The text for this lesson is John 1:43–51.
- In Jesus, access to heaven is given to all who believe.
- Law: You get the god you believe in. If you believe “God” to be a mean-spirited, unforgiving, damned-if-you-do-damned-if-you-don’t deity, then your belief in that false god attaches you to him. Again, if you believe “God” to be an everybody-gets-to-heaven, anything goes, laid-back Lord, then your belief in that false god attaches you to him. Remember, you get the “God” you believe in. But if the deity in whom you believe is false, then, alas, he is nothing more than one of the devil’s myriad disguises. And what you get is hell.
- Gospel: Jesus is who Jesus is. He is not whomever we twist, wrench, or otherwise manipulate Him into being. He defies our expectations, knowing all, loving all, dying for all. Something good did come down from Nazareth. That good is the Savior, who is the true Jacob’s ladder, for upon Him the angels come down to escort us upward to our heavenly home.
There is a changeover between John the Baptist and Jesus. Before Jesus is baptized, and even long after, John has his disciples while Jesus has His (Matthew 9:14; John 1:35; John 4:1; Acts 19:1–7). Only over time did the two groups become one. One of the Baptist’s followers, Andrew, has already come to follow Jesus, bringing hid brother, Simon Peter, with him. Here, two more brothers, Philip and Nathanael (ake Bartholomew), confess faith in the Savior—Nathanael a tad reluctantly at first. In the following story, the wedding in Cana, we see something of a “parable” of the transition from John to Jesus where water (=John) is transformed into wine (=Messiah).
Discussion Points and Questions
- Our passage begins with the words “The next day.” Read John 1:29 to hear more of what was happening beforehand. What does John say about his own ministry in John 1:31–34? How will the Son of God be recognized?
- Read John 1:43–45 again. Who claims to have found whom? Who really found whom?
- John had called Jesus the “Son of God” and the “Lamb of God.” What does Philip say about Him? What does he mean that Moses and the prophets wrote about Him? Read Luke 24:26–27 and 24:44–47 to help answer the question.
- What does Jesus mean when He says Nathanael is an Israelite in whom there is no deceit? How is this a fault of Nathanael’s? How is it a strength?
- How did Jesus know Nathanael? Again, who really found whom in this encounter? How does Jesus’ statement affirm what John and Philip have said about Him? What does He say to Nathanael? What are the greater things Nathanael will see?
- John said that he saw heaven opened and the Spirit descending upon Jesus. Jesus says Nathanael will see the heavens opened, with angels ascending and descending on Him. When are the heavens opened for us?
- Nathanael makes a strong confession about who Jesus is. What is this confession? Expand upon its meaning. What confessions do we make of Jesus?
- Even though Moses and the prophets had testified about who the Messiah would be, Nathanael underwent a significant learning experience in his encounter with Jesus. Does this tell us anything about our own knowledge of Jesus? Under what circumstances should we be open to a deeper understanding of Him?
For next week, read Mark 2:13–17, Jesus’ call of Matthew. Think about people whom you consider to be “sinners.” How would you feel if they started coming to church? What if they became close friends with some in your congregation?