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John 1:35-51

Author: Dr. George M. Flattery

John 1:35-51

brown on seashore near body of water under cloudy sky at daytime

Thoughts from John 1:35-51

As I announced before, I am doing a series of posts on the teachings of Jesus. We studied how Jesus overcame the temptation of the devil. Then, we talked about Christ’s mission of preaching about the kingdom of God. Now, for several days, we will study The Messiah’s Invitation.

The day before the events of our text began, John the Baptist saw Jesus walking toward him. He declared (Jn. 1:29), “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” With this declaration, he sets the framework of the ministry of Christ. Christ came to set men free from sin. He would lead men into abundant life.

In our text, John the Baptist sees Jesus walking and declares again (v. 36), “Behold the Lamb of God.” Then begins the fascinating story of Jesus calling His first disciples. His approach and His invitation apply to us today. Jesus has called us in the same way–to follow Him.

Jesus Christ is the Messiah and the Son of God. He is interested in our lives; He loves us; He has given His life for us; He was raised from the dead in power; He will rule over the universe with us, and He invites us to become His disciples. It is important for us to hear His invitation and to respond.

As we study our text, our emphasis will be on Jesus’ invitation to us to become disciples. We will consider the following words of Jesus: (1) “What do you seek?” (2) “Come, and you will see.” (3) “Follow Me.” (4) “You shall see greater things.” We will see how the disciples responded to what Jesus said.

More Thoughts from John 1:35-51

John tells the story of Jesus enlisting His first disciples. Two of the men that Jesus enlisted heard John the Baptist’s declaration, “Behold the Lamb of God” and followed Jesus. They had been disciples of John the Baptist.

Jesus turned to the two men and asked (v. 38), “What do you seek?” These are the first words Jesus utters to potential disciples. The words came in the form of a question and demonstrated His interest in them. He engaged them right away at the point of their interest. He wanted to know what they wanted.

Jesus was asking so that He could meet their real needs within the framework of what He came to do, which was to deliver them from sin. This mission would become very clear in the days and years ahead. It was not an open-ended, “I’ll give you whatever you want” approach. He would give them what they needed to meet their real underlying needs.

The response of the new disciples was to express further interest. They asked (v. 38), “Rabbi (which translated means Teacher), where are You staying?” They were not just interested in where He was lodging. They were interested in where He stayed so that they could meet with him and find out more. Thus, their response to Jesus was positive. They wanted to hear the rest of the story.

In my next “thoughts, we will consider what Jesus said in reply. Your comments are welcome.

35 Again the next day John was standing with two of his disciples,

36 and he looked upon Jesus as He walked, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God!”

37 And the two disciples heard him speak, and they followed Jesus.

38 And Jesus turned, and beheld them following, and said to them, “What do you seek?” And they said to Him, “Rabbi (which translated means Teacher), where are You staying?”

39 He said to them, “Come, and you will see.” They came therefore and saw where He was staying; and they stayed with Him that day, for it was about the tenth hour.

40 One of the two who heard John {speak,} and followed Him, was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother.

41 He found first his own brother Simon, and said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which translated means Christ).

42 He brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him, and said, “You are Simon the son of John; you shall be called Cephas” (which is translated as Peter).

43 The next day He purposed to go forth into Galilee, and He found Philip. And Jesus said to him, “Follow Me.”

44 Now Philip was from Bethsaida, of the city of Andrew and Peter.

45 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.”

46 And Nathanael said to him, “Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him,” Come and see.”

47 Jesus saw Nathanael coming to Him, and said of him, “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile!”

48 Nathanael said to Him, “How do You know me?” Jesus answered and said to him, “Before Philip called you, when 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 answered and said to him, “Because I said to you that I saw you under the fig tree, do you believe? You shall see greater things than these.”

51 And He said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you shall see the heavens opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.” (NAS)

39 He said to them, “Come, and you will see.” They came therefore and saw where He was staying; and they stayed with Him that day, for it was about the tenth hour.

40 One of the two who heard John {speak,} and followed Him, was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother.

41 He found first his own brother Simon, and said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which translated means Christ).

42 He brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him, and said, “You are Simon the son of John; you shall be called Cephas” (which is translated as Peter).

More Thoughts from John 1:35-51

When Jesus asked the two men who followed Him what they wanted, they asked Jesus where He was staying. They wanted to spend time with Him and hear more. Jesus welcomed the response of the disciples. He invited them to visit with Him where He was staying. He said (v. 39), ” Come, and you will see.”

The disciples went with Jesus and stayed for the day. We are not told what Jesus said to them in this meeting. However, we do know that it had a powerful impact. One of the two who followed Jesus was Andrew. The other is not named, but it may have been John himself, the author of the gospel.

Andrew immediately went and found his brother, Simon. The truth had dawned in the heart of Andrew who declared to his brother (v. 41), “We have found the Messiah.” John adds parenthetically, “which translated means, Christ.” Moreover, the Greek word Christos, or Christ in English, means “Anointed One.”

This was not a casual statement, not an idle declaration. The identity and coming of the Messiah was “the” big event in the expectations of the Jews. Nothing else compared to it. Simon might have asked, “Are you out of your mind?” Instead, Simon went with Andrew to see Jesus. Needless to say, the disciples would never forget this day.

These men immediately began to follow Jesus. At this time, they became disciples. Soon Andrew and Simon, along with James and John, would be called to be fishers of men. Jesus and the disciples would proclaim that Jesus is the Son of God. He is the Messiah.

In verses 43-46, we read about Christ’s invitation to follow Him. He continues to sound out the invitation to us today. We should be highly honored by His invitation.

43 The next day He purposed to go forth into Galilee, and He found Philip. And Jesus said to him, “Follow Me.”

44 Now Philip was from Bethsaida, of the city of Andrew and Peter.

45 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.”

46 And Nathanael said to him, “Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.”

More Thoughts from John 1:35-51

In this passage, we have the story of Jesus calling His first disciples. He asked two men who followed Him, “What do you seek?” They responded, wanting to know where He was staying so they could meet with Him and hear more of His teaching. Then, Jesus said, “Come and you will see.” They followed Jesus to where He was staying.

The next day Jesus was ready to go back to Galilee. He had been away for some time. He had been baptized in water. He had spent forty days in the wilderness. How much longer he was in Judea we do not know, but it was time to return to Galilee.

As Jesus prepared to return, he found Philip. We are not told what transpired between them. We simply know that Jesus said to him (v. 43), “Follow me.” No doubt Jesus saw a receptive heart. He understood what was in man. Right away, he handed the pen to Philip. In effect, He said, “Sign the deal. Become a disciple. Take part in the movement that I am now starting.”

Jesus’ invitation was well received. Philip not only followed Jesus, but he also immediately sought out Nathanael. Philip became a witness. He said to Nathanael (v. 45), “We have found Him of whom Moses in the Law and [also] the Prophets wrote, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.” Philip based his witness on the Scriptures. Moses and the prophets spoke of this man.

The invitation of Jesus, the Messiah, to everyone is to “follow me.” Because of His redemptive work, we can be His followers. Jesus offers salvation to us freely, but the true follower will commit everything to Him.

47 Jesus saw Nathanael coming to Him, and said of him, “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile!”

48 Nathanael said to Him, “How do You know me?” Jesus answered and said to him, “Before Philip called you, when 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 answered and said to him, “Because I said to you that I saw you under the fig tree, do you believe? You shall see greater things than these.”

The Setting

More Thoughts from John 1:35-51

Throughout our text, Jesus demonstrates his special “knowledge” about people. Jesus changed the name of Peter. He immediately invited Philip to follow Him. One has to feel that Jesus knew and understood these men in a special way. Concerning Nathanael, His knowledge was more openly expressed. Jesus compliments Nathanael, saying (v. 47) “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile!” This knowledge was evidence of the authenticity of Jesus’ claims.

Nathaniel’s response was very natural. He asked (v. 48), “How do You know me?” We might join Nathanael in asking this question. How did Jesus know this? Nathanael saw no human explanation. Did someone else tell Jesus? Was this knowledge from the Spirit? Was it a part of His divine nature? We do not have to resolve this question fully to know that Jesus had special knowledge and insight.

At this point, Jesus reveals His special knowledge in a greater way. Jesus answered (v. 48), “Before Philip called you when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.” Now, Nathanael knows that He is talking with someone who had specially revealed knowledge. It brought him immediately to faith. He answered Jesus (v. 49), “Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the King of Israel.” Here was his confession of faith

Jesus replied (v. 50), “Because I said to you that I saw you under the fig tree, do you believe? You shall see greater things than these.” The ministry of Jesus was underway. He would perform many mighty deeds. The world would see the power of the Son of God in action. Nathanael would be a witness to these things.

We are very fortunate. We have the story of the powerful deeds wrought by Christ while He was on the earth. In addition, we have the history of the church and Christ at work. But most importantly, you can be sure that Christ knows you. He understands you. He has knowledge of who you are, what your needs are, and what you can become. Come and see!

George M. Flattery, Ph.D., is the founder of Global University and Network211.

Excerpts transferred from a series originally posted on Dr. George's Facebook.

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