"The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! This is he of whom I said, ‘After me comes a man who ranks before me, because he was before me.’ I myself did not know him, but for this purpose I came baptizing with water, that he might be revealed to Israel.” And John bore witness: “I saw the Spirit descend from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him. I myself did not know him, but he who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain, this is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ And I have seen and have borne witness that this is the Son of God.”
The next day again John was standing with two of his disciples, and he looked at Jesus as he walked by and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God!” The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus. Jesus turned and saw them following and said to them, “What are you seeking?” And they said to him, “Rabbi” (which means Teacher), “where are you staying?” He said to them, “Come and you will see.” So they came and saw where he was staying, and they stayed with him that day, for it was about the tenth hour. One of the two who heard John speak and followed Jesus was Andrew, Simon Peter's brother. He first found his own brother Simon and said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which means Christ). He brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said, “You are Simon the son of John. You shall be called Cephas” (which means Peter).
The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. He found Philip and said to him, “Follow me.” Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. Philip 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.” Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.” Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him and said of him, “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no deceit!” Nathanael said to him, “How do you know me?” Jesus answered him, “Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.” Nathanael answered him, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!” Jesus answered him, “Because I said to you, ‘I saw you under the fig tree,’ do you believe? You will see greater things than these.” And he said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you will see heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.”"
Last week we talked about bearing witness to Jesus - the Light and Life of God. John the Baptist was the first witness to Jesus. We now know that our place in the redemptive story is in the Church during this mission period that we live in now. As God’s people we live to be a blessing to others and to put Jesus on display in every area of our lives so that the world can know Him. This should cause us to ask a few questions.
- How do people come to know Jesus?
- Is the mission all up to us?
- What part do we play?
- What part does God play?
- How does God gather a people for Himself and His mission, for His glory?
John writes his book about Jesus from his own vantage point. His purpose is that we may believe that Jesus is the Christ and that by believing we might have life in His name (John 20:31). John has been called “the gospel of belief”. John often shows us what people grasped of Jesus during the days of His ministry and what they only understood later. Even the disciples understanding was sometimes limited, incorrect, and often skewed. Many of us read the gospel knowing what Christians, aided by the Holy Spirit, came to understand as time progressed.
Only the Action of the Spirit Can Reveal Who Jesus Is
Verses 31-34 are powerful. John the Baptist sees the man Jesus coming towards him and he declares that this is the One to come. This is clearly defined as revelation. It is not the result of a human act of recognition. Twice John says, “I myself did not know him”. But rather, “he who sent me to baptize with water said to me…”. John the writer is making a very clear statement: John the Baptist did not know, but it was revealed to him.
To know the carpenter’s son from Nazareth is the Son of God is not something that could be known humanly speaking. It can only be given and revealed by the Father (Matthew 16:17). The knowledge that Jesus is the Christ is a gift and can never be achieved. Human wisdom is incapable of arriving at this knowledge of Jesus. The gift of revelation is a free work of the Spirit (John 3:1-8). John the Baptist received the revelation by seeing a dove descend upon Jesus and remain on Him (verses 32-34).
Only the action of the spirit can reveal who Jesus is. It is the Spirit who is the witness. We are to be witnesses for Jesus - with the power of the Spirit working in us and the Spirit’s revealing work to those to whom we share and testify.
Revelation Can’t Happen Without Reconciliation
If we are to know God as He truly is - to know Him in the intimacy of personal communion - to know Him with the intimacy that Jesus knew the Father - then the “sin of the world” has to be taken away. At the very heart of the religious practice of Israel was the slaying of a lamb whose blood, smeared on the doorpost, would deliver the household from the destroying evil (Exodus 12).
John the Baptist declared as Jesus approached, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (verse 29). The lambs slain year after year could take away the sins of the worshipper and the people of Israel. But Jesus is the lamb that takes away the sin of the world in totality - forever!
Our knowledge of God is not from our unredeemed human experience - but rather it is from a real and reliable knowledge of God that comes from the action of the Holy Spirit. The revealer and the revealed are one. The Word (Jesus) which is both the revelation and reconciliation “was in the beginning” (verse 1-2).
The Holy Spirit reveals Jesus to us for the sake of the world!
On the day after Jesus’ baptism, two of John’s disciples hear and respond. This is the first introduction to the beginning of the Church. The first response of the two disciples is to follow Jesus. The whole gospel of John is an exposition of what it will mean to follow Jesus. This understanding of what it means to follow Jesus is hidden from the disciples until after Jesus’ completed work and the Holy Spirit rests on them as it did on Jesus.
Jesus asks them, “what are you seeking?” (verse 38). John 15:16 makes it clear that God’s initiative causes us to search. This does not mean that we are passive. Just the opposite, we are challenged to take responsibility for the direction of our seeking. Jesus often asked people, “What do you think? What do you want me to do for you? What are you looking for?”
These first disciples want to see where Jesus is abiding, “where are you staying?” Jesus says, “come and see” (verses 38-39). There is a longing in our heart, given by the Holy Spirit to abide with Jesus. The disciples accept the invitation and have their first experience of abiding with Jesus. This personal experience caused their witness to be first hand, “We have found the Messiah” (verse 41).
Human witness to Jesus will always be defective. There is no way that any human words could ever convey the full reality of Jesus through whom all things were made. But if it is witness to Jesus it will have fruit. The Word of God will not return empty.
Our Via Communities are our primary discipleship tool. This section is to help you as you discuss the sermon with others in your life. It is designed for communities to utilize but can be used to facilitate a conversation between spouses, good friends, co-workers, etc., as we live to be faithful to God’s mission in his world.
This simple acronym (BLESS, B - Bless, L - Listen, E - Eat, S - Speak, S - Sabbath) should help you to frame your life according to the great commandment “love God” (Matthew 22:37) and the expression of that commandment in loving your neighbor (John 13:34). Each time you meet, start by discussing the rhythms of your life according to B.L.E.S.S.
Intentionally bless: Christ-followers, non-believers and those different than you.
Listen to what God is saying to you, through His Word and others.
Share a meal with a Christ-follower and also a non-believer.
Talk to God through prayer and to others about Jesus through witness.
Be intentional about taking time to both rest and recreate.
The Gospel is powerful. The good news of Jesus changes us. This section is to record the ways you are noticing the good news of Jesus transforming your life. Jot notes to help you remember.
As we examined God’s Word, in what ways was His Word examining you?
Describe how Jesus is becoming more central in your life.
What does trusting in Jesus look like for you this week?
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