I. John 1:43-51
A. We have seen so far that we have learned almost all we need to know of Jesus to be saved in the first chapter. The Word became flesh, dwelt among us and was the Lamb of God, given to take away the sins of the world, and that through belief in His name you receive the right to become a child of God, born again into His family by the will of God. This is through grace and truth, the new covenant that Jesus brought, fulfilling the Law and revealing who God is and what He is like. We have seen that God sent a witness ahead of Jesus and made sure that it was clear who Jesus was and what He came to do, this witness declared Jesus not only to be the Lamb of God but the Son of God, both are Messianic Titles yet the first title describes the character and actions of the Messiah while the second tells us of the divinity of the Messiah.
B. We are now going to find the last piece of the gospel found in John chapter 1, more of who Jesus is and His Divine nature combined with His prophetically described Diving Calling and purpose.
C. We will also look at three more Messianic Titles in this section that all refer to the Messiah coming to set up an everlasting Kingdom.
III. V43-46 Follow Me and Come and See
A. V43 “And found Philip” Jesus was the one that found Philip. So often we think it was us who found Jesus, but really it is God who finds us and we just respond to that call. God is always the initiator of the relationship. He is the One reaching out to us and meeting us where we are at, always calling us upward and forward… it’s just our choice if we want to respond or not.
1. “Follow Me”. This, as far as we know, was all that Jesus said to Philip but it was enough. To those hearts who are seeking to know the truth about God, and seeking to know who can save them from their sins the calling from Jesus is simple and easy, follow me. This is always Jesus’ intentions for us, to call us to follow Him. We are told to believe in Christ for salvation but it’s a belief that says I am willing to follow Him who I believe in, even if I don’t understand everything about Him.
B. V44, Bethsaida literally means “House of Fish” and was a small fishing town on the shore of Lake Gennesaret. It was from here that Jesus found some of his most loyal disciples, fishermen whom he would make fishers of men. We don’t know if Philip was a fisherman, but it is possible since he was from a fishing town, either way though he certainly became a fisher of men.
1. Only Philip and Andrew had Greek names out of the original Apostles. This probably meant they were Hellenists, Jews who lived by the cultures and customs of the Greeks, since at this time all the disciples were still Hebrew by blood and it continues to be a Hebrew only movement until the time of Acts.
2. Philip’s name means “warlike; a lover of horses”. Philip has a similar nature to that of Andrew, in that when you see him it is often in connection to him introducing others to Jesus (John 12:20-22). He is a separate person than Philip the Evangelist, though it does seem like John the Apostle had the heart of an evangelist as well.
C. V45, Philip was among the first to be called by Jesus, if not the first to be officially called and yet he immediately goes out to seek another to follow Christ as well. Sometimes Christ finds us without the help of people, other times though someone finds us and encourages us to come to Christ and see for ourselves. I think this is the intention of God though when He finds us, that we would go out and find others to bring them to Christ.
1. “We have found Him of whom Moses in the law, and also the prophets, wrote- Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.” Philip tells him that we have found the Messiah (perhaps this indicates that others, such as Andrew and John had already answered the call, or perhaps the we just signifies the nation of Israel as a whole in whom he is identifying with). He refers to the scriptures as the source of authority of who is the Messiah, the one whom Moses and the prophets wrote of. Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph. Jesus wasn’t physically the son of Joseph, but he was legally, this was important since the prophecies had said the Messiah would descend from the line of David, of which line Joseph and therefore Jesus was.
D. V46, Nathanael doubted anything good could ever come out of Nazareth. Most assume because of his words that the people of Nazareth were held in low esteem due to a lack of high morality and culture. It is also possible that Nathanael knew the Messiah was supposed to come out of Bethlehem and supposed that nothing as good as the Messiah could ever come out of anywhere but Bethlehem. As we know Jesus was born in Bethlehem but grew up in Nazareth.
1. Instead of arguing with Nathanael theologically Philip just urges Nathanael to come and see, the same words Jesus had used to urge Andrew and John to follow Him. All someone needs to have to meet Jesus is an open heart to come and see. So many never come to know Jesus as Lord and savior simply because they are never interested enough to come and see if it is true or not, they simply assume it isn’t true based on cursory observations.
IV. V47-49 Jesus Gives the evidence for faith.
A. V47, To Nathanael’s credit he decides to at least go and see for himself this man whom Philip is saying is the Messiah. Once again we see that God is quick to draw near to those that draw near to Him. Jesus shows his omniscience by stating he already knows the character of Nathanael.
1. He calls Nathanael an Israelite indeed, Israel means “a prince that prevails with God” and was the new name that God gave Jacob after his struggle with God, in whom there is no deceit. Jacob’s name means heel catcher, and he got this name for trying to grab his brother’s heel as he left the womb to be the first born. It means one whom supplants or undermines, and true to his name Jacob gets a reputation for being a deceiver. In other words Jesus is using a play on words, and Israelite in whom there is no Jacob.
2. This tells us two things about Jesus. One, He knows all about our character before we ever meet Him. Two, our character can either be commendable or condemnable by Jesus. Jesus rarely commended people, and I think that should tell us how important it is to be a person in whom there is no deceit.
B. V48, Nathanael doesn’t deny that this is the type of guy who he is, instead he asks Jesus how do you know me? Jesus tells him he was able to see him before Philip called him, and tells him exactly where and what he was doing. This is the divinity of Christ shining through his flesh, showing his ability to see beyond the human capacity to see.
C. V49, Jesus gave two proofs to Nathanael that led him to believe in Jesus. All we have to do is be willing to come and see and God will give us the evidence we need to believe, all it takes is an open heart and an open mind. The straight shooter that Nathanael was he blurted out exactly how he felt and exactly who he thought Jesus was, “You are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel”. In other words, Phil was right!!! This shows us that Nathanael has a little bit of knowledge of the OT, since all he was told was that Jesus was the one whom Moses and the prophets spoke of and yet he declares Jesus to be the Messiah by two different Messianic Titles, the Son of God and the King of Israel.
1. “The Son of God” This Messianic Title comes from a few places, but one is Psalm 2:7-12. When a son of David was crowned king they would gain this title, since they had been anointed by God to rule His people and were adopted by God in a special way ceremonially and could then call Him Father. (2 Sam. 7:14). It is a great picture in the Old Testament of what already existed in heaven and would someday take place on earth when the Son of God, the Messiah would come to set up the heavenly kingdom of God on earth.
Jesus explains this a little further in Matthew 22:42-46, that the Christ is more than just physically descended from David, since David calls the Christ His Lord, therefore the Christ must have pre-existed David and the only way that was possible is if the Christ was divine. It denotes the equality with God that the Messiah has, and if he is equal and there is none like God then Messiah must be God.
2. “King of Israel” is synonymous of Son of God but more descriptive. It refers to the Messianic prophecies of the Old Testament that God would send the Messiah to be king and deliverer of His people. God had promised David that there would never lack a man from his line to sit on his throne, this will be fulfilled in the second coming of Christ. These two ideas are linked and shown in Psalm 2, that the Son of God was also King. Psalm 2 encourages kings to humble themselves and kiss the Son, since the Son is the King of Kings. Read Psalm 2 if time permits.
V. John 1:50-51, Jesus the connection between God and Man
A. V50, Nathanael believed because Jesus told him something he couldn’t have humanly known, so this evidence really did lead him to place his faith in Christ. Jesus tells him though that this would only be the beginning of amazing things Nathanael would come and see.
1. So it is with us, God will give us enough evidence to believe, though He commends faith that does not require evidence (John 20:29), but once we come to know God that is just the start of seeing great things. The more you follow God the more amazing things God does and the more your faith is encouraged and grows.
B. V51, “Most assuredly” Jesus uses this saying often and when He does it is because he is about to say something that He wants you to focus on and is assuring you of its validity.
1. Continuing on in the theme of Jacob with Nathanael (perhaps Nathanael had been pondering the dream of Jacob under the fig tree) Jesus refers back to the dream Jacob had about a ladder that went from heaven to earth and had angels ascending and descending upon it. Here Jesus calls Himself the ladder through the use of another Messianic Title, the Son of Man. Here you have the last piece of the puzzle for the Gospel of Jesus Christ in the first chapter of John, that the Messiah, God in the flesh (the son of Man) would be the link between heaven and earth. (Gen. 28:12).
a) John 14:6 “Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” The only way to know the Father is through Jesus Christ, He is the ladder to God.
b) Angels are messengers of God, and this could have signified constant and direct communication from heaven to earth and back again through the Son of Man, Jesus Christ.
2. “Son of Man” This is Jesus’ favorite expression of Himself and it comes from Daniel 7:13-14. It is the appearance of one like the son of man, and to him is given dominion and glory and a kingdom over all the earth, an everlasting kingdom which will not pass away.
A. This is a summary of what we have learned from chapter 1: God became flesh and dwelt among us. Jesus is God, yet distinct from the Father and the Son. He came to save us from our sins through sacrificing His life and giving the right to all who believe in His name to be children of God. Jesus came to reveal to us who the unseen God is, as we come and see His life we come to see what God is like… and we find that He is full of grace and truth. Being that Jesus is the Son of God He is equal with God, but He is also eternal and pre-existing that of his forerunner, John the Baptist. Jesus is the King of Israel as promised in the Old Testament, and more so He is the Anointed Son of God who came and will come again to set up an everlasting Kingdom on earth. He became the ladder, the link between man and God and the only link. This is the gospel of Jesus Christ according to John in the first chapter of His book.
B. John was very descriptive in the words that he selected (under the influence of the Holy Spirit) because he wanted to communicate very clearly who Jesus was in a very short amount of time. As we think on what John has told us, and as we continue on to study more of what he will tell us we should remember the very specific purpose that John told us in why he wrote this book “but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.” (20:31). Do you believe? If not why don’t you come and see?
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