In John 1:30 John the Baptist continued the words that he had to say about Jesus. John pointed to Jesus and said, "Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world." And then he said in John 1:30-31, "This is he of whom I said, After me comes a man who is preferred before me: for he was before me. And I knew him not: but that he should be made manifest to Israel, therefore am I come baptizing with water."
John recognized both the humanity and the deity of Jesus. He called Jesus a man, and yet he made a reference to the sinlessness of Jesus by saying that Jesus was preferred before him, and John made a reference to the eternal nature of the Son of God, by recognizing that Jesus existed before he did. In John 1:31 John the Baptist gave another reason for his water baptism. We already know that the water baptism was symbolic of the cleansing from sin, and that one of the reasons that John was baptizing in Israel was so that the people would get ready for the coming of the Messiah by turning from their sins and then coming to John to be baptized. Another reason for Johnís baptism was to provide the stage for the first public presentation of the Messiah. When Jesus was baptized by John he was publicly presented as the Messiah, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. In this beginning to the public work of Jesus, Jesus immediately identifies Himself with our sins by taking the baptism of repentance, even though He had never sinned and had nothing to repent of. Three years after the baptism, Jesus would not only identify with our sins, but He would actually take them upon Himself at the cross.
John 1:32-34 says, "And John bare record, saying, I saw the spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it abode upon him. And I knew him not: but he that sent me to baptize with water, the same said unto me, Upon whom you shall see the spirit descending, and remaining on him, the same is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit. And I saw and bare record that this is the Son of God."
The Spirit descended from heaven and remained on Jesus in order to teach us His unique standing as the Son of God. Jesus and the Father were one, and so were Jesus and the Spirit. Jesus did not have the Spirit of God in small measure: He had it in great measure, because of His oneness with God. John 1:14 said that Jesus became flesh. Jesus, the eternal Son of God, in some mysterious way joined the person of God into the body of a human being. Somehow Jesus set aside some of the prerogatives of divinity and lived the life of a human; but He lived the life of a human as life ought to be lived: led by and inspired by the Spirit of God. It was the Spirit of God inside of the God-man, Jesus, that gave Him the power to do what He did in His years on the earth.
The most important reason that Jesus came to the earth was to die for our sins, but the second most important reason may have been to be our example of how to live for God in a sinful world when we ourselves are so weak and sinful. The way that Jesus succeeded in His human life was to depend upon and rely upon the power and the leading of the Spirit of God. To a certain degree we can follow His example, and we must follow His example of depending upon the leading of the Spirit because we have no capacity in and of ourselves. The good news is that once we believe upon Jesus, we also are given the Spirit. Remember that John the Baptist said that Jesus would baptize us with the Spirit. Jesus taught us that once we came to know God that we would be born of the Spirit. In Romans chapter 8, the Bible says that "as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are the sons of God." I Thes. 5:19 reminds Christians to "Quench not the spirit" and Eph. 4:30 tells us to "grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, whereby you are sealed unto the day of redemption." Wise is the Christian who understands that he has the Holy Spirit within him, because Jesus baptized him with the Spirit when he believed on Jesus, and now he can live for God not by trusting in his own strength but by allowing himself to be led by the Spirit. Thatís what Jesus did.
John 1:35-37 says, "Again the next day after John stood, and two of his disciples; And looking upon Jesus as he walked, he said, Behold the Lamb of God! And the two disciples heard him speak, and they followed Jesus." What happened in the lives of the disciples still happens in the lives of people today, at least it happens in the lives of all of those who become followers of Jesus. What you have is a human who already believes, John the Baptist. He speaks the truth about Jesus, and others hear what is said about Jesus, and then they also believe. Belief is passed from one person to another, and from one generation to another. "How shall they believe, except they hear; and how shall they hear except someone tell them the gospel?" Christianity will die as soon as there is a generation of Christians who stop speaking about Jesus.
John 1:38-39 says, "Then Jesus turned and saw them following, and said unto them, What do you seek? They said unto him, Rabbi, (which is to say, being interpreted, Master,) where do you dwell? He said unto them, Come and see. They came and saw where he dwelt, and abode with him that day; for it was about the tenth hour."
These first believers in Jesus had a seeking heart. They had a spiritual thirst that could only be satisfied by Christ. Jesus would say in the Sermon on the Mount, "Seek and you shall find." If you seek God, you will find Him, because He is seeking you. Jesus gave an invitation to these men to come and be with Him. God will also invite you during your lifetime to come to Him, and your eternal destiny will be decided by the response that you make. Some churches give invitations at the end of their services during which they give you an opportunity to reflect upon the call of God and the need to follow Jesus: itís an open invitation to come to God. God Himself is always giving invitations: to sinners to be forgiven, to the lost to be found, and to the unbelieving to find faith in Jesus. At the end of the book of Revelation it says, "And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that hears say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take of the water of life freely."
John 1:40-42 says, "One of the two which heard John speak, and followed him, was Andrew, Simon Peterís brother. He first finds his own brother Simon, and says unto him, We have found the Messiah, which is, being interpreted, the Christ. And he brought him to Jesus. And when Jesus beheld him, he said, You are Simon, the Son of Jonah: you shall be called Cephas, which is by interpretation, a stone."
We know more about Peter than any of the other disciples, because there are more explicit incidents about him in the gospels. This is not by accident. Peter is used by the Lord to teach us many things about ourselves. One of the things that we know about Peter is that he was very weak and inconsistent. If he said that he was going to do something, when things got difficult he would back down out of fear. He displayed a great inconsistency in the first few years that he knew Jesus, because Simon depended upon his own strength and had not learned to depend upon God. His family-given name was Simon, but when he met Jesus, Jesus said to him: You are Simon, but you shall be called Cephas. Cephas is the Aramaic word for "rock", and Peter is the Greek word for "rock". The weak and inconsistent Simon was not at all like a rock, but Jesus saw something that others perhaps could not see: Jesus saw the potential of what Simon could become once He learned to follow Jesus and to be a student of the teachings of Jesus.
The same thing that happened to Simon Peter will also happen to us. When we believe on Jesus and follow Him, not only are we forgiven of our sins, but we are also given the capacity with the help of God to become a much better person than we otherwise would have been; and to accomplish things that we otherwise would not have accomplished. "If anyone be in Christ, they are a new creature. Old things are passed away. Behold, all things are new."
John 1:43-44 says, "The day following Jesus would go forth into Galilee, and finds Phillip, and says unto him, Follow me. Now Phillip was of Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter." In the incidents described here in John Chapter 1, we know that Jesus is in Judea, which is the territory surrounding Jerusalem. Up to that time Jesus had spent most of His life in the town of Nazareth, which was a small town in Galilee. Jesus had come to Judea along with many other people in Israel in order to be baptized by John the Baptist. And Jesus had also come in order to begin His public work that was to precede His death on the cross.
Another reason that Jesus came to Judea at this time was in order to have His initial contacts with some of those who would become His apostles. When God touches your life, there are no coincidences. Everything happens for a purpose. The people that you come in contact with who know God, are situations that are arranged by God. It certainly was no coincidence that the men that Jesus called were also from Galilee, and they would be ready and willing to return with Him to Galilee. They were already prepared to believe in Jesus because they had listened to the messages of John the Baptist.
John 1:45-46 says, "Phillip finds Nathanael and says to him, We have found him of whom Moses in the law, and the prophets, did write, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph. And Nathanael said unto him, Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth? Phillip said to him, Come and see." We are taken back by Nathanaelís initial reaction to the words of Phillip. But Nathanael was not really being negative, he was just being logical. Everyone expected Messiah to be a great political and religious leader, and indeed He will be. But the religious and political power brokers were in Jerusalem; and Nazareth was just a sleepy, little, out-of-the way village to the north. No one of any consequence had ever come from Nazareth. But Nathanael learned what we all learn once we come to Jesus: that which is disregarded by man is sometimes highly esteemed by God.
John 1:47-48 said, "Jesus saw Nathanael coming to him, and said of him, Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile! Nathanael said unto him, From where do you know me? Jesus answered and said unto him, Before that Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you." In spite of Nathanaelís reservations, he came to investigate Jesus anyway and to find out for himself. Anyone who is honest will do the same thing in regards to the claims of Christ: they will not dismiss them out of hand: they will at least investigate them to see if they are true.
Because of what Jesus said, evidently the most outstanding characteristic about Nathanael was the fact that he had no deceit or no guile in his heart. This has always been a requirement in order to be rightly related to God: honesty instead of deceit. If you are honest about yourself, you will recognize that you are a sinner in need of a Savior. If you are honest about God, you will recognize that Jesus is the Son of God. If you are a truthful person, you will recognize and believe the truth: if not, you will believe a lie. Thatís why no liars shall enter the Kingdom of God.
John 1:49-51 says, "Nathanael answered and said unto him, Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the King of Israel. Jesus answered and said unto him, Because I said unto you, I saw you under the fig tree, do you believe? You shall see greater things than these. And he said unto him, Truly, truly, I say unto you, Hereafter you shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man."
For Nathanael to believe, it took only a minor demonstration by Jesus of the divine quality of omniscience. And then Jesus told Nathanael that because he believed for that reason, he would be given even more reasons to believe, and he would be given other experiences to help him have even more faith. Once we become believers, one of the primary purposes of the work of God in our lives is to strengthen our faith. If you are a believer, there may be no more precious possession that you have than your faith, and God will be continuing to work in your life in order for you to grow in faith. One of the greatest sources for increased faith that God has provided for you in our day and age are the blessings that can come from Godís Word. If you want your faith to be strong, then stay in Godís Word. Thatís the primary means that He has now provided for your faith to be strengthened. "Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God."
In the next incident in the life of Jesus that is recorded in the Gospel of John, Jesus has left Judea and returned to Galilee. John Chapter 2 describes the first miracle that Jesus performed. It says in John 2:1-4, "And the third day there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee; and the mother of Jesus was there: And both Jesus was called, and his disciples, to the marriage. And when they needed wine, the mother of Jesus said to him, They have no wine. Jesus said to her, Woman, what have I to do with you?"
It is probably not without significance that Jesus chose a marriage ceremony as the place to perform his first miracle. God created marriage between a man and a woman. If you go back to the beginning, to the book of Genesis, you find that God created mankind; and He created us as male and female. A man should leave his father and mother, and then cleave unto his wife. Jesus is giving His stamp of approval on the basic family unit: male and female joined in life-long marriage.
At the marriage, it appears as though Mary, the mother of Jesus had some responsibilities in taking care of the arrangements for the celebration because when they ran out of wine, she went to Jesus and asked Him to do something about the situation. She was probably used to going to Jesus because He was the oldest Son, and Jesus was probably accustomed to doing her bidding because He lived in subjection to Mary and Joseph until the age of thirty. As long as He lived under their roof, He was subject to their authority. Young people today, who believe in Jesus, should be very careful to follow His example in the matter of subjection to parental authority.
But in the life of Jesus, things had now changed; and He let Mary know very clearly that they had changed. Gone were the quiet years as a carpenter under the authority of Mary and Joseph. What had begun for Jesus was the long march to the cross, and the years of His manifestation as the Son of God.
Copyright; 2000 by Charles F. (Rick) Creech
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