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Friday, November 6, 2015

Behold I Make All Things New – New Disciples –John 1:35


     We have seen in previous teachings some of the things that Jesus made “new.”  Jesus is the new Divine Man on earth, the new Light and Life and the new Passover Lamb. John the Baptist is a new witness and there is the new sign of the Dove. Next, Jesus calls His new disciples. The first called ones of Jesus were Jews who began as disciples of John the Baptist.  John the Baptist directed John and Andrew to Jesus. Andrew then led his brother Peter to Jesus.
Andrew and Peter
            Andrew and Peter’s characters and ministries were very different but each were important to the Kingdom of God. The bible doesn’t say much about Andrew. Andrew pretty much stepped aside to let his brother Peter be the leader of the chosen twelve.  Andrew stayed in the background while Peter took the leadership and was more visible. Jesus loved all of His chosen twelve equally no matter what position they served. This is also true in today’s church. Andrew was a “fisher of men” – a soul winner. Andrew brought his brother Peter, the lad with the five loaves and two fish and some Greeks to Jesus. (see John 12:20-22)
            Peter was bold, impatient, doubtful and sometimes even violent, but Jesus would take him and transform him into a living, spiritual stone in His Kingdom. Peter’s boldness and aggressiveness made him a great leader, but these traits also got him into trouble at times. Peter was also a risk-taker. Peter tried walking on water. He also cut off the ear of the high priest’s servant making it necessary for Jesus to heal and restore Peter's damage. Peter was often emotional and impulsive. Jesus had to temper Peter’s emotions and impulses so he would be a great leader and spokesman for the Lord. Jesus knew Peter’s heart in spite of his outer actions. Jesus exercised patience with Peter as He transformed him into a mature, powerful man of God. Paul called Peter a pillar in Christ’s Church. He became a bold and mighty evangelist. In Acts, Peter was so overcome by the Holy Spirit that he began to preach with fire and 3,000 people were saved by believing in Jesus.
            Peter was the first to confess Jesus as the Christ. God showed Peter, who was leading Jews to Jesus, that he was also to preach to the Gentiles. Peter began with the gentile Cornelius. (Acts 10:1-31) At the Apostolic Council in Jerusalem, Peter defended the inclusion of the gentiles into the Church because God had shown Peter that they were to be included. 

Philip
      Jesus left Jerusalem for Galilee. There He called Philip to follow Him. The Seeker of the lost finds us, not the opposite. Philip was from Bethsaida, the “house of fish.” Philip was an evangelist and soul seeker also. He was eager and excited to share the Good News of salvation through Jesus. Philip along with Andrew brought some Greeks to Jesus. These Greeks at their encounter with Philip and Andrew said that they wanted to see Jesus for themselves. (see John 12:20-22) Philip also brought the Ethiopian eunuch to Jesus. This man was reading Isaiah 53:7-8 about the Messiah being led like a lamb to the slaughter. This Ethiopian eunuch asked Philip who Isaiah was talking about. Philip used this very Older Testament scripture to tell him about Jesus who is the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy. Philip used the Older Testament in the proper way -- to point people to Christ. Then as Philip and the eunuch traveled on, they came to some water and Philip baptized him. (see Acts 8:30-39) Philip was doing what Jesus told them to do – baptize in the Name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, and teach them to obey everything. (see Matthew 28:19-20)
            Philip also was the disciple to whom Jesus said, “Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?” (John 6:5) There were 5,000+ hungry people gathered to see and hear Jesus. Jesus already knew what He was going to do to feed them, but He would test Philip’s faith in Him. Philip’s lack of faith was evident in his response, “Eight months wages would not buy enough bread for each to have a bite.” V7 Jesus will show Philip that little is much in His hands. He will supply all their needs according to His riches in glory.
            When Jesus was explaining the way to the Father to Thomas, Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.” Jesus gently rebuked Philip saying, “Don’t you know Me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen Me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father?’ Don’t you know that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in Me?” vv9-10 Jesus wants Philip to know that He is just like the Father in every way. They are One. They have one will, one purpose, one Word, one Spirit, one mind, one plan and one heart.
            Philip is not mentioned again until the Upper Room in Acts 1:13. The apostles and others were praying in one accord for the promise that Jesus had given them that He would send another Counselor to them. As they were praying in unity, the Holy Spirit came down in tongues of fire empowering those present for ministry. Once empowered, Philip went to Samaria to share the good news of Jesus. God performed many signs and wonders through Philip and many were saved and baptized. Philip continued to travel to various areas to preach the good news.

Nathanael

      Philip brought Nathanael to Jesus. Nathanael came from Cana of Galilee where Jesus performed His first miracle at the Jewish wedding.  Philip describes Jesus to Nathanael as the One whom Moses and the Prophets wrote about. “We have found the One whom Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote – Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.” Moses had told the Israelites that God would raise up a prophet like him from among their brethren, and they were to listen to Him. (See Deuteronomy 18:15-20) Nathanael immediately responds, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Nazareth was a small village of uncultured people. Cana of Galilee, Nathanael’s hometown, was not far from Nazareth. In biblical times, there was often rivalry between towns, so Nathanael didn’t have good feelings toward Nazareth. His judgments of Nazareth made him think that nothing good could come out of that place. Jesus was born in Bethlehem, but He grew up in Nazareth. Nathanael being a student of the Torah knew that the Messiah was to be born in Bethlehem and come through the tribe of Judah. The revelation that Jesus was from Nazareth made Nathanael question whether Jesus is the true Messiah. In spite of the amazing teaching of Jesus and the miraculous signs and miracles He performed, the people of Nazareth did not believe in Him. (see Matthew 13:54)  Jesus began His ministry in Nazareth but the people threw Him out of the synagogue and were even plotting to kill Him by throwing Him off a cliff. They couldn’t get past the fact that Jesus was the son of the carpenter Joseph. They were only seeing with "natural" eyes!
            At Nathanael’s response, Philip doesn’t get dogmatic or argumentative. He merely says,
“Come and see.” In other words, come and see for yourself if a good thing can come out of Nazareth. Each one of us must see Jesus for ourselves. Jesus wants us to share what we have seen and heard about Jesus with others, but Jesus is the One who will open their eyes of understanding.
            When Jesus sees Nathanael coming toward Him, He said, “Here is a true Israelite in whom there is no guile (deceit).” John 1:47 Jesus reveals Nathanael’s heart. Jesus knew Nathan’s character and heart because He is all-knowing. Jesus knew that Nathanael truly loved and worshiped God.  He was an honest man of God. He had no pretense or false estimation of himself like some of the Jewish religious leaders. Psalm 32:2: Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord does not count against him, and in whose spirit is no deceit.  Nathanael was not a Jew in name only, nor was he a hypocrite. Nathanael was also not close-minded. He was a seeker of truth.  Perhaps Nathanael, the Torah rabbi, remembered Isaiah’s prophecy of the Messiah saying that there would be “no deceit in His mouth.” 53:9
            Nathanael is somewhat perplexed by Jesus’ assessment of him. He says to Jesus, “How do you know me?” v48 The all-knowing Jesus responds, “I saw you while you were still under the fig tree before Philip called you.” Often Jews would go under the shade of a fig tree to pray and study God’s Word. At this revelation, Nathanael says, “Rabbi. You are the Son of God; You are the King of Israel.” John 1:49 Philip knew Jesus as the prophet whom Moses wrote about, but Nathanael recognized Jesus as the Son of God, the King of Israel. Nathanael saw this before Peter and the others. Nathanael had great spiritual depth and had been cleansed of pride and prejudice, so he saw more deeply and received Jesus more quickly.
            Jesus made a promise to Nathanael that he would see even greater things than this, and have even deeper revelation knowledge because he has met and believed in the Son of God who is the fulfillment of the Older Testament scriptures that Nathanael studied and loved.
            Nathanael was at the beginning of Christ’s public ministry and at the end (see John 1:50-51; John 21:2)  Nathanael remained with Jesus to the end! He was one of the seven disciples who were at the Sea of Galilee going fishing when Jesus appeared to them in his resurrected body. I am sure that Jesus’ commendation and revelation of Nathanael’s heart was music to his ears! May we also stay with Jesus to the end and with unveiled faces long to hear from our precious Savior and Lord, “well done my good and faithful servant.”  

                                      Next teaching: New Wine 

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