E. JESUS, THE MESSIAH (John 1:35-42)
Again, the next day, John stood with two of his disciples. And looking at Jesus as He walked, he said, “Behold the Lamb of God!” The two disciples heard him speak, and they followed Jesus. Then Jesus turned, and seeing them following, said to them, “What do you seek?” They said to Him, “Rabbi” (which is to say, when translated, Teacher), “Where are You staying?” He said to them, “Come and see.” They came and saw where he was staying, and remained with Him that day (now it was about the tenth hour). One of the two who heard John speak, and followed him, was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. He first found his own brother Simon, and said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which is translated, the Christ). And he brought him to Jesus. Now when Jesus looked at him, He said, “You are Simon the son of Jonah. You shall be called Cephas” (which is translated, A Stone). (John 1:35-42)
As we look at this passage we are in the third day in a row of discussions between the Baptist and those that are examining him. As he was standing with two of his own disciples, he noticed Jesus walking on the road, once again proclaiming Him as the Lamb of God. As he did this, these two disciples of the Baptist, which were John, the writer of the Gospel, and his friend, Andrew. John the Baptist was not offended that his two disciples followed Jesus as Jesus was the focus of his ministry. It is in John 3:30 we find the Baptist saying, “He must increase, but I must decrease.”
As Jesus saw them following Him He asked them a pointed question: “What are you looking for?” This was to force them to decide what they really wanted. Many people had disciples following them in that day and for many reasons. These were turbulent times and many were looking for revolutionaries to follow. The Roman Empire was demanding and brutal and so garnered a lot of hatred—especially from the Jews. Most Romans hated serving the empire at this distant outpost and so had no qualms of taking it out on people who they considered inferior and as a matter of fact, always causing trouble. Public floggings and crucifixions were common and the Roman taxes nearly impossible to meet. So…what were they looking for? Did they want to follow a zealot? They had to decide, but they had no concept of how their lives and futures were going to be changed by the Messiah.
Their answer to Jesus came in the form of a question: “Where are you staying? Was this a way of giving Jesus a way out of having to deal with them? Maybe, but Jesus asked them to spend the day with Him. We don’t really know what all they talked about but, doubtless, He revealed a little bit more of Himself and His mission as the day went on. As Jesus did so often in the months ahead, He probably revealed some things to them about themselves as well. However the hours unfolded, they were so impressed they began to introduce Him to their family members, starting with Peter. For Andrew, bringing his brother Peter to Jesus was just the beginning. This was the beginning of him bringing people to Jesus. Peter was his brother, but then he brought the little boy with his lunch of loaves and fishes. This is found in John 6:8-9. Then in John 12:20-21 there were the Greeks who wanted to see Jesus. We don’t have record of any of Andrew’s sermons in the Bible but he did know how to bring people to Jesus.
“We have found the Messiah!” This is what Andrew told Peter. “Messiah” is a Hebrew word meaning “anointed,” and the Greek equivalent is “Christ.” To the Jews it was the same as “Son of God.” In the passage of Scripture below we have Jesus on trial and facing His accusers:
And the high priest arose and said to Him, “Do you answer nothing? What is it these men testify against you?” But Jesus kept silent. And the high priest answered and said to Him, “I put You under oath by the living God: Tell us if You are the Christ, the Son of God!” Jesus said to him, “It is as you said. Nevertheless, I say to you, hereafter you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power, and coming on the clouds of heaven.” (Matthew 26:62-64)
The scene before His accusers is also told in the other New Testament Gospels Below is the story in Luke:
As soon as it was day, the elders of the people, both chief priests and scribes, came together and led Him into their council, saying, “If You are the Christ, tell us,” But He said to them, “If I tell you, you will by no means believe. And if I also ask you, you will by no means answer Me or let me go. Hereafter the Son of Man will sit on the right hand of the power of God.” Then they all said, “Are You then the Son of God?” So He said to them, “You rightly say that I am.” (Luke 22:66-70)
Prophets, priests, and kings were always anointed and set apart in the Old Testament for special service. There are numerous places in the Old Testament where we see the recognition of this. One of these is during the time when King Saul was looking to kill David who had been anointed to take his place. David happened to catch the king in a cave while relieving himself and refused to harm him. Even though David’s men favored removing the threat from David’s life by killing the king, David wouldn’t allow it because he considered him an anointed of the Lord. He believed in God dealing with King Saul rather than himself. This is a spiritual principle as it was God who said, “”Vengeance is Mine”, says the LORD.
When the Jews spoke of their Messiah, they were envisioning a king who would deliver them from the Roman Empire and set up the long lost Jewish kingdom again. The Jewish people are today still not looking for a spiritual Messiah but rather a messianic conqueror.
There was great confusion among the Jewish teachers about Jesus’ agenda. Some recognized Him as the suffering Messiah depicted in Isaiah 53, of which several verses were included earlier. Others saw—or preferred the magnificent King of Glory depicted in Isaiah chapters 9 and 11. Both of these chapters describe the coming Messiah as a powerful, glorious king who will rule with universal command and authority over the entire earth. This glorious kingdom of course is described as also including the complete restoration of the Jewish nation and all that was promised to them through God’s covenant to Abraham.
Even Jesus’ own followers had to have it explained to them that the cross had to come before the crown. As they were to see, Jesus was going to demonstrate this before them in real life. He knew He would have to go to the cross even though He had the power to take the crown right then. The purpose of God was to redeem mankind and the means God had designed to fulfill that purpose required becoming the suffering Messiah first…the Messiah that humbles Himself to the death on the cross. Then when the time of fulfillment arrives, He would take the crown. The disciples were destined to learn that lesson for themselves as well. Even though they were in a few short years going to be baptized with power on high on the Day of Pentecost and even have the power rise up within them to raise the dead on occasion, there was still a cross they were going to be required to bear. The Gospel of Matthew has it recorded in these words:
Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? For the Son of Man will come in the glory of his Father with His angels, and then He will reward each according to his works. (Matthew 16:24-27)
Although Jesus spoke to His followers of the cross that He Himself would have to bear and later a cross of their own they would bear, Jesus also spoke of the crown that would come at the end of this life. One of the references Jesus made is found in His encouragement to the Church of Philadelphia in Revelation 3:7-13. We will only look at two of these verses at this time:
Because you have kept My command to persevere, I also will keep you from the hour of trial, which shall come upon the whole world,to test those who dwell on the earth. Behold, I am coming quickly! Hold fast what you have that no one may take your crown. (verses 10-11)
Life can be difficult and the cross needing to be carried is often not easy. Many Christians around the world are suffering unspeakable atrocities at the hands of those that hate the name of Jesus Christ, but it is well worth hanging on and keep focused on the One that carries us through to the end of this short earthly passage. The rewards for following the Master faithfully will prove to be well worth carrying that cross that each of us is called to bear. We serve a good God!
One of my favorite passages in the Bible (and I have many of them!) is the story of Jesus walking and meeting up with a couple men on the way to Emmaus after the crucifixion. Here is a portion of this story:
Now behold, two of them were traveling that same day to a village called Emmaus, which was seven miles from Jerusalem. And they talked together of all these things which had happened. So it was, while they conversed and reasoned, that Jesus himself drew near and went with them. But their eyes were restrained, so that they did not know Him. And He said to them, “What kind of conversation is this that you have with one another as you walk and are sad?” Then the one whose name was Cleopas answered and said to Him, “Are You the only stranger in Jerusalem, and have You not known the things which happened there in these days?” And He said to them, “What things?” So they said to Him, “The things concerning Jesus of Nazareth, who was a Prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, and how the chief priests and our rulers delivered Him to be condemned to death, and crucified Him. but we were hoping that it was He who was going to redeem Israel. Indeed, besides all this, today is the third day since these things happened. Yes, and certain women of our company, who arrived at the tomb early, astonished us. When they did not find His body, they came saying that they had also seen a vision of angels who said He was alive. And certain of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but Him they did not see.” Then He said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! Ought not the Christ to have suffered these things and to enter into His glory?” And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself. (Luke 24:13-27)
Here we find two men who were grief-stricken and confused because of the events that had taken place. As Jesus spoke with them, He reminded them that the events that they were speaking of happened just as the prophets had said they would all along. He also reminded them that the suffering experienced was necessary to bring about the glory that would come afterward. He then explained the Scriptures to them and their eyes were opened. Then they were able to understand that the promised Messiah was to fulfill both purposes; suffering Messiah and conquering King. Only Almighty God knew how to put it all together to fit His plan.
It is the same for us today. The lives we live are part of God’s great masterplan. You and I cannot see all the details put together that forms the complete picture, but God does see all. It is much like the world famous tapestries made in the middle east. Looking from the backside of the tapestry, one can only see what appears like a chaos of random threads. Once it is completed though and turned over so the finished product can be seen, it is obvious that there was a master at work who knew exactly what was necessary to complete the task to perfection. “ meaning rock or stone, telling him that there would be a time when he would be as solid as a rock. Peter was not that way at first and it took some time until he became that but when the Master has His hand on us and in our affairs, His will will be done. That should encourage all of us! The contrast between Peter on the night he betrayed Jesus and Peter on the Day of Pentecost has been the fuel for many sermons!
One thing more to recognize from this passage: Andrew and John came to Christ through the faithfulness of John the Baptist. :Peter and James came to the Master through the care of their brothers. Later one then, Jesus reached out to Philip who would in turn bring Nathaniel. Personalities varied, methods varied, but each touched the lives of others—as we have been empowered to do.
Continued in Part Six…