JESUS: AN OPEN BOOK
Prepared by Dr. John E. Marshall
John 1:35-36a AJohn stood . . . looking upon Jesus.@
John=s eyes were fastened on Jesus. This concentration made it easier for him to tell others about Jesus. To lead others to Jesus, our own contemplation on Him must be diligent and frequent. Spend much time concentrating on Jesus.
John 1:36b ABehold the Lamb of God.@
Thus far, John the Baptist had overcome every temptation to promote himself unduly. Here he passes another difficult test.
As Jesus leaves, John points two of his best followers toward Jesus. It would have been easy for John to retain His disciples, but the Baptist freely released them to Jesus.
John=s directive came not as an order, but in a form which tested their faith. By its very nature, faith cannot be commanded, nor can it be an experiment or provisional. Faith must be voluntarily rendered, and fully given.
John 1:37 AThey followed Jesus.@
The first believers came to Jesus simply, almost naturally. The new church grew out of the old Achurch,@ as its proper consummation, without display or fanfare. Two men demonstrated a quiet determination to be with Jesus.
John 1:38a AWhat seek ye?@
Jesus= first words recorded in this Gospel are searching ones; words to make us think, to jolt us out of neutral. Christ knew the answer, but wanted their minds to be clear. The question was very relevant in Palestine at this time.
Were they legalists, seeking new regulations to bind people with and quibble over, as were Scribes and Pharisees? Were they looking for power and willing to compromise with anyone to secure it, as were Sadducees? Were they radical patriots looking for a military conqueror to crush Rome, as were Zealots?
There could be many reasons for their following Jesus. They might want to impair His cause, or be hearing His words with suspicion and doubt. They could have been merely curious or hunting for personal gain. Jesus wanted them to clarify their thinking. AWhat do you want?@
The question is still relevant. We need a clear understanding of what our object is in following Christ. Most people never confront this question. Driven by circumstances, their lives are often incoherent, wasteful, unreflective.
We could rephrase Jesus= question to read, ACan you state the aim and purpose of your life in one coherent statement?@ If our answer to the question is cloudy, our life is probably cloudy.
Clarify spiritual goals and desires. Otherwise, after we pray, we can not know whether or not God has met our needs. ASeek and ye shall find@ applies when we know what we seek.
Does our life revolve around a central basic purpose and desire? Does one thing in life matter more to us than anything else? What guides our actions?
Once we decide we ought to have such a central focus, the next decision is what that central focus should be, which brings us to the question . . .
John 1:38b ARabbi, where dwellest thou?@
The Awhat@ of the two men was actually a Awho.@ They wanted nothing but to be with Jesus. They were hungry to be fed and led spiritually by Him.
In calling Jesus Rabbi, which signified a teaching master, the two showed their intent to be taught by Him. In asking where he dwelt they expressed a desire to be better acquainted with Him. They wanted more from Him than they could have in a short conference by the way. They resolved to make a business, not a pastime, of conversing with Christ. It is not enough to take a turn with Christ now and then. We must Alodge@ with Him.
Their answer implies if they could be with Christ, that and nothing less than that, would satisfy their want. They were in need of Christ first and not of any special gift from Christ. There is only one legitimate aim for believers, to please God. Our first command is to love the Lord with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength. Holiness matters most. Everything else is secondary to this. Otherwise, our aim is an idol, however worthy the goal. Jesus responded to their request.
John 1:39a ACome and see.@
This is the Gospel cry to all. Our faith has nothing to conceal and wears no mask. Christianity has no most holy place into which entrance is forbidden. It does have an inner sanctum, Jesus, but the door is always ajar. Every curtain is open, every lock unlocked, every stumbling block removed. The way to Jesus is open for all to enter.
Deceivers maintain allegiance from their followers by keeping them at a distance, but Christ invited these two men to His lodging. He has nothing to conceal; only beauty and excellence to reveal. There are at least four ways for us in our day to ACome and see.@
1. Observation. Give attention to the Gospel. Weigh it, prove it, meditate upon it. Take a good look at it. See God made flesh. Dwell on Jesus dying, bleeding, suffering. Meditation on the blood of Christ can help purge worldliness and apathy. Contemplate the risen Jesus and the ascended Lord.
2. Read the Bible diligently. We cannot catch the gist of Scripture if we only snatch a little here and there. We read whole poems to catch the sense, yet rarely read a whole Gospel or a whole epistle to catch the drift and understand the sense. Have we ever read a Gospel at one setting? How many of us have read the whole Bible? Can we honestly claim to believe something we have never read?
3. Hear the Gospel explained. Written revelation is helped by immediate inspiration. God-called speakers are to aid us in our study of the Word and to help us apply it to our lives. We need to be challenged verbally.
Soothing words and eloquent speakers can be heard at a theater. From the pulpit we need to see God, see ourselves, and bring the two closer together. If we don=t change something about our lifestyle due to preaching, either preachers are not conveying, or we=re not hearing, the true message.
John and Andrew followed Jesus. John=s outward preaching made them desire inward commitment. Their lifestyles were changed. The church has always been strong when preaching is strong, and weak when preaching is weak.
4. Believing. Accept by faith that the Bible is God=s Word, and Jesus is God=s Son. Receive Jesus by faith. Weigh evidence. Draw the only logical conclusion. All the physical observation in the world cannot in and of itself save us. Ultimately, a step of faith must be taken.
Faith comes by hearing (RM 10:14). To believe in Jesus we must hear of Him from someone else. Once told, it is up to us to respond. Andrew and John, having heard from the Baptist about Jesus, had to decide for themselves.
John 1:39b AThey came and saw . . . and abode . . . the tenth hour.@
The two were not disappointed. The experience was so memorable that sixty years later John could still remember the exact time of day it happened. The event was one he could never forget.
Adrian Rogers never forgot his deep encounter with Jesus. On a football field, he prayed on his knees, then spread himself on the ground, and finally dug a little hole in the dust to put his nose in, and prayed, AJesus, please use me.@ I remember my first encounter with Christ, in my parents= bedroom, on their bed.
Andrew and John stayed with Jesus, who was possibly staying at an inn or had a temporary place to reside while near the river. It is doubtful Jesus owned His own dwelling. Matthew 8:20 says, AThe Son of man hath not where to lay His head.@
Christ invited the two to come immediately. They had to embrace the present opportunity. We must do the same. ANow is the accepted time@ (II Corinthians 6:2).