Well, we are racing through John’s Gospel – in the past two weeks, we have looked at the magnificent prologue to the Gospel – v 1-18. The prologue is packed with theological significance that is then unpacked throughout the rest of the gospel – showing us that that the gospel began at creation – that the word has always existed – was with God and is God. That the creation did not recognize its creator, even when it entered into the world – the incarnation – and this word, God, is Jesus Christ.
We are now entering into the narrative of the gospel.
READ Chp 1:19-28
What made the Jewish leaders send a delegation to check out this odd desert preacher?
What did they want to know?
What does this imply about the EFFECT of John’s ministry?
This says something quite profound. John’s desert ministry was obviously causing one heck of a stir that the Jewish leadership had heard about it and wanted to now who he was.
They were willing, or at least entertained the thought that he might be the messiah.
John was huge – he had a mega ministry – popularity and influence
And yet he instantly tells them he is NOT the Messiah.
What is odd about John’s denial of being Elijah?
Jesus calls John Elijah.
In fact Luke 1:17 Gabriel’s message to Zechariah said that John would go in the spirit and power of Elijah.
We will learn some more about John’s humility in the following verses, but John refuses to take upon himself honor or status – something we can learn from. Of course, Jesus can bestow status and honor on whom he so wills, but John does not claim it for himself. Also, on a practical view, John probably refused to take on the traditional ‘mantle’ or even baggage of the legacy of Elijah, who having been taken in a chariot to heaven would, according to Jewish tradition, return this way – he is definitely not THAT Elijah.
What might be happening to John the Baptist status as he keeps denying the various roles?
He is going from a prospective Messiah, to a nobody very quickly.
V22 – almost exasperated the demand an answer WHO ARE YOU?
In what way does John choose to answer the question “Who are you”?
The original context of the Isaiah quote is about preparing the roads to allow for a return from the Babylonian exile to Jerusalem.
John was clearing away any obstacles that might be in the way of people coming to know the Messiah.
In v24-25 does John’s answer satisfy them?
No – they now begin to demand by what authority does john do this, since he does not seem to have any authority, at least with regards to the Jewish Leadership!!
There is no indication in the Hebrew scriptures that the coming of the Messiah to Israel would be proceeded by a baptism of repentance for the Jews. However the OT clearly uses water as a symbol of cleansing and renewal.
Does Anyone Know when Baptism in Judaism happened?
Baptism was part of the ritual for Gentiles converting to judaism because gentiles were regarded as unclean.
What was John saying about Jews by baptizing them?
That the Jews were UNCLEAN!! That they were just like the gentiles.
John was a transitional figure calling Israel to repentence and declaring God’s salvation. Just like the Old Testament prophets, John was beckoning a righteous remnant to come out of the people of Israel.
To whom does John change the focus too in v26? How does John see himself in relation to the coming one?
John takes the focus from himself and points it towards the one to come. A disciple was to do ALL the things a slave would do for their master – except untie the straps of the Rabbi’s sandals. Again we see some of John’s humility – John acknowledges that in relation to the one to come he is unworthy to do a task judged too menial even for a disciple.
John may have had an influential, large, talked about ministry but his focus was entirely upon the coming messiah – John claimed no special position, or status such as archbishop – he purely focused on the fact that his purpose was to point everyone to the coming Messiah – this is a wonderful model for us.
To end this section, we probably just need to note something about v28. There is some scholarly discussion as to exactly where this Bethany was. This was not a village but the region of Batanea (called Bashan in the OT).
What event is missing here in this Gospel that is in the synoptic gospels to mark the beginning of Jesus’ ministry?
Jesus’ baptism is not explicitly said here in John’s gospel. Why might John have left out the story of the Baptism? Remember v8 of the prologue? V20?
I think John does assume that his readers knew about it but also it could be that Jesus’ baptism by John could have been seen as indicative of submission on the part of Jesus, an inference that the evangelist might seek to avoid.
What is John saying about himself and Jesus in v30? Do you think John knew the fullness of this revelation when he spoke it?
John the Baptist spoke a profound truth about Jesus’ existence and preincarnate state here and John the Baptist may not have had a clue about that other than Jesus was the one to come but John the evangelist records this and EXPECTS his readers to here a Christological statement of Jesus eternal state.
What Does John say was his purpose?
John did what he did so that the one to come might be revealed to Israel – John is a herald – an announcer – the King is coming – recognize him!!
Our role comes out of John the Baptist – a herlader of the one who has come and who will come.
What does John say the mission of the One who is to Come will be?
What is significant about the statement?
The lamb who has come to take away the sin of the world!! Firstly, the message is for EVERYONE – the WORLD!!!
Secondly, there is a hint of HOW he will do this – to TAKE AWAY – bearing off, getting rid of, carrying away. How is the One to do this? Is there a hint of substitutionary Atonement here? Probably.
How did John know that Jesus was the Lamb of God?
When the Holy Spirit descended and rested upon Jesus – John had been given a supernatural message that THIS would the sign.
This separates John form the disciples – the disciples began their journey through witness from other humans – John was the last of the OT prophets and so, he receives revelation as to who Jesus was – and it keeps in line with the OT which prophesied that God would pour out his spirit on all people in the last days .
Do you notice a difference between the calling of the disciples here in john and in the Synoptics?
Here in the fourth gospel disciples follow Jesus immediately while in the other Gospels they do so only at a latter point in time.
Well, the gospel of john does not deny earlier encounters but focuses on Jesus’ climatic call to discipleship.
Also, the confessions were initial ones. As we know, as Jesus’ ministry unfolded they were challenged in their traditional view of what the Messiah would do. Plus, these confessions provide a credible motive why these men would make the dramatic decision to leave everything behind to follow Jesus.
What is John doing to his own ministry by pointing to Jesus and saying “The Lamb God?”
This statement effectively marks the end of his ministry and of his significance in redemptive history. He is similar to Moses who brought salvation history to a boundary that he himself was not allowed to cross.
It also confirms John’s humility and intense desire to serve God – as one commentator says “To recommend your own disciples to a greater teacher was rare, required great humility and incredible confidence in the other teachers superiority. This shows John’s humility and submission to the divine will.”
Interestingly, the text shows that not all John’s disciples immediately followed – and likely some did not follow Jesus at all!
What is behind Jesus’ question to the two disciples – What Do You Want! Is it a question just for them?
What a penetrating question – what do you want – it is a question we do well to ask – what do we want with Jesus? What the two disciples wanted and the road and direction their journey with Jesus took them I think was VERY different.
Jesus accepts them as his disciples by taking them to where he was staying and they spent time with him.
What principle of evangelism might we glean from Andrews actions having spent time with Jesus?
Andrew goes to his brother – his family first. I like this principle of evangelism – start with your family – tell those who know you best what you have discovered and work outward from that.
So to summarize, the gospel writer has shown that John’s testimony to Jesus was complete – despite his ministry being large, influential and successful, John’s passion was to point to the Messiah – he had humility and was completely at ease pointing people away from himself and to the greater teacher. He took no status or honor upon himself, although we know that Jesus confers upon high honor upon him.