Here is a Wednesday sermon that I’ll be preaching at the church I pastor.

ENCOUNTERS WITH JESUS
John 1:35-51.

John 1:35-51 TNIV – 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.”

INTRO: The last two weeks we looked at the ministry of John the Baptist. From here on out our attention is drawn away from John the Baptist and he steps entirely out of the picture. We are now going to be focusing on some accounts of how different people had encounters with Jesus.

1. The testimony of John.

Verses 35-36 TNIV – 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!”

Imagine the scene. John is talking with these two disciples, and as they see Jesus walk by, John suddenly proclaims again, a second time, that Jesus is the Lamb of God. John had said the same thing chronologically yesterday. Perhaps these same two disciples were present and overheard John say this as well on the previous day. If they did, they surely would have pondered what John was saying. He wasn’t just saying it just to say it: I believe John was saying it so that there might be some action on these two individuals part. If this person indeed is prophesied Lamb of God, then the proceeding action would be to forsake their way of life and follow Him.

We must do the same thing. When we come to the realization that Jesus truly is the Passover Lamb of God, sacrificed for our sins, the realization calls for an action on our part. Forsaking our wants, our wills, our ways, to follow completely after Him.

2. Meeting Jesus.

Verses 37-39 TNIV – 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.

These two disciples heard John speak. They came to believe what he said was true.
And with that belief came a action on their part: Because they believed, they followed.

Notice something about John the Baptist here. He knew that his ministry of obviously drawing to a close. He starting pointing others to Jesus Christ at this point. You don’t see John jealous of Jesus for losing probably his best disciples, but knowingly encouraged them to follow Jesus. John realizes something that all ministers, Pastors, Elders need to realize today: The ministry is not our ministry, but God’s ministry.
And because of this, God can use whomever He chooses as well as use ministers to train other ministers and them let them go and pursue God’s calling, not becoming possessive.

Notice the question Jesus ask in verse 38, “What do you want?” He did not ask them, “Whom are you seeking?” In Greek this question literally means, “What do you seek?”
This question can be much deeper than what we see at first glance or at the surface. When you came to Christ – What did you seek? Was it a guarateed ticket to heaven, or more peace in your life? I think that ultimate thing that mankind seeks when people come to Christ is this: We need a Savior! We cannot save nor help ourselves.

These two disciples wanted to know where Jesus was staying, and Jesus invited to come and see. I think they wanted more than just a physical address. They were leaving behind the world they knew to not only follow, but literally become companions of Jesus for the next 3 ½ years.

3. Simone Peter is brought to Jesus.

Verses 40-42 TNIV – 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 ).

Andrew is not mentioned very often in the Gospels. He is usually found in the background, mentioned only in the context of the other disciples. The Gospel of John mentions him 3 times, and in these three times he is bringing people to Jesus. Andrew was one of the two of John’s disciples at the beginning to tonight’s sermon. Once he had his encounter with Jesus, he wanted to share this experience with others. While Andrew is not mentioned much he is very important in the Gospels for this one reason: He really believed that Jesus was the promised Messiah so much that he told others.
We can learn a very important lesson here: Don’t be afraid of sharing your faith. When Christ touches your life and saves you, your reaction should be like Andrew, leading others to Christ.

The first person that Andrew told about Jesus was his brother – Simon (verse 41). Notice his emphatic testimony to Simon – “We have found the Messiah.” He was absolutely sure that Jesus was the prophesied Messiah to come and redeem Israel. There is no hesitation in his declaration. Not only does Andrew tell Simon about Jesus, he brings him to Jesus so that he might have his own encounter with Him (verse 42). We could call Andrew the first Gospel Evangelist. He did not stand behind a pulpit. He did not preach lengthy sermons. He just simply brought people to Jesus.

In 1956, there was a Sunday school teacher named Edward Kimball who taught a small Sunday School class of teenage boys. He wasn’t a very gifted teacher, but he determined to visit one of his boys where he worked at a shoe store. He walked back and forth outside the store for several minutes before getting up the courage to enter. Nervously, he spoke to the boy in the back room of the store and led him to faith in Jesus Christ. The boy’s name was D.L. Moody. Moody became the most famous evangelist of his day, conducting campaigns and services throughout the U.S. and England. Thousands came to know Christ through his ministry. Yet, you never would have heard about D.L. Moody if it had not been for the faithful witness of a humble, unknown Sunday school teacher by the name of Ed Kimball.

It could be that God has not called you to be a Simon Peter or a D.L. Moody. You may not feel comfortable preaching in front of a congregation or leading masses of people to Christ. But you can still be an Edward Kimball or an Andrew. You can still bring a single person to have their own encounter with Jesus.

Jesus changes Simon’s name to Peter (verse 42). I’m not really going to get into this much but only say one thing: There is a principle here. When people have an encounter with Christ – it changes them. However, change is not always an immediate thing, but can come gradual as well. We will see this in the life of Peter. It can be applied to our life as well. Maturity in Christ takes time, it is not automatic. It would take Peter many years and failures before he matured. Honestly, that is how God works with us. It is called, “growth.”

4. The calling of Phillip.

Verse 43 TNIV – The next day Jesus decided to leave for Galilee. Finding Philip, he said to him, “Follow me.”

Jesus decided to travel to Galilee where He encounters Phillip and invites him to follow Him. In the Greek this seems to be a deliberate decision by Jesus. In other words the Greek seems to indicate that Jesus was seeking Phillip out.

Jesus invitation wasn’t elaborate, just two words: “Follow Me.”

In the same way, He call to us is the same. Not elaborate, not hype, just two simple words we can either accept or reject: “Follow Me.”

5. Phillips testimony to Nathanael.

Verses 44-46 TNIV – 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.

Now Phillip as well goes out on a determined search for Nathanael (verse 45).

Phillip declares that Jesus is the fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecy (verse 45).

Nathanael is skeptical. Why? He knows the Old Testament Scriptures. He knows that they are silent about the Messiah coming out of Nazareth.

6. Nathanael encounters Jesus.

Verses 47-49 TNIV – 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.”

Jesus has a revelation concerning Nathanael (verse 47).

The word, “deceit,” describes falsehood in the Greek. It is a word that brings to mind a con-artist. I believe that Jesus was declaring to Nathanael that he is honest in his beliefs and worship of Yahweh God. He is not worshipping Him for profit or show, but he truly loves God and seeks to follow the Old Testament Scriptures.

Jesus’ revelation gets Nathanael’s attention (verse 48a). Nathanael is surprised by what Jesus said. Here stand One who only just meet him and yet who seems to know what he is like.

Jesus continues to explain the revelation concerning Nathanael (verse 48b). Jesus makes reference to Nathanael being under a fig tree. This may not meet much to you or I, but it carried a lot of weight with Nathanael. We don’t know really why it was significant, but to Nathanael it was that he made a bold confession.

Nathanael’s confession concerning Jesus (verse 49). This is the one who had been a skeptic, but Jesus spoke revelation unto him, and now he is a believer.

Notice Nathanael’s 3 discriptions concerning Jesus: Rabbi: This is the Hebrew word for “teacher.” It literally means, “great one.” Nathanael realizes that this is the one who is able to teach him about the Lord God. Son of God: Nathanael realizes that this kind of supernatural knowledge comes only from God, not man. King of Israel: Phillip had already declared that Jesus was the one promised in the Old Testament. Therefore, He could be none other then the promised Son of David, heir to the throne of Israel.

7. Greater things to come.

Verses 50-51 TNIV – 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.”

Jacob had once seen a vision of angels ascending and descending on a ladder that reached between heaven and earth. That ladder represented the connecting link between God and man. It had bridged the gap between earth and heaven.

Jesus uses the same words that described the experience Jacob had in his dream.

In essence what Jesus was saying to Nathanael is that He is the fulfillment of Jacob’s ladder. He is the ladder that spans the gulf. He is the intermediary who brings man into fellowship with God.

CONCL: On thing I want us to learn from tonight’s teaching is that the call of the Gospel is simple not complicated. Follow Jesus. That is the call. That is what we must share with the world with live in. No hype, no manipulation. Just a simple call. Follow Him.

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