John’s Gospel Chapter 1
E. L. Lovering, Ilfracombe
SUBJECT : The first Disciples, 'They heard the call.' STUDY PORTION : John 1. 37-51
THESE VERSES ARE A LESSON in men and motives, characters and contacts. Man manufactures patterns of uniformity, but God creates people in diversity. There are no set rules for winning souls, so beware of imitating another man's method. Here are four characters in their contact with Christ:
1. THE CONTACT-- A question : 'What seek ye?' v. 38.
THE CHARACTER - Andrew the cautious, w. 37-41.
Andrew would appear to be an unassuming, inconspicu¬ous and cautious type, willing rather to be a 'link in a chain' than a dominant figure, thus
a. he is referred to as 'Simon Peter's brother';
b. on three occasions he is found introducing people to the Saviour - his brother, John 1. 41-42 ; a lad with five barley loaves and two small fishes, John 6. 8-9 ; the Greeks who sought to see Jesus, John 12. 20-22.
c. 'What seek ye?' v. 38. Note, i. the significance of 'what', not 'whom'. Andrew and John (most probably) had left the Baptist to follow the Christ of whom John spake. What were they seeking in Christ ? Why had they left John, to follow Him? Maybe the habit¬ual caution of Andrew was behind the enquiry: ' Where dwellest thou?' 'And they abode with him that day'. it. 'Seek' implies earnest desire, as in 'seek ye first the kingdom of God', Matt. 6. 33 ; 'seek, and ye shall find', Matt. 7. 7 ; 'the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost', Luke 19. 10. Hi. The first recorded public utterance of the Lord Jesus Christ, followed by invitation, 'come and ye shall see', v. 39, R.v. iv. The result of his seeking and seeing - 'we have found the Messias, . . . the Christ', v. 41. Those who seek Him always find Him.
2. THE CONTACT -A statement: 'Thou art Sin ion the son of Jona : thou shalt be called Cephas' (a stone).
THE CHARACTER- Simon Peter the confident, v. 42.
Note, the Lord 'beheld him', i.e. looked upon him with a penetrating look, not a mere glance ; this He did also in
the judgment hall, Luke 22. 61. 'Thou art' - what he was naturally - Simon, self confident, weak and failing, cf. 'on the water', Matt. 14. 28-30 ; 'in the garden', John 18. 9-11 ; and 'in the palace', John 18. 15-27. 'Thou shalt be called' - what he became through contact with Christ. Peter (petros, a stone), resting on Christ the Rock (pelra, a mass of rock).
3. THE CONTACT- A command : 'Follow me', v. 43.
THE CHARACTER - Philip the calculating, vv. 43-44-
Note. Jesus findeth Philip although he was of Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter - why had they not sought him ? Did they consider him too hard to win ? Phihp was slow and calculating, see the following : 'Whence shall we buy bread, that these may cat ?' John 6. 5-6. These words of the Saviour, perhaps the only recorded occasion when He asked advice, and this that He may 'prove him : for he himself knew what he would do'. Philip's answer was one of calculating reason : 'Two hundred pennyworth of bread is not sufficient . . . that every one may take a little'.
'Phihp saith unto him, Lord, shew us the Father, and it sufficeth us. Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Phihp ?' John 14. 8-9; It was for Philip not to reason why, but to obey the Lord's command, hence 'follow me', literally means 'follow with Me' - companionship and union.
4. THE CONTACT - An exclamation : 'Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile', v. 47.
THE CHARACTER- Nathanael the commendable, vv. 45-51.
Nathanael was devoted, v. 47, an Israelite indeed : Israel, a prince with God. The name given to Jacob, crippled to be crowned, Gen. 32. 28. Nathanael was discovered, v. 48, 'when thou wast under the fig tree, I saw thee': the fig tree - place of devotion and secrecy and meditation. Character is what a man is in the dark! Was Nathanael meditating upon the history of Jacob ? - one who was known for his guile. Nathanael was one in whom was nothing of Jacob's crookedness and craft. Nathanael was disillusioned, v. 49. To Philip he had said 'Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth ?' Now he answers 'Rabbi, thou art the Son of God ; thou art the King of Israel'. 'Thou shalt see greater things than these', v. 50. Jacob's dream, Gen. 28, becomes reality in Christ. Heaven and earth are linked together in Christ who is the Way, the Truth and the Life -Son of God and Son of Man.