Study Notes

John 1:19-51

So far, in the first 18 verses of the gospel of John, we have seen an introduction to Jesus Christ - that He was God, that He came became a man, that He was the light of the world, that He was rejected by the world, and that whoever receives Him become children of God.

Interspersed in that introduction to Jesus were several statements about a man named John. We know him as John the Baptist.

John 1:6-8 There came a man, sent from God, whose name was John. He came for a witness, that he might bear witness of the light, that all might believe through him. He was not the light, but came that he might bear witness of the light.

John 1:15 John bore witness of Him, and cried out, saying, "This was He of whom I said, 'He who comes after me has a higher rank than I, for He existed before me.'"

Now, in verse 19, the camera zooms in on John for a closer look at his witness of Jesus Christ.

1:19-23 The Jews

When John uses the term, "The Jews," often he is not referring to all of the Jews, but actually to the Sanhedrin, the Jewish leadership.

From Jerusalem

John the Baptist had been preaching at and baptizing in the Jordan River, quite aways away. Where exactly he was is up for debate. The KJV says, "Bethabara", the NAS and NIV say "Bethany", and the Amplified lists both. Either place you choose, you're talking either 20 miles east or 55 miles north of Jerusalem. This was not in the center of town.

But regardless of his location, he was creating quite a stir among the Jewish leadership. Luke says that the multitudes were going out there. Matthew tells us,

Matt. 3:5-6 Then Jerusalem was going out to him, and all Judea, and all the district around the Jordan; and they were being baptized by him in the Jordan River, as they confessed their sins.

And in Mark we read,

Mark 1:5 And all the country of Judea was going out to him, and all the people of Jerusalem; and they were being baptized by him in the Jordan River, confessing their sins.

So something's happening miles outside of town. The leadership figures they'd better check this out.

Who Are You?

They ask John, "Who are you?" This could have easily been a big temptation for John. After all, he was born of the tribe of Levi, the son of a priest. Miraculously born, even. He was God's messenger, sent in the spirit and power of Elijah. He was the very last Old Testament prophet. He could have claimed all of these glories.

But He didn't. He simply said, "I am not the Christ."

The Jews had been expecting three different guys to show up and cause a stir. Of course they were expecting their Messiah, the Christ, to come. But once it was settled that John wasn't Him, they asked about the other two guys they were expecting.

"Are you Elijah?" You see, God promised in the last paragraph of the Old Testament that He would send the prophet Elijah again. "No, I'm not Elijah."

"Are you 'the Prophet'?" "Who's that?" we wonder. Back in Deuteronomy 18, the Lord told Moses,

Deut. 18:18-19 "I will raise up a prophet from among their countrymen like you, and I will put My words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him. And it shall come about that whoever will not listen to My words which he shall speak in My name, I Myself will require {it} of him."

So they had also been expecting this prophet like unto Moses. But John said, "Nope. I'm not him either."

"So who are you, buddy?" "I'm the fourth guy you should have been expecting, the voice written about in Isaiah."

Isa. 40:3 A voice is calling, clear the way for the LORD in the wilderness; Make smooth in the desert a highway for our God.

"That's who I am," John says. "Just a messenger, preparing the way of the Lord."

1:24-28 I Baptize In Water

"Wait a second, mister," these guys say. "If you're not the Christ, the Prophet, or Elijah, why are you baptizing?" Understand that to the Jews, baptism was only done to Gentiles that were proseletized into the Jewish faith. But here John was baptizing Jews.

John told them, "the reason I'm baptizing them is in preparation for the guy who about to come on the scene. He's the Lord, and I'm preparing people's hearts for Him."

Sandal Thong Untying

The Jews' Talmud said, "Every office a servant will do for his master, a scholar should perform for his teacher, except loosing his sandal-thong." In other words, a disciple should do the work of a slave, except one thing: untying the teacher's shoe. That was so low, that only the lowest slave in the household was called upon to do it.

So what John is saying is, "I'm not worthy to be this man's disciple. I'm not worthy to even be His lowest slave." How different from those in the church today who feel that Jesus is their slave, having to give and to grant every whim and wish that they claim by "faith."

1:29-34 John's Witness

The next day when John saw Jesus, he said, "Hey, everybody, this is the one I've been talking about!"

Behold The Lamb Of God

John says, "Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!" We could spend a few hours just talking about the incredible depth of this title.

Jesus is the Lamb of God. The lamb that was prophesied by Abraham in Genesis 22, when he said, "God will provide Himself a Lamb." God will provide who? Himself. Jesus came as the Lamb that would be sacrificed to take away the sin of the world.

Jesus is the ultimate passover lamb. You remember the story: As the Lord was accomplishing the deliverance of the people of Israel from Egypt, He told Moses to tell the people, "Take an unblemished male lamb and kill it. Take some of his blood and put it on the two doorposts and on the lintel of your house."

Exod. 12:12-13 'For I will go through the land of Egypt on that night, and will strike down all the first-born in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgments - I am the LORD. And the blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you live; and when I see the blood I will pass over you, and no plague will befall you to destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt.

In God's plan to provide salvation, He provided His Son, a sinless, spotless, unblemished male "lamb". His blood causes judgment to pass over us.

For a more complete study of this subject, I suggest you pick up the tapes or study notes from Exodus 11 and the first study in Revelation 5.

Baptism In The Holy Spirit

In Mark, we read that John said,

Mark 1:8 "I baptized you with water; but He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit."

What does it mean, that He will baptize us with the Holy Spirit? Well, in the book of Acts, we see in chapter 1 Jesus promises to do it, and then in chapter 2 He accomplishes it.

Acts 1:4-5, 8 And gathering them together, He commanded them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for what the Father had promised, "Which," {He said,} "you heard of from Me; for John baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now." ... (and) you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth."

Acts 2:1-4 And when the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a noise like a violent, rushing wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. And there appeared to them tongues as of fire distributing themselves, and they rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit was giving them utterance.

The language is interchangeable: this is what John spoke of as being baptized, or filled, with the Spirit.

Understand that this is not the same as being sealed with the Spirit. Remember that as soon as we're saved, we are given the Holy Spirit in our hearts as a pledge. This is a different working of the Spirit in our lives - filling us, baptizing us.

What is the evidence and result of being baptized with the Spirit? If you just read Acts 2, you would probably answer, "speaking in tongues." But as you go through the book of Acts, you'll see that many times believers were baptized in the Spirit and did not speak in tongues. So what is the evidence? It is what Jesus told the disciples:

Acts 1:8 shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses...

There is one additional evidence that works hand-in-hand with being a witness for Christ. And that is that...

Gal. 5:22 ...the fruit of the Spirit is love...

If you are truly Spirit-filled, your life and heart will exude the love of Jesus Christ.

1:35-39 John's Disciples Follow Jesus

John pointed his disciples to Jesus. That is the evidence of a true minister of Christ - one who does not think of people as his disciples, but directs them to follow Jesus.

The apostle Paul told the Ephesian elders,

Acts 20:29-30 "I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them.

When you see someone trying to get you to follow them instead of following Christ, get away from him - he's not a minster of Jesus.

1:40-42 Peter Is Called

Peter's brother Andrew was first a disciple of John. When he began to follow Jesus, he told Simon Peter, "We found the Messiah!"

A true disciple is faithful to tell his or her family that they've found Jesus Christ, and invites them to find Him as well.

1:43-46 Philip Is Called

Again, in Philip we see a person who commits to follow Christ, and immediately tells someone about Jesus.

Nathaniel Doubts

Nathaniel at first isn't too hip to the idea that this guy who people are believing is the Messiah comes from Nazareth. He had grown up in Cana, only four miles from Nazareth. He obviously didn't think too much of the town, or anything that came out of it.

Often, we'll get into a witnessing situation in which the person has all kinds of problems with the gospel of Christ. We tend to think that we must overcome all of their objections and obstacles to being them to faith. But notice that Philip didn't try to debate or argue the merits of Nazareth. He just said, "Come and see for yourself." That's exactly what we're called to do - just invite people to see Jesus for themselves.

1:47-51 Nathaniel Believes

Jesus gives Nathaniel a small miracle: "Hey, I saw you under the fig tree earlier." "Wow! You must be the Son of God to know where I was!"

Ascending And Descending

"Philip, you're going to see more awesome stuff than this," Jesus says.

John 1:51 "...You shall see the heavens opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man."

What does that mean? You may remember from our Thursday night Genesis studies this picture appearing in chapter 28. Jacob , using a stone for a pillow, has an interesting dream. He dreams of a ladder placed between heaven and earth. A bridge across the impassable barrier between man and God. Angels are ascending and descending on it. Jesus is saying, "A time will come when you will see that I am Jacob's ladder - the only ladder to heaven, the only bridge to God." The great thing about this picture is that since Jesus is Jacob's ladder, we see clearly that Jesus doesn't show us the way to heaven, Jesus is the way to heaven!

This morning we've read about four different people that came to Christ in four different ways. Andrew followed Christ because of a preacher. Peter followed because of his brother witnessed to him. Philip was called by Jesus personally, and Nathaniel came because of the persistence of a friend's invitation to meet Jesus.

I invite you this morning, if you haven't met Jesus Christ personally, if you haven't received His forgiveness for your sins, come to Him today. He is the only bridge, the only ladder, the only stairway, to heaven.

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