The First Recruits, John 1:35-51, 20 May 2012

Big Idea: Jesus recruits four disciples: Andy, Pete, Phil and Nate

John 1:35-51

The next day John was there again with two of his disciples. When he saw Jesus passing by, he said, “Look, the Lamb of God!”

When the two disciples heard him say this, they followed Jesus. Turning around, Jesus saw them following and asked, “What do you want?”

They said, “Rabbi” (which means “Teacher”), “where are you staying?” (John 1:35-38)

We talked about this last week. Jesus is again called the Lamb of God.

Because of John’s witness, two of his own disciples leave him and start to follow Jesus. John realizes he is number two. What humility!

Bestselling author Jim Collins who wrote
Good To Great says that the highest form of leadership requires leadership. His formula is Humility + Will = Level 5 Leadership.

As we said previously, John prepared the way. He humbled himself for the sake of helping people encounter Jesus. That’s our role today.

This wasn’t a case of them getting a better offer, but John saying, “He’s the One I’ve been preparing you to meet.” They shift their allegiance from John the Baptist to Jesus...and it’s ok. It’s great. It’s supposed to happen.

Jesus asks why they are following Him! “What do you want?”

“Come,” he replied, “and you will see.”

So they went and saw where he was staying, and they spent that day with him. It was about four in the afternoon.
(John 1:39)

Jesus says, “Come and see.” John includes a detail about it being 4:00. He was likely an eyewitness, and maybe one of the unnamed disciples in the previous verses.

Jesus invites them to spend the day with Him.

Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, was one of the two who heard what John had said and who had followed Jesus. 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).
(John 1:40-42)

Was Andrew excited about finding the Messiah? Had he heard Jesus was in the neighborhood?

“The first thing” Andrew did...

Andrew is often seen bringing people to Jesus (6:8; 12:22). What about you?

Cephas is also known as Simon and is renamed Peter which means “rock.” The Greek is petros. This is a nickname more than a common name, like we would call someone “Rocky” today.

Jesus’ authority to change Simon’s name is significant. He is casting a vision for what Simon will become, a rock.

The next day Jesus decided to leave for Galilee. Finding Philip, he said to him, “Follow me.” (John 1:43)

Galilee is about one hundred miles north.

Jesus “finds” Philip and invites him to follow.

Philip is a popular Greek name that means “horse lover.”

It’s a simple invitation. He doesn’t beg, coerce, force, or yell. He just invites.

Philip, like Andrew and Peter, was from the town of Bethsaida. 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.”
(John 1:44-46)

Philip recruits Nathanael, who might also be called Bartholomew.

Andrew recruits his brother Peter.

“Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?” Nathanael asked.
(John 1:46a)

Nazareth obviously does not have a good reputation! Actually, it was probably not bad, just small. Nathanael was from Cana, a rival village. He had seen others claim to be the Messiah.

Don’t judge a book by its cover!

Philip replies...

“Come and see,” said Philip.
(John 1:46b)

Do you see how Philip is already following Jesus. He says what Jesus said earlier: “Come and see.”

When Jesus saw Nathanael approaching, he said of him, “Here truly is an Israelite in whom there is no deceit.”

“How do you know me?” Nathanael asked.

Jesus answered, “I saw you while you were still under the fig tree before Philip called you.”
(John 1:47-48)

How do you know me?

Jesus knew Nathanael before Nathanael knew Him.

Jesus knows you, too, whether you are aware of it or not.

Then Nathanael declared, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the king of Israel.” (John 1:49)

Nathanael gets it! He changes his tune about Jesus. He experiences a miracle and believes.

In one sentence we see three names for Jesus:

Rabbi, which we saw earlier literally means “teacher”
Son of God (deity)
King of Israel

Jesus said, “You believe because I told you I saw you under the fig tree. You will see greater things than that.” He then added, “Very truly I tell you, you will see ‘heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending on’ the Son of Man.”
(John 1:50-51)

The “you” is plural. He is no longer just speaking to Nathanael.

There is another instance of angels ascending and descending in Genesis 28.

Jesus is the stairway to heaven. He is greater than Jacob and greater than the ladder. He is the place where we meet God!

John is telling us in the first chapter of his Gospel that the entire Scriptures point to Jesus. He sees history through the story of Christ.


We have come to the conclusion of the first chapter of John. Only 20 more to go!

We have seen John the Baptist prepare the way for Jesus.

We have seen Jesus’ first recruits, though we know little about them. The focus is on Jesus.

We see that contact with Jesus leads to self-denial. This is true for John the Baptist and the first disciples of Christ.

Note that conversion is not about merely learning information; it is about personally taking action and following Jesus.

This passage shows us that loving God must be connected to knowing God. Christian faith is both commitment and content.

Who is Jesus? We have been introduced to Him in several ways...

  • Messiah (20, 41)
  • the Prophet (21)
  • Jesus (29)
  • Lamb of God (29, 36)
  • one who baptizes with the Spirit (33)
  • chosen [Son] of God (34)
  • rabbi/teacher (38, 49)
  • Christ/anointed one (41)
  • son of Joseph (45)
  • Nazarene (45)
  • Son of God (49)
  • King of Israel (49)
  • Son of Man (51)

  • In conclusion, we have been introduced throughout John’s first chapter to Jesus. He is God. He is human. He created everything. He came on mission. He invites others to follow Him, but doing so is not a casual thing. We must commit both our minds and our hearts.

    The great news is that when we fully surrender to Jesus, He remains faithful to us...always. We don’t risk devoting ourselves to someone who will betray, abandon, or harm us. When we draw near to Him, He promises to draw near to us and be with us always, to the very end of the age.

    You can listen to the podcast here.

    Lamb of God, John 1:29-34, 13 May 2012

    Big Idea: Jesus is identified as the Lamb of God who comes to take away our sin

    John 1:29-34

    The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! This is the one I meant when I said, ‘A man who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’ I myself did not know him, but the reason I came baptizing with water was that he might be revealed to Israel.” (John 1:29-31)

    John is the only New Testament author that refers to Jesus as the Lamb of God. It is a significant title as it denotes the One who will be the sacrifice for others just as a slaughtered lamb was offered as a sin offering before God.

    Then John gave this testimony: “I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him. And I myself did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, ‘The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’ I have seen and I testify that this is God’s Chosen One.” (John 1:32-34)

    The Trinity—Father, Son and Holy Spirit—is present at Jesus’ baptism. All of John’s efforts to prepare the way for Jesus bore fruit as people began to encounter the Messiah.

    You can listen to the podcast here.

    Jesus' Opening Act, John 1:19-28, 6 May 2012

    Big Idea: John the Baptist’s mission was to prepare the way for Jesus

    John 1:19-28

    Now this was John’s testimony when the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem sent priests and Levites to ask him who he was. He did not fail to confess, but confessed freely, “I am not the Messiah.” (John 1:19-20)

    Who are you? This is an important question for everyone to answer. John could have sought to build a following, but instead he is content to merely prepare the way for Jesus. He was not interested in making a name for himself. People were expecting the Messiah to arrive and these leaders traveled quite a distance when they heard John the Baptist was attracting attention.

    They asked him, “Then who are you? Are you Elijah?”

    He said, “I am not.”

    “Are you the Prophet?”

    He answered, “No.”

    Finally they said, “Who are you? Give us an answer to take back to those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?”
    (John 1:21-22)

    John the Baptist continues to divert the attention from himself. We are often tempted to become famous. John was already becoming famous, but he didn’t embrace it.

    John replied in the words of Isaiah the prophet, “I am the voice of one calling in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way for the Lord.’ ”

    Now the Pharisees who had been sent questioned him, “Why then do you baptize if you are not the Messiah, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet?”
    (John 1:23-25)

    They want to know if he has a license to baptize! Where is his authority? What are his credentials? It was not uncommon for Gentiles to be baptized upon converting to Judaism, but John was baptizing Jews!

    “I baptize with water,” John replied, “but among you stands one you do not know. He is the one who comes after me, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie.”
    (John 1:26-27)

    A servant would do everything for his master except untie their shoes. John humbles himself before the LORD and recognizes that it’s not about him, but about Jesus.

    This all happened at Bethany on the other side of the Jordan, where John was baptizing.
    (John 1:28)

    John the Baptist may have been an eyewitness to this and the other events in the first chapter of his gospel. There are many details presented that would likely not survive mere oral transmission of the story.

    You can listen to the podcast here.

    John's Overture, 1:1-18, 29 April 2012

    Big Idea: the first verses of the Gospel tell us about the deity of Jesus, John the Baptist, the depravity of the world, and hope as they preview the rest of the book

    John 1:1-18

    Why Four Gospels?

    Just as marketing professionals use different approaches to communicate with different audiences, so the four Gospel writers uniquely wrote to various groups of people.

    Matthew wrote to the Jews. He depicts Jesus as the Lion of the Tribe of Judah and emphasizes righteousness.

    Mark was intended to be read by Romans. He focuses on Jesus as servant and workman and speaks of miracles, strength and action.

    The Greeks were Luke’s target. He is the Great Physician and Friend of Sinners. Mercy, wisdom and humanity are emphasized.

    John was written to people of the east. Wise men came from the east to worship baby Jesus. Egyptians, Persians, Indians, Chinese, Babylonians. The mystery touched the misery of the world. We see Jesus as the Word of God, the light, life, and Living Bread. His divinity is prominent. John has more about the resurrected Christ than the other three put together. John mentions seven post-resurrection appearances.

    J. Vernon McGee says that John is written for the wretched man, believers who have met Christ but try to follow Him in their own strength. That’s you. That’s me. John wrote at the request of the church that already had three Gospels but wanted something more spiritual and deep that would enable them to grow (Augustine).

    The Overture of the Gospel

    A prologue is an introduction, but an overture has pieces of the songs that follow. We get a preview of what is to come.

    In The Beginning

    In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. (John 1:1).

    In the beginning. Where have we heard that before?

    In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. (Genesis 1:1)

    John writes elsewhere

    That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched —this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. (1 John 1:1)

    Jesus is the Word (logos in Greek).

    He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. (John 1:2-5)

    In the beginning was the Word. It’s past tense. The word “was” is in the durative imperfect. It’s continued action. It doesn’t say in the beginning IS the Word. It says the Word was there in the beginning, the Ancient of Days. Eternal. Timeless.

    In the beginning was, not is. When was this? 6000 years ago? Millions of years ago? Who knows?!

    The Word was with God. The Word is not God the Father.

    The Word was God. God was the Word. The Greek could not be clearer.

    What is the Word? Who is the Word?

    The Word is Jesus. The Greek word is logos. It meant reckoning.

    Let’s look at it this way...

    In the beginning was Jesus, and Jesus was with God, and Jesus was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. (John 1:1-5)

    He created all things. Jesus was the Creator. Jesus was not created!

    The two most important questions you and I must answer are who am I and who is God. Many people believe in Jesus, but what do they believe? Who is Jesus? A good teacher? A prophet? An honorable man? He was an is God.

    Arianism was an early heresy. The Arians did not believe Jesus was God and man.

    He is life.

    He is light.

    There was a man sent from God whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all might believe. He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light. (1:6-8)

    This is John the Baptist. We’re going to talk more about him next week.

    The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God — children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God. (1:9-13)

    Here we see that Jesus is the light.

    The Greek word for “world” is “kosmos.” It is not a place, but a reference to everything. If you recall, in the Garden at creation, God said that everything He created besides a lonely man was “good.” Years later, God nearly destroyed it all when He saw how wicked and wretched things had become. Only Noah and his family were spared when the Flood covered the earth and consuming all life that was not hidden in the ark.

    We often think of the world as a good place. We are taught that people are good. The reality is that we are all wicked and in rebellion toward God. We carry the DNA of Adam and Eve’s sin. We are messed up. One author has said, “Sin is not a series of bad choices, but a state of being from which bad choices continually come.”

    Even in Jesus, we rejected Him. We killed Him. People love the darkness rather than the light. Throughout John we will see how we have rejected God.

    We do not live in a nice world that God wants to make nicer. Instead, we live in an evil world that replaces the Truth of God for whatever man-made spirituality is politically correct.

    The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. (1:14)

    John doesn’t take us to Bethlehem. This is the Christmas story in one verse.

    This week I’ve been meditating on this simple verse. It is simple but so profound. God came to earth. Eugene Peterson’s translation of the Bible,
    The Message, says, “The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood.”

    There are many ways in which God could’ve expressed His love for us, yet He chose to come and become one of us.

    Jesus is fully God, yet He also became fully human. God understands. Really!

    Are you tired this morning? God understands. He has been tired.
    Are you struggling with temptation? God understands. He has been tempted in every way.
    Are you discouraged? God understands. He was so discouraged that He sweat drops of blood!
    Are you sick or in pain? God understands. He experienced the most agonizing pain, not only physically but emotionally and spiritually.

    This is what Christmas is all about! God became human and moved into the neighborhood. He understands!!! Hebrews tells us that...

    For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are —yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to
    help us in our time of need.
    (Hebrews 4:15-16)

    (John testified concerning him. He cried out, saying, “This is the one I spoke about when I said, ‘He who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’ ”) Out of his fullness we have all received grace in place of grace already given. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father,
    has made him known. (1:15-18)

    The Word is personified in Jesus. Many Jews rejected Jesus, instead claiming to be followers of Moses. John notes here that Moses never saw God, but those that saw Jesus saw God. Jesus came to fulfill everything that Abraham and Moses and David and Isaiah and every other Old Testament character longed to see and experience.

    There is hope for our broken world. There is only one hope, and His Name is Jesus. One writer said, “Transformation and hope cannot be the fruit of some human endeavor. Only God can take the initiative, and men and women must see, receive, and believe the work he desires to do. And when they do, they are reborn to become God’s children.”

    We talk a lot about change and transformation, but it’s not a human work; it is a divine work.

    This passage “is not about a message that offers hope, but about The Message that is the only hope.”

    We see that Jesus is God, Creator, timeless, eternal.
    We see that we rejected Him.
    We see that Jesus came to bring light and life and hope. Transformation is possible, not through methods or principles, but through a Person.

    You can listen to the podcast here.

    John The Writer, 15 April 2012

    Big Idea: this message will introduce the writer and background of the Gospel of John


    Do you like books? What kind of books do you like to read? Why?

    What is your favorite non-biblical book? Why?

    Do you read mostly fiction? Non-fiction? Both?

    It is common to know something about a book before reading it, right? Were it not the case, we would never worry about “judging a book by its cover.” In reality, that cover may be attractive and encourage us to read what is inside. The title may be compelling, the subject matter interesting, or the buzz surrounding a volume may be too much for us to ignore.

    Book reviews, the notes on the back cover, and the title all provide us with information about a particular work, but there is another way we can usually learn about a book—learn about the writer.


    We are beginning a comprehensive series on the Gospel of John. When I say comprehensive, this will take us several months, if not years! We’ll take breaks along the way, but this book will be our main focus for a while. Why would we spend so much time on one book? Here are some reasons:


    John’s purpose is not academic. He writes in order that men and women may believe... That is still the purpose of this book today.
    -- D.A. Carson, The Pillar New Testament Commentary

    John, last of all, conscious that the outward facts had been set forth in the Gospels, was urged on by his disciples, and, divinely moved by the Spirit, composed a spiritual Gospel.
    -- Clement of Alexandria (2nd Century)

    John says it plainly, he wrote his Gospel to lead to faith in Jesus, and therefore to life itself.
    -- Dorothy Ann Lee,
    NIB One Volume Commentary

    Of all the books of the Bible, none presents Christ as supremely as the Gospel of John.
    -- A.W. Tozer,
    And He Dwelt Among Us

    Christian readers through the centuries have fallen in love with the Jesus of the Gospel of John, and consequently with the Gospel itself.
    -- J. Ramsey Michaels,
    The New International Commentary on the New Testament

    In the final years of his life – when the nearness of death gives memories an eternal glow – and after having witnessed the most significant period of history the world has ever known, John wrote of his Master.
    -- Charles Swindoll,
    Insights on John

    John is an evangelist who wants others to know Jesus as he knows Him. Through Jesus, he has experienced the new life of God and wants other s to experience it as well.
    -- Jonathan D. Huntzinger,
    Spirit-Filled Life New Testament Commentary

    There is no other book in the Bible that to the same degree serves as a simple primer for new believers while at the same time continues to challenge the most learned scholars with its theological depths.
    -- Robert H. Mounce,
    The Expositor’s Bible Commentary

    These things are written so that you will believe that Jesus is the Messiah, God’s Son, and that believing, you will have life in his name. -- The Apostle John

    John The Writer

    Before we look at the book itself, let’s spend some time examining the writer.

    John was one of Jesus’ three best friends, His inner circle. Although He taught the crowds and led twelve disciples, Peter, James and John had a unique relationship with Christ, and John is the only one of the three to pen a Gospel, a word that means simply “good news.”

    Consider the following examples of this special inner circle:

    They are amazed at a miraculous catch of fish in Luke 5:8-10

    They are mentioned first in the list of apostles in Mark 3:16-17, Matthew 10:2, and Acts 1:13.

    They witnessed Jairus’ daughter raised from the dead (Mark 5:37; Luke 8:51).

    They witnessed Jesus’ transfiguration (Mark 9:2; Matthew 17:1; Luke 9:28)

    In fact, many believe that the repeated references in the Gospel of John to “the beloved disciple” refer to John himself.

    The book of John, like all books of the Bible, was inspired by God, yet written with a human hand in a unique style that reflected the person writing. 1 Timothy 3:16-17 says

    All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. (1 Timothy 3:16-17)

    While the process remains something of a mystery, we believe that the Bible is unique collection of 66 books penned over thousands of years in multiple languages by a vast array of different writers, yet because it is all from God, it carries one unifying message from the beginning in Genesis to the “amen” that concludes Revelation.

    So who wrote the book of John? The Gospel never explicitly tells us, but we have plenty of evidence to conclude that it was written by John, the son of Zebedee and one of Jesus’ inner circle that included his brother, James, and Peter. He obviously had a unique perspective on Jesus since he wrote from the perspective a close, personal friend rather than a journalist or biographer. He literally lived with Jesus for three years. According to Papias, who was a New Testament historian, John was the Bishop of Hierapolis near the city of Ephesus from about 70 to 145 A.D.


    But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name. (John 20:31)

    I encourage you to continue to read through the Bible according to our church-wide reading plan, but you may also want to take a peek at the Gospel of John. It will be a very exciting study of our LORD and Savior, Jesus Christ, from possibly His closest friend.

    You can listen to the podcast here.