The Gospel of John – Lesson 3 – John 1:35-51
35 The next day, John was standing there again with two of his disciples. 36 When John saw Jesus passing by, he said, “Look! The Lamb of God!” 37 The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus. 38 When Jesus turned around and saw them following him, he asked, “What are you looking for?” They said to him, “Rabbi” (which means “Teacher”), “where are you staying?” 39 He told them, “Come, and you will see.” So they came and saw where he was staying. They stayed with him that day. It was about the tenth hour. 40 Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, was one of the two who heard John and followed Jesus. 41 The first thing Andrew did was to find his own brother Simon and say to him, “We have found the Messiah!” (Which is translated “the Christ”). 42 He brought him to Jesus. Looking at him, Jesus said, “You are Simon, son of Jonah. You will be called Cephas” (which means “Peter”). 43 The next day, Jesus wanted to leave for Galilee. He found Philip and said to him, “Follow me.” 44 Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the hometown of Andrew and Peter. 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 Nathanael said to him, “Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?” “Come and see!” Philip told him. 47 Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him and said about him, “Truly, here is an Israelite in whom there is no deceit.” 48 Nathanael asked him, “How do you know me?” Jesus answered, “Before Philip called you, while you were under the fig tree, I saw you.” 49 Nathanael answered him, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!” 50 Jesus replied, “You believe because I told you that I saw you under the fig tree. You will see greater things than that!” 51 Then he added, “Amen, Amen, I tell you: You will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.”
What do you want from Jesus? That was the question Jesus put before the two disciples of John the Baptist. John had just pointed them to Jesus and called him the “Lamb of God.” In other words this was the Messiah God had promised ever since Adam and Eve fell into sin in the early days of the world. It’s not surprising that these two men would want to follow Jesus and learn more about the one who came in fulfillment to everything the Holy Scriptures testified about.
But, how would they answer Jesus when he turned and asked them “What are you looking for?” As the Son of God, Jesus already knows all our thoughts, needs and desires. His question was meant to get these two men to take a look into their own hearts to see what were they looking for in a Savior. Were they looking for someone to deliver them from the Roman Empire that ruled over them? Were they looking for help through some personal difficulty? Were they looking for someone to make their lives prosperous?
Their answer was a good one. These two men had much to learn about Jesus and the work he came to do. Instead of making demands of Jesus they simply said, “Rabbi, where are you staying?” They put the focus on Jesus. They simply wanted to go with him and learn from him. This should be our focus as Jesus’ disciples today. Jesus still extends his invitation to “Come and see.” We can come and see Jesus whenever we look to the Holy Scriptures. Jesus said later in John 5:39, “These are the Scriptures that testify about me.” Let us sit at his feet as his Word is proclaimed and learn from him as he testifies the wonderful saving truth that he is our Savior and our way to eternal life.
The two disciples weren’t disappointed. We don’t know what Jesus said to them the rest of the day. But we can see the results the next day. Andrew went and found his brother, Simon Peter and told him, “We have found the Messiah!” (Which is translated “the Christ.”) The words Messiah and Christ both literally mean “the anointed one.” Andrew still had much to learn. But what he had seen and heard from Jesus fully convinced him that Jesus is the one sent from God according to the promises of the Holy Scriptures.
Through Andrew’s testimony, Peter also began to follow Jesus. The next day Jesus called Philip to follow him. Philip called to Nathanael to follow as well. Nathanael was skeptical at first that the Messiah could come from a small, out of the way place like Nazareth. But Philip simply put the focus back on Jesus. He could never change Nathanael’s heart by his own arguments. He invited Nathanael to come and see Jesus for himself. He trusted the Son of God could work in the heart of someone who didn’t trust him. Philip’s trust was well placed. Jesus gave Nathanael exactly what he needed to see. Nathanael also testified that Jesus is the Son of God. As we do the work of Jesus’ disciples we remember that it is not our work to change people’s hearts. We simply bring them to see Jesus through his Word. We trust that God himself will work the change in people’s hearts just as he did with Nathanael and with us.
1 – Why was Nathanael skeptical about Jesus at first?”
Nathanael was focused only on outward appearances. Jesus was from Nazareth. Nazareth was a small, seemingly unimportant community. Nathanael reasoned that the promised Messiah must come from a much more prominent place.
2 – Philip didn’t try to argue with Nathanael when he said nothing good could come from Nazareth. He simply asked him to come and meet Jesus. What can we learn from Philip for those times when we share Jesus with someone who is skeptical?
We cannot bring someone to faith by our human arguments. Only the Holy Spirit can change hearts. We simply bring people to Jesus through his Word and trust that the Holy Spirit will work through the Word to bring people to faith in Jesus Christ.
3 – Jesus showed Nathanael one miracle. He promised that Nathanael would see even greater things. What greater things would Jesus show him?
Jesus’ words refer back to Genesis 28:12. As Jacob slept in the wilderness after fleeing from his vengeful brother Esau, the Lord showed him a vision of the heavens opened and a great stairway reaching from heaven to earth. Angels of God were ascending and descending on it. Nathanael would see the heavens opened through Jesus. Jesus is the stairway to heaven. He came to open the way to eternal life by his life, death and resurrection. Nathanael would see the fulfillment of this promise. He would also share in the work of proclaiming what Jesus had done so that the way to eternal life would be opened to others through faith in Jesus.
If you have any questions about the Word of God we studied in this lesson please contact Pastor Greg Tobison. You can send your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.