Come and See Gospel Analysis
Pastor Edward F. Markquart
Grace Lutheran Church
Des Moines, Washington 98198
The following Bible study is from a larger course entitled THE LIFE OF CHRIST: A Study in the Four Gospels. This 54 week course for the laity will be available for congregations in 2006.
Basic text for the course: SYNOPSIS OF THE FOUR GOSPELS, Kurt Aland, English Edition, P. 22.
#21. THE CALL OF THE FIRST DISCIPLES John 1:35-51
LARGER CONTEXT: THERE ARE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN THE FIRST THREE GOSPELS AND THE GOSPEL OF JOHN.
- The Gospel of John is much more philosophical than the first three gospels. John prefers philosophical categories such as life, light, and logos/logic.
- The Gospel of John has long theological discourses rather than short pithy teachings and short parables.
- The Gospel of John is the Book of Sign. In John, the miracles are called “signs.” This is the Book of Signs, the miraculous events which are usually followed by a lengthy teaching discourse. The words “sign” and “signs” are used seventeen times in the Gospel of John.
- The Gospel of John was written by an eyewitness. This gospel consistently provides little touches and details of historical anecdotes that make this gospel more alive.
- We remember that the Gospel of John is very different than the first three gospels in theology, chronology, geography. As students, we don’t try to reconcile the differences (the call of the first disciples, the placing of the cleansing of the temple, number of Jesus’ trips to Jerusalem, omission of significant stories, inclusion of significant stories, etc.)
#21. THE CALL OF THE FIRST DISCIPLES John 1:35-51
Remember that John’s account of the call of the first disciples is quite different than the account in Matthew, Mark and Luke. In John’s gospel, Andrew, a disciple of John the Baptist, is called first and he goes and finds his brother. Whereas, in the first three gospels, Simon and Andrew are first called to be the disciples followed by James and John, all of whom become “fishers of men.” All this occurs on the shore of the Sea of Galilee.
The event of the call of the first disciples in the Gospel of John seems to occur in the Wilderness of Judea where John the Baptist was preaching. Whereas, in the first three gospels, the call of the first disciples is near the Sea of Galilee which was eighty miles north of the Wilderness of Judea.
Remember that in this course, we don’t try to reconcile the numerous differences between John’s gospel and the first three gospels.
Remember, as we move into this course, we will gradually discover that John’s gospel consistently provides us with the historically alive juicy tidbits. We, as students of the life of Christ, listen most carefully to the Gospel of Mark and the Gospel of John for historical accuracy. As the same time, we know full well that these gospels are not exacting biographies of Jesus. The Gospels of Mark and John are our only two gospels that have been written by eyewitnesses.
-The next day John again was standing with two of his disciples, and as he watched Jesus walk by, he exclaimed, "Look, here is the Lamb of God!" The day before, John the Baptist saw the Spirit of God descend on Jesus and remain on him. John the disciples told us that he bore witness that Jesus was the Son of God.
John the Baptist knew the true identity of Jesus. It was as if John was encouraging his two disciples to follow Jesus.
Underline the phrase, “Look, here is the Lamb of God.” Jesus Christ was/is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world, who will be crucified on a cross to forgive us all our sins, imperfections and flaws. John the Baptist knew what was essentially important about Jesus: he was none other than the Lamb of God (who would take away the sin of the world.)
-The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus. We know that one of those disciples was Andrew. Circle the word, “follow.” That is what a disciple is: a follower of Jesus Christ. Just like sheep follow the shepherd, so we disciples follow Jesus.
-When Jesus turned and saw them following, he said to them, "What are you looking for?" This is a philosophical question in John: “What are you looking for?”
-They said to him, "Rabbi" (which translated means Teacher), "where are you staying?" A translation could be, “Jesus, where are you living?” In other words, “Where do live Jesus? Where do you find life?”
-He said to them, "Come and see." Circle, underline, highlight. That is, Jesus invites us to come and see who he is and to discover his true identity for ourselves. We are invited to come and closely see who this Jesus is. We will again see the same phrase in a few verses.
-They came and saw where he was staying, and they remained with him that day. They came; they saw; they remained.
They remained with Jesus for that time, for that day. It is important that we come to Jesus and remain with him. As we remain with Jesus for a time and spend time listening to Jesus, it may be that Jesus and his Spirit will get into us. We heard in the baptism of Jesus, that the Holy Spirit came AND REMAINED on him. (John 1:33). It is important that we remain with Jesus for a while so we can learn from him.
-It was about four o'clock in the afternoon. Notice the detail. It was four o’clock in the afternoon. As we will say repeatedly in this course, either John was an incredible imposter who created historical details in order to give the appearance of historical accuracy or he was actually a recorder/a reporter on the scene who accurately told us what was happening. As this course develops, you as a student will come to appreciate and trust the reliability of John’s eyewitness accounts of the details in the story of Jesus.
-One of the two who heard John speak and followed him was Andrew, Simon Peter's brother. It seems that Andrew was a follower initially of John the Baptist. We recall of John’s story of the feeding of the five thousand, it was Andrew who brought the little boy with five fish and two loaves to Jesus. It was Andrew who brought his brother and a little lad to Jesus. Andrew was a Greek name and it seems that Andrew had connections with Greek-speaking people such as in the story of the five fish and two loaves when Andrew addressed the Greeks who were looking for Jesus.
-He first found his brother Simon and said to him, "We have found the Messiah" (which is translated Anointed). Andrew found the person who was closest to him and told him that he had found the person he was looking for throughout the years. Circle the word, “found.” In this episode, we are going to hear about people finding the Christ and then finding their friends and family and then telling their friends that they have found the Messiah, who became the source of their spirituality.
-He brought Simon to Jesus, who looked at him and said, "You are Simon son of John. You are to be called Cephas" (which is translated Peter). Highlight it. Underline it. Memorize it. “He brought Simon to Jesus.” That is one of the primary missions of our lives: to bring people to meet Jesus Christ. Andrew did not convert Peter to Jesus Christ. He simply brought his brother into the presence of Christ. The Holy Spirit and Christ do the converting. We are to do the same today. That is, we bring people into the Presence of Christ and it is God/Christ/the Holy Spirit who does the converting.
The Church of Jesus Christ and our congregation needs a whole lot more “Andrews,” people who believe in Christ so much that they are willing to talk about Christ to our closest relatives. “He brought Simon to Jesus.” What a powerful statement.
An important question is: “What does it mean for us to bring people to Christ, to point people to Christ.”
We do that all the time when we point a son or a daughter, a husband for a wife, a friend to Jesus/God and say, “I think that following Christ could help you in your life.” We know it is true.
Sometimes, we Christians erroneously think that we are the ones to persuade people to follow Christ. God does that through many mysterious ways. One powerful witness to a family member or friend is to say, “I have found the One who helps my life, who guides my life, who fills my life with love for this day and for all eternity.”
The following is the gospel text for Epiphany 2B.
-The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. We notice that Jesus has left the Wilderness of Judea where he had been with John the Baptist and where he called his first disciples. Jesus then went north to Galilee. We don’t try to reconcile the historical details and apparent differences between the Gospel of John and the first three gospels.
-He found Philip and said to him, "Follow me." Focus on the phrase, “Jesus found Philip.” And then substitute your own name. In the scheme of life, we are often keenly aware that God has found us. In the moment we think that we have found God, we discover that it is really God who has found us. When all is said and done and we are walking in the ways of the Lord (stumbling along our path of life), we are often aware that it was God who initially found us in the first place. That is what grace is all about, that God found us.
Circle the words, “follow me.” The essence of discipleship is to follow Christ. To follow Christ is what we want for ourselves, our friends, our family members, our closest people to us. We know that life goes immeasurably better for people when they follow Christ.
That is what Jesus always says to us somewhere during a conversation with us. Jesus says, “It is time to follow me. I will bless you, forgive you, heal you, protect you, make you strong. But it is also time that you follow me.”
-Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. Jesus found Philip who was from Bethsaida which was located on the northeast corner of the Sea of Galilee. It was the same city as Peter and Andrew were from. In the Gospel of Mark, we hear that Andrew and Peter were from Capernaum. Again, we don’t try to reconcile the differences of the details.
-Philip found Nathaniel and said to him, "We have found him about whom Moses in the law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus son of Joseph from Nazareth." Circle the word, “found.” First Jesus found Philip and then Philip found Jesus by following him. Philip found Christ, God, the Son of God. Having found the presence of God, he told Nathaniel.
Anyone who is a good evangelist “has found him,” “has found Jesus,” “has personally found the presence of God.”
For Nathaniel, Jesus was the Messiah who had been prophecied in the Old Testament. People in every generation and in every culture are looking for the Presence of God for their lives. Such a search is part of human nature. People of all centuries and cultures have looked for the Presence of God, and Nathaniel found that Presence in the person and Spirit of Jesus of Nazareth.
We know very little about Nathaniel. His name was not on the list of disciples that was given to us in the synoptic gospels. We learn that he was from Cana (John 21:2 "Nathaniel from Cana in Galilee.")
-Nathaniel said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Nathaniel seems to feel that Nazareth was a “hick town,” “a no-wheres-ville,” “a nothing big happens in this city.”
-Philip said to him, “Come and see.” Underline it. Highlight it. Memorize it. “Come and see.” That is what evangelism is. Come and see Jesus Christ. Not the programs. Not the pastors. Not the pizzaz of our parish. But come and see Jesus Christ who was and is the very Presence of God. In the first three gospels, we will hear a similar theme: “Now you will become fishers of men.” As Christians, far too often we focus on people “coming and seeing” our successful church rather than the spiritual and moral presence of God in the person of Jesus of Nazareth.
-When Jesus saw Nathaniel coming toward him, he said of him, “Here is truly an Israelite in whom there is no deceit!” How did Jesus know that? That Nathaniel was truly authentic and not a phony out to deceive the world? Here is the first example in John’s gospel of Jesus’ omniscience, that Jesus was all-knowing, that Jesus was the Son of God.
-Nathaniel asked him, “Where did you get to know me?” Jesus answered, “I saw you under the fig tree before Philip called you.” Nathaniel replied, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!” In the Gospel of John, Jesus repeatedly demonstrates his gift of omniscience. Jesus, the Son of God, knows everything.
Followers of Christ often believe that about Christ: that Christ knows everything about our lives. We Christians don’t understand what it means that God knows the numbers of the hairs of our head and other trivial details of our lives from years ago, but we sense that God is all knowing of our personal lives. We sense that God “knew us even before we were born, when we were growing secretly and silently in our mother’s womb,” to use the words of the Psalmist.
-Jesus answered, “Do you believe because I told you that I saw you under the fig tree? You will see greater things than these.” In the coming years, Nathaniel would see even greater signs/miracles than this. In the next episode in John’s gospel, Nathaniel will see Jesus miraculously turn the water into wine. And this sign was just the beginning.
-And he said to him, “Very truly, I tell you, you will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.” Gradually, Nathaniel will come to discover the full identity of Jesus, that Jesus truly is the Son of God, that the angels in heaven will surround him at the end of time.
This verse may refer to Genesis 28:12 where in Jacob’s dream, there was a ladder between heaven and earth, “And he dreamed that there was a ladder set up on the earth, the top of it reaching to heaven; and the angels of God were ascending and descending on it.”
DISCUSSION QUESTION: HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT TALKING TO YOUR BROTHER/SISTER ABOUT CHRIST? WHAT DOES THIS STORY MEAN TO YOU?
Please examine the sermon, COME AND SEE.
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