.   

For glory to be glory, it must be seen, it must be witnessed, and it must be witnessed personally.  There are places in the gospel of John where the Spirit testifies about the Son, the Son testifies about the Father, and the Father testifies about the Son.  So literally, they have witnessed their own glory forever and ever. 

First, glory is witnessed by God Himself, within Himself.  It is also witnessed by the very first creatures He created, which are the angels.  They have been witnessing God's glory since the moment they were made, before there was ever a universe, before we were here.  They were also there at the moment of creation, to see us born. 

So, for glory to be glory, it can also be witnessed, most importantly, by people.  We witnessed it first at the moment of creation, in the garden of Eden, on day six, when Adam was born.  He beheld all of God's glory around him.  And then to see his helpmate, the daughter of God, being born, Eve.  Then together, they beheld God's glory together.

Then it was witnessed at varying times throughout the Old Testament. Just one of the places you can look for that is in Exodue 33:7, and other places like it, where there could be seen shining glory.  It was seen by Moses on Mt. Sinai.  It was so brilliant, that God said He could not let Moses see His full glory, so Moses saw Him from the back.  When Moses came down from the mountain, his face glowed so much it was covered.  

In the New Testament, it's witnessed in the face of Jesus Christ.  That is what we are witnessing today.  God's glory is now seen in the person of Jesus Christ.  If you look into His face, you see a veiled glory.   It's witnessed continually, since the day of Pentecost by all of us (Acts 2).  What was seen there?  Actual tongues of fire over the heads of the followers.  It is witnessed by us today from within, as the Holy Spirit resides within our hearts.

Jesus' glory is manifested through four things: 

1.  His incarnation.  When He came down from Heaven, and was born as a man, fully God, fully man.  The miracle of the Incarnation has His glory veiled within it.  Remember what the angel said to Mary:  The glory of the Lord will come over you, and it will be seen within you.  So you have this idea of glory going all the way from Heaven to earth and into the womb of the virgin.

2.  His signs, miracles and wonders.  Here is what John says.  The miracles are signs, the wonders are signs, but there are also heavenly and earthly signs in the physical realm that represent God's glory.  Every time you run into one of these, you run into the glory of God.  You see it through the works that Jesus does, and through the works of creation.

3.  His crucifixion and death.   The high point of the gospel of John is in chapter 19:35.   In that verse, this is what is displayed:  the glory of God.   "It is finished."  There is a moment of absolute glory in absolute death.  What did He do for us?  He gave Himself, even to the point of death, even to death on a cross.  Because of that His name is higher than all names, every knee shall bow when the glory returns, when He comes back.

4.  FInally, we see a glimpse of that glory in His resurrection.  His body was glorified.  

God in Christ is the fullness of the Father. Three entities in one.  This illustrates that the Word (Logos) is one and the same with God Himself in the person of Jesus Christ.  The Word (Logos) means the perfect mind of, the perfect will of, the perfect love of, the perfect grace and truth.  The Word of God is the very person of God.  When you see Jesus, you see the Father.

John the Baptist spoke;  he cried in the wilderness, that he was testifying that Jesus is the One because He existed before John, before anything was born.  How great is He?  The person of Jesus Christ has a precoexistence with God the Father.

Why does God bless us every day?  He gives us one blessing after another.  He loves us.  The primary reason according to John is so that we can grow.  Knowing and loving God every day should transform us, and we should become like Christ.    We must be renewed, remade and remolded, refashioned.  God has to take this broken jar that He perfectly made, and reform it.  That is what the Holy Spirit is doing today.

When we accepted Jesus Christ into our lives, He forgave it all-- He justified us.  He restored the image of God, but not the likeness. That's what has to be remade, to grow in the likeness of Christ

My image is God, my likeness is godly.  Is there a willingness to grow?  God is asking us to have a daily continual decision to want to grow.