Sermon 01 - Intro to John - 1,35-51
1. ((illus)) Several years ago Andrew Morton wrote a biography of Princess Diana. In his publicity for the book, he said his information was based on conversations he had had with some of her closest friends. His book sold thousands of copies.
After Diana’s tragic death in a car accident in Paris, Andrew Morton’s book was re-released. This time he revealed that the source of his information had not been intimate friends of Diana’s, but Diana herself.
He then produced hours of taped conversations with the princess as proof. And his books sold hundreds of thousands of copies.
It made an enormous difference to the reading public to discover the book was not hearsay but what Diana had said about herself.
2. During the next few months leading up to Easter, we want to look at the Life of Jesus Christ as presented in the Gospel of John.
a. And we want to do so from someone who was an eye-witness of Jesus.
b. But not just an eye-witness, but part of Jesus’ inner circle who saw Him behind the scenes.
c. In fact, John would be considered as probably Jesus closest earthly friend.
3. So, John’s Gospel is considered the most intimate of the four Gospels.
a. Some have even called John’s Gospel, the AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JESUS CHRIST.
4. John is placed as the 4th Gospel because:
a. It was written between 85-90 AD some 30 years after the last Gospel.
b. And contains material that is not in the other Gospels.
5. The first three Gospel are called the Synoptic Gospels because their subject matter is very similar and they can be put side-by-side for comparison.
a. John wasn’t interested in providing a knock off version of the Gospels already written.
b. John is not so much a description of the details of Jesus’s life but in providing the meaning to them.
6. Listen to John’s reason for writing:
a. John 20:31 - But these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing in him you will have life.
i) John wants his readers to understand who Jesus is,
ii) believe (have relationship)
iii) And experience life – God’s life.
b. That was John’s experience.
i) At one point he was known as a violent, overbearing, self-centered man.
ii) If he were alive today, he would probably work on an oil rig off the coast of Greenland.
iii) He might enter those Ultimate Warrior competitions on the weekend for fun.
c. But by the time he writes a first-hand, eye-witness account of Jesus a transformation has taken place.
i) In this Gospel he never mentions his own name.
ii) He simply addresses himself as “the disciple whom Jesus loved.”
iii) And he is known as “the apostle of Love” rather than a son of thunder.
d. That’s light years from when he asked Jesus to give him a seat of honor at the right side of Jesus in heaven (Mark 10:35-41).
7. We’ll talk more about these things as we move through the Gospel.
a. And it will be quick.
b. But during this time, I want us to be able to come see more the intimate heart of Jesus.
c. To open ourselves up to a fresh touch from Him.
8. If you look at John 1, you’ll see that John comes out of the starting gate with an explosion.
a. Bigger than you or I usually think.
b. Presented as:
i) The Eternal Word – God’s final and authoritative word
ii) The Creator of all things
iii) The Light
iv) The Son of God
v) The One who is full of grace and truth
vi) The Lamb of God
vii) The Messiah
viii) The King of Israel
ix) The Son of Man
c. Maybe there’s a
i) Problem to solve
ii) A marriage to reconcile
iii) A memory to heal
iv) A guilty conscience to cleanse
v) A budget to stretch
vi) A mouth to feed
vii) A boss to please
viii) A teacher to accommodate
ix) A job to find
x) A habit to break
xi) An addiction to overcome
9. Jesus wants you to get to know Him and follow Him as one who’s power to touch your life is bigger and greater than you could ever think.
10. ((illus)) I hope that you will be able to life like one lady I read about this week.
This woman was joining a local church and in the process was asked, "What do you do for a living?" She replied, "I'm a disciple of Jesus Christ secretly disguised as a financial advisor."
Isn't that a great answer?
I'm a disciple of Jesus Christ secretly disguised as a car pool mom, or a legal secretary. I hope you will think of yourself in similar terms.
11. WHAT WAS THE PROCESS that brought this woman to this perspective about her life?
a. Whatever it was, included this understanding of Jesus power to touch her life.
b. It’s found in 1:35-51
THE TRANSFORMING POWER OF JESUS
John 1:35-51 (page 893)
1. THE POWER OF CHRIST STARTS WITH SMALL BEGINNINGS
a. 35 The following day, John (the Baptist) was again standing with two of his disciples. 36 As Jesus walked by, John looked at him and then declared, “Look! There is the Lamb of God!”
i) John the Baptist was like a rock star in his day; crowds of thousands followed him.
ii) But John was humble.
iii) He knew he was a transitional figure sent to prepare the way for the coming of someone greater.
iv) When he saw Jesus, he immediately realized that the Christ had arrived, and joyfully proclaimed the truth he alone perceived: "Look, the Lamb of God!"
b. 37 Then John’s two disciples turned and followed Jesus. 38 Jesus looked around and saw them following. “What do you want?” he asked them. They replied, “Rabbi” (which means Teacher), “where are you staying?”
39 “Come and see,” he said. It was about four o’clock in the afternoon when they went with him to the place, and they stayed there the rest of the day.
40 Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, was one of these men who had heard what John said and then followed Jesus. 41 The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother, Simon, and tell him, “We have found the Messiah” (which means the Christ).
42 Then Andrew brought Simon to meet Jesus. Looking intently at Simon, Jesus said, “You are Simon, the son of John—but you will be called Cephas” (which means Peter).
43 The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. He found Philip and said to him, “Come, be my disciple.” 44 Philip was from Bethsaida, Andrew and Peter’s hometown.
45 Philip went off to look for Nathanael and told him, “We have found the very person Moses and the prophets wrote about! His name is Jesus, the son of Joseph from Nazareth.
46 “Nazareth!” exclaimed Nathanael. “Can anything good come from there?
“Just come and see for yourself,” Philip said.
47 As they approached, Jesus said, “Here comes an honest man—a true son of Israel.”
48 “How do you know about me?” Nathanael asked. And Jesus replied, “I could see you under the fig tree before Philip found you.”
49 Nathanael replied, “Teacher, you are the Son of God—the King of Israel!”50 Jesus asked him, “Do you believe all this just because I told you I had seen you under the fig tree? You will see greater things than this.” 51 Then he said, “The truth is, you will all see heaven open and the angels of God going up and down upon the Son of Man.”
c. As we read this story, I’m sure there was someone thinking, “How did this story get into this Gospel, especially after an explosive beginning (:1-18)?”
i) It doesn't have anything to do with Jesus' teaching.
ii) It's nothing but a series of introductions:
(a) "Look there he is."
(a) "Oh, okay."
(a) "May I help you?"
(a) "What do you want?"
(a) "Where are you staying?"
(a) "Come and see."
(a) "Let's hang out."
iii) We now know the rest of the NT story and know that God can accomplish amazing things from such a humble starting point as two people saying, "Let's get together."
iv) Perhaps that's what John is telling us here.
v) The kingdom of God is like a mustard seed: it appears so tiny and insignificant and trivial ... but then, watch out.
d. ((illus)) With election year politics starting to build up I’m reminded that back in the 1970s, a farmer from Georgia decided to go into politics.
That farmer's name was Jimmy Carter.
In the early days of Carter's political career, a Christian by the name of Bobby Rearden would travel by his side, appearing as "the young man carrying the briefcase" at various functions during Carter's gubernatorial campaign.
Bobby tells about standing with Jimmy Carter outside factories early in the morning, passing out leaflets to workers as they came on the job. And then afterwards, going around and picking up those leaflets from the ground where they had been carelessly dropped.
One night, after a long day of campaigning, they flew back to Plains in a small private plane. The pilot had to land in the dark on a rural landing strip. He flew the plane over once to scare the cows off. They had phoned ahead to tell Rosalynn and Miss Lillian of their arrival; the women were parked at opposite ends of the runway, with their car headlights aimed to illuminate the strip so the pilot could see to land.
As they were flying in, the pilot told Bobby, "When we touch down I want you to open that door on your side and hold it open wide, because the resistance will help slow us down." Bobby tells me that that was the moment he accepted Jesus as his savior (I'm only kidding, of course).
My favorite part of this story came after they landed safely. Bobby forgot and left a stack of campaign literature sitting out, so when the plane took off again, it blew hundreds of brochures into the trees.
e. If you had been present that night you might have been tempted to say,
i) "This campaign is going nowhere. Jimmy who???"
ii) And you might have questioned the quality of Jimmy Carter's disciples.
iii) But you would have been witnessing the first halting steps of the campaign that would eventually catapult this man, Jimmy Carter, into the role of the most powerful person in the world, and would lead to his status today as one of the most beloved persons on this planet.
f. If you have a dream to do something significant or great for God, don't be discouraged by a small beginning.
i) It was as the result of a conversation between a fisherman and a carpenter that the Christian church began.
ii) Our little conversations take place on the vast stage of eternity, so it is always true that in the kingdom of God,
(a) there are no trivial conversations,
(a) no insignificant moments,
(a) no ordinary people.
iii) Great undertakings appear in the guise of small and unimportant events.
g. John wants us to see the power of Christ to start from small beginnings.
THE POWER OF CHRIST STARTS WITH SMALL BEGINNINGS
2. THE POWER OF CHRIST IS INTENSELY PERSONAL
a. I mentioned that John wrote after Matthew, Mark and Luke.
i) And in these paragraphs, John is correcting an impression we could easily get by reading only Matthew Mark and Luke. In the first three gospels, it appears that the first time Jesus met these disciples was the day he appeared out of the clear blue as they were working as fishermen on the Sea of Galilee. Jesus marched up to them and commanded "Follow me ..." and the disciples dropped everything to follow Jesus with zombie-like devotion over the hill.
ii) John lets his readers know, "No, it wasn't that way at all.
(a) Jesus already knew these men.
(a) They weren't simply fishermen on the sea of Galilee, they were disciples of John the Baptist."
iii) That morning Jesus spent time getting to know those men.
(a) Afterwards, Jesus went into the wilderness, then he came back to find his potential disciples on the Sea of Galilee.
(a) His words - "Follow me" - were built on the foundation of his previous introduction to these men.
b. Jesus enters into an intimate relationship with us today in the same way.
i) Jesus doesn't zap us.
ii) He woos us.
iii) He doesn't override our wills.
iv) He respects us too much for that.
c. ((illus)) Hollywood Bible movies sometimes portray Jesus as a charismatic figure who walks into a village and mesmerizes everyone
i) Regardless of their activities or occupations, the people he meets drop everything to follow after him.
ii) But before he says, "Follow me," Jesus first says, "Come and see."
d. Maybe you're here at worship services this morning, but you're not yet a disciple of Jesus.
i) To you, Jesus isn't saying "Follow me."
ii) He's saying, :39 "Come and you will see": get to know me, spend time in my presence and see if you don't want to turn this into the adventure of a lifetime.
e. Jesus doesn't want us to take just the roles of followers; he wants us as friends.
i) Jesus was God; he didn't need helpers.
ii) Mark tells us why he called the disciples: "He called to himself the twelve that they might be with him."
iii) At the end of a long day, after being kicked out of the synagogue and trashed by the Pharisees, Jesus could share his heart, his dreams and even his struggles with these twelve men.
iv) And one by one, that intimacy changed their lives.
f. ((illus)) Take Nathanael.
i) In :45 his friend Philip runs up and says breathlessly, “We have found the very person Moses and the prophets wrote about! His name is Jesus, the son of Joseph from Nazareth.
ii) Nathanael is incredulous:
(a) A Messiah from Nazareth? This is a joke, right?"
iii) He follows his friend Philip out of curiosity more than anything else, and the moment Jesus sees Nathanael he remarks, :47 - “Here comes an honest man—a true son of Israel.”
(a) "Oh, now there's an Israelite who really speaks his mind."
(a) Nathanael turns white and thinks: "Ooooh, he heard my Nazareth joke. He heard me bad-mouth his hometown."
(a) As if that weren't enough to disconcert Nathanael, Jesus then says, :48 - “I could see you under the fig tree before Philip found you.”
iv) :48 - Through trembling lips, Nathanial blurts out this wonderful phrase, "How did you know me?"
g. John reveals to us that Jesus knows Nathanael because Jesus knows everything.
i) Jesus is God.
ii) He is deity incarnate in human flesh.
iii) The aggregate wisdom in the faculties and libraries of FSU, and all the rest of the State Universities, along with that of all the colleges and universities of the world, would appear as merely a thimbleful beside the vastness of the knowledge of Jesus Christ.
iv) But Jesus doesn't know only things - he knows us. – our hearts
h. Nathanael wants to know, "How do you know me???"
i) Whatever happened to the right to privacy?
ii) What about the new HEPPA act?
iii) How does he know my words before I speak them?
i. Jesus Christ has intensely personal, exhaustive knowledge of the heart of every person here this morning.
i) He reads our e-mail.
ii) He knows all our passwords: not just to our computer, but the password to our heart.
iii) With awe and wonder, we might well ask him "How do you know me?"
j. And if Jesus knew the heart of Nathanael, we also see in this passage that he KNEW THE FUTURE OF PETER.
i) The moment the Lord lays eyes on Simon Peter, he says, :42 - “You are Simon, the son of John—but you will be called Cephas” (which means Peter) or rock.
ii) ((illus)) I read somewhere that our President, George W. Bush, loves to give people nicknames.
iii) Well, Jesus meets Simon, and I don't know whether it's due to Peter's size or strength, but he says, "Hey Petra ... Rockman ... You are one big rock."
iv) Only in those days, changing someone's name was tantamount to changing that person's destiny.
(a) Though Peter probably didn't realize it at the time, we now know that Jesus was saying, in effect, "I believe in you, Peter.
(a) One day you are going to be the anchor of my ministry and the Gibraltar of my early church."
(a) Jesus had a vision for Peter's future.
k. ((illus)) After Disneyworld was completed in Orlando, Florida, someone remarked, "Isn't it too bad that Walt Disney didn't live to see this!" Mike Vance, creative director for Disney replied, "Walt Disney did see this - that's why it's here."
l. Today God sees the person you can become by his power in the coming year:
i) strong and focused,
ii) caring and loving.
iii) That person already exists as a dream in the mind of God, just as Peter, the leader of the Christian church, already existed in the mind of Jesus, and Epcot existed in the mind of Walt Disney.
iv) In God's dream, you are a fully committed disciple.
v) And you become that disciple by following Jesus Christ.
m. God's dream for you will take you to places beyond imagining.
i) That does not mean, however, that life as a disciple will be easy.
ii) Someone once said that being a disciple of Jesus sometimes feels a lot like playing Mel Gibson's sidekick in a Lethal Weapon movie - you can't believe the crazy situations you wind up in.
iii) But it all seems worthwhile, because when you look up, your friend is always there at your side.
n. THE POWER OF CHRIST STARTS WITH SMALL BEGINNINGS
i) THE POWER OF CHRIST IS INTENSELY PERSONAL
(a) Jesus knows our heart. And he can also see our future.
1. ((illus)) In his book, Life Rails, Scott Walker tells of his friend, James Pearson, who fought in World War Two. One day Pearson was part of a reconnaissance team sent out to scout German troop positions. The patrol went out very early on a winter morning.
As they left the security of their own front lines, the patrol had to cross an American minefield. The mines had been clearly marked for their safe passage, so they made their way very cautiously around the explosives. When they got to the other side of the field, they crept quietly into some woods to spy on the Germans.
They hadn't advanced very far when a machine gun nest opened up on them and they were pinned to the ground. For several hours they lay there, unable to advance or retreat. The sky turned from blue to grey, snow clouds formed, and a blizzard struck.
By late afternoon, the platoon leader decided they had to risk a retreat under cover of the snow. So they thankfully slipped away from the deadly German crossfire to return to the American lines.
But when they made it back to the edge of the woods and were on the perimeter of the minefield, they saw that they had a huge problem. Heavy snow had fallen and completely covered all the markings that indicated where the explosives were. As the sky darkened, they knew a decision had to be made.
A German offensive was probably imminent. If the patrol waited until the next day to cross the minefield, they could easily be wiped out by a German advance at dawn. They really only had once chance: they had to cross that minefield before dark.
Calling them together, the platoon leader said, "I am going to lead you single file across the meadow. I want you to space yourselves thirty yards apart." Then he give them his most important instruction: "You are to place your boots exactly in the imprints left by my boots." That way, if a mine exploded, only he would detonate it, and only he would be killed.
Slowly the reconnaissance team made their way across the meadow. The only evidence of the passage of an entire platoon was a single set of bootprints. Miraculously, they made it across safely to the American side. When they woke the next morning, the men could still see their bootprints in the snow. Several hours later, when the engineers re-mapped the location of the mines, they discovered that the entire platoon had neatly stepped over a mine, avoiding a deadly explosion by inches. By following their leader's footsteps, they arrived home safely.
2. We live in precarious times, my friends.
a. The national alert color moves up and down.
b. On top of the troubles of the world, you may be facing personal challenges.
c. Your family or workplace may feel like one big interpersonal minefield.
d. When moving forward seems impossible, you have the assurance that one step ahead of you, Jesus is beckoning,
i) "Come and see - Seeker,
ii) Come and see" – be my Disciple
3. In the Gospel of John we find his footprints clearly marked.
4. So this Winter and Spring, I invite you to join me and follow in his steps.
Lord we thank you for the adventure of discipleship. We find it reassuring that you start from small beginnings, perhaps even with a conversation we have this morning that may lead to fulfillment of your dream for us; and that you are intensely personal in your power. You know us through and through, and see us not only as we are in our weakness, but also as all that we can become by your grace. And we know that we needn't fear your complete knowledge of us, because your love for us is also without limit. We thank you for the clear footsteps of Jesus' passage we find traced in John's gospel. Amen.