with Alan Bailey
Welcome to this Bible Study. Read what I have written slowly. If you have a Bible look up the reference verses given, and allow the Holy Spirit to minister to your soul through them.
We have commenced a study on the Gospel of John. The first part of the first chapter of the book speaks of Jesus as the “Word”, the one through whom all creation came about. John speaks of his personal acquaintance with Jesus who had come to earth from the Father. What was revealed to John and others was an awesome person, unlike anyone else ever to walk the earth. John refers to the way Israel didn’t receive and welcome Him but showed that those who did receive Him were welcomed into the family of God. We go on.
Verses 19, 20 Now this was John’s testimony when the Jews of Jerusalem sent priests and Levites to ask him who he was. He did not fail to confess, but confessed freely, “I am not the Christ.”
John the Baptist had become well- known throughout the country. The Jewish leaders were wondering if he was a special person sent from God as most people believed. John gave straight answers to the people sent to him to enquire. He plainly said that he was not the Christ. The word Christ means the “Anointed One”, or, the Messiah, the one foretold in the Old Testament who would be Israel’s Saviour.
Verse 21 They asked him, “Then who are you? Are you Elijah? He said “I am not.” “Are you the Prophet? He answered, “No”
Their next guess was Elijah. He was an outstanding prophet who lived back in Old Testament days. In some ways, John the Baptist was like him. But, no, he was not him. Then they suggested “The Prophet.” John knew who they meant. In Deuteronomy 18:15 it is foretold that a great Prophet would be raised up in Israel in time to come. Only Jesus was to fulfil this. So again John says “No.”
Verses 22, 23 Finally they said, “Who are you? Give us an answer to take back to those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?” John replied in the words of Isaiah the prophet “I am the voice of one calling in the desert, ‘Make straight the way for the Lord.’”
John never draws attention to himself. Always he points to Jesus. At this moment he refers simply to the task he was given, that is, to make a pathway of introduction for the Lord Jesus and His ministry.
Verses 24-28 Now some Pharisees who had been sent questioned Him, “Why do you baptize if you are not the Christ, nor Elijah or the Prophet?” “I baptize with water,” John replied, ”but among you stands one you do not know. He is the one who comes after me, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie.” This all happened at Bethany on the other side of the Jordan where John was baptizing.
John baptized people who willingly admitted that they were sinners and wished to change their ways. Baptism in water was the public demonstration of their repentance. The Pharisees and other religious leaders didn’t respond to John’s message and thus were puzzled about what was going on. They were yet to understand what John was telling them about Jesus, the one next to gain their attention. The Jordan was the river running north- south in Israel.
Verses 29-31 The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! This is the one I meant when I said ‘A man who comes after me has surpassed me because He was before me.’ I myself did not know Him, but the reason I came baptizing with water was that He might be revealed to Israel.”
Here John is carrying out his task to introduce Jesus. He calls Him “The Lamb of God.” This refers to the saving work of Jesus which was to come. Just as lambs were sacrificed on the altar in the historic worship of Israel, so Jesus would die as a sacrificial lamb. Though John had no personal acquaintance with Jesus over a length of time, nevertheless John was called by God to tell the nation about Him.
Verses 32-34 Then John gave this testimony: “I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on Him. I would not have known Him, except that the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, ‘The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is he who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’ I have seen and testify that this is the Son of God.”
John is referring to the time he baptized Jesus. Though He had no sins to confess, yet Jesus submitted to baptism to identify with the people. The other Gospels (Matthew, Mark and Luke) tell of this occasion. By-standers saw a dove descend from the sky and settle on Jesus as He came out of the water. It was symbolic of the Holy Spirit who is the third member of the Trinity. It is said here that Jesus would baptize with the Holy Spirit. This is an unseen work of the Spirit in those who believe in Jesus, acknowledging Him as the Saviour. Plainly, John states who Jesus is.
Verse 35, 36, 37 The next day John was there again with two of his disciples. When he saw Jesus passing by, he said, “Look, the Lamb of God!” When the two disciples heard him say this, they followed Jesus.
John the Baptist had a number of people going about with him who were his disciples. But John did not want them to continue with him, he wanted to draw attention to Jesus. So again he refers to “The Lamb of God.” The two disciples turned and followed Jesus.
Verses 38, 39 Jesus saw them following and asked, “What do you want?” They said “Rabbi” (which means Teacher), “where are you staying?” “Come,” He replied, “and you will see.” So they went and saw where He was staying, and spent that day with Him. It was about the tenth hour.
It seems that these two disciples didn’t quite know what to say to Jesus and their question was rather pointless, However, Jesus is gracious at all times. Then, having spent that day with Jesus, they would never have been the same again. John the Baptist would lose disciples, Jesus would now gain them.
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).
This is the beginning of what later became “The Twelve.” That is, Jesus’ twelve disciples. These two brothers were just ordinary men, fishermen by trade but are now learning what many wiser people didn’t know. The Messiah had come.
Verse 42 Then he brought Simon to Jesus who looked at him and said, “You are Simon, the son of John. You will be called Cephas” (which, when translated, is Peter).
It seems that the contact these early disciples had with Jesus was magnetic. There seemed to be no argument about Jesus’ identity. We can only conclude that Jesus had a special personal power which others could feel. He was truly human, but He was truly unique.
We are learning how the people of Israel were coming to know that someone of very special significance was in their midst. John the Baptist had a particular job to do and he succeeded in it. Others yet will become disciples. •