Today: [John 1:28-52 Part 2] Jesus Calls the Disciples: In part 2 of John 1 John the Baptist from the banks of the Jordan declares “behold the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world”. Angels appear and the Holy Spirit like a dove. The disciples of John leave off following the prophet, and go after Jesus. They think He is a Rabbi, perhaps the Righteous Teacher that the Jews believed for, but He will become known to them as the Messiah, the Lord of Glory, the Redeemer of all mankind.
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[John 1:28-52 KJV]
28 These things were done in Bethabara beyond Jordan, where John was baptizing. 29 The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world. 30 This is he of whom I said, After me cometh a man which is preferred before me: for he was before me. 31 And I knew him not: but that he should be made manifest to Israel, therefore am I come baptizing with water. 32 And John bare record, saying, I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it abode upon him. 33 And I knew him not: but he that sent me to baptize with water, the same said unto me, Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and remaining on him, the same is he which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost. 34 And I saw, and bare record that this is the Son of God. 35 Again the next day after John stood, and two of his disciples; 36 And looking upon Jesus as he walked, he saith, Behold the Lamb of God! 37 And the two disciples heard him speak, and they followed Jesus. 38 Then Jesus turned, and saw them following, and saith unto them, What seek ye? They said unto him, Rabbi, (which is to say, being interpreted, Master,) where dwellest thou? 39 He saith 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. 40 One of the two which heard John [speak], and followed him, was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. 41 He first findeth his own brother Simon, and saith unto him, We have found the Messias, which is, being interpreted, the Christ. 42 And he brought him to Jesus. And when Jesus beheld him, he said, Thou art Simon the son of Jona: thou shalt be called Cephas, which is by interpretation, A stone. 43 The day following Jesus would go forth into Galilee, and findeth Philip, and saith unto him, Follow me. 44 Now Philip was of Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. 45 Philip findeth Nathanael, and saith unto him, We have found him, of whom Moses in the law, and the prophets, did write, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph. 46 And Nathanael said unto him, Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth? Philip saith unto him, Come and see. 47 Jesus saw Nathanael coming to him, and saith of him, Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile! 48 Nathanael saith unto him, Whence knowest thou me? Jesus answered and said unto him, Before that Philip called thee, when thou wast under the fig tree, I saw thee. 49 Nathanael answered and saith unto him, Rabbi, thou art the Son of God; thou art the King of Israel. 50 Jesus answered and said unto him, Because I said unto thee, I saw thee under the fig tree, believest thou? thou shalt see greater things than these. 51 And he saith unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Hereafter ye shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man.
In part 2 of John ch. 1 we encounter Jesus and John the Baptist on the banks of the Jordan. They were not unknown to one another. As Jesus says elsewhere, a prophet is not without honor except among his own kin, both Jesus and John have esteem one for another though they are cousins. John sees Jesus among the crowds that are resorting to him in the wilderness for baptism, and declares:
“Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the World.”
How could John have arrived at this understanding? Like Peter, only by divine revelation. In consideration of this John was the first person to know Jesus for who He was and Peter comes after. One has to wonder if John had not come to be scandalized by Jesus consorting with publicans and sinners, what place he might have held later in the first century church. Destinies never die with the individual. They are passed on and their unfulfilled promises are walked out by those found worthy and willing to do so. There are mantles in the earth that are there to be picked up. Are you willing?
John was born before Jesus by just a few months but he speaks of Jesus in v. 30 and one who is preferred before him “for He was” before him. What is John saying? Again this gospel references the pre-existence of Christ and the preeminence of Christ. He is more than a rabbi. He is more than a righteous teacher. He is the Lord of Glory, robed in flesh come to mitigate by His death, burial and resurrection the transgressions of the world. John goes on to say that in the beginning He did not know who Jesus was but at the same time declares that his entire life’s purpose as a prophet is to reveal Christ.
This revealing of Christ is the primary role of the prophet as testifies Rev. 19:10. The spirit of prophecy is what? It is the testimony of Jesus. Prophets are not psychics, they are not clairvoyants. Neither are they to be shrieking zealots condemning and rebuke all around them. They are in the earth to disclose Christ. Christ in the church, Christ in the earth and Christ in you the hope of Glory. If the prophet does not disclose something of Christ in you then he / she is not fulfilling their mandate.
1 Cor. 12:28 declares that it is first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers. As Jesus was preferred before John because He was before John so this pattern continues in the church. The apostle proceeds the prophet though he is not known until the prophet declares him. As a prophet my highest joy is to defer and declare the apostles in our midst. The people heard John gladly and John affirms that in calling him, God revealed that he would see the Spirit descending and remaining on Jesus and that this same Jesus would be the one that would baptize with the Holy Ghost.
Again the following day John sees Jesus and declares once more “Behold the Lamb of God”. It is a reflexive statement. This is the heart of the prophet. Many prophets want to be like Elijah and move in the spirit of Elijah. In Luke 9 when the disciples attempt to do this Jesus rebukes them because they know not what spirit they are of. New Testament prophets do not move in the spirit of Elijah they move in the spirit of Christ to disclose Christ, and declare Christ and extol Christ among the people.
Two disciples of John hear his annunciation of Jesus and leave John to follow Him. Jesus turns and questions them “what seek you”? They only see Him as a teacher so they say “Rabbi, where dwellest thou?” Jesus replies “come and see…” Here is the heart of Christ. You don’t have to talk about what you demonstrate. He invites them to come along not only as observers but participators with Him in His ongoing assignment in the earth. One of these men was Andrew who went and found his brother Simon and declares to him we have found the Messiah! Can you imagine Peter’s incredulity. Can you imagine your sibling bursting into your home, saying He was down at the grocery store and ran into none other than God on earth! To Peter’s credit, he followed his brother. Are you ready even to follow a family member who might make such outlandish claims? Things are the way they are because of what we are doing. If you want something different you must do and think differently than you do now.
Jesus upon meeting Simon promptly renames him Peter, or Cephus, meaning “a stone…” Can you imagine a total stranger upon meeting you the first time, renaming you for the rest of your life? Would you be accepting of this or would you reject it? Very quickly Philip and Nathanael follow. When Nathanael was brought to Jesus, he declares him to be an Israelite in whom is no guile. Nathanael replies “how do you know me…” Nathanael must have had a high opinion of himself yes? Jesus answers that He had seen Nathanael under the fig tree (a word of knowledge) and Nathanael utters the words for the first time from human lips that millions, even billions have declared since then: “you are the son of God…” Jesus, enjoying the moment says “Nathanael, hereafter you will see the angels of heaven ascending and descending upon the son of man…”
Why would Nathanael be graced to see angels? Aren’t we supposed to ignore angels and never put our attention upon them? In a harmony of the gospels up to this point there have been no less than four angel encounters including Mary, Joseph, Zechariah, Jesus Himself in the wilderness and now Nathanael. Angels are all around us. They ascend from us and they descend upon us. Would God grant us to see the angels going up from us and to experience right now the angels descending upon us to minister to us, to protect and refresh us and to execute the graces and gifts of God entrusted to them and imparted to us. In the Old Covenant Jacob sees the angels ascending and descending one time in his life and he is forever changed. For Nathanael and for us it is a continual experience if you will open your eyes to what is happening all around you – all predicated on the understanding that Simon experiences and Andrew and Philip and now Nathanael that before you now is more than a man, more than a Rabbi, but our Lord and our God, not just walking among us but taking up residence within us as the Lord of Glory, the Preexistent Christ upon the throne of our hearts in the redemption experience of our new birth into the kingdom.
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