SALT 5/10/03 John 1:35-51
35 The next day John was there again with two of his disciples. 36 When he saw Jesus passing by, he said, "Look, the Lamb of God!" 37 When the two disciples heard him say this, they followed Jesus. 38 Turning around, Jesus saw them following and asked, "What do you want?" They said, "Rabbi" (which means Teacher), "where are you staying?" 39 "Come," he replied, "and you will see." So they went and saw where he was staying, and spent that day with him. It was about the tenth hour. 40 Andrew, Simon Peter's brother, was one of the two who heard what John had said and who had followed Jesus. 41 The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon and tell him, "We have found the Messiah" (that is, the Christ). 42 And he brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said, "You are Simon son of John. You will be called Cephas" (which, when translated, is Peter). 43 The next day Jesus decided to leave for Galilee. Finding Philip, he said to him, "Follow me." 44 Philip, like Andrew and Peter, was from the town of Bethsaida. 45 Philip found Nathanael and told him, "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." 46 "Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?" Nathanael asked. "Come and see," said Philip. 47 When Jesus saw Nathanael approaching, he said of him, "Here is a true Israelite, in whom there is nothing false." 48 "How do you know me?" Nathanael asked. Jesus answered, "I saw you while you were still under the fig tree before Philip called you." 49 Then Nathanael declared, "Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the King of Israel." 50 Jesus said, "You believe because I told you I saw you under the fig tree. You shall see greater things than that." 51 He then added, "I tell you the truth, you shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man."
There are a number of web sites, including Radio Stoke's that have the best and worst 'chat up lines'. Here I some I can share with you:
Is your surname Jacob's - because you are a real cracker!
"If I could arrange the alphabet I would put U and I together".
Do you believe in love at first sight, or should I walk by again?
If you were a new hamburger at McDonald's, you would be McGorgeous.
Did you hurt yourself when you fell from heaven?
Do you have a map? I just keep on getting lost in your eyes
Wow would you believe it ! You're wearing my racing colours !
Do you realise that inheriting eighty million pounds means nothing when you have a weak heart.
Do you have room in your handbag for the keys to my Porsche?
I'm not actually this tall. I'm sitting on my wallet.
"You look like my first wife" "Really? How many times have you been married?" "Oh I'm still a bachelor"
Wouldn't we look cute on a wedding cake together?
You are just absolutely beautiful! Can you cook and clean too?
Excuse me, can I borrow your mobile phone? ["What for?"] I want to call my mum and tell her I just met the girl of my dreams.
Excuse me, but does this smell like chloroform to you?
I'm new in town. Could you give me directions to your apartment?
This last one sounds a bit like the two disciples who ask Jesus "Rabbi where are you staying?" verse 38b. The chat up lines and the words of the two disciples of John are about establishing a relationship. This passage is about the relationships of those who became followers of Jesus, the confession of faith of two disciples, and Jesus, whom they and we relate to.
The passage starts with John the Baptist who came to prepare the way for Jesus. 1:23 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.' "
John fulfilled the ministry that had been given to him by God, pointing away from himself and to Jesus. 36 When he saw Jesus passing by, he said, "Look, the Lamb of God!" 37 When the two disciples heard him say this, they followed Jesus.
Having spent a day with Jesus 41 The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon.
Philip repeats the pattern and invites Nathaniel to meet Jesus, verse 45.
However, whilst these personal contacts are important we should not think that Jesus was uninvolved in recruiting his followers. 43 The next day Jesus decided to leave for Galilee. Finding Philip, he said to him, "Follow me."
God has reached out to us. He became a baby and was immediately rejected and had to escape to Egypt as a refugee from Herod. Once Herod had died Jesus and his family settled in the unfashionable North of the country. This is what prompted Nathaniel to say, 46 "Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?"
This is an indication of the reaction there would be to Jesus from the people he came to save. This was what his Messiahship would be about. Although Andrew proclaimed, "We have found the Messiah" verse 41 this does not mean that Jesus was claiming to be the Messiah at this time. It was Andrew's conclusion based on spending a day with Jesus. Messiah, Hebrew, is the same a Christ, Greek, and means anointed one from God. Jesus had just been anointed by the Holy Spirit when he was baptised by John.
Andrew would have gone along with the current Jewish understanding that the Messiah would be a victorious earthly leader who would defeat the Romans and establish a prosperous kingdom like his ancestor King David.
Jesus would not only transform the understanding of what it meant to be the Messiah he would transform people. We see this in his dealings with Simon.
42 Jesus looked at him and said, "You are Simon son of John. You will be called Cephas" (which, when translated, is Peter).
Andrew and Simon were named 'Sons of Thunder' by Jesus, Mark 3:17, indicating their volatile nature. But Jesus said to Simon, You will be called Cephas" (which, when translated, is Peter ). The footnote says, "Both Cephas (Aramaic) and Peter (Greek) mean rock" So 'Peter' or 'Petros' isn't a translation, it is a transliteration, saying what the Greek would sound like in English. A better translation would be 'Rocky'.
Simon was originally named after the son of Jacob who, with his brother Levi, ruthlessly retaliated after a Canaanite prince violated their sister, Genesis 34:25-31. His name reflected his impetuous nature which we read of in the gospels.
Jesus looks forward to the transformation that his relationship with Peter, aided by the Holy Spirit will make. He will be "Rocky", solid and dependable, a stable foundation upon which the early church was built, as we read in Acts. The opposite of what he was before meeting Jesus.
49 Then Nathanael declared, "Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the King of Israel." 50 Jesus said, "You believe because I told you I saw you under the fig tree. You shall see greater things than that."
In the O.T. Israel is depicted as the Son of God. Exodus 4:22 Then say to Pharaoh, `This is what the LORD says: Israel is my firstborn son, 23 and I told you, "Let my son go, so he may worship me." But you refused to let him go; so I will kill your firstborn son.' "
Jersus is the successor to Israel, the true Israel who will not depart from the will of God. We know that this term also describes the relationship of oneness and intimacy that Jesus and God the Father enjoy. Nathanael would not have known the significance of the words he was using, although in calling Jesus 'King of Israel' he was using a common term for the Messiah.
Jesus not only looks forward in time to the transformation in Peter verse 42, he also anticipates what Nathanael will witness. 51 "I tell you the truth, you shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man."
Jesus is using the Old Testament story of Jacob to illustrate why he has come.
Genesis 28:10 Jacob left Beersheba and set out for Haran. 11 When he reached a certain place, he stopped for the night because the sun had set. Taking one of the stones there, he put it under his head and lay down to sleep. 12 He had a dream in which he saw a stairway resting on the earth, with its top reaching to heaven, and the angels of God were ascending and descending on it. 13 There above it stood the LORD, and he said: "I am the LORD, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac. I will give you and your descendants the land on which you are lying. 14 Your descendants will be like the dust of the earth, and you will spread out to the west and to the east, to the north and to the south. All peoples on earth will be blessed through you and your offspring. 15 I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you."
God's promise was to Jacob who had been deceitful, in contrast to Nathanael. The vision given to Jacob was one which reassured him of God's promises and God's faithfulness. It also conveyed the picture of God who interacts with people through his intermediaries.
Jesus is the fulfilment of the promises made to Abraham and Jacob. All peoples on earth will be blessed through you and your offspring.
Jesus is the only intermediary that we need to know God's promises and his faithfulness. He is the ladder we need to ascend to heaven. This is because Jesus is the Lamb of God, verse 35.
The Jews celebrate the Passover quietly inside a home with family members gathered round a table receiving portions of food prefaced by readings form the Old Testament. It is a worship event because their freedom was a gift from God. They never fought a battle against the Egyptians, indeed the Egyptian army was destroyed by God alone.
The Passover celebration commemorates the final plague that God sent, the killing of every firstborn son in Egypt. The way that the Israelites escaped this judgment and God 'passed over' them was by sacrificing a perfect lamb and painting its blood on the door-frames of the houses where they ate the lambs. The blood symbolized a sacrifice offered as a substitute, one life laid down for another.
Jesus, the Lamb of God is the once and for all sacrifice needed to pay the price for our sin. On the cross Jesus not only suffered a tortuous physical death, he also suffered an even more painful spiritual death. He who never sinned voluntarily took upon himself the punishment for the sins of the whole world which is separation from God. He took the blame for every time that you and I have failed to love God with our whole being and failed to love others as ourselves.
In this Holy Communion service we have our 'Passover'. We remember, celebrate and proclaim God's gracious act of undeserved deliverance through the self-sacrifice of His son.
Jesus referred to himself here, and on many occasions as the 'Son of Man'. He was thinking back to a vision given to Daniel. 7:13 "In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. 14 He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all peoples, nations and men of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed.
This looked forward to the coming of Jesus the Messiah. It also looks forward to the wonderful, everlasting kingdom that Jesus achieved through his death on the cross and will be brought into being when he returns to judge the living and the dead. In this service we look forward to the day that we will no longer need the elements to remind us of Jesus because we will be in his glorious presence.
Albert McMakin was a twenty-four-year old farmer who had recently come to faith in Christ. He was so full of enthusiasm that he filled a truck with people and took hem to a meeting to hear about Jesus. There was a good-looking farmer's son whom he was especially keen to get to a meeting, but this young man was hard to persuade. He was busy falling in and out of love with different girls, and did not seem to be attracted to Christianity. Eventually. Albert McMakin managed to persuade him to come by asking him to drive the truck. When they arrived, Albert's guest decided to go in and was spellbound and began to have thoughts that he had never known before. He went back again and again until, one night, he went forward and gave his life to Jesus Christ . That man, the driver of the truck, was Billy Graham. The year was 1934. Since then Billy Graham has led thousands to faith in Jesus Christ. We cannot all be like Billy Graham, but we can all be like Albert McMakin - we can all bring our friends to Jesus.
The best thing to say to people is, "Come and see!" This is what John the Baptist did and two of his disciples acted upon his words, went to Jesus and spent a day with him. Their time with Jesus led them to conclude that Jesus was the Christ and one of them, Andrew, excitedly informed his brother, Simon, whom he brought to meet Jesus for himself. In doing this he introduced to Jesus one who would be the solid foundation of the early church. Just a few words affected eternity. Just like Albert McMakin.
We have the duty and joy of being witnesses for Jesus. Sharing our story, pointing to him. It is not our job to convert people, that is God's job, and the sooner we realise this the less pressure we will feel about witnessing. We just need to be open to God's Spirit to give us the opportunities to speak about Jesus and we may be surprised about how God can work with feeble, weak individuals like us. We can see this in the life of Peter. As he got up to give his first sermon he faced people jeering and accusing the disciples of being drunk. Yet some three thousand came to faith on that day.
We have a God who is in the business of transforming people, and he will transform us by His Spirit if we give him the opportunity.
Let us thank God for Jesus, especially as we gather round the table this morning.
Let us thank God for John the Baptist who pointed people to Jesus.
Let us thank God for the millions of Christians throughout the ages who have spread the good news of Jesus.
Let us thank God for giving us His Spirit to open our eyes to what Jesus has done for us and to start to make us more like Jesus.
Let us also ask God to give us the opportunities and the strength we need to live and witness for him.
O Lord, my strength, make my life a daily witness, declaring in word, deed, and attitude that Jesus is alive. Lord, my own abilities will never be sufficient to accomplish this. So, I humbly pray, empower me by Your Holy Spirit, in Jesus name, Amen.