Here we witness Jesus gathering His first followers and the foundation of the Church. Our final episode in chapter 1, this passage proclaims that Jesus is the Lamb of God, the promised prophet, the Messiah, the omniscient One who knows all men and seeks them, and that He is the "ladder" of God that is our source of relationship and blessing.
The Most Quoted Verse in Your Bible
Shedding Light on Jesus' Chat in the Dark
When Christ Flips Tables, There's More Going on than You Think
The First Sign and All it Signifies: The Creator is Back at Work
Come and See. Go and Fish.
Come, See, Stay: What Followers Do
John the Baptist: A Witness to the Word, an Example to Us
The Five Words that Change Everything
Don't be a Bird Brain: Receive and Respond to the Goodness of the Word
The Word: Not What You Think... But Even Better
Week six, and we are going to finish John, chapter 1. What I love about this stuff is that you read this book and you're like, "Are you kidding me?" We're going to now be close to six hours of conversation, and we're just through chapter 1. It's material you often read, and you go, "What in the world? What is there that's going to be life-changing or relevant to me?" I'm going to tell you this morning, I think you're going to see a ton that is relevant to you, and you can decide if it's going to change your life.
We are at the place where Jesus is starting to build his church, those who follow him, those who will be the living stones through which he creates this new entity that will bring glory to God where he will be worshiped in spirit and truth. It is not going to be a physical temple in a physical place. It's going to be a living body in living people that's going to be dispersed from Judea to Samaria to the uttermost parts of the world.
God's intention was that on the foundation of Christ and the apostles and their teaching and their proclamation of belief in who Christ was there would be a living body that would be built, a living temple of which now, 2,010 years later, we are the expression of. We saw last week, when Christ first had his first couple of guys who were going to follow him, they were Jewish folks who had been studying the Scripture, who were looking for the long-expected Messiah, the one who was the consolation of Israel, the one who was the hope of the nations.
We see Simeon in Luke, chapter 2, who had been continually in prayer, praying that before he died God would let him see this long-expected Messiah. We see Anna the prophetess in Luke, chapter 2, who had been serving in the temple as a widow for years since she lost her husband, and she declared, "This is the one."
Now John is declaring later in his life, writing from the town of Ephesus, "Let me tell you what I saw, what I experienced. There is no longer a need for you to wonder where truth is. Truth is a person. It's not an idea. He lived and dwelt among us in a specific place at a specific time as a gift of God, that we would no longer be in the darkness but the light has come.
There is a reason Christmas lights are everywhere this time of year: because light has come into the world and the darkness has been shattered. There is hope. There is clarity. Peace on earth, good will toward men. How? Through Christ. Jesus says, "Come and see." What I love about Christ is that he is not afraid of what you will find. He is not some dwarf behind a curtain pulling ropes and levers in order to intimidate Dorothy and her three friends.
This is not a wizard, that once you see the secrets of the Messiah revealed you will be disappointed. This is truth, and when you are truth, you can say, "Come and see." No amount of scrutiny will affect it. "So you come. You follow me." Jesus said to them, "What do you seek?" and they go, "We want to abide with you."
He said, "Good call, because if you abide with me, if you stay with me where I stay, you will abide with the Father and you will be brought into all life and truth and hope and peace…peace not as the world gives. I'm not going to give you a home that is delightful on this earth, but I will give you a life on this earth that restores you to everything you ever hoped for. Come and see."
When they came and saw, they went and told others. "You have to come and abide, live with him, because where he is there is life. It is as if you are with God himself, and that is what Jesus said you would experience. Come and see." You will find that there are faithful men who when they experience life and goodness are compelled to tell others.
Andrew, one of those first two young men, went to his brother immediately and said, "You have to come and see. We have found the long-anticipated Messiah. Hope has come. You need to know him." We don't make much of Andrew in the New Testament. We don't really find out much about him. All we know is that Andrew, almost every time he shows up, is bringing somebody to Christ.
He brings Peter to Christ, and while Andrew himself doesn't become this strong figure throughout church history, the one he brought to Christ does. How great is that? We see him a little bit later in John, chapter 6. He brings a young man to Christ. We see him in John, chapter 12. Some Greeks who were seeking Jesus he and Philip bring to Christ right before Jesus himself is offered up as a sacrifice.
Andrew is always bringing people to Jesus, and he is a disciple you can imitate. Imitate him as he imitates his Savior. Why? Because you see Jesus who goes and seeks Philip. You see Andrew who goes and seeks Peter. You see Philip who goes and seeks Nathaniel. Whom do you seek? I don't believe there is going to be a quiz in heaven about what you did for him.
We know through the Scripture that salvation is always by grace through faith. It's not earned or deserved. It's not as a result of works so that no man should boast, but just as salvation is always a gift, rewards, which are biblical and are there, are always a result of service. So one of the questions you have to ask yourself, one of the things that I think your King will ask you is "Who did you bring me? Who were you an Andrew to?"
Last month, one of the gals who has been a part of our body now for the last couple of years, who was actually a part of a "Thanks for making room for me" video, Ronna Cross and her sweet dear children… Ronna is a single mom now. Her husband had gone, if you will, the way of the world and had lost his way. He was a world-class wrestler. We had a gentleman on our staff by the name of Brandon Slay who himself was a gold medalist in the 2000 Olympics in Sydney. He won the gold medal in freestyle wrestling.
When Brandon was on our staff for a while, the United States Olympic Committee called and said, "We need you to train our up-and-coming young wrestling studs." So Brandon left our staff. He now lives in Colorado Springs and is up there training our next generation, hopefully, of grapplers who will bring home the gold in the coming Olympics.
Brandon just shot an email off to Ronna, who's now here, the very first part of November, and in that email, this Andrew, this Brandon said to her, "Hey, Ronna, I was reading back through my old prayer journal from 2002, something I like to do to strengthen my faith in God's answer to prayers, and I found this prayer: 'Lord, lead Ronna, Kendall, Kennedy, and London to your throne. May Romans 4 engulf them with the truth of salvation. In Jesus' name, amen.'"
He shot that off last month, so Ronna shot him back and said, "Brandon, has anybody shown you this video?" One of the things I love about what we do is we hopefully are fresh and creative here. That "Thanks for making room for me" video that you just saw, we won't show again. If you weren't here this morning, you don't even get to see that. In August, I did this video called "Who Will Write Your Name?"
When Ronna got that email last month from Brandon, she shot him the link on our website to that video "Who Will Write Your Name?" Brandon read it, and he said, "Oh my gosh!" and he just wept, because Ronna is in this video. You will see her holding a sign, and on that sign it says, "Brandon Slay." He was just an Andrew who prayed, and he kept saying to Ronna and to Kendall, "Come." Still praying for Kendall. "Come. Come and see this Jesus in whom there is no disappointment." Watch this video, and let me ask you…Who are you going to bring your King? Here it is again.
So who's going to write your name? Who's going to say, "This is my Andrew"? Charlie, who was on the "Thanks for making room for me" video today… We have these stories. They're great. They're everywhere, but Charlie, whose email I told him I was going to read, and I was glad he was here when I read it… When Charlie wrote that he said, "It was my coworker who invited me."
That email, I want to remind you, said, "For me to say that death sounded good to me within the last week is an understatement or even that it sounded good last night, and I feel the weight of living the way I've lived for 24 years and the sheer pain around me. I only have solutions in alcohol and food. And then somebody said, 'Come and see.'"
I think about a sweet young gal who showed up at Watermark about three weeks ago in oversized clothes and looking tired. She showed up and said, "I need to talk to somebody." So one of our girls on staff sat down with her, and she just said, "I have to tell you a story. Something happened to me today. I was at a Kroger not far from here, and I was checking out with my 2-year-old on my hip, and I had my food stamps to buy food. I was $30 over.
I apologized to the lady. I said, 'I have to take some of this food back.' A guy in line behind me said, 'No, you don't. Take that $30 worth of food in addition to what you have, and just know that you're loved.'" She said, "You have no idea how that affected me and overwhelmed me. I asked him why he did that. Nobody had ever done anything like that. He said, 'Because I'm a follower of Jesus Christ. It's what believers do, and I want you to come and see that there are still folks like that. Come and see. I hang out at Watermark.'"
They gave her change. It was actually $29, and she had that dollar. So she went home, took care of her kid, got that kid to childcare, and then came up here. She said, "This is my miracle dollar that God gave me, and I want to invest in a place that produces the kind of love I've gotten." That gal and another gal on staff sat down with her and shared with her about how she is loved by Christ and significant in his eyes, and she said, "I have never been significant in anybody's eyes." Now she is, and she's here. Come and see.
I love that video. When I first saw it when we put it together… Two of our staff gals are on that video holding signs of others who have reached out to them, and their lives have been so radically changed that we go, when we need a leader who can disciple and train and encourage others… There are folks who have trusted Christ here who are now leading us and leading others. You'll never know, Andrew, who you're inviting. They may far surpass you in terms of the public ministry they have. How great is that, because they're in your downline.
"Who did you bring me?"
"One William Graham from North Carolina."
"Well done. Who did you bring, John Splinter, Jeff Coggan, Paul Fraser?"
"One Todd Wagner when he was a skinny, rebellious, arrogant, lost young man in high school."
"Who did you bring me?" Andrew can say, "Peter." Who did Peter say he was? He was just a guy who heard, and Jesus says, "No, Simeon." That's his name. "Simon, son of John. Your name will be called Cephas," which is the Aramaic for the Greek petros.
"You will be called a rock. You will not be the massive unmovable mountain of a rock (that's petra), but you will be Petros. You will turn into something that others cannot believe, because you have ears to hear. Simon, you have heard who I am. Come and follow me, and I will make you useful. I will be the foundation, the cornerstone. I will take you and Andrew and Philip and Nathaniel and the rest of the boys, and I will build a living temple."
This is Ephesians, chapter 2. One of the things John wanted you to know in John, chapter 1… This is wrapping up the verse we were in last week. In John, chapter 1, at the very end of where we looked, in verse 42, when he said this to Peter… John wants you to know that Jesus always knew what was going down. He was never taken by surprise. He was never overwhelmed. He knew there was going to be a rejection of him by Israel, and he knew there was going to be a new living temple that would be built.
He said, "Peter, if you have ears to hear, you can be a part of that temple. I'm going to make you a key part of it. You are not the first in apostolic succession," as some have misinterpreted this. That's why later in Matthew 16, when he says, "Who do you say that I am?" and some go "Elijah," and others say "John the Baptist," he goes, "No, no, no, guys. Who do you say that I am? Personally, who do you say?"
Peter spoke up and said, "You are the Christ, the Messiah, the Anointed One, the Son of the living God," and Jesus said, "Blessed are you, Simon bar-Jonah, for upon you, Petros, this rock, I will build a petra, an immovable force that the gates of hell will not stand against." And guess what: 2,010 years later, there are people holding signs saying that this living temple has brought others to meet the living God. Here we sit.
You'll never know, Andrew, who you're inviting to come and see, but you need to know this. John wants you to know that Jesus is always extending grace. He's always in control. He always has a vision. He's always bringing transformation. "He who began the good work in you, Peter, though you are impulsive, though you are a 'ready, fire, aim' kind of guy, I will use you. When you come to know me, it will change you."
Abram. This is his name in the Old Testament, the father of pride and arrogance. "I will change you to Abraham, the father of a multitude." Sarai, his wife, which means argumentative. "I will make you Sarah, a princess." All throughout the Bible, God says, "I'm going to change who you are." If you follow Christ, it changes who you are.
It's interesting, but all this time, Jesus never called Simon Petros again until… There was one other time, in Luke 22, where Jesus said, "Hey, Petros (hey, stud), Satan has asked that he could sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you so that after you are tempted and fail, I might restore you and that you would be useful and become the rock you think you are when you don't abide with me."
He always called him, "Simon, son of Jonah," and whenever Peter popped up and thought he was great apart from Christ, that he was going to get it done, he said, "Hey, stud; hey, rock, let me tell you who you are. You're about to be sifted like wheat if I don't intercede for you." Then a little bit later, when his Spirit comes and he sees who Christ is, then he is Peter. Then he builds on the cornerstone with a full understanding of the Messiah and becomes part of this living temple that is a source of glory to others.
Is that not good? That's right there in John 1:42, and you just read right over it. Let me tell you something, though. Jesus is always seeking people. That's what he does. So what happens next? Andrew found Simon. Simon didn't find the Messiah; the Messiah went after him through his disciple. It says in verse 43, "The next day He [Jesus] purposed to go into Galilee…" Which means circuit, a large area up north.
When you look at Israel on a map, it's broken up into three areas. There's Galilee in the north, there's Judea down by Jerusalem in the south, and there's Samaria ("some area") between them. That's how you can remember. Galilee, Judea, and Samaria in the middle. Down there in Jerusalem in the south it's a mountainous area, so when you leave the northern part and go up to Jerusalem, even though you're going south, it's called going up, because you go to the mountains where Jerusalem is, that city on a hill that cannot be hidden, this city of peace. That's what it means.
What you're going to find is that Christ is going to leave Jerusalem now and go up to Galilee, these little 240 cities that are populated in this northern area, this little circuit you can make your way around up there. There's a sea up there. It's actually a lake about 7 miles by 14 miles wide. It's notorious for huge storms. It's called the Sea of Galilee. It is populated by little fishermen's villages and agrarian folks all in that countryside. Jesus does most of his miracles there.
So, he takes off now with a few of his disciples, and he's adding to his number. He goes up there, and he runs across phileo-hippos (Philip). What I love about Peter… We could all identify with Peter…brash, arrogant, blue-collar individuals. Then others of you can relate to Philip. Philip is phileo-hippos. It is the name which means lover of horses. That's what your name means if you're Philip.
Now, if you were a good Jew, you were not to be a lover of horses; you were to be a lover of God. You weren't to play the ponies or you were not to build your life and your security, if you will, on your latest steed. Moving up from an Acura to a Lexus, from a Lexus to a Porsche. Philip was a guy who represents somebody who is investing where the world is investing. If you were a king of Israel, you were not to put your trust in horses. You were not to take a census and put your trust in your people.
You were not to exploit your power and multiply wives. You were to follow God and live in fear of him, but look at who Jesus seeks. "I don't care if you're a brash young fisherman who thinks you're strong enough to get through life on your own. No, you are nothing. You will never be a stud until you follow me, but come, Peter, and I will make you useful. Philip, you who have tried to find your hope and significance in the world, in being a lover of the Lexus of the day, come find life in me. Follow me."
I love this. I want to insert this right here. I mentioned John Lennon last week and how Lennon was a seeker. God is always seeking people. Don't you ever wonder, some of the folks who have the world by the tail, if God does really get out there and if they ever ran into a fully devoted follower of Christ, if anybody really sat down with them and clearly articulated truth to them?
Well, I mentioned Lennon last week and how they were the Philip of their day. They had it all. They were lovers of pleasure. They were lovers of money. They were musicians who had been given all of those things, and having received all of those things, they did not have life. So they went to the depths of the bowels of India to find the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi to see if he might show them where life is, and they did not find it there. Thus the song "Sexy Sadie." (See last week.)
But what about Lennon? Did God ever get to Lennon? Don't you wonder? Well, last week, after that message, my friend Luke Friesen, who's a member of Watermark, comes up and says, "Let me tell you a story about Lennon. My granddaddy, Harry Friesen, was a missionary in Japan, and in the early- to mid-70s, my granddaddy, when he would leave…" A bunch of missionaries would go to Karuizawa, which is a part of Japan that is a mountainous region.
It really started in the late 1800s. There was a Canadian missionary in Japan who would go up to these hills, because it reminded him of his homeland in Canada, and start to vacation there, and it became a place where emperors would go to vacation and well-to-do Westerners would go there, and if you were a part of one of the more privileged families in Japan, like the Onos, you would have a little place in the Japanese Martins vineyard.
So his granddaddy, who for 40 years was a missionary over there in Japan, would go and take his summers in Karuizawa. Well, so would John and his muse Yoko Ono. They would go to the Onos' place up there. Now, John was still looking for life, and it just so happens that Harry Friesen was looking for Peters to say, "Come and see."
He told me, "My grandad saw John one day in a bookstore as John was perusing, and he walked over to him and engaged him in a conversation about the books." It was a Christian bookstore. He and John struck up a friendship. He would sit in the Onos' house with young Sean Lennon on his knee and bounce him and talk about the Christ.
He said that Lennon clearly heard the gospel. He loved Jesus in the sense that he could not find anything wrong with him. He said, "Yes, I love this Jesus, and I think what you say of him is true, and I find no problem in him." Harry said he never had any indication that John responded specifically to Christ but that he and Yoko had clearly heard the gospel. How great is that? See, he's always seeking Philips.
God always is out there, and he is in here today, and he is compelling you not to be tantalized that John Lennon met Harry Friesen but to be made aware that God wants to meet you. He loves you, Peter. He loves you, Philip. He knows you, but this is key: he says to you, "Follow me." Now watch this.
The first thing he says is, "Why do you seek me? For riches, wealth, fame, health, and prosperity? I'm not offering that. My abode is in abiding with God. It is better to be in the courts of God than to be a thousand days inside the house of earthly kings." David wrote, "One day in the courts of God is better than a thousand days in the very throes of worldly prosperity. The Lord God is a sun and shield. No good thing does he withhold from those who love him."
"Follow me," is the second thing he says. Jesus never wants you to agree that he existed. He doesn't want you just to be a Lennon who walks and peruses through Christian bookstores. He doesn't want you to own a Bible and not a Qur'an. It is "Follow me." Question: How many of you are familiar with Adolf Hitler? Everybody believe Adolf lived? Everybody believe that Adolf was a great world leader in the sense of renown?
How many of you are familiar with Mein Kampf and have read his works? How many of you would agree that he led this totalitarian state that dominated all of Europe and brought the world to its knees? Yes? But are you Nazis? Any Nazis in the room? No. Why? Because you never followed Adolf. You know of Adolf, you believe in Adolf, you might have even read Adolf's definitive work, but you've never followed him, so you're not a Nazi.
You might know Karl Marx, you are well aware of Das Kapital, but you do not employ executing the practices he recommends, so you are not a Communist. Let me just say to you, you know who Jesus is, you agree that the world pivots on his death, burial, and resurrection, you are fine that everything that is said about him is true, but if you are not following him, you are no more a Christian than you are a Nazi. This is what he says.
He doesn't just say, "Have some assent to this." He doesn't just say, "Peruse through my material." He says, "John, Yoko, follow me, and you have no idea the life that is here. You can only imagine where real life is." I want to just tell you this morning, he is calling you, Philip, to not agree with him, to not own his book and have it by your bed. Do you follow him? That's what he says to Philip. "Follow me. What do you seek? Ease on this earth? I tell you, I have no place to lay my head, and persecutions are all that I can promise. Follow me."
Verse 44: "Now Philip was from Bethsaida, of the city of Andrew and [Petros] . 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.'" Philip really didn't do a great job of presenting Christ here. He got certain things right. He is Jesus of Nazareth, and he is the son of Joseph in terms of how the world recognized him, but he really wasn't born in Nazareth; he was born in Bethlehem, and he really isn't the son of Joseph; he's the Son of God. God was his Father.
But it didn't matter. All he did was he took what he had and brought it to his friend, and he said, "I haven't got maybe the full presentation right, but come and see." I love Nathanael, because Nathanael is a little bit flippant and sarcastic. He said, "Can anything good come out of Nazareth?" The view was that if you were a Jew and lived in the north, you had sold out, because that was where the Roman garrison was. It was working, if you will, by Camp Pendleton. If there are a bunch of young soldiers, it is not typically a place of worship.
If you lived up in Nazareth, you were there doing business with the Romans. You were not seeking the Lord in the city of peace. You were not an individual who was as committed as the folks in the south, so there was a low view of those who lived up there in that Galilean region. They had a very distinct accent, in the same way we would hear somebody speak and know they're from New York or from Alabama. A Galilean had a very distinct accent, and other Jews did not think very highly of them.
So what he does is, flippantly, he says, "Can anything good come out of Nazareth? I study the Scripture. I know the Messiah is born in Bethlehem, and I know that he is the Prince of Peace and Mighty God, not just some carpenter's boy." So Philip didn't do a great job, but do you know what Philip did do a good job of? I say this to you. You don't have to be some scholar. You don't have to wait until you're Billy Graham, William Lane Craig, Josh McDowell, or [plug in your favorite evangelist]. Just say, "Come and see."
"Hey, Nathanael, we're buddies, right? I'm telling you, horses are not where life is. The guy you want to know about has come." Christ chimes in there. He goes, "Way to go, Philip. Let me take it from here." So he picks it up in verse 47. "Jesus saw Nathanael coming…" I love this. Nathanael trusted his friend Philip enough to say, "I'll come with you one Sunday. I'll come check out this Jesus to see if it's what you say it is."
By the way, do you know anybody who will come with you Christmas Eve, that you'll go all in to say, "Get here Christmas Eve"? Because I want to tell you something. What I'm doing this year at Christmas… We're going to talk about how Christmas is filled with surprises, and specifically, the biggest surprise is when you really get to know Christ for who he is, he's far more than you can ever imagine.
We're going to have testimony after testimony where folks can see people just like them…Philips who have left a love of horses and found real life and real love; Peters who were here and there, tossed about, but when they finally had ears to hear, their life has a stability and a hope they can't believe. We don't just do a little sanctified Christmas Eve service here; we will bring you testimony of folks who have met the Christ. So you do what you can to get them to come and see. Trust me. Let me be an Andrew to you to go be a Philip to someone else.
Jesus saw Nathanael, and he said to him, "Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no [Iakob, Jacob] deceit!" Now what goes on right there? If you are a good Jew at all, you know who Jacob is. Jacob's name meant deceiver. Let me just go on through here, and I'm going to walk you back through this, because something amazing happens here. Jesus says in verse 47:
"'Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no deceit!' 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 [sitting there, drinking a lemonade, hanging out] .' Nathanael answered Him, 'Rabbi, You are the Son of God; You are the King of Israel.'"
What in the world? That seems to be a rather extreme response, does it not? "Hey, I saw you under the tree." "You're God!" Let me just inject some conjecture here or, if you will, my opinion of what went down here, and I'll tell you why I believe this. You have to ask yourself, "What in the world?" This dude was what you call an easy pick-up, on one hand, but no, on the other hand.
Here's the deal. If you read the Talmud… The Talmud is the Jewish scholars' effort to reveal to you how to practice righteousness on a daily level. They recommend in the Talmud that you read the Torah, which is the Jewish Scriptures; that you find a shade tree every day, and that you would sit underneath it and read and reflect and meditate on the Scripture so you can continually be seeking and searching for this God.
So, Jesus saw Nathanael underneath this fig tree. By the way, if you're in Israel and you're going to pick a tree to sit under, you pick a fig tree. It has wide, broad leaves. Let me say it this way. If you were naked in a garden, you would look for a fig leaf to cover strategic areas. (See Genesis 3.) It's a big, broad-leafed tree, and it gives a lot of shade.
So, Nathanael was probably underneath this tree, studying the Scripture. Jesus saw him there. Philip went over and said, "Man, come on. I found him. Come and see." Nate goes, "Nothing good comes out of Nazareth." Kind of pops off, gives an intellectual deal. Philip doesn't try to take him on intellectually. He just says, "Well, just come and see, big boy. If you have the guts, come and see." So here he comes. Jesus sees him coming and says, "Behold, an Israelite, in whom there is no deceit."
Now, there are a couple of things here. One might be because he's a Galilean living up there, he could have been sitting under that tree wrestling with, "Do I compromise on the ethic of God in order to advance my business? Do I compromise? Do I live an un-kosher life? Do I do what I need to do to make money?" He could have been down there meditating prayerfully, and God is saying, "I know who you are. You're wrestling with this, and there is in you good. You will not make that decision," but I don't think that's what he was doing.
That would have been still good, because Nathanael would have said, "How did you know what I was thinking?" What I think Jesus is doing here is he's really jacking with him. There's a reason John puts this in there. John wants you to see this Jesus is no man. He is very God of very God. He has always been. He always will be. He is omniscient. He is God in the flesh.
So he says to Nathanael, "Hey, Nathanael, I know who you are. You are one who God strives with in whom there is no deception." If you were a Jew, you knew Jacob. Jacob was a guy that when he was born he was a twin, and out from the womb first comes Esau. Jacob is grabbing his hairy brother Esau by the leg as if to say, "You're not going to get out before me and get the blessing," because the first son gets the double blessing. He is the heir.
Esau, though, because Esau was bigger, beat him to the front door. Out goes Esau. Jacob comes out second. They saw him holding on to his brother, and they called him "One who trips up at the heel," which is a euphemism for a trickster. Jacob fulfilled that all through his life. He was a man who trusted in his flesh and went his own way to do his own thing to get his own privilege. He took Esau, who was a very fleshly guy…
He got him when he was hungry and weak, and he offered him a bowl of pottage, if you will, for his birthright. Esau, who was a fleshly guy and did not trust in the promises of God, said, "What do I care about a birthright? If I don't eat, I'm going to die!" So Jacob said, "Well, good. Then you don't need your birthright, so I'll give you this if you'll just give me your birthright." So Esau gave Jacob that birthright. He knew he was tricked.
A little bit later, he conspires with his mother Rebekah to put animal skins on his arm and convince his blind old dad Isaac that he was, in fact, Esau. So when his daddy blessed his son and passed on the promises of God, he thought he was giving it to Esau, but Jacob had tricked his dad. Jacob was a trickster. He gets run out of there, because that caused some rather deep conflict in the family. Esau said, "You little wimp! You maybe can cook, but I'm going to kill you."
So Jacob was fleeing. Mama packed him a lunch and said, "Go over there to my brother Laban. Go to Haran. Go over there to modern-day Iraq and live until Esau cools off." So what did Jacob do? He heads off. Now, he is a very fleshly guy. One night, on his way over there, he pulls up a rock for a pillow and goes to sleep, and he has a dream that there are angels that are coming up and down from heaven. He sees that there is a ministry of grace.
So Jacob wakes up and says, "God is for me," and he says, "This place will be called Bethel (house of Elohim, house of God)." He calls that place Bethel, but he doesn't believe. He doesn't follow that God yet. He has to go for 20 years. He gets into a conniving battle with his uncle Laban, who tricks him for Leah over Rachel, and back and forth, and all this, and he still comes back 20 years later. Now he's a very wealthy, prosperous man but still not trusting in God.
Then he sits at the ford of the Jabbok, getting ready to go back in. He knows Esau is over there with 20 years of anger, waiting, so he sends bribe after bribe, children and women and nieces and nephews and gifts over there to soften Esau. Then he stays over one last night, and he prays, and there's a man who comes and wrestles with Jacob who Jacob cannot wear out. In his darkness he cannot win, but at the break of dawn, when light comes, grace comes.
That man touches Jacob on the hip and dislocates it and brings him to a point of weakness. Jacob says, "Bless me," and the man says, "Tell me your name." He says, "I am a deceiver. I trust in me." The man says, "Yes, that's who you are. Acknowledge your sin, and I will give you grace." He says, "I will no longer call you Jacob, but your name will be Israel. You are no longer one who strives for his own strength. I will make you one who God strives with." So Jacob's name became Israel.
Now watch this. Here's what I think was going down. By the way, Jacob then begins to trust God. He goes over. God gives him favor with Esau, prospers him. The 12 tribes come from him, and we have the nation and blessing and eventually the Messiah. I think, a thousand years later or more, Nathanael is underneath a fig tree reading the story of Jacob, and I think he is longing for the consolation of Israel, and he is wondering if God still strives with them.
What God says to him in the person of Jesus Christ is, "Behold, an Israelite, in whom there is no guile (no Jacob)," and then Nathanael says, "You are the Son of God. There's no way anybody would know what I was reading over there." Then Jesus goes even further. He says, "Because I said to you I saw you under the fig tree do you believe? You're going to see greater things than that." He said (verse 51), "Truly, truly, I say to you, you will see the heavens opened and the angels of God ascending and descending on [me] the Son of Man."
Do you see what Jesus just did? "I know what you're reading, and guess what. This is no dream. Reality is here. I am the ladder. You want blessing? Do you want to see the glory of heaven come to you on earth? Come. Come with me." Now, when you see somebody who watches and knows what you're thinking, knows what you're reading, knows what you're praying for, and he shows up and says, "I am here…" He says, "I know who you are. You're the Anointed One who knows the thoughts of men. You are very God of very God," and Nathanael followed.
In chapter 1 of this book, what John has already shown you and laid out, and what I love about this book is it's trying to get you to respond. He is revealing to you incredible claims about this Jesus. There is a group of men who have heard this, and they have followed him. There is a ragtag bunch of dudes right now. You have a couple of guys who were devout Jews studying the Scripture, you have a fisherman, you have a worldly man, and you have a scholar who is starting there, and then we add to that number as we go forward.
In chapter 1 of John… I'm going to walk you right now through 21 chapters of John. Are you ready? Here come 21 chapters. This is why this is such a great book. I'm going to remind you what God wants you to do. You have to respond. This is not a book for you to be historically familiar with. There is a goal here. Watch this.
Chapter 1. All we've learned so far is this Jesus is the Word. In other words, he is the sovereign source of order, beauty, logic, and truth. He is God. He is eternal, creator, and sovereign. He is the source of life. Nothing comes into being or remains without him. He is the Light of the World who removes darkness and produces hope. Jesus is the perfect fulfillment and expression of grace and truth. Jesus is the visible image of the invisible God, John 1:18 says.
He is the Son of God who has forever existed. He is the Lamb of God, the promised prophet, and the Messiah. He's the omniscient one who knows all men and seeks them. He is the ladder of God that is our source of relationship and blessing. That is all there in chapter 1. Is John trying to tell you something? Yes. Now we're going to get to chapter 2, and we're going to start the signs that authenticate John's claims in chapter 1. Watch what's going to happen in chapters 2-21. Are you ready?
Chapter 2: You have water turned into wine. You have the cleansing of the temple. Jesus is the Creator who is not subject to time, rules of nature, or lack of resources. We're studying it next week. You have the fact that he cleanses the temple. This is his temple. It's his house. He is concerned for his name, and his zeal for true faith and right understanding of who God is consumes him. You'll find he doesn't just love Jews; he loves all men, and he is absolutely in control of his life and knew from the beginning he was going to lay his life down and take it back up again. He reveals that.
Chapter 3: He is the provider of new life. He tells Nicodemus, "You want to be born again? I'm going to do it. You want to be reconciled with me? It's through me. I am the pivot point of eternity," he says in John, chapter 3. "I love the world, and I offer the world a chance to reconcile through me, but I am the Judge of the world, and if you reject me, you have been judged already."
Chapter 4: The woman at the well. He's the living water that if you drink you'll never thirst again. He's the Sovereign over time and space and can do all things by his Word. That's the healing of the nobleman's son. Watch what Jesus does. He goes to the Jews, he goes to the Samaritans who are half-breeds, and he goes to the Gentile. He is Savior of the world. He is the long-awaited Messiah for the Jews, the reconciliation for the Samaritans, and he is the source of hope for the Gentiles.
Chapter 5: Healing by the pool of Bethsaida. He is the one who can heal you if you wish to get well. He says to that man, "Do you want to get well?" Jesus is the fulfillment of the law of Moses and was announced by the Elijah who was to come, confirmed by his signs in the Holy Spirit, affirmed by the Father from heaven, and testified to in the Scriptures.
Chapter 6: Feeding of the 5,000. He is the Bread of Life who will satisfy you if you partake of him. He is not some fleeting meal that you'll be hungry in 24 hours; he is the Bread of Life. He is sovereign over nature and able to walk on the water.
Chapter 7: Teaching in Jerusalem at the Feast of Booths. He is the eternal wise one who has no formal education yet speaks with authority. He is the righteous one who divides sons of light from sons of darkness.
Chapter 8: The woman caught in the act of adultery. He is the standard of goodness to whom all men will give an account and, as such, has the authority to condemn us and forgive our sins. He's the Light of the World, and if you walk with him you won't walk in darkness. He is the visible image of the invisible Father. If you know him, you know God. If you love him, you love God.
Chapter 9: Healing of the blind man. He is the gracious one who gives sight to the blind and allows all men to see truth and walk in the light.
Chapter 10: He is teaching in Jerusalem. "I am the Good Shepherd, the fulfillment of Psalm 23. I will lead you by still waters, green pastures, and if you follow me, goodness and mercy will follow you all the days of your life. I am one with the Father. There is no distinction between him and me. We are one in nature and essence, and I will give my life for you."
Chapter 11: "I am the resurrection and the life, Lazarus. He who believes in me will never die."
Chapter 12: He is anointed by Mary. We don't know why yet. Kings are anointed, but so are those who are about to die. He enters Jerusalem, he is announced as King, and he is called "blessed" by the nation. He explains to his disciples, "I was anointed not to be a King but for death, and I'm about to fulfill my plan. I'm going to offer myself as an acceptable sacrifice so that people everywhere can know me. This happens by my will, not Pilate's, not yours, not the Pharisees'."
Chapter 13: "Though I am a King, I come to serve and not be served."
Chapters 14-16: "Come here, disciples. I want to teach you one last time what to do when I am gone. I am the way, I am the truth, and the life. Don't you forget it. I'm going to tell you now I'm not going to leave you as an orphan. I'm going to give you my Spirit so you can become something you otherwise would not be. I am the divine branch, and if you sever yourself from me, you will not bear good fruit, but if you keep yourself to me, it will be well with you."
Chapter 17: He goes alone and prays, and he says, "Father, help them be what I have been. Help them to serve as I have served. Help them to love as I have loved. Help them to be holy as I am holy."
Chapters 18-19: We have the betrayal, the arrest, the denial, the beating with Pilate, and the crucifixion. Jesus lays his life down, just like he said he would.
Chapter 20: The empty tomb. He takes it back up, just like he said he would.
Chapter 21: The resurrected Lord appears to his men, and what does he say? "Let's go fishing."
Do you think John is trying to tell you who he is? This is the guy, and it's time for you now to go fishing. Quit making live fish dead, and start making dead men alive. See, this is not just a book you're supposed to just make your way through. This is pure New Testament propaganda. It is either false or it is the only thing you need to know. Who do you say Jesus is, and what are you doing about it? Are you just reading Mein Kampf or are you following Jesus?
Father, I pray that we would be a body that would follow you. I thank you for this great rich book we are studying, that next week we get to dive into the very first sign and what it is saying. We thank you for the revelation that is here. I thank you for faithful folks in this body who are saying to others, "Come and see," and I thank you for those who are here this morning who may now come.
They may test the Word of God, that they would attend to it, they would be transformed by the renewing of their mind, that they might prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect, and they would follow you, and they would know in walking with Christ there is life and great reward. Use us now, having come, to go fish and tell others there is a source of life and his name is Jesus, amen.
All right, gang. Have a great week of worship. We'll see you.
Who was Jesus Christ? A mythical man created to give a false sense of comfort after we die? Some sort of character that enables us to justify our own choices while simultaneously giving us the power to judge others? Or was He something much bigger? God, in the flesh, walking and living among His creation. A sinless man who became the sacrifice for our sins. The Gospel of John is more than Christology 101. It is an invitation to a living and active faith in Jesus Christ. Come join us on this life-changing journey through the book of John: the story of Jesus Christ.