John Testifies About Jesus
V.29 – What’s interesting about this verse is when John see’s Jesus and identifies him to the people as “the Lamb of God” and gives the reason for this title; he who takes away the sin of the world!
Let’s take a look at the significance of the Lamb in the Old Testament.
The very first instance we can use as evidence where a lamb was used as an offering to the Lord is with the story of Cain and Abel. We read in Genesis Chapter 4 of this event.
Genesis 4:4 “And Abel; he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And the Lord had respect unto Abel and to his offering:”
Abel was a keeper of Sheep, and the firstlings of his flock are what? Lambs, this story is symbolic of the Lord Jesus Christ hence why he is referred to as the Lamb of God.
This is not the first instance that we read about an animal being killed for something, we read that in Genesis Chapter 3 when Adam and Eve realised their sin, they take it upon themselves to sew fig leaves to cover their own nakedness from God; does a fig leaf apron cover much of your nakedness?
This is symbolic of how man tries to come to God with his own works or deeds, what we then read is that God covers them with coats of skin he made himself. Where did the coats of skin come from? Obviously an animal or animals were killed for this to happen, this is the very first written evidence of an animal being killed, to have its blood shed to cover the sins of man; Gods way, with blood; whom he ultimately will provide mankind with the ultimate sacrifice, that precious blood.
In Exodus Chapter 12, we read about in the days of Moses that the Israelites who were still captive in Egypt had to take the blood of the Lamb and strike it on the sides and upper posts of the door, and the blood of the Lamb will the Lord see as he passed over Egypt inflicting plagues and death on the firstborns in the land without the blood of the Lamb. This is another symbolic representation of what Jesus will come to do, but greater: the lamb whose blood represents a temporary covering for sin, in comparison to Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God, the perfect sacrifice; who will take away sin forever.
Hebrews 9:12 “neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us.”
Since Christ is the ultimate sacrifice, it is no longer needed to spill the blood of animals to atone for our sins.
Every single word the bible uses is powerful, Jesus having obtained eternal, which means never ending redemption for us.
V.30 – Once again, after John Identifies the messiah he reiterates the pre-eminence and eternal existence of Jesus.
V.31 – John says he knew him not, even though John and Jesus are cousins and according to this scripture it is apparent that John did not know Jesus in the flesh. In Spirit, John knew who the messiah was. John was to point people to the messiah, manifest means, in this instance, to prove, or render apparent. John’s mission is to make apparent to Israel the messiah.
The word ‘therefore’ means “for that reason” or “consequently”, so john is saying, for that reason of manifesting the messiah to Israel; he comes baptizing with water.
This baptism is not Christian baptism. John’s baptism is of repentance; his ministry was about repentance from unbelief to belief. Paul speaks about this Acts.
ACTS 19:4 “Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus.”
People falsely assume or are deceived into thinking that baptism cleanses us of our sins, this is a false teaching. The precious blood of Christ takes away sin, but remission of sin doesn’t occur until one comes to believe on him, Christ Jesus.
I will not go on about baptism in greater detail as the subject is not in scope with this study. But I have given you enough information to realise what the purpose is of John’s ministry and that it was and is, all about the messiah.
V.32 – John testifies that he saw the Holy Spirit descend from Heaven like a dove and stayed upon Jesus. In the other Gospel according to Matthew 3:16-17 we read there, a voice from heaven can be heard saying, “This is my beloved son”.
So what we here is a really significant event with Jesus anointing, we see here that the Holy Trinity is present at the same time!
God the Father Speaks, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit: the godhead, all present together at this one moment in time.
V.33 – John came to baptize with water, but upon whom shall he see the Holy Spirit descending down on, and remaining on him, Jesus is going to baptize with the Holy Spirit. Do you see the pattern? Jesus and his baptism have pre-eminence over John and his baptism. So it is clear by the scriptures that baptism varies and is not the same.
V.34 – Not just because of the Holy Spirit descending upon him or the voice from heaven, but on all knowledge of Jesus and on what God had told him, John the Baptist proclaimed Jesus to be the Son of God.
John’s Disciples Follow Jesus
V.35-37 – The next day, John sees Jesus walking away from him, John is standing there with his two disciples and John speaks and says, look! There is the Lamb of God, so John’s two disciples decide to tail Jesus.
At this point, we start to read how John’s ministry starts to fade away as Jesus begins his ministry and all the focus is put on Jesus.
V.38-39 – Jesus turns around, probably heard their footsteps and asks the two disciples why are they following him, what are they looking for? They say to Jesus, Teacher, master where do you live? Jesus says to them, come and see. They followed Jesus and saw where he stayed; they too stayed with him that day.
One disciple is mentioned by name, who is Andrew, the other disciple must’ve have been John as he records the time of day it is. The tenth hour is 4pm in the afternoon.
V.40-41 Andrew the brother of Simon Peter firstly tells him that they have found the messiah.
Messiah is the transliteration of a Hebrew or Aramaic verbal adjective, where in the Greek is Christós and written in English is Christ. They all mean the “Anointed One”, this is a title, not a name.
V.42 – When Andrew brings Simon Peter to Jesus, Jesus straightway says, you are Simon the son of Jona. In Hebrew, Jona means “Dove”. Jesus then tells Simon that he shall be called Cephas (kEphas), which means a stone. The word used here is the Greek word “Petros” which is the masculine form of Petras, Petros is a small rock (stone), whereas Petras is a huge boulder sized rock.
This understanding will come in handy and make sense in other scripture where Jesus is speaking of foundations of his church. – Matthew 16:18-20 (This subject would cover an entire other study!)
In English Petros is interpreted as Peter.
V.43 Jesus is now moving quickly to gather other men to complete membership of his chosen Apostleship. He finds Phillip and simply says, follow me and he does.
These men were most likely, previously friends being from the same town. The name “Bethsaida” means fishing house which would be the reason why the town was full of fishermen!
James and John had been fishing acquaintances of Peter and Andrew.
Philip finds Nathanael to tell him that they found him, the Messiah, the Christ. He reminds Nathanael that the Messiah had been promised in the writings by Moses and the prophets.
According to the writings of John we see that Jesus is the fulfilment of Old Testament Scripture.
Nathanael is mentioned only in John’s gospel, but the following evidence supports his identification with Bartholomew and that they are one in the same man.
Nathanael is mentioned only in John’ Gospel and Bartholomew is mentioned only in the listing of the Twelve in Acts and the synoptic Gospels.
· Matthew 10:3
· Mark 3:18
· Luke 6:14
· Acts 1:13
Philip brought Nathanael to Jesus, and Bartholomew is listed together with Philip; finally, John associates Nathanael with the Twelve (John 21:2). It seems at least plausible to identify Nathanael and Bartholomew as the same man.
All of them believed before that no prophet would rise up out of Galilee, and this is probably what he is referring to here when he talks about Nazareth.
Nathanael was from Cana, another town in Galilee. While Galileans were despised by Judeans, Galileans themselves despised people from Nazareth.
In light of John 7:52, Nathanael’s scorn may have centred in the fact that Nazareth was an insignificant village without seeming prophetic importance.
Later, some would contemptuously refer to Christians as the “sect of the Nazarenes”, Acts 24:5.
The Jews would not call the believers Christians, the people of Christ (Messiah). They used other terms like the sect of the Nazarenes. This nickname was derived from Jesus’ hometown of Nazareth.
Jesus, of course, knows everything about everyone and everything. Nathanael is no exception, to prove to Nathanael who he is; Jesus greets him in this manner.
Jesus’ point was that Nathanael’s bluntness revealed that he was an Israelite without cunning motives, one who was willing to examine these things for himself, the claims being made about Jesus that is.
The term reveals an honest, seeking heart.
Nathanael is alarmed as to how Jesus knew that he was an Israelite? Nathanael thinks this to be very strange.
Here again, Jesus knows everything all the time, and He knew where Philip found Nathanael.
Nathanael was under the fig tree literally and spiritually. Israel is the fig tree symbolically (the fig tree nation) and that is the teaching Nathanael was under at the time. Of course, literally Philip had found him sitting under the fig tree, as well!
This was a favourite place used by the Jews for meditation. Jesus evidently meant a specific time which Nathanael understood.
If Nathanael had been praying concerning the promised Messiah, in verse 45, this would explain his remarkable response in verse 49, where he confesses Jesus’ deity and messiah-ship.
Nathanael realizes it is true, this is Messiah! He calls Him Rabbi (teacher), but quickly adds that Jesus is the Son of God, King of Israel.
What an awakening, to be beholding with his very own eyes the promised Messiah. This revelation of Nathanael was similar to the time when Jesus asked the disciples, who He was and Peter said, "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the Living God". This is not a son, but THE Son. He says in essence, it is right for you to rule.
Jesus’ display of supernatural knowledge and Phillip’s witness removed Nathanael’s doubts, so John added the witness of Nathanael to this section. The use of “the” with “Son of God” most likely indicates that the expression is to be understood as bearing its full significance, verse 34 and John 11:27.
For Nathanael, here was ONE who could not be described merely in human terms.
This is probably the biggest understatement of all time!
He would see Jesus open the eyes of the blind, make the deaf hear, make the lame walk, feed thousands of men with five loaves and two little fishes; speak to the sea, wind and other elements and have it obey him, drive out unclean spirits and even raise the dead.
This mere statement of Nathanael being under the fig tree is such a small thing in comparison; Jesus is pleased that this made him believe.
Verily, verily means it will happen, that’s saying truly twice! There is no question or doubts about it. A phrase used frequently for emphasizing the importance and truth of the coming statement.
In light of the context of verse 47, this verse most likely refers to Genesis 28:12 where Jacob dreamed about a ladder from heaven. Jesus’ point to Nathanael was that just like Jacob experienced heavenly sent revelations, Nathanael and the other disciples would experience supernatural communication confirming who Jesus was as well. Moreover the term “Son of Man” replaced the ladder in Jacob’s dream, signifying that Jesus was the means of access between God and man.
“Son of man” is Jesus favourite self-designation, for it was mostly spoken by Jesus who used it over 80 times. In the New Testament, it refers only to Jesus and appears mostly in the gospels. In the fourth (This one we are studying) gospel, the expression occurs 13 times and is most commonly associated with the themes of crucifixion and suffering and revelation (John 6:27, 53) but also with authority.
While the term at times may refer merely to a human being or as a substitute for “I”, it especially takes on significance, when referring to Daniel 7 where the “Son of Man” or Messiah comes in glory to receive the kingdom from the “Ancient of Days”, The Father.