Faithlife Sermons

HG026-28. John 1:19-51

Harmony of the Gospels  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  22:24
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John 1:19–51 NIV
19 Now this was John’s testimony when the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem sent priests and Levites to ask him who he was. 20 He did not fail to confess, but confessed freely, “I am not the Messiah.” 21 They asked him, “Then who are you? Are you Elijah?” He said, “I am not.” “Are you the Prophet?” He answered, “No.” 22 Finally they said, “Who are you? Give us an answer to take back to those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?” 23 John replied in the words of Isaiah the prophet, “I am the voice of one calling in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way for the Lord.’ ” 24 Now the Pharisees who had been sent 25 questioned him, “Why then do you baptize if you are not the Messiah, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet?” 26 “I baptize with water,” John replied, “but among you stands one you do not know. 27 He is the one who comes after me, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie.” 28 This all happened at Bethany on the other side of the Jordan, where John was baptizing. 29 The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! 30 This is the one I meant when I said, ‘A man who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’ 31 I myself did not know him, but the reason I came baptizing with water was that he might be revealed to Israel.” 32 Then John gave this testimony: “I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him. 33 And I myself did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, ‘The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’ 34 I have seen and I testify that this is God’s Chosen One.” 35 The next day John was there again with two of his disciples. 36 When he saw Jesus passing by, he said, “Look, the Lamb of God!” 37 When the two disciples heard him say this, they followed Jesus. 38 Turning around, Jesus saw them following and asked, “What do you want?” They said, “Rabbi” (which means “Teacher”), “where are you staying?” 39 “Come,” he replied, “and you will see.” So they went and saw where he was staying, and they spent that day with him. It was about four in the afternoon. 40 Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, was one of the two who heard what John had said and who had followed Jesus. 41 The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon and tell him, “We have found the Messiah” (that is, the Christ). 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). 43 The next day Jesus decided to leave for Galilee. Finding Philip, he said to him, “Follow me.” 44 Philip, like Andrew and Peter, was from the town of Bethsaida. 45 Philip found Nathanael and told him, “We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote—Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.” 46 “Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?” Nathanael asked. “Come and see,” said Philip. 47 When Jesus saw Nathanael approaching, he said of him, “Here truly is an Israelite in whom there is no deceit.” 48 “How do you know me?” Nathanael asked. Jesus answered, “I saw you while you were still under the fig tree before Philip called you.” 49 Then Nathanael declared, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the king of Israel.” 50 Jesus said, “You believe because I told you I saw you under the fig tree. You will see greater things than that.” 51 He then added, “Very truly I tell you, you will see ‘heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending on’ the Son of Man.”
You might be forgiven to think that we have already read these words about John the Baptist before, but you would be wrong! In previous passages the words of John the Baptist are those we heard before Jesus was baptised. Now we are hearing from him after the Baptism and temptation of Jesus.
With that said we are not going to revisit the questions about the purpose of John the Baptist and his response to the questions concerning his calling except to say that he plainly said he is not the Christ and had come to point to the One who is.
The next day after repeating all this…John roots Jesus into the historical: He is alive in our temporal time and space having limited Himself to them in bodily form. This was no mystical, spiritual living but actual day-to-day life here on earth in the little area called Israel.
Then John points to Jesus and says: “Behold the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.”
This reminds us of what we have already read in
Genesis 22:7–8 AV
7 And Isaac spake unto Abraham his father, and said, My father: and he said, Here am I, my son. And he said, Behold the fire and the wood: but where is the lamb for a burnt offering? 8 And Abraham said, My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering: so they went both of them together.
Abraham was taking his son, after being commanded by God to sacrifice him, to Mount Moriah which is thought to be the hill upon which Jesus died. God will provide Himself a lamb as a sacrifice, His own son. God had not told Abraham to do something He Himself was not willing to do. Abraham was prevented from doing so for it was a test of His loyalty and faith but there was no one to stop God from sacrificing Jesus on the very spot God had asked Abraham to do so.
And, of course, the lamb would also remind the readers of what was required of the Jews to escape the hand of the Egyptians. We will read about this in August when we get to Exodus 12. A lamb had to be killed and eaten and its blood spread on the doorposts and lintels that when the destroyer was going to kill all the firstborn of Egypt that it would pass over the Jews and not kill them too. It was this which wrought a great deliverance for Israel. The picture for us is of the lamb of God who was sacrificed and His blood poured out on us so that we too would be passed over from judgement and death and be delivered. Jesus was the ultimate fulfilment of the annual Passover sacrifice: As Paul said:
1 Corinthians 5:7 NKJV
7 Therefore purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, since you truly are unleavened. For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us.
And a fulfilment of prophecy in:
Isaiah 53:7–12 NKJV
7 He was oppressed and He was afflicted, Yet He opened not His mouth; He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, And as a sheep before its shearers is silent, So He opened not His mouth. 8 He was taken from prison and from judgment, And who will declare His generation? For He was cut off from the land of the living; For the transgressions of My people He was stricken. 9 And they made His grave with the wicked— But with the rich at His death, Because He had done no violence, Nor was any deceit in His mouth. 10 Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise Him; He has put Him to grief. When You make His soul an offering for sin, He shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days, And the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in His hand. 11 He shall see the labor of His soul, and be satisfied. By His knowledge My righteous Servant shall justify many, For He shall bear their iniquities. 12 Therefore I will divide Him a portion with the great, And He shall divide the spoil with the strong, Because He poured out His soul unto death, And He was numbered with the transgressors, And He bore the sin of many, And made intercession for the transgressors.
In fact we are always being delivered for the words ‘takes away’ is a present tense. He is always taking our sin away. The hope that this gives us because we are ever in need of our sin being taken away.
When John points to Him two of John’s disciples literally follow Jesus tough only Andrew is mentioned by name. The other is thought to be John, the writer of the Gospel for the fact he knew this little detail. Andrew, though, goes and gets Simon first, who we find out to be Peter, whom Jesus calls ‘the stone’ - probably everyone knew he was fickle and weak but he did, in time, become the stone man through whom over 3000 people came to faith in Jesus.
Andrew is in no doubt that they had found the Messiah but it took almost 3 years for Peter to truly come to this realisation when eventually he declared it to be so in Mark 8.29 near the end of the ministry of Jesus. This is very much how it is in the world. Some people immediately realise the truth of the Gospel but others, even with continued influence take much longer. I’ve said before about how it was for Irena who came to faith almost immediately but someone else who had been witnessed to at the same time took about 7 years to come to faith. We never know how long the seed will take to come to fruition and maybe long after we are gone or they have moved. I can speak of my own conversion taking 11 years from the time my curiosity was first peaked about there even being a God to the time He became my God. Let’s keep showing to people that Jesus is Lord and, in due course, fruit will be borne. Andrew and Peter and the anonymous disciple then spend the remainder of the day with Jesus.
The next day Jesus calls Philip to follow him on his way to Galilee which is where Jesus was from. Then Philip goes and finds Nathanael, whom we assume to be a friend or possibly a relation of his and says that they have found the One the Scriptures talk about, you can sense His anticipation and excitement. He could not but help himself in going to get Nathanael. Nathanael knew the Scriptures too and said what good had ever come from Nazareth. Philip does the only thing he could - gives him an invitation to find out for himself - come and see. Philip was not about to have a theological argument with Nathanael - he said it is better to find out for yourself! Oh, it is the simplest of invitations: come and see! Isn’t this easy? You speak to your friends, family, your neighbours, your colleagues, and say: come and see.
In three weeks’ time we will be looking at John 3, God willing, where we have the most famous verse in all of Scripture:
John 3:16 AV
16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
and I want to preach a proper Gospel message to those who have not yet come to faith, will you invite everyone you meet to come to the morning service, and simply say to them: Come and see. If need be offer them a lift! Surely this is something we all can do! We could double the number of people here for the morning! Can we commit to this? Will you commit to this?
Philip, you know, became a great evangelist in Acts and whole places became Christians on the basis of saying ‘come and see’.
Well Nathanael is on the way to find out about this Jesus and before he says a word Jesus speaks of him as if he had known him for years. Ah, yes! Here comes a true Israelite who has no falseness, no deceit, no Jacob about him. That’s right!
Hang on a minute! How do you know me? What you say is true but as far as I know I have never met you before.
Well, this is where it gets interesting: I saw you when you were under that particular tree before Philip came to you.
Hang on yet another minute! I was on my own, no-one saw me, how is this possible? Only God could have seen me there. Whoa! That can only mean that you are God.
So full of confirmation is the Scripture that Jesus is God that we have no excuse when people come along and say He was only a good human teacher whom they respect. What nonsense they speak!
C.S Lewis got it right when he said:
Evidence for Christianity 1A. Who is Jesus of Nazareth?

I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: “I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept His claim to be God.” That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic—on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg—or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a mad man or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come up with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to. (Lewis, MC’52, 40, 41)

Nathanael recognised that Jesus must be who Philip said he was, the One foretold in Scripture, the Messiah, the Son of God and immediately confessed it out loud. He had total faith in Him at his very first meeting.
Jesus marvelled at His simple faith because that was such a simple thing for Him to do; to reveal the whereabouts of Nathanael - you will see much greater things than these! For Nathanael that first greet and meet left its mark on him because it was directly personal and he sure did see some truly amazing things including seeing Jesus after His resurrection.
Indeed Nathanael was an Israelite with no Jacob. Remember that Jacob, whom we have read about in Genesis, was a deceitful man but his name was changed to Israel. Jesus alluded again to him again when he was running from his brother and when he slept he dreamed and saw angels descending and ascending into Heaven upon a ladder. Jesus was saying: I am that ladder for the angels were subject to Him. And only through Him can you have access to Heaven and in Him we must all put our trust.
In the course of 2 days Jesus has 4 disciples: Andrew, Simon Peter, Philip and Nathanael. There is the possibility that Nathanael’s other name was Bartholomew for his name is always associated with Philip in the other Gospels but this is conjecture. We need to always be careful not to assume more than we are told in Scripture for that is how we go into error. Either way, even if he was not of the 12 he was still a disciple as we are told in John 21.
Jesus is the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. He came to live in our world, in the flesh, in time and space. We have to decide whether Jesus is who He says He is and worship Him only and become His disciple and leave behind the life we’ve lived to live a life full of Him. He demands it simply by being who He is for we owe our all to Him. And then we are to be those who give the invitation to all whom we meet: Come and see! Well? since we owe our all to Jesus, the reason why we are here right now, will we invite others to taste and see by telling them to come and see?


Barry, J. D., Mangum, D., Brown, D. R., Heiser, M. S., Custis, M., Ritzema, E., … Bomar, D. (2012, 2016). Faithlife Study Bible. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.
Bromiley, G. W. (Ed.). (1979–1988). In The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, Revised. Wm. B. Eerdmans.
Carson, D. A. (1991). The Gospel according to John. Leicester, England; Grand Rapids, MI: Inter-Varsity Press; W.B. Eerdmans.
Haenchen, E., Funk, R. W., & Busse, U. (1984). John: a commentary on the Gospel of John. Philadelphia: Fortress Press.
McDowell, J. (2006). Evidence for christianity. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.
McGee, J. V. (1991). Thru the Bible commentary: The Gospels (John 1-10) (electronic ed., Vol. 38). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.
Van der Toorn, K., Becking, B., & van der Horst, P. W. (1999). In Dictionary of deities and demons in the Bible (2nd extensively rev. ed.). Leiden; Boston; Köln; Grand Rapids, MI; Cambridge: Brill; Eerdmans.
Exported from Logos Bible Software, 14:34 01 July 2017.
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