Read John 1:19-34
Why did the Pharisees come out to see John the Baptist?
- Their duty as guardians and defenders of the faith demanded that they investigated any new preaching.
- They wanted to see if John had the proper credentials to be thought of as a prophet and preacher. He wasn’t a Rabbi as such and had no official power or position within the Jewish ‘system’.
- John had attracted quite a following – he was becoming quite popular, more so than the Pharisees themselves. The chances are that the Pharisees were now jealous of this and concerned about their own status.
The reality is that the Pharisees really wanted to find out all they could about John largely for their own personal reasons, but John simply repeated the message of why he had come – to prepare the way for the Messiah. The Pharisees missed the point. They wanted to know who John was – but John wanted them to know who Jesus was.
What lessons can we learn from the behaviour of the Pharisees here?
How did John the Baptist respond to the Pharisees?
- That he was fearless and uncompromising – even confrontational.
- For all his following and popularity John knew his own ‘position’ – he knew that he was not even worthy to perform the humble task of loosening the sandal of the one who was to come.
- John was completely dedicated and faithful to his mission and had great faith in God.
What can John teach us in terms of our own faith?
John the Baptist referred to Jesus as the Lamb of God. Why might that have been?
- Perhaps an allusion to the Passover lamb slaughtered in the Temple every spring. Possibly – although this sacrifice is in fact used to commemorate the Exodus from Egypt rather than the forgiveness of sins. (See exodus 12)
- Perhaps a reference to the scapegoat sent out to the wilderness on the Day of Atonement. Again, possibly – this was for the forgiveness of the people’s sins, however, it was a goat and not a lamb. (See Leviticus 16)
- Maybe in reference to the daily Temple sacrifices offered in obedience to Exodus 29:38-42.
The fact is that we will never know for sure but whatever John had in mind here, he was clearly pointing towards the death of Jesus and this particular reference is something that we will come back to later.
But what do we understand by Jesus being the Lamb of God?
Read John 1:35-51
What do we learn from John’s account of the calling of Jesus first disciples and what does it teach us about discipleship?
- As soon as the disciples encounter Jesus they abandon what they are doing and follow Him at once.
- They witness to others by expressing their belief in a confession of faith.
- The disciples themselves are intimately known by Jesus.
- Saying yes to Jesus is never enough. We have to say yes for the right reasons and then get to know Him more each day.
- We shouldn’t let any prejudices we have come in the way of our relationship with Jesus and don’t allow the stereotypes that others may have of Christ weaken our faith.
Having considered all this, what can we say about our discipleship today?
Very early on in John’s Gospel the scene has now been set for Jesus to begin His ministry and over the next few weeks we will look at the ‘signs’ that John elaborates upon, which for him prove that Jesus was the living revelation of God Himself, and that only through Him could we be saved.