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John 1

 

Then the Jewish leaders asked John if he was the Prophet. Moses had prophesied that a prophet like himself would rise up from among the Jews (Deuteronomy 18:15). This prophet was thought by the Jews to be different from Elijah and the Messiah.

Again John the Baptist denied that he was this prophet.

22-23 Finally, the priests and Levites asked John, “Who are you?” And John answered in the words of the prophet Isaiah that he was the voice of one calling in the desert (Isaiah 40:3). He was appointed to announce the coming of the real Messiah, Jesus Christ (see Mark 1:2-3 and comment).

24-25 Some of the Jews questioning John were PHARISEES, the strictest sect of the Jews. They wanted to know from where John the Baptist got his authority to baptize. It was a common practice for the Jews to baptize Gentiles who wanted to become followers of the Jewish religion, but nobody baptized Jews. “We don’t need to be baptized,” the Jews thought. “We are not sinners like the Gentiles.”15 Therefore, they wanted to know who was this John who was baptizing Jews.

26-27 John did not answer their question directly. Hesaid, “I baptize with water. My baptism is an ordinary baptism. But there is one here in the crowd who will baptize you with the Holy Spirit?” (see Mark 1:7-8 and comment).

John’s meaning was this: The Jewish leaders shouldn’t question John’s authority. He was only the announcer of One who had much greater authority.

28 The Jordan River where John baptized formed the eastern border of Israel; it was about eighteen miles from Jerusalem. The Bethany mentioned here is not the same Bethany where Mary and Martha lived, which was much closer to Jerusalem (John 11:1).

 

29 The day after the Jewish leaders’ questioning of John the Baptist, John saw Jesus coming16 and said to the crowd, “Look! the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.” All Jews knew what the term “Lamb of God” meant; it was a sacrifice offered to God. Every morning and evening a lamb was sacrificed to God in the Jewish temple in Jerusalem (Exodus 29:38-46). In the greatest Jewish festival, the Passover, a lamb was sacrificed in memory of the time God delivered the Jews out of bondage in Egypt (Exodus 12:1-30). Indeed, both the Apostles John and Paul considered Jesus to be the Passover Lamb (see John 19:36; 1 Corinthians 5:7 and comments).

The Jews sacrificed animals to God in order to atone for their sins. The animal served as a PROPITIATION for sin. Through animal sacrifices, the people’s guilt was removed and they received forgiveness from God (Leviticus 5:5; 6:14-19). The punishment that would have fallen on the sinful person fell on the sacrificed animal instead. Therefore, it could be said that the sacrificed animal “took away” the person’s sin.

In the same way, Christ was sacrificed to “take away” the sin of the world, that is, the sins of all who believe in Him (see 1 John 2:2 and comment). He was the lamb led to the slaughter about which the prophet Isaiah prophesied (Isaiah 53:7; Acts 8:32). He was a guilt of fering (Isaiah 53:10). And by His sacrifice, believers are cleansed from their sins once and for all (see Hebrews 9:13-15,28; 10:10 and comments).

John knew that Jesus was not only the Christ, the Messiah, but that He was also the Lamb of God, through whom all the sins of the world could be washed away. Christ’s sacrifice was great enough for all men to be cleansed by it. It was great enough, because Christ was God’s own Son. Christ came as Savior to bring men salvation. But He came not as a worldly king to save men by force; He came as a “lamb” to save men by His death. Worthy is the Lamb who was slain. … To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power, forever and ever! (Revelation 5:6,12-13).

30-31 Before Jesus came to be baptized, He and John the Baptist had not met. “I myself did not know him,” John said (verse 31). But as soon as John saw Jesus, John knew that there was something unusual about Him. John had some awareness that Jesus was the Messiah, because according to Matthew 3:14, John said to Jesus, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?

The entire purpose of John the Baptist’s work was to prepare Israel, the Jewish nation, to receive their Messiah Jesus Christ. John had come so that Christ might be revealed to ISRAEL.

32-34 Although John recognized Jesus before he baptized Him, only after the baptism did John fully learn that Jesus was God’s own Son. He learned this when he saw the Holy Spirit descend on Jesus in the form of a dove (see Mark 1:9-11; Luke 3:21-22 and comment). God had told John that the person on whom the Spirit descended would be the One who would baptize with the Holy Spirit (see Mark 1:8 and comment). Thus John could now say with complete certainty: “I have seen and I testify that this is the Son of God” (verse 34).

Step by step, the other disciples also came to understand who Jesus was (verses 41,49). But the greatest moment came when Peter, the chief disciple, confessed to Jesus: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (see Matthew 16:16; Mark 8:29 and comment).

 

35-39 Next day John the Baptist pointed Jesus out to two of his own disciples. So the two disciples went with Jesus and spent the day with Him. It was the tenth hour when they went with Jesus, that is, about 4 P.M. Therefore, they probably spent the night with Jesus.

40-41 One of these two disciples of John the Baptist was Andrew, who afterward became one of Jesus’ twelve disciples. The next day Andrew went and told his brother Peter that he had found the Messiah,17 that is, the Christ (see verse 17 and comment).

42 Peter’s ordinary Jewish name was Simon. When Jesus saw him, Jesus gave him a new name, Cephas, which in the Aramaic18 language means “rock.” In the Greek19 language, the word for rock is “Peter.”

In New Testament times, the meaning of a man’s name was very important. The name was a sign of a man’s character and authority. But why did Jesus name Peter a “rock”? In the Gospels, Peter certainly never acted like a rock. A rock is stable and strong. Peter was unstable and his faith was weak. But in the end God turned Peter into a “rock” through the power of the Holy Spirit. Afterward, Jesus made Peter His chief disciple. He told Peter that he was to be the “rock” on which His church would be built (see Matthew 16:17-18; Mark 8:29 and comment).

The meeting of Jesus with Peter and Andrew described in this section occurred some time before Jesus actually called them to leave everything and become His disciples (see Mark 1:16-18 and comment). Even though they recognized that Jesus was the Messiah, the Christ, they did not have a good understanding of what the Messiah was supposed to do. Like most other Jews, they thought that the Messiah would act like an earthly king and reestablish the earthly kingdom of Israel. They did not understand that, in fact, Jesus had come as the Lamb of God to suffer and die. They didn’t realize that He had come to establish a spiritual kingdom that was not of this world.

Andrew brought Simon to Jesus. It has been said that the greatest service ever done for Christ’s church was done when Andrew brought Simon to Jesus. Think of it! On that day, Andrew brought to Jesus the “rock” on which Jesus would build His church.

Andrew is mentioned three times in the Gospel of John, and each time we see him bringing someone to Jesus (John 6:8; 12:22). Let us ask ourselves: When was the last time we brought someone to meet Jesus?

 

43-44 Jesus’ home was in Nazareth, in the province of Galilee in northern Israel. He had come down from Galilee to the southern part of Israel to be baptized. Now He decided to return to Galilee.

He then found Philip (Mark 3:18). Philip was an ordinary man. In the other places where Philip is mentioned by John, he does not appear to have been a very effective disciple (see John 6:5-7; 12:21-22; 14:8-9). But he followed Jesus when he was called; and later, through the power of the Holy Spirit, Philip became a great apostle (see Acts 8:4-8,26-40).

Philip, Peter, and Andrew were all from the town of Bethsaida in Galilee. Peter and Andrew also had a home in Capernaum (Mark 1:21,29). Jesus did many great works in both Bethsaida and Capernaum, but in the end very few of the residents of those towns believed in Him (Matthew 11:21,23).

45 Philip found Nathanael. Many Bible scholars believe that Nathanael is the same as Bartholomew, who also was one of Jesus’ twelve disciples (Mark 3:18). They say that Bartholomew’s second name was “Nathanael.”

Philip told Nathanael that this Jesus of Nazareth was the one Moses wrote about in the Law.20 He was the Messiah about whom the Old Testament prophets prophesied.

Philip then called Jesus the son of Joseph. He didn’t mean that Joseph was Jesus’ real natural father, but that he was Jesus’ legal father. Jesus’ real Father was the Holy Spirit (Matthew 1:18,24-25).

46 Nathanael couldn’t believe that the Messiah would come from such an insignificant town as Nazareth. Nazareth was not famous for anything; it was an ordinary little town in Galilee. The people of Nazareth, in fact, are most remembered today for trying to throw Jesus of f a clif f! (Luke 4:28-29).

47 Even though Jesus had never met Nathanael, Jesus through His divine knowledge already knew everything about Nathanael. He knew that Nathanael was not a hypocrite like most of the Jewish leaders, but was a devout and sincere Israelite, that is, a true Jew (see Romans 2:28-29 and comment).

48-49 Nathanael was amazed that Jesus knew about him. He was even more amazed that Jesus knew he had been sitting under a fig tree before Philip had called him. Then Nathanael believed and confessed that Christ was indeed the Son of God. He also called Him the King of Israel, because he thought that the Messiah would be an earthly king (see Mark 15:32; John 12:13). In fact, Jesus is much greater than any earthly king; He is the King of kings. He is the true spiritual king of Israel, and His kingdom will have no end.

50-51 Jesus told Nathanael that he would see much greater things. Nathanael would see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man. That is, there would now be continuous communication between heaven and earth. Jesus had come down from heaven to show men the way to the Father. Heaven was now opened. And Jesus Himself was the road between earth and heaven (John 14:6).

Notice that Jesus called Himself the Son of Man. Jesus was both Son of God and Son of Man. He was completely God and completely man (see Mark 2:10 and comment). He was the Son of Man to whom was given authority, glory and sovereign power. … His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed (Daniel 7:13-14).

In Chapter 1, the Apostle John has called Jesus many names: the Word (verse 1), the light of men (verse 4), the true light (verse 9), the one and only Son (verse 14), Jesus Christ (verse 17), the Lord (verse 23), the Lamb of God (verse 29), the Messiah (verse 41), the Son of God (verse 49). These are names that other people called Jesus. But Jesus called Himself simply the Son of Man.21 It was because Jesus came to earth and became a “son of man,” born of a woman, that He was able to open the door of heaven and show men the way to eternal life.

This, then, is the “good news,” the GOSPEL of Christ: God came to earth in the form of the man Jesus, and took upon Himself the punishment for our sins by of fering Himself as a sacrifice in our place. And to all who believe in Him, He promises to give eternal life.

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