John 4:43-54

Read John 4:43-54

Jesus left Samaria and finished his journey back to Galilee where he came back into the town of Cana where he had turned water into wine. His popularity was apparently growing as many people recognized him from Jerusalem because of the signs and wonders he had done there. A man from Capernaum – a days journey at least – sought him out in Cana asking Jesus to come to his home to heal his dying son. Jesus then addresses the crowds that had come to him (the verbs translated “see” and “believe” in John 4:48 are second person plural, meaning he is addressing more than one person) saying they would not believe unless they are shown a sign. In contrast, Jesus speaks to the man who believes him merely on words and the man departs to find that his son was healed at the same hour that Jesus said he would be healed. This was the second sign that Jesus did in Galilee, the first being the changing of water into wine.

The demand for a sign was a common among Jews. They had demanded a sign from Jesus in John 2:18 when he cleansed the temple.  Nicodemus recognized the signs Jesus was doing too (John 3:2). Signs were commonly perceived as a way to authenticate a messenger (John 7:31, John 10:24-38). John wrote about the signs of Jesus so that people might believe too (John 20:30-31). Right before John declares his intent on writing is the story of Thomas (John 20:26-29), often called Doubting Thomas. The fact that Jesus was among them even though the door was locked was not enough evidence to convince him that Jesus was alive. He had to have tangential evidence for Jesus. Jesus declares that those who do not see him are “blessed”.

While signs are not inherently bad, signs can be misleading. The Bible contains several warnings against false prophets who will be able to perform signs and wonders (Matthew 24:24, Mark 13:22,  2 Thessalonians 2:9).  Likewise, there will be many who performed signs and wonders even in the name of Christ that will not enter heaven (Matthew 7:22-23). What is necessary to steer the course through false signs is sound doctrine accordingly because false prophets can lead one astray by dazzling one with signs. In 2 Timothy 4:1-5, Paul charges young Timothy to preach the word because there will come a time when people will not endure sound doctrine for one reason or another. Earlier in the letter (2 Timothy 2:2) Paul says that Timothy should teach what he received from Paul to others men who will teach it to others. One chapter earlier (2 Timothy 1:5) Paul talks about the faith that his grandmother and mother possessed, and Paul was sure that Timothy possessed it. This procession of doctrine was not done in the context of signs, but in the context of faith being handed from one generation to the next. Also, Paul says that faith comes by hearing (Romans 10:10-17). Jesus’ last command in Matthew before ascending was for the disciples to make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:19-20). There is a progression here to: Jesus made disciples, who are commanded to make disciples. There is even some of this going on in the early parts of John too with the early disciples hearing and bring others to Jesus (John 1:35-50) and the Samaritan woman hearing and then going to tell her village (John 4:28-42).

Signs are by no means dead and God still uses signs to draw people to himself. But in any case, signs should always be in conjunction with a message of salvation that is from Jesus, as this is sound doctrine. The plan from scripture for the propagation of the gospel is for the faithful to train up others to be faithful who will do the same. The progression has spanned 2 millennia and reaches Christians today. Part of the Great Commission is like what Paul was doing to Timothy – teaching others to obey the things Jesus commanded. Rather than looking for signs and wonders, Christians should be searching out words of Christ that teach sound doctrine and contain the commands of Christ and trusting in these words rather than some sign.

Lord, help me to trust and obey your words because your words is truth!

John 4:27-42

Read John 4:27-42

Jesus talking to a Samaritan woman of questionable reputation caused the disciples returning from the town to “marvel”. Jesus’ conversation with the woman was undoubtedly a cultural taboo if there ever was one – perhaps even more so here because the disciples thought Jesus was trying to solicit her.  Jesus often associated with people of low standing society. When Jesus called Matthew to be his disciple, the Pharisees raised eyebrows at him, asking him why he associated with sinners. Jesus says that it is the sick that need a doctor, not the healthy. Jesus calls sinners to repentance, not the righteous (Matthew 9:9-13). He was overcoming cultural taboos and reaching out to the ones who need forgiveness the most. In any case, the woman was amazed by Jesus, and she left her water pot and went back to the city to tell about what she had heard from Jesus and they came out to see him.

As the people were coming out, the disciples offered the food that they purchased. Jesus, in typical fashion, uses the common to communicate spiritual truths that confuses his audience. He says his food is to do the will of the one who sent him and accomplish the one’s work. John 5:36 says that Jesus was sent by the father and Jesus explains in John 3:16-18 that his mission was to save the world. Jesus looks out at the ones coming to see him. He declares that they are the harvest. Unlike a natural harvest, a spiritual harvest is not something that is formulaic or even timely in season. Jesus says he had sent them to reap what they did not labor, and they enter into the labor of another, perhaps a reference to what the prophets and John the Baptist before had done. Paul expounds on this in 1 Corinthians 3:4-9 when he is resolving the conflict. The argument is that is does not matter who sowed and who harvested, it is God who gives the growth. This is demonstrably shown when the crowds come to Jesus and see him for themselves. They tell the woman that it is not because of her that they believe, but that they have seen for themselves that Jesus is the savior of the world. Jesus stayed there for two more days before returning to Galilee.

The Samaritan woman probably did not wake up the morning she met Jesus thinking that she was going to be instrumental in her village coming to faith in Jesus, but the Samaritan woman met the Messiah, and she went and told others, who came and met the Messiah. She was a fellow laborer in harvest, much like every Christian alive today.  The Lord of the Harvest is Christ, and Christians the sowers and reapers. In any case, it is God who gives growth. It is enough that Christians do the will of the Father as Jesus did, because spiritual harvests can come in and out of season. It is not the job of Christians to decide who can and can’t come to Christ – that’s God’s job. For this reason, Christians should be willing to break cultural norms and go to the hard places to tell people about him. The personal witness one person can draw people to Jesus, but it is even more awesome when a person encounters Jesus for themselves and believes in him!

Lord, I’m a worker in your harvest. Help me to concern myself with my task and not about things I have no control over!

John 4:19-26

Read John 4:19-26

Apparently, the woman at the well did not understand the “living water” that Jesus was talking was not actual water, rather a metaphor to speak of the sort of life that comes from salvation. Water is a common metaphor used in scripture because of its life-giving properties (Psalm 1:1-6, Psalm 36:8-9, Isaiah 12:1-3, Isaiah 44:3, Revelation 7:17, Revelation 22:1-2, Revelation 22:17). Jesus calls himself the source of this living water and the one who drinks it will have a spring within him welling up to eternal life. The difference between a well and a spring would have been obvious – rather than having to do the laborious work of drawing water out of a well, the water is brought to the surface by a spring. Jesus also uses the same metaphor in John 7:37-39. The promise here is that all who believe in him will have rivers of living water. John notes that this is the Spirit of God living in the life of believers, but the Spirit had not been given because Jesus had not been glorified.

It would seem that Jesus is trying to change the subject in John 4:16, but this is probably not the case. Jesus was trying to reach her. He knew she had no husband, but she had had five previously – a clear demonstration of Jesus’ omniscience. When the woman realized that Jesus knew so much about her, she calls him a prophet and drops a theological question pertaining to the temple’s location. The Samaritans had built a temple similar to the one in Jerusalem on Mount Gerizim that was probably within eye sight of where they were at the well. The woman claimed that “our fathers”, that is the common ancestors of the Jews and Samaritans, worshiped on that mountain. This was perhaps a true statement sense Abraham passed through there in Genesis 12:6 and Jacob bought the plot of land on which the well sat in Genesis 33:18-19. The Jews said that worship was to be Jerusalem at the temple per the command in Deuteronomy 12:1-15 to seek the place God will choose a site for sacrifice, and this was fulfilled in 2 Chronicles 7:10-12.

Jesus’ answer is probably no clearer to her than his previous answer, but it does answer the question. The Samaritans worship what they do not know, but the Jews worship what they do know. The schism between the Samaritans and the Jews had apparently caused the Samaritans to go astray in that they were worshiping something other than God, something other than the truth. But the Jews had the clearer revelation because salvation came from the Jews (Romans 3:2, Romans 9:5) – that is they had the truth.  Jesus says a day is coming and it is then and now when no one will worship in Jerusalem or on the Mount Gerizim. They will worship in “spirit and in truth”, and God is seeking such worshipers because. Because God is spirit, true worshipers must worship in spirit and truth. Worshiping in the truth would be the worship of the saved, which is all who believe in Jesus. Worshiping in spirit would be worshiping in the same manner of who God is. The contrast here is similar to the contrast between the well and the spring. The worship at the mentioned temples was ritualistic and laborious like drawing water from a well. But worship in spirit and truth is like the spring – it’s driven by the Spirit of God.

The woman at the well did get one thing right: she knew that when the Messiah came he would tell “all things”. Perhaps she was counting on the Messiah to set the record straight on who had the right place for the temple or maybe she realized that what Jesus had told her about her past was something only a prophet, or perhaps the Messiah, could do. Whatever her expectations were for the Messiah, Jesus was able to speak the truth about her past and about all things about true spiritual worship. Jesus then declares that he is the one of whom she spoke.

Believers in Christ are the true worshipers that God is seeking. The spring of living water that comes from the Holy Spirit abiding in one’s heart is what compels the believer to worship. It is often the desire of Christians to want to do something for God by going to church, tithing, or doing good things. While these things are not bad, what God wants more than deeds is a broken spirit and a contrite heart (Psalm 51:10-17). In addition to humility, God wants justice and mercy too (Micah 6:6-8). God can work with people who come to him in humility and accept is grace and forgiveness. He can fill them with the Holy Spirit and give them a well spring of living water!

Lord, I want your living water! Take my heart and renew it! Fill me with your Spirit so I can have the well spring of water in my life!

John 4:1-15

Read John 4:1-15

Jesus was apparently concerned about the Pharisees knowing he was baptizing more than John. (John was decreasing so Jesus would increase — from John 3:30) John notes that it was Jesus’ disciples were baptizing rather than Jesus himself. The reason is not clear, but it could be that he was trying to avoid creating tension between the believers similar to what was going on in 1 Corinthians 1:11-17 or if he was letting the disciples do it in a manner to show the procession of disciple making that he commands them to do in Matthew 28:19-20.

In any case, Jesus left Judea. John says he “had” to pass through Samaria. “εδει” in the original Greek indicates that it was necessary for that he go through Samaria. The Samaritans lived in a region sandwiched between Galilee to the north and Judea to the south, and devout Jews wanting to travel between Galilee and Jerusalem had to either pass through Samaria or go around it. Many probably opted for the latter, but it appears Jesus did not have a choice, perhaps because he had foreknowledge as to what would happen in Sychar or a command from God to go through Samaria. Jesus came to Sychar was a town located near Jacob’s well. The well itself is not mentioned in the Old Testament, but was probably a notable landmark and perhaps on the land Jacob bought in Genesis 33:19.

It was an odd time of day for anyone to come out and draw water (around noon) as most people did this chore in the morning, but this particular woman did, probably because she was of a questionable reputation, even for a Samaritan. Samaritans origins date back to when the Jews came out of captivity to resettle the land their ancestors had settled. These Jews had intermarried with other peoples, something that was forbidden for Jews to do because they might be tempted to worship other gods (Deuteronomy 7:1-4). For this reason, Jews who did not intermarry with other peoples disdained those who did. For a Jewish man of high regard (a “rabbi” John 3:2) to be talking to a Samaritan woman of low regard (John 4:16-18) is an odd juxtaposition, needless to say, and the woman recognizes this when Jesus asks here for a drink.

But what the woman does not realize is who Jesus is. Jesus says that if she did, she’d be asking him for a drink instead. She obviously was still thinking that Jesus was talking about literal water. She says the well is deep, he has nothing to draw with, and apparently has no water because he asked her for a drink. She asks him if he was greater than Jacob too and talks about Jacob, his sons, and livestock drinking from the well. She was perhaps inquiring about another spring in area that had not been uncovered by Jacob. Jesus is still speaking on spiritual matters when he says the one who drinks his living water will never thirst again and have “spring of water welling up to eternal life”. It is apparent that the woman still does not understand when she insists the water from Jesus so she would not be thirst have to go about the laborious task of drawing water day in and day out. (For the next few days, this will be explored further as the conversation progresses further as Jesus helps her realize who he is and a whole village turns to him.)

Up against the background of the John 3:1-21, Jesus is talking to the highest of the high, Nicodemus, to the lowest of the low, the nameless woman at the well. It is apparent that Jesus does not consider where one has come from or one’s background – he makes eternal life available to everyone who believes (John 3:16, John 3:36). The difficulty here and for Nicodemus both was seeing who Jesus was. Jesus made the gospel available to persons of all statuses and we should do the same. Paul says that whoever is in Christ are the children of Abraham and children of God, no matter if they are Greek of Jew, slave or free, male or female (Galatians 3:26-29). Our job is to be obedient to the Great Commission and make disciples of every nation (Matthew 28:19-20) no matter who they are or where they live.

Lord, help me to not be a respecter of person, and share with everyone no matter who they are or where they come from!

John 3:22-36: “He Must Increase”

Read: John 3:22-36

John was baptizing at Aenon (called, “The place of springs”) near Salim outside of Sychar, the village that converted after Jesus spoke to the woman at the well. This all happened before John was thrown in jail and executed (Mark 6:14-29). Jesus was baptizing somewhere nearby because and some of John’s disciples took note of this. That, and they were having a discussion over Jewish purification in the context of baptism.  The disciples asked John why people were going to Jesus instead of coming to John. Apparently, there was some issue raised as to who’s baptism was better in making one clean. This is the same problem that arose in the Corinthian church (1 Corinthians 1:11-17) as they were claiming some sort of authority or propriety because of who baptized them. Paul attempts to smooth over the discord and unify the church as fellow workers centered on the work of Christ (1 Corinthians 3:1-9). John makes a similar argument here in that he too points everything back to Christ. He claims that he is not the Christ, but was sent before to testify to the Christ. Paul claims to be mere preacher of the word (1 Corinthians 1:17), one who proclaims Christ and not a baptizer. In the same manner of concession, John says his mission was to prepare the way for the Christ, and was not the Christ himself. He says that Jesus must increase and he must decrease.

After saying these things, John gives another testimony about Jesus: Jesus is from above and Jesus is above all. God sent Jesus, and he tells people what God says because God gives the Spirit fully to Jesus, because God loves Jesus, and has given him power over everything. The one’s that do believe put there “seal” on the matter that this is the truth — that is, they testify to the truth of the matter. John says that “no one” has receives this testimony, but this does not mean that literally no single person has, rather only few have.  John sums up the matter by echoing Jesus’ words from John 3:16-18, saying the ones that believe have eternal life, but the ones that don’t believe are already condemned.

Often times, believers can get a “holier than thou” complex about themselves for any number of reasons. It could be who their family is, what church they go to, what version of the Bible they reads, what kind of cloths they wears, what kind of car they drives, where they works, among many other things. The fact of the matter though, is that next to Jesus, everyone is petty. Likewise, such complexes detract from the main thing. John acknowledges Jesus’ position: Jesus is from above and above all. For this reason, John says Jesus must increase and he must decrease. Christians too should be as John and acknowledge that Jesus is from above and is above all and get out of the way so Jesus can shine. Christians should set their seal on Jesus as the truth and testify to the matter so that some might believe and receive eternal life and not be condemned.

Lord, help me decrease so that you might increase so your testimony can be received by many!

John 3:14-21: Jesus Saves

Read: John 3:14-21

Jesus, after having discussed issues concerning the nature of the Holy Spirit in relation to spiritual matters, shares with Nicodemus the nature of salvation from a story in the Old Testament (Numbers 21:1-9).  This story tells about the Israelites becoming disgruntled as they came out of Egypt. For this, God sent fiery serpents as judgment. Moses prayed for the people and God told him to raise a serpent up on a staff, so that all who look at it would live. Jesus likens himself to this, in that he would be lifted up for mankind, and all who look upon him for salvation will have life.

John 3:16-17 explain this as being an act of God’s love – God loved the world (that is, all the inhabitants of the world). He showed his love by sending Jesus who would be lifted up. And everyone who believes in Jesus for salvation would not die, but have eternal life. Jesus’ mission was not a mission of judgment, rather salvation. Jesus says that those who do not believe are judged already, condemned to die (John 3:18) and Jesus does not need to judge them. Jesus explains that people do not believe because they love darkness, their own evil deeds. The ones who love truth do good works in God because they are compelled by love to obey God’s commandments (John 14:15). These works are prepared in advance by God (Ephesians 2:1-10).

Make no mistake: God loves the world and he demonstrated this by sending Jesus to die on the cross to provide a way to escape death. This escape can come only through faith in Jesus, because it is by faith that one is saved, not my works. If you have not already done so, believe in Jesus so that you will be saved. If you have already done so, rest in the promise that you are already saved. You didn’t earn it. You don’t deserve it. But God loves you and gives grace to you. This is the message that we preach to all people so they will believe Jesus.

Lord, I believe in you! Thank you so much for saving me and not condemning me!

John 3:1-13: Illumination

Read: John 3:1-13

Nicodemus was a Pharisee, a Jewish sect in New Testament times that were zealous about the law such that they made the law stricter than it already was to ensure they wouldn’t break it in the first place. Nicodemus himself was a “ruler” among the Jews as he sat on the Sanhedrin, a council that handled religious law and affairs alongside the civil government of the Romans. John records a few acts of Nicodemus his gospel. Nicodemus gives defense to Jesus in John 7:51-52 and brought embalming supplies in John 19:39. Not much is said about Nicodemus, but much is implied by his actions. He was apparently open to what Jesus had to say and came to him inquiring about Jesus. Also, what Jesus had said to him did not make an enemy of him, but rather a friend. His generous donation of embalming supplies for his burial was something of note. Nicodemus was apparently an educated man too as Jesus notes this based on Jesus statement in John 3:10 and his seat on the Sanhedrin.

First, Nicodemus acknowledges him as a rabbi, a religious teacher. Next, Nicodemus says that Jesus is of God based on the signs he is performing. While the observation of Nicodemus is not incorrect, Jesus says that one cannot see the kingdom of God unless he is “born again”. This phrase obviously confuses Nicodemus as he takes it literally, but Jesus was speaking metaphorically about spiritual things. Jesus describes a contrast between that that which is born of the flesh and born of Spirit, and what Jesus was saying was something of the Spirit. One of the roles of the Spirit in the lives of Christians is to teach (John 14:26, John 16:13). Apparently, Nicodemus had not received the Spirit or any illumination from the Spirit to understand heavenly matters (1 Corinthians 2:1-16, particularly v. 12 and 13). The contrast between earthly things and heavenly things is made apparent here, and Jesus says that no man to reach heaven accept one who descends from heaven, namely the Son of Man which is a reference to himself. Jesus is saying the same sort of things that Paul is saying in 1 Corinthians 2 which, which is that heavenly wisdom can only be revealed by that which is heavenly – which is God himself. God is manifested as Jesus in John 3 and elsewhere as the Holy Spirit.

Nicodemus had not received the testimony that Jesus had given and it does not appear that Nicodemus is obstinate to the testimony. But because the Spirit has not illuminated his mind, he could understand even with all his education and knowledge. Faith comes by hearing the word of God, but without the Holy Spirit there to illuminate one’s mind, testimonies pointing to Jesus will fall on deaf ears. This can be disheartening for those who share with loved ones and friends who have not yet believed. This does not mean one should stop sharing or stop witnessing. As Jesus says, the Spirit is like the wind. It comes and goes, and nobody knows where it comes from or where it goes. When the Spirit works in one’s life, nobody can know this. All we can do is pray for wind and be faithful to witness, and when the spirit comes, say, “It’s windy.”

Lord, help me to understand heavenly matters by the illumination of the Holy Spirit so that I might know and believe.

John 2:13-25: Cleansing the Temple

Read: John 2:13-25

Jesus’ cleansing of the temple is one of the few stories that is recorded by all four of the gospels (Mark 11:15-18, Matthew 21:12-16, Luke 19:45-46). The synoptic gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) record the even occurring during the week before Jesus went to the cross, but, John records it early in his gospel. Some think that Jesus may have cleared the temple twice: once early in his ministry and once late in his ministry. The order of events in the synoptic gospels is known, but John does not give any indication as to when the event occurred. One would have to assume that John is writing about the events in chronological order in his gospel to affirm that it happened between the wedding fest and before his conversation with Nicodemus. At the same time, because it does not say, it is also possible that John was not written in chronological order, and this event is indeed the same one in the synoptic gospels, which is probably the case. In either case, there is no reason to think that John got the facts about the event wrong because he recorded them early in the gospel.

Apparently, there was a bazaar-like atmosphere at the temple in which vendors were profiteering off of temple worship by setting up booths to sell sacrificial animals for temple worship. Jesus, who was obedient to the law, went to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover as many religious men would do. While he was going to the temple, he drove out the money changers and vendors. Jesus alludes to Jeremiah 7:11 (John 2:16), which is centered in the middle of a chapter about God’s wrath. Jesus calls the temple a house of prayer for all nations in Mark 11:15. It is probably the case that they had set up shop in the court of the Gentiles. Gentiles were allowed to worship here, but were not allowed to enter the temple as a Jewish man would be able to do. The disciples recall a verse from the Psalm 69:9 that talk about “zeal for your house” that had overcome the psalmist. The psalmist is overcome with grief because of sin and apparently has zealously gone to the temple to seek repentance. Jesus never sinned, but it is likely that he felt the weight of the sins of the worshippers calling out to God, and sought to restore this sanctity of the temple.

The Jews came to Jesus looking for a sign of authority to vindicate Jesus’ actions. Jesus answers them with a reference to his own temple – his body – but clearly the Jews did not understand this. Jesus was saying the sign would be manifested in his death, burial, and resurrection. The construction of the temple of Jesus day had taken some decades to complete, and was not completely finished until 64 A.D. and was destroyed by the Romans in 70 A.D. The disciples remembered what Jesus said here, and it became clear to them after the resurrection. Jesus had opened their minds to the Scripture in (Luke 24:27) so that they could understand this.

Some people did believe in Jesus as a result of the signs that he was performing. What’s interesting here is that Jesus did not go with them, but instead withdrew. While the people believe, Jesus in his omniscience knew the content of their hearts and didn’t need anyone to tell him about man, probably because these believers were fickle.

People here believed in Jesus – and this is a good thing – but what happens after belief can be detrimental. The Bible calls one’s body a temple (1 Corinthians 6:18-20) and commands us to flee immorality. Jesus is just as zealous, if not more so, for the sanctity of the temple of the Holy Spirit as he was for the temple in Jerusalem, and he too cleanses the filth therein. We can be lured into things that seemingly promote the worship of God but actually inhibit it. As Christians, we should come humbly to him in faith that is not fickle, asking for repentance so that he can cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9).

Lord, I believe, but help me to not be fickle in my faith.

Cleanse my temple and make me strong so I can be an instrument to lead others to you.

John 2:1-11: Give Glory To God

Read: John 2:1-11

Jesus’ first manifestation of his glory was turning water into wine as John notes in John 2:11. This particular set of verses is problematic for some because this manifestation of glory involves Jesus creating wine. The Greek word “οινος” is the most common word for wine in the New Testament and can refer to alcoholic and nonalcoholic forms of the juice from grapes. The “good” wine served at weddings was apparently alcoholic because people were able to get drunk off it (John 2:10) and after having their senses dulled, they are less sensitive to wine of a poorer quality. There’s no way to determine from the text if Jesus was making alcoholic or nonalcoholic wine and the scriptures clearly condemn debauchery (Ephesians 5:18, Galatians 5:19-21, Romans 13:13) and encourage sobriety (1 Peter 1:13, 1 Peter 5:8, 1 Thessalonians 5:6).  Also, it would difficult to reconcile how Jesus could contribute to debauchery by making more wine. For these reasons, it is probably the case then that they had drunk wine, but were not intoxicated regardless of the alcoholic content of the wine. What is certain is that the wine Jesus made was of a superior quality, perhaps even better than the good wine that was served initially, and this superior quality is noted for a reason — it is a manifestation of Jesus’ glory.

The passage does not seem to note that the miracle itself was somehow problematic, rather only the timing of the miracle. Jesus tells his mother that his hour has not come. Jesus announces that his hour had come in John 12:23 before the beginning of the Passion Narrative that continues after this verse until the end of the book. John notes that the hour had not tome two other times before chapter 12 when some were thinking about arresting him for various reasons (John 7:30, John 8:20). Jesus knew the timing of the Passion Narrative, and the wedding at Cana was not were it was suppose to begin. But nevertheless, he manifested his glory and some believed.

For believers today, the hour of Jesus’ glorification has come, and his glory has been revealed and continues to be revealed in the life of every believer (2 Corinthians 3:18). When God’s glory manifests itself in our lives through word or deed, it should point people to Jesus so that the nonbeliever might believe in Jesus. We should always give God the credit rather than take it for ourselves so we can point people to Jesus!

God, the glory is yours. Help me to help others see this and so they can believe in Jesus!

John 1:35-51: Bring People To Jesus

Read: John 1:35-51

“Behold the Lamb of God,” John declared. John had already declared this the day before in John 1:29. While it’s not explicitly stated, John could be referring to Jesus as the Messianic Lamb spoke about in Isaiah 53:1-12 because Andrew acknowledges Jesus as the Messiah (John 1:41). Isaiah describes a lamb that lead to the slaughter that would bear the sin of the people. 1 Corinthians 5:7 and 1 Peter 1:19-20 liken Jesus to the sacrificial Lamb and John explicitly calls Jesus a slain Lamb in Revelation 5:9 and Revelation 13:8. Undoubtedly, John knew that Jesus was the sacrificial lamb the law required as a sacrifice (Exodus 29:38, Numbers 28:1-13) and the significance of the lamb as Passover (Exodus 12:1-13). At the Passover Seder Jesus had with his disciples, he commissioned the ordinance of the Lord’s Supper which he use the elements of bread to signify a broken body and wine to signify blood spilled (Luke 20:14-20). The Lamb of God that takes of away the sins of the world is the ultimate sacrifice (Hebrews 10:1-14), and when John points to Jesus calling him this, they leave John to follow Jesus. Andrew was one of those two following John who left John to follow Jesus, and Andrew brought Peter to Jesus.

Nathanael’s conversion is rather interesting. After Phillip followed Jesus, Phillip calls to Nathanael and when Nathanael first hears about Jesus, he’s skeptical because of his origins in Nazareth. This was probably because many Jews felt that people from Nazareth were traitors of sort because many of the Jews in Nazareth worked for the nearby Roman encampment, the occupying army and enemy. When Nathanael comes to Jesus, Jesus makes a statement about him saying there is no deceit. Nathanael apparently had no problem speaking his mind per his statements about Nazareth and his question to Jesus, “How do you know me?” to one revered as a rabbi. Jesus says he saw (“ειδον” means “see” in the original Greek and can mean to literally see or perceive in one’s mind) him under a fig tree and then Nathanael declares that Jesus is the Son of God and King of Israel. Jesus seems surprised by this when Nathanael believes. What’s not clear is if this is because Nathanael was incredulous or if Nathanael believed based on a demonstration of Jesus’ omnipotence as there was something unsaid about Nathanael that was going on while he was under the fig tree. It’s probably the latter because Jesus knew the content of Nathanael’s character rather than his mere appearance. In any case, Nathanael believed in Jesus.

What’s interesting here is what’s going on with people bringing others to Jesus. John brought Andrew and Andrew brought Peter. Jesus called Phillip and Phillip brought Nathanael. Already, early in Jesus’ ministry, people were bringing others to Jesus so they could encounter Jesus for themselves. John declares Jesus is the Lamb and some turn to follow (John 1:36). Andrew calls him the Messiah (John 1:41) and some call to follow him. Phillip declares that Jesus is the fulfillment of the Law and prophets (John 1:45) and some go and follow. In any case, they are declaring something about Jesus and people are coming to Jesus and having a personal encounter with him. When we declare Jesus, we should be as these early converts, point to Jesus as the one who takes away sin and the one who delivers us from our sin. This message is a quintessential part of the gospel. Romans 10:14-17 says that some are sent to preach, and that faith comes by hearing. This process of believing then bringing others to Christ is what is happening here in John and it continues to this day.

Lord, I believe. Help me declare you and bring others to you so they too can believe!

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