Have you decided to follow Jesus?
This is the third day, and already much has happened. We’ve been introduced to Jesus as God in the Flesh, the Word, God, and as the eternal Creator of all things. Our Lord is seen on John’s Gospel as the Giver of Light and Life to everyone who would believe, as the One who was rejected by the very people He came to save. He came to live among men, so that people could behold His glory as the One and Only Son of God.
We were introduced to John the Baptist who was not the Light, but a witness for the Light to help people believe. John told us that although Jesus was born after him, Jesus came before Him, speaking of the eternality of Jesus. John the Baptizer told us that we have received blessing after blessing from this Jesus, and that grace and truth come through Him.
Then the scribes and priests show up, wanting to know who John was. He wasn’t the Christ, he wasn’t Elijah, and he wasn’t the Prophet. He was the one crying out in the wilderness, “Get ready, make your path straight ahead of the King.” John told them that he was baptizing with water, but Someone is coming soon who will baptize with the Spirit of God.
John the Disciple then introduces us to Jesus as the Lamb of God, the One who would give His life as a ransom for our sins, like the Passover Lamb. This Pascal Lamb would shed his very own His blood so that God would Passover us as He administers His judgment. This Lamb would take away the sins of the world, for all who would trust and believe. This is the very same One that John said, “I have seen and testified that He is the Son of God” (John 1:34).
Andrew and Peter Follow Christ, the Messiah
35Again, the next day, John stood with two of his disciples. 36And looking at Jesus as He walked, he said, “Behold the Lamb of God!” 37The two disciples heard him speak, and they followed Jesus. 38Then 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?” 39He 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). 40One of the two who heard John speak, and followed Him, was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. 41He first found his own brother Simon, and said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which is translated, the Christ). 42And he brought him to Jesus. Now when Jesus looked at him, He said, “You are Simon the son of Jonah. You shall be called Cephas” (which is translated, A Stone).
- “With two of his disciples” We know this is Andrew (verse 40) and John the Beloved, through the process of elimination.
- In verses 35 through 37 John the Baptizer sends his disciples off, like a mother bird pushing her little ones out of the nest. “Hey, I’ve taught you all I know about Him, now here He is. Go and follow Him. This is who I have been teaching you about.” John the Baptizer wasn’t concerned with keeping these disciples to himself, as an entourage of sorts; it was about Jesus. He wasn’t looking for people to serve him, he was just pointing the way to Jesus, like we all should. John wanted to decrease so that Jesus could increase (John 3:30). Christianity and church should never be about us or our agendas; it should always be about Jesus Christ and His sacrifice for our salvation. We need more of Jesus and less of ourselves!
- “What do you seek?” We see the first words of Jesus in this Gospel account. Jesus was basically saying to these people, “Do you seek someone to overthrow Rome? Then join the Zealots.” He is also saying to them, “Do you really know what you are looking at? Do you have any idea what following me will be like and cost you?”
- Notice that they called Him “Rabbi”, indicating that they wanted Him to be their teacher, to disciple them. They wanted a close, intimate teacher-pupil relationship with Him where they could submit their lives to Him and His teachings. In calling Him rabbi, they were saying that they wanted something more than a casual relationship with Jesus. What about you, do you want more than just a casual relationship with the King of Kings? Do you desire a close, intimate relationship with the Lord as these disciples did?
- In verse 38 we see that they wanted to know where Christ was staying. In doing so, they didn’t really want to know His address, such as 210 Sumter Street, Oglethorpe, Georgia. No, they were asking, “Where did you come from, and where is your dwelling place?” In other words, “Is there room for us where You are going?”
- In the next verse Jesus invites them to come and see for themselves, and indeed they did indeed. But notice what else they did. They “remained”. They were introduced to Jesus by a friend, John the Baptist. They went to Jesus and Jesus met them where they were. Then Jesus issues an invitation to them to follow Him, and they accept and remain with Him. This was no one-time fad for them. They weren’t just trying something new out to see if they liked it. They were constant, they were steadfast, and they were submitting their lives to the Rabbi. What about you. Will you remain? Many of you have, for many years. I challenge you to continue to remain with Jesus! Be steadfast, immovable, and remain with the Son of God! No one is an authentic follower of the Rabbi if they do not remain in Him.
- “One of the two who heard John speak, and followed Him, was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother” Here we learn the name of the first disciple to follow Jesus, Nathaniel. As soon as he meets Jesus, notice what he does! He immediately introduces this brother Peter to Jesus. In fact, Nathaniel is found often introducing people to Jesus. He introduced the lad with the loaves and fish to Jesus. He introduced the Greeks who wanted to see Jesus to Jesus. But first, he introduces his own brother to the Messiah. Evidently, this was a requirement to be a disciple then, and in fact it still is today. Nathaniel was a personal soul winner and so should we be! He brought people right to Jesus, and so should we. Stop, take a moment, and try and think of the people you have brought to Jesus. Sadly, most Christians can think of no people they have brought to Jesus or even attempted to bring to Jesus.
- “We have found the Messiah” – The Messiah means, “The anointed one.” Prophets, priests, and kings were anointed ones, to some degree, yet Jesus was The Anointed One. To be “anointed” meant that you were set apart for special service for God. Jesus was the Anointed One, because He was set apart for the most special task of all: accomplishing the redemption of God’s people. In this regard, Jesus really should be called Jesus the Christ, because Jesus is His name, and Messiah (Christos in Greek) is His title or office. They probably, however, had in mind the mistaken idea that He would take over as king, but Jesus was virtually saying, “My cross must come before my crown. I have work to do first.” Praise God for that work, and for the sacrifice this wonderful Lamb of God would make on our behalf!
- “You are Simon the son of Jonah. You shall be called Cephas” As soon as Simon met Jesus, he had a new name, and a new identity. I believe this is symbolic of the new identity we have in Christ. Second Corinthians 5:17 tells is that if anyone is in Christ, that person is a new creation, the old has passed away. Their old heart is not revitalized or reformed. They get an entirely new heart and new life. This was an important part of the New Covenant God made with Israel, and with the Gentiles as well. Thus we have a new identity as we become identified with Christ. It must have taken a lot of work to change Peter into a Rock, but Jesus did it eventually. He can transform your life too, if you’ll give him a chance. He can wipe that old nature right out, and give you a new nature that is just like His.
Philip and Nathanael Follow Christ, the King of Israel
43The following day Jesus wanted to go to Galilee, and He found Philip and said to him, “Follow Me.” 44Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. 45Philip 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.” 46And Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.” 47Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward Him, and said of him, “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom is no deceit!” 48Nathanael 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.” 49Nathanael answered and said to Him, “Rabbi, You are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!”
- “He found Philip and said to him, “Follow Me.”” Earlier (verse 35 to 42) we saw that sometimes people come to Jesus through other people. Here we see that sometimes Jesus deals with a person directly. Andrew and John the Beloved learned about Jesus from John the Baptizer. Peter and James came to Christ because of their brothers’ witnessing (Andrew and John the Beloved). Nathaniel (Bartholomew) came to Christ because a friend cared enough to share Jesus with Him. But Philip came to Christ because Jesus went to Galilee looking for him. “Each person’s experience is different because God uses various means to bring sinners to the Savior” (Warren Wiersbe, Be Alive, p. 30). God works differently in each person’s life, but we can rest assured that He does work. Is he working in your life right now?
- He told Philip, “Follow me!” This is an emphatic command, not an option. We are, as disciples, to follow Him as He leads us. Are you following Him today, or are you following your own lead? Won’t you submit to Him and His will for your life and follow wherever He may lead? You’ll be so very glad you did.
- “We have found Him of whom Moses in the law, and also the prophets, wrote—Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph” Nathaniel came to Christ because a friend (Phillip) cared enough to share the Gospel with Him. Philip basically said to him, “This is the One that Moses and the Prophets wrote about,” indicating that Jesus isn’t just in the prophetic books, he’s found everywhere in the Old Testament.
- “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.”” Nathaniel knew that to be from Nazareth meant that you were frowned upon and looked down on. Nazareth was a small, poverty stricken town and its residents were considered poor, lowly people. Philip, instead of arguing against Nathanael’s prejudice, simply ignores it and invites him to meet Jesus for himself. He answered Nathaniel the same way Jesus answered John and Andrew, “Come and see for yourself.” Ultimately, we can’t simply take someone’s word about Jesus. We must see and experience Him for ourselves. Just like the John the Baptist, we must behold Jesus.
- “Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you” Jesus, as the omnipotent Creator of the universe, knew all about Nathaniel. This convinced Nathaniel that Jesus was indeed the Son of God and the King of Israel. If Nathaniel had any doubts previously, Jesus’ declaration cleared them all up. Nathaniel had all the proof he needed. This person that Philip introduced him to was indeed the Messiah, the One who would take away the sins of the world.
Jesus as the Son of Man
50Jesus 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.” 51And 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.”
- “You will see greater things than these” Here Jesus was basically saying, “Listen you haven’t seen anything yet. There is much better things to come.” The same is true with us. Our spiritual walks should get better and better as we get closer to Jesus and walk with Him. The quality of our spiritual lives and walk with Jesus only gets better with each passing day. Even after we have known Him for five, ten, or even twenty years, there are still much greater things in store, culminating with life eternal with the Creator of the universe. If you are walking with Jesus, through their will be trials, there will be better days ahead. Jesus promised us so.
- “Son of Man” Jesus referred to himself as the Son of Man, a favorite term of His that He used more than eighty times. “This title emphasized his humanity and suffering as well as the perfection [deity] of his human nature” (Kenneth O. Gangel, John, Holman New Testament Commentary; p.18).
- “The idea behind this phrase is not ‘the perfect man’ or ‘the ideal man’ or ‘the common man.’ Instead, it is a reference to Daniel 7:13-14, where the King of Glory coming to judge the world is called the Son of Man. Jesus used this title often because in His day, it was a Messianic title free from political and nationalistic sentiment. When a Jewish person of that time heard ‘King’ or ‘Christ’ they often thought of a political or military savior.” [ David Guzik] Jesus wanted them to understand that one day He would come back on the clouds of heaven to judge the ungodly. But for now, He is just looking of people to follow Him. For now, He has another purpose in mind besides ruling on a throne. For now, His purpose is clear: to redeem God’s people from their sins.
Gleanings from John
Like John the Baptizer, Christians should always stay humble and Christ-centered (Christocentirc). It should never be about us or our agendas. It should always be about Jesus Christ and His sacrifice for our salvation. We must decrease so He can increase. Our purposes and desires should play a submissive position to Christ and His will for our lives. Christ and His plan for our lies should always have the preeminent position in our lives.
Remember, John and Andrew called our Lord, “Rabbi”. This signified that they wanted a closer, intimate student-teacher relationship with Jesus. What about us, do we want more than just a casual relationship with the King of Kings. We should always desire to draw closer to our Lord.
John and Andrew remained with Jesus. What about you. Will you remain? Many of you have, for many years, and should be commended for this. I challenge you to continue to remain with Jesus Be steadfast, immovable, and remain with the Son of God. No one is an authentic follower of the Rabbi if they do not remain in Him.
Nathaniel was a soul winner. Evidently, this was a requirement to be a disciple then, and it still is today. Nathaniel was a personal soul winner and so should we be! He brought people right to Jesus, and so should we. Sadly, statistic show that as much as 90% of evangelical Christians will never share their faith. What about you. Do you have the zeal and enthusiasm for winning lost souls that Nathaniel did?
It must have taken a lot of work to change Peter into “a Rock,” but Jesus did it. He can transform your life too, if you will give him a chance. He can wipe that old nature right out, and give you a new nature that is just like His. He can make you a new creation and give you a new identity in Him.
Two times we heard, “Come and see” (verses 39 and 46). Ultimately, we can’t just take someone’s word about Jesus. We must “come and see” and experience Him for ourselves. Just like the John the Baptist, we must behold Jesus. No one can help us experience Jesus. We must ourselves get to know Him personally.
If you are walking with Jesus, though there will be trials, there will be better days ahead. The best is yet to come. We will see greater things both here in this world as we draw closer to Him and in Heaven as we spend eternity worshiping our Lord. Imagine Heaven’s spender as we behold the Lamb of God and the Word. We will see greater things than these!
In this passage we have met five men who decided to follow Jesus. Andrew and John came to Jesus because of the preaching of a witness for the Light, John the Baptizer. Peter came to Jesus because of the witness of his brother. Phillip came to Jesus as a result of the direct call of Jesus. Nathaniel came to Jesus through Philip as he overcame personal prejudices by a personal encounter with Jesus. Regardless of how they came to Jesus, they did come. They all decided to follow Jesus. What about you? Have you decided to follow Jesus? We are, as disciples to follow Him as he leads us. Are you following Him today? Or are you following your own lead?