6. John answers the priests
John answers the priests.
JOHN, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, Who art thou? confessed, I am not the Christ. I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Make straight the way of the Lord.
They asked him, Why baptizest thou then, if thou be not that Christ?
John answered, I baptize with water: but there standeth one among you, whom ye know not; he it is, who coming after me is preferred before me, whose shoe’s latchet I am not worthy to unloose.
These things were done in Bethabara beyond Jordan, where John was baptizing.
¶The next day after, John stood, and two of his disciples; and looking upon Jesus as he walked, he saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.
The two disciples heard John speak, and they followed Jesus. He saw them following, and saith,
What seek ye?
They answered, Rabbi (which is to say, Master), where dwellest thou? Jesus saith,
Come and see.
They came and saw where he dwelt, and they abode with him that day. One of the two was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. He first findeth Simon, and saith unto him, We have found the Messias.
Andrew brought Simon to Jesus. And when Jesus beheld Simon, he said,
Thou art Simon the son of Jona: thou shalt be called Cephas.
Cephas is, by interpretation, A stone.
¶The day following, Jesus would go forth into Galilee, and findeth Philip: he was of Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Simon Peter. And Jesus saith unto Philip,
Philip findeth Nathanael, and saith unto him, We have found him of whom Moses did write, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph. And Nathanael said, Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth? Philip said, Come and see.
Jesus saw Nathanael coming, and saith of him,
Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile!
Nathanael saith, Whence knowest thou me? Jesus answered,
Before that Philip called thee, when thou wart under the fig tree, I saw thee.
Nathanael answered, Master, thou art the Son of God; thou art the King of Israel. Jesus said,
Because I said unto thee, I saw thee under the fig tree, believest thou? thou shalt see greater things than these. 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.
Scripture: John 1:19-28
Meditation 1 of 3:
“Who are you?” John the Baptist had no difficulty answering this question when the authorities came to investigate him. If someone challenged your identity — both naturally and spiritually, how would you answer? There’s an identity war going on today and many are in crisis or at least confused. We can try to manufacture identity, but it’s derived. And its true source and maker is God who made us in his image and likeness. Why did the Jewish leaders question John the Baptist’s identity? They were in earnest to know if the Messiah had come. They wanted to know if John claimed to be the Messiah or one of the great prophets who was expected to return at the coming of the Messiah (see Malachi 4:5, Deuteronomy 18:15). John had no mistaken identity. In all humility and sincerity he said he was only a voice bidding people to prepare the way for the coming of the King. John the Baptist bridges the Old and New Testaments. He is the last of the Old Testament Prophets who points the way to the Messiah. He is the first of the New Testament witnesses and martyrs. He is the herald who prepares the way for Jesus and who announces his mission to the people: Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world! John saw from a distance what the Messiah came to accomplish — our redemption from slavery to sin and our adoption as sons and daughters of God, our heavenly Father. Do you recognize your identity as a child of God and a citizen of heaven?
John was the greatest of the prophets, yet he lived as a humble and faithful servant of God. He pointed others to Jesus, Messiah and Savior of the world. The Christian church from the earliest of times has given John many titles which signify his mission: Witness of the Lord, Trumpet of Heaven, Herald of Christ, Voice of the Word, Precursor of Truth, Friend of the Bridegroom, Crown of the Prophets, Forerunner of the Redeemer, Preparer of Salvation, Light of the Martyrs, and Servant of the Word. Do you point others to Christ by your witness and example?
“Lord Jesus, make me a herald of your word of truth and grace. Help me to be a faithful witness of the joy of the gospel and to point others to you as John did through his testimony.”
Scripture: John 1:35-42
Meditation 2 of 3:
Who is Jesus for you? John calls Jesus the Lamb of God and thus signifies Jesus’ mission as the One who redeems us from our sins. The blood of the Passover Lamb (Exodus 12) delivered the Israelites in Egypt from death. The blood of Jesus, the true Passover Lamb (1 Cor. 5:7), delivers us from everlasting death and destruction. It is significant that John was the son of a priest, Zachariah, who participated in the daily sacrifice of a lamb in the temple for the sins of the people (Exodus 29). In Jesus he saw the true and only sacrifice which can deliver us from sin. How did John know the true identity of Jesus, as the Messiah? The Holy Spirit revealed to John Jesus’ true nature, such that John bore witness that this is the Son of God. How can we be certain that Jesus is truly the Christ, the Son of the God? The Holy Spirit makes Christ known to us through the gift of faith. God gives us freely of his Spirit that we may comprehend the great mystery and plan of God to unite all things in his Son, our Lord Jesus Christ.
John in his characteristic humility was eager to point beyond himself to the Christ. He did not hesitate to direct his disciples to the Lord Jesus. When two of John’s disciples began to seek Jesus out, Jesus took the initiative to invite them into his company. He did not wait for them to get his attention. Instead he met them halfway. He asked them one of the most fundamental questions of life: “What are you looking for?” What were they looking for in Jesus and what were they aiming to get out of life? Jesus asks each of us the same question: “What’s the goal of your life? What are you aiming for and trying to get out of life?”
Jesus invites each of us to “come and see” for ourselves that his word is true and everlasting. “Come and see” is God’s invitation for fellowship and communion with the One who made us in love for love. Augustine of Hippo tells us something very important about God and how he relates to us: “If you hadn’t been called by God, what could you have done to turn back? Didn’t the very One who called you when you were opposed to Him make it possible for you to turn back?” It is God who initiates and who draws us to himself. Without his grace, mercy, and help we could not find him.
When we discover something very important and valuable it’s natural to want to share it with those closest to us. Andrew immediately went to his brother Simon and told him the good news of his discovery of Jesus. And it didn’t take much to get Simon to “come and see” who this Jesus was. Jesus reached out to Simon in the same way he did to Andrew earlier. He not only addressed Simon by his personal name, but he gave him a new name which signified the call God had for him. “Cephas” or “Peter” literally means “rock”. To call someone a “rock” was one of the greatest compliments. The ancient rabbis had a saying that when God saw Abraham, he exclaimed: “I have discovered a rock to found the world upon”. Through Abraham God established a nation for himself. Through faith Peter grasped who Jesus truly was — the Anointed One (Messiah and Christ) and the only begotten Son of God. The New Testament describes the church as a spiritual house or temple with each member joined together as living stones (see 1 Peter 2:5). Faith in Jesus Christ makes us into rocks or spiritual stones. The Holy Spirit gives us the gift of faith to know Jesus personally, power to live the gospel faithfully, and courage to witness to others the joy and truth of the gospel. The Lord Jesus is ever ready to draw us near to himself. Do you seek to grow in the knowledge and love of Jesus Christ?
“Lord Jesus Christ, fill me with the power of your Holy Spirit and let me grow in the knowledge of your love and truth. Let your Spirit be aflame in my heart that I may know and love you more fervently and strive to do your will in all things.”
Scripture: John 1:43-51
Meditation 3 of 3:
How can we know for ourselves and help others to know with certainty that Jesus is truly the Son of God and Savior of the world? Philip, a new disciple of Jesus, at first failed to convince his friend Nathaniel that he had found the Messiah. Nathanial was very skeptical. He didn’t like Nazareth and didn’t want to have anything to do with people who came from such an out of the way place. How could the Messiah come from such a seemingly low-down town? Perhaps we are like Nathanial. We reject others (or at least keep them distant from us) because they come from some place or position we don’t like or find fault with. Rather than argue with his friend, Philip took the wiser strategy of inviting Nathaniel to “come and see” for himself who this Jesus claimed to be. Clever arguments rarely win people to the gospel, but an encounter with the person of Jesus Christ can transform one’s life forever. Nathaniel found in Jesus more than he could have hoped and dreamed. Jesus spoke a word to Nathaniel and it set his heart ablaze with wonder! Jesus, who knows our hearts better than we do, revealed to Nathaniel the innermost thoughts and desire of his heart. Nathaniel was hungry for knowledge of God. He really wanted to know God personally. God places in every heart a longing and desire to know the One who created us in love for love. That is why Augustine of Hippo, who found God only after many years of wandering in disbelief and darkness, exclaimed: “You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in You.”
What is the significance of Jesus’ revelation of seeing Nathanial under the fig tree? The fig tree was a symbol of God’s blessing and peace. It provided shade from the midday sun and a cool place to retreat and pray. It is very likely that Nathanial had meditated “under the fig tree” on the Messianic prophecies and prayed for their fulfillment in his time. Perhaps he dozed off for a midday nap and dreamed of God’s kingdom like Jacob did when he saw a vision of the ladder which united earth with heaven. Nathaniel accepted Jesus as Messiah and Lord because he spoke to the need of his innermost being — the desire to know God personally and to be united with him in his glory. Jesus’ response to Nathanial’s new faith is the promise that he himself will be the “ladder which unites earth with heaven” (see Genesis 28:12-17). God had opened a door for Jacob that brought him and his people into a new relationship with the living God. In Jacob’s dream God revealed his angelic host and showed him the throne of heaven and promised Jacob that he and descendants would dwell with the living God. Jesus proclaims to Nathanial that he himself is the fulfillment of this promise to the Patriarch Jacob. Jesus is the true ladder or stairway to heaven. In Jesus’ incarnation, the divine Son of God taking on human flesh for our sake, we see the union of heaven and earth — God making his dwelling with us and bringing us into the heavenly reality of his kingdom. Jesus’ death on the Cross and his Resurrection opens the way for each of us to come into a new relationship with God as his sons and daughters. The Lord Jesus opens the way for each of us to “ascend to heaven” and to bring “heaven to earth” in the daily circumstances of our lives. God’s kingdom is present in those who seek him and who do his will. Do you pray as Jesus taught, May your kingdom come and your will be done in earth as it is in heaven?
“Heavenly Father, through your Son Jesus Christ, you have opened the way to heaven for us. As you revealed yourself to your beloved Patriarchs and Apostles, so reveal yourself to me that I may glorify you in my daily life. May I always find joy in your presence and never lose sight of the kingdom of heaven.”