We Have Found the Messiah
Key Verse: 1:41 “The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon and tell him, ‘We have found the Messiah’ (that is, the Christ).”
Last week, John the Baptist introduced Jesus to the world, saying “Look, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” He also said, “I have seen, and I testify that this is the Son of God.” He clearly testified that Jesus is the Messiah. However, the priests, Levites, and Pharisees who were sent by the Jews of Jerusalem were not interested in his testimony. They did not seek the truth but only thought about how they report it to their boss and their authority. For them, keeping their position and security was the most important matters. But in today’s passage, we can see different people. When they heard about the testimony about Jesus, they did not ignore but tried to find the truth through a personal encounter with Jesus. Then they made an immediate confession after meeting Jesus, “We have found the Messiah!”, and brought people to Jesus. This time, let us learn how Jesus’ first disciples found the Messiah and more than that, how Jesus found them.
I. Come and you will see (36-39a)
Let’s read verses 35. “The next day John was there again with two of his disciples.” In this part, we learn how first two disciples met Jesus. According to verse 35, it seemed that John also raised some disciples. Of course, John’s disciples might repent their sins and receive baptism from John. They might do their best to live a holy life and to support John’s ministry. They might eat locusts and wear camel’s hair clothing together with John. They must be good helpers for John. Look at verses 36-37. “When he saw Jesus passing by, he said, “Look, the Lamb of God!” When the two disciples heard him say this, they followed Jesus.” The next day, when John was with his two disciples, he saw Jesus again. Then he told them, “Look, the Lamb of God!” What John was talking about was like this, “Look, he is the Messiah. You must follow him. Go not me” Usually, nobody wants to lose their followers. Nowadays, many people try hard to increase their followers in the social media. You can earn a lot of money if you have many followers. But John did not try to keep his disciples permanently but introduced them to Jesus so that they would follow Jesus instead of him.
Here, we can see that John’s main concern was not himself or his ministry. He knew that he could not forgive their sins and give them a life but Jesus only. He knew that his disciples were not his sheep, but Jesus’ sheep. He knew that his mission was not making his disciples but making them Jesus’ disciples. He knew that leading people only to Jesus is the way that he can truly love and help their soul because Jesus is the only way to God. Sometimes we can make a mistake that we try to control people as they are private property. It is very dangerous and a great sin that we abuse spiritual authority to control people in our ways for selfish reasons. We must not act like we are the savior. We cannot save them or give them a life. Only Jesus is the savior and gives the eternal life. We must lead our sheep and our children only to Jesus not to us. We must help them depend on Jesus only not us. We must let them only “Look” the lamb of God and follow him. Let’s say your neighbor, “Look, the lamb of God.”
After hearing John’s testimony, the two disciples, Andrew and probably John, the author of this gospel, were deeply moved. They wanted to see for themselves if it was true. When we preach the gospel to the campus students, many of them do not pay attention to our message. Even though we say, “Jesus is your Messiah!”, “Jesus forgave all your sins,” they respond “So what?” But these two disciples were different. They paid attention to John’s testimony and wanted to know if it was true. They were truth seekers. They were the remnants of God in that generation. I believe that there are remnants of God in our generation too. In Elijah’s time, Baal worship was prevalent, and it seemed that there was no one who sought God. So Elijah complained, “I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too” (1 Ki 19:14b). But God answered, “Yet I reserve seven thousand in Israel – all whose knees have not bowed down to Baal and whose mouths have not kissed him” (1 Ki 19:18). Our time is not any worse than Elijah’s time. Indeed, God reserved his holy people in our time (Ro 11:5). We believe that God reserved seven thousand Bible teachers and missionaries in NJ campuses. Do you believe it? May we keep finding God’s remnants through our fishing ministry, 1:1 bible studies and all our 5 loaves and 2 fish.
Two disciples started to follow Jesus through the help of John the Baptist. But how did Jesus react when two disciples followed Jesus? Let’s read verse 38a, “Turning around, Jesus saw them following and asked, “What do you want?”” Jesus directly questioned them, “What do you want?” Jesus did not welcome them blindly. He wanted to know their real desire or motive. The question, “What do you want?” may sound easy to answer. But it is not easy when we have to share an honest answer from our hearts. This question may be Jesus’ question for everybody here. “What do you want?” What do you want by following Jesus? What do you want by coming to worship service? Let’s examine our heart together? Do you want money? People’s recognition? Boy or girlfriend? Having fun? Delicious food? Some 2nd gens may answer, “I don’t know. I come to church because I have to” or “Otherwise M John will rebuke me.” I understand many people come to Jesus with wrong motives. One of my friends in Korea came to church to play soccer. One shepherd once shared a testimony that he came to the church to make a girlfriend. Thankfully, God changed their heart through Bible study, and later they could accept Jesus as their savior. It is better to come to church anyway than totally refusing to come. But we cannot continue to keep wrong motives. If you keep coming to Jesus with wrong motives, you will never grow spiritually even though you attend the church more than 10 years. Jesus wants us to have a right motive. So he asks from the beginning, “What do you want?”
What did the two disciples answer? Let’s read verse 38b, “They said, “Rabbi” (which means “Teacher”), “where are you staying?”” “Rabbi, where are you staying?” This means that they wanted to learn from him and to spend time with him. As they hear the testimony from John the Baptist, they really wanted to know Jesus that whether he is truly the Messiah. They had a great desire to know Jesus personally. Jesus also wants us to know him truly, make a relationship with him and grow in his image. In truth, we can find everything in Jesus. Jesus is the source of life and all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge (Jn1:4; Col 2:3). We must have a desire to know Jesus. This is essential in being a disciple of Jesus and to grow spiritually. We must keep this desire always. I recently read Dr. Paul David Tripp’s book named “Dangerous calling.” In his book, he talked about the danger of losing our awe. Losing our awe means forgetting who God is. To me, it is similar to the danger of losing our desire to know Jesus and grow in him. You are in spiritual danger if you lose a desire to know him and grow in him. Even apostle Paul who was the one of the greatest Saint did not say, “I know all about Christ.” Rather, after a lifetime of learning Christ, he said in Philippians 3:10, “I want to know Christ.” Jesus' disciples must have a burning desire to know Christ personally. When we do so, our Bible study will be exciting dating time with Jesus, and our worship will be a great wedding banquet with Jesus. Otherwise, we will be like Pharisees who totally failed to know their Messiah. I pray that God may cultivate our heart so that we may always have pure desire to know him and grow in his image.
How did Jesus respond? Let’s look at verse 39a, ““Come,” he replied, “and you will see.”” Jesus was happy to see the eager young disciples. Jesus answered, “Come, and you will see.” Jesus invited them to come and be with him. Jesus wanted to share his life with them. Jesus really wanted to make relationship with them. Just as the disciples were seeking the Messiah, the Messiah was seeking them. Jesus invites those who want to know him. “Come and you will see.” In Revelation 3:20, Jesus says, "Here I am. I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me." Jesus is at the door of our hearts knocking, even now. If we just open our hearts, he will come in. Jesus said, "Come, and you will see." The words, "you will see" are Jesus' promise of revelation. Do you have any problems in life? Do you need clear answer or help for them? Then come to Jesus. You will see. In Jesus, you will see all the solutions.
In John’s gospel, there are seven “I am” statements. Jesus says in John 6:35, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty. John 8:12, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 10:9, “I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. He will come in and go out and find pasture.” John 10:11, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” John 11:25-26, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die.” John 14:6, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 15:5, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” Are you feeling downtrodden or discouraged? Overcome by the worries of life? Do you carry a burden of guilt because of your sins? Do you have money problems? Or health problems? Relationship or Marriage problem? I’ll say it again. Whatever the question, Jesus is the answer. Come to Jesus, and you will see the answer. Come and you will see.
II. We Have Found the Messiah (39b-51)
Look at verse 39b, “So they went and saw where he was staying, and they spent that day with him. It was about four in the afternoon.” The two disciples spent time with Jesus several hours. What was the result of spending time with Jesus? Let’s read verses 40-41. “Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, was one of the two who heard what John had said and who had followed Jesus. The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon and tell him, “We have found the Messiah” (that is, the Christ).” When they approached Jesus with pure heart and motive, just simply being with Jesus was enough to open their eyes. They could see clearly that Jesus was the Messiah. One of the disciples, Andrew was so excited that he ran to his brother Simon and shouted, “We have found the Messiah.” I am not sure how much Andrew understood all the Biblical meaning of Messiah, but he could know and have confidence that Jesus is the Messiah. Jesus is the answer for all Andrew wanted to hear. He was so joyful and couldn't keep this good news to himself only, so he ran to his brother Simon and invite him. I believe that many of us here also had similar experiences when we met Jesus first time. When I met Jesus first time, the world looked so beautiful to me that I wanted to praise all day long nd share his love with loved ones. Jesus wants us to keep the first love till the end. I pray that we may all remember and restore the first love and keep growing in his love.
Look at verse 42. “And he brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said, “You are Simon son of John. You will be called Cephas” (which, when translated, is Peter).” Andrew brought his brother Simon to Jesus. When Jesus saw him, he said, “You are Simon son of John. You will be called Cephas.” Jesus knew who Simon was. Even though he was an ordinary Galilean fisherman, Jesus had great hope for him. Jesus gave him a new name Cephas, in English Peter, which means Rock. Jesus saw that Simon would become a pillar of faith for the early Christian church. Jesus saw that he would become a great man of God and spread the gospel to the whole world. So Jesus changed his name to Cephas. As Jesus foresaw, this man Simon became Peter the Rock, the great shepherd, and history maker. Among us, we have many biblical names. We have many Sarah, Rebecca, Daniel, Peter, Matthew, John, Faith, Grace, Joseph, and so on. Even though their names were given by their parents or other shepherds, I believe that their names are God’s great hope for each of them. I believe that God is molding me to be a pillar of faith for his world salvation work, especially for JBF souls. I believe that God may use Paul Shin as a great man of God like Saint Paul in the Bible. I believe that God may use Sarah Kim as a mother of many nations. Let’s also bring people to Jesus with great hope. We never know how Jesus will transform people we bring to him. We don’t need to worry about what will happen to them in the future. It is all up to Jesus. All we have to do is trust Jesus and bring people to him with faith.
Look at verse 43. “The next day Jesus decided to leave for Galilee. Finding Philip, he said to him, “Follow me.”” Unlike Andrew and Peter, here Jesus took the initiative to call Philip to follow him. Jesus’ calling is a divine mystery and his one-sided grace. The important thing is that he accepted Jesus’ invitation. What happened when he followed him? After experiencing Jesus’ call, Philip could not but go Nathanael and say, “We have found one Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote – Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph” (45). His response was just like Andrew’s reaction. But Philip’s testimony was much more based on the Scripture. He believed all the promises in the Scripture, and he realized that God fulfilled his promises through Jesus. He was so happy, so he wanted to invite his best friend Nathanael right away. However, Nathanael responded, “Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?” (46a). Nathanael had a prejudice toward the people of Galilee, including Nazareth. This was a cultural prejudice, which had a long history. From the time of the Assyrian invasion, Galilee’s culture had been mixed between Jew and Gentile (2 Ki 15:29), which resulted in religious pluralism (2 Ki 17:29-33). In the time of Jesus, it was known as Galilee of the Gentiles (Mt 4:15). According to my research, the term “Nazareth” was often used as an insult in the first century. At that time, if you call someone “Nazarene”, he would punch you. So Nathanael’s response could be kind of natural at that time. But according to Matthew 2:23, it was the fulfillment of the prophets that Jesus would be called a Nazarene. But because of prejudice, Nathanael thought that Messiah couldn’t come from Nazareth.
How did Philip deal with this? He did not agree with Nathanael nor argue with him. He simply said, “Come and see.” He had conviction that if Nathanael just encountered Jesus, all of his prejudice would vanish. This is the most effective way to bring people to Jesus, overcoming all kinds of prejudice. When we want to invite people to Jesus, we discover many kinds of hindering barriers: ethnic, social, religious, cultural, language and so on. Especially missionaries who cross cultures face these barriers. When we analyze them, they seem impossible to overcome, and we can easily give up. But there is a way. When we are convinced that Jesus is the Messiah, and simply say, “Come and see,” we can experience a breakthrough.
Have you ever heard about ‘sweet potato outreach or fishing’? There was a man in Korea who was fully devoted himself to invite people to Jesus, and he made this idea through Act 13:48, “When the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and honored the word of the Lord; and all who were appointed for eternal life believed.” He thought that saving a soul is totally depended on God’s sovereignty and his role is just finding the appointed for eternal life. His outreach style is pretty simple. It is basically four steps. First, he asks people, “Do you believe in Jesus?” If people reject, he says, “But you must believe.” Then he adds, “It is very good” At the end, he says, “I pray for you.” And then he repeats the same step, whenever he meets the same person again until the person opens his or her heart. It is like poking the sweet potato with a chopstick until it is fully cooked. He says that we should keep poking the people until they are fully ready to hear the word of God. If you don’t know how to go out to fishing, you can just follow his instruction. It is just four sentence. Let’s practice it this week so that we can poke people, with the grace of Jesus and truth, and find the one who is appointed for eternal life.
Nathanael was a fully cooked sweet potato. He accepted Philip’s invitation and went to see Jesus. When Jesus saw Nathanael approaching, he said of him, “Here is a true Israelite in whom there is no deceit” (47). Jesus knew Nathanael’s inner man. He was a true Israelite who was God-fearing and honest. He was not sneaky and double-minded. Nathanael was surprised because Jesus knew his inner heart. He said, “How do you know me?” Jesus answered, “I saw you while you were still under the fig tree before Philip called you.” Nathanael was shocked by Jesus’ transcendent knowledge of him. So he declared, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the king of Israel” (49). When Nathanael encountered Jesus, all of his prejudice was gone, and his spiritual eyes opened. He just came to Jesus; then he found the Messiah. Look at verse 50. "Jesus said, 'You believe because I told you I saw you under the fig tree. You shall see greater things than that." Jesus accepted Nathanael's confession of faith. But this was not the end of the story. It was just the beginning. Jesus promised that he would see greater things. Look at verse 51. "He then added, 'I tell you the truth, you shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.'" When we follow Jesus faithfully, we will see heaven open, and we will see Jesus in his glory. This is his promise. Just "Come and see,” then you will find the Messiah and experience all his glory. Amen.
Today, we learn how the first disciples encountered Jesus. I pray that we all may encounter Jesus with pure heart and desire. We may also bring people to Jesus with simple faith ‘come and see’ so that they may find the Messiah.
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