Book of John Bible Study Book 1 Week 3

The Word One to One pages 37-52

John 1:35-51

Download Book 1 here

January 26- February 1, 2020

Information on this study is here

Our awesome student minister at my church always launches an ice breaker question that is themed to the lesson each week. I was thinking this would be a fun way for us to get to know each other.

So when you post this week, please tell us:

Who is the first person you rush to tell any good news?

My answer: For me (April) it’s been made much easier in the last couple of years since our family now has our own Slack App channel. When I get good news or a funny story I post on there, and no matter where everyone is we have fun with it.

Feel free to offer your insights, comments or questions on this week’s reading in this thread.

Or respond to the following:

What do you find winsome or accessible about Jesus in this week’s reading?

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I find it wonderful that Jesus met Nathanael where he was and immediately engaged and didn’t even call him on the mean slur on Nazareth. He gave him enough info to figure that out for himself without skirting the fact but without making Nathanael feel publicly shamed.

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I thought about that moment with Nathanael too! Jesus let Nahanael know that He knew all about him (which would include the slur on His hometown) but gave him grace and a moment or two to absorb who Jesus is.

It’s one of the moments when you realize that if you’ve been rejected because you come from the wrong neighborhood or the wrong family, etc. that Jesus has had this experience too. He has compassion on our troubles in more ways than we often consider.

I also loved how He tells Andrew and John (vs 39) “Come and you will see”. Jesus must have been on His way somewhere, but He includes them and extends hospitality. I have several neighbors that like to just drop by which is actually pretty sweet. And while I love that they want to do it, sometimes, I’m thinking (but I never say it) “I’m kinda busy…” I need to always have Jesus’ attitude of people over projects. Just stand there and say, “Come in. I’ll make some coffee…”

The Lord is on His throne whether or not the projects are finished and my hair looks like Phyllis Diller!

Phyllis%20Diller

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I don’t know if grade schools still have “Show and tell” sessions for kids to learn presentations skills while sharing fun things they have done. But this passage reminds me a bit of that. Instead of “show and tell” the theme seems to be “come and see.”
I get the impression that the two disciples’ first answer to Jesus’ question (what do you want?) was really a cover for what they really wanted. “Where do you live?” is scarecely the best follow-up question to John the Baptist’s claim “LOOK! the Lamb of God”
The passage poses a lot more questions for me to think about:

  • what did the disciples understand by John’s statement? Was it a reference to Abraham’s answer to Isaac on their way to the mountain in Moriah - God will himself provide a lamb for the burnt offereing."

  • why a lamb? why not a bull, a ram, a male goat - all of these animals were permitted as for burnt offerings.

  • why a connection between the lamb and the messiah? With our hindsight, we can understand the symbolism of the offered lamb and the cross, and the re-interpetation of OT scriptures on the suffering, serving Messiah. But the concept of the Messiah among the disciples simply did not include a suffering Messiah, let alone a crucified one. So how did they put the image of the Lamb of God together with their vision of the Messiah?

  • what were they actually looking for when they not only followed Jesus to his lodgings, but also called others to “come and see?”

  • what was the deeper significance to Nathaniel of Jesus comment “I saw you under the fig tree before Philip called you.” Jesus was obviously an observant person. What had he seen under the fig tree that led him to conclude that Nathaniel was a thoroughly honest and honourable man? And why did this lead Nathaniel to the conclusion that Jesus was the Son of God, the King of Israel?

  • I notice that Jesus also plays the “come and see” game - come and you’ll see a lot more fantastic things! But when did Nathaniel ever see "heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending on” the Son of Man? The closes I can think of was at the ascension - when Nathaniel would have seen Jesus go into heaven, and then seen “two men dressed in white” who promised the return of Jesus.

  • Nathaniel called Jesus the Son of God. Jesus himself, while clearly claiming God as His Father, and accepting his role as the Son in that relationship, chose to view himself as the “Son of Man.” This was a term used in Daniel. But for Jesus, especially after his recent baptism by the reluctant John, wanted very much to be recognised as a Man, a real ‘honest-to-goodness’ human being with flesh, bone and blood - not a supernatural, purely spiritual being, posing as a human. The only way he could be the “Lamb of God” and take away the sin of the world" was to be a genuine Son of Man.

  • Simon means “listen.” Peter, or Petrus, means “rock.” When we think over Peter’s story, we don’t often associate him with a listener - more often the spontaneous and unthinking speaker. What was the significance of the name change Jesus initiated? In his time with Jesus before the crucifixion the impression isn’t either that he was particularly stable and firm. Was his new name an indication of what Jesus saw deeper inside of him, a vote of confidence, a character trait to be sought, and challenge and an encouragement? (I am not a strong adherent of the idea that the church is/was founded on Peter. For me the Scriptures are clear that Jesus is the founder, the foundation and the cornerstone of the church. The rock (Matthew 16) IMHO that Jesus was refering to as the foundation was what Peter said about Jesus - that " You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God." He was making a play on words. It was not only Peter who given “keys” to bind or loosen on earth, etc. … but that is all another story as they say).

He was hospitable and welcoming. He was not afraid to show others who he was. He was not in the least put off by innuendos like “can anything good come out of Nazareth.” His response was more likely to be - “you think disparagingly about people from Nazareth? Well come and see what one is like.” He was not ashamed of the association.

As a carpenter I imagine Jesus was probably quite well built physically. People who worked wood with hand tools of those days had to be strong, and had to have physical endurance. Yet this “man’s man” was not ashamed to be compared to a lamb - and obviously a sacrifiial animal.

He had come to terms within himself of his role of service (as a son, as a carpenter, as a sacrificial lamb) and appears to have become entirely content with that. He must have displayed an incredible self-possession and calm self-assurance. “Come and see … I have absolutely nothing to hide, I have no hidden agenda, I am not ashamed of my village or its reputation, I am not ashamed about what people say about my parents and the rumours of my birth, and at the same time, I have no problem acknowledging all that is good in you, I’m not playing any power games. Come and see!”

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Hello @Mohembo, and thank you for your thoughtful post. I apologize for the delay in replying. My internet has been out, and I have to be selective about just how much I want to increase my phone data usage!

I agree with you that Jesus was confirming what Peter said.

Why? What is there in the text up to this point that even mentions Passover? I know WE can see it that way, but why would John the Baptist and his disciples see it that way. Lambs were part of the regular sin offerings, burnt offerings, etc etc.

There is nothing in Exodus that I recall (I admit I could be wrong) that explicitly connects the passover lamb that Moses instructed the people to kill and eat, with forgiveness of sin. There is nothing that I read in Exodus 12 that (to me) hints that this lamb was a sin offering, or was killed for the the removal of sin. The lamb’s blood was put on the door posts so the Angel of Death would not take the first born son. The people in the household were to eat the lamb. Yes, this separated the Hebrews from the judgement of God on the Egyptians. Not putting the blood on the doorposts was asking to participate in that judgement. The only one “saved” by this passover lamb was the first born son - not anyone else.

Another small but possibly relevant detail - No foreigners, hired servants, or non-Hebrew guests were allowed to eat the passover lamb, unless they were first circumcised. It was exclusively for the Hebrew nation. (I suspect therefore that even if Egyptians had killed a lamb and put its blood on the door posts, it was not have made any difference - their first born son would die.) Jesus, as “the Lamb of God, taking away the sin of the world” does not fit with this exclusivity. Remember that even after the resurrection and well into Acts, the apostles (not just the disciples) had a very hard time accepting that Jesus’ salvation extended to the (uncircumsiced) Gentiles.

The sin offering lamb was never eaten by the one offering it - only by the priest doing the ceremony, and only in the sanctuary area, but was burnt - in the Templep. Various animals could be used for a sin offering. Leviticus 4:32 ““‘If someone brings a lamb as their sin offering, they are to bring a female without defect.” Although I don’t think Jesus would be the least perturbed by being associated with a female lamb, I’m not sure that John the Baptist or his disciples would cheerully make this particular connection.

So I am not totally convinced that John the writer and all his Jewish readers automatically associated John the Baptist’s statement with the Passover Lamb - rather with all of the other offerings in Leviticus, and in particular to sin offering, or to Abraham’s statement to Isaac, the “the Lord himself will provide a lamb for the burnt offering.” We today like to make the connection with the Passover lamb (and I don’t want to imply that it is “wrong”) but we have to be careful that we don’t project our understanding onto John the Baptist, his disciples and others who heard what he said.

If I’m wrong in these arguments, I am ready to be corrected.

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The first person I tell any good news is to my best friend. Although when I first heard the good news of Christ, I picked up the phone and called everyone the Lord had placed in my path leading up to that event, followed by those whom I thought needed to hear what I just heard. I was so excited and remember them telling me to slow down. I still get excited, 25 years later, about talking to others about Jesus. If my friend is present, she’ll usually place her hand on my shoulders. First to remind me to slow down, and secondly to begin praying for the person I’m talking to.

What I find winsome about Jesus is that He acknowledges everyone that approaches Him and invites them to “come and see”. Also, extending that same invitation to Nathaneal who was seeking Him but in another way.

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I would never want to have a “you’re wrong” discussion…Our dialog is part of the beauty of engagement and meditation on God’s Word, and it’s a lifelong process to delve into the incredible complexity of these topics! And you make very fair points.

And yes, I agree that all throughout the OT the lamb represented a sin offering including your reference to Abraham and the ram. And quite frankly we know Cain and Abel offered sacrifices, so the connection of sacrifice to our relationship to God goes back to the beginning.

I think there are many things to consider in scripture. Please bear with me while I pull up context. I would put to you that Israel, as a nation, was taught to understand the meaning of the Passover that would point to Messiah.

The judgment to be distributed at the Passover was on a sort of “world” scale. Firstborn Egyptians, firstborn animals, firstborn prisoners, “even to the firstborn of the slave girl who is behind the handmill, and all the firstborn of the cattle”(Ex. 11:5) were all affected by this judgment. And apart from the blood over the door, Israel and their animals would have suffered judgment. Passover is representative of the covenant relationship that the Lord put in place for Israel and distinctly set them apart from their captors. This redemptive act by God brought them out of slavery, and judged those who reject the true God. And He calls them to remember this event forever (Ex. 12:14) when He rescued their firstborn with the blood of the lamb.

‘Thus says the Lord, Israel is my firstborn son, Ex. 4:22

In the Passover ordinance God requires a perfect male animal. (Ex. 12:5)

We move forward to Jesus on this note. His crucifixion and resurrection took place on the very weekend of Passover further indicating His connection and link to this significant observance. He uses the elements of the Passover meal to establish communion. The Lord’s Supper was prescribed during the Lord’s Passover.
Paul indicates his knowledge of the association when he writes in 1 Corinthians 5:7-8

Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. Let us therefore celebrate the festival, not with the old leaven, the leaven of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.

As circumcision was the identifier of the people of God’s covenant, God would expect those who partook of the covenant meal of Passover to choose to be identified as such. It is a sacred observance filled with reminders of God’s rescue from death and deliverance. But it was offered as a choice to foreigners who wished to partake. I think that is extraordinary! Would it be as symbolic of God’s redemption or reverent or valuable if it was open to anyone who may bring in their own pagan rites or practices? God developed a call to reverence and significance that required outward and inward commitment. To take part in this covenant meal involved change and accountability.

God also knew there would be a “mixed multitude” of people who left Egypt with Israel (Ex. 12:38) so He implemented a system for dealing with this. The act was to bring in the other culture to be of the nation of Israel, not allow the nation of Israel to commit sin in the same way as the surrounding cultures.

Warren Wiersbe makes a great comment about the blood on the doorposts:

God promised, “When I see the blood, I will pass over you.” (Ex. 12:13) It isn’t sufficient simply to know that Christ was sacrificed for the sins of the world. We must appropriate that sacrifice for ourselves and be able to say with Paul, “The Son of God loved me, and gave Himself for me” (Gal. 2:20)…"

This act of applying blood on the door frames would also remind Israel that they are not saved by their ancestry, or their own goodness.

The Israelites fed on the lamb (roasted whole so as to keep from breaking bones) to have strength for the exodus journey. And actually our discussion goes into the unusual topic of eating in week 14 of this study because Jesus tells His followers:

Jesus said to them, “Very truly I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day. For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. John 6:53-55

John the Baptist did come from a line of priests, as we know that’s how his father served. So he would not have been without good knowledge of the writings of the prophets, and the covenant.

There is a discussion among theologians that John the Baptist’s declaration was a climax of “progressive revelation” from Scripture. It is summarized like this:
Adam and Eve were each clothed in animal skins (animals died) at the time of their sin. This required one animal for one individual.
In the Passover God decreed one animal for one family (unless it was a very small family then you could share with nearest neighbors).
Then at Day of Atonement God decreed one animal would stand for an entire nation.
Finally in the Day of John the Baptist Jesus was declared one Lamb for the world.

I think we could pull more, but this post is already quite long! :grin:
I hope this offers some food for thought. I appreciate your considerate posts.

Thank you April.

I think you provide a very good summary of the kind of explanation that Jesus might have given to the couple on the road to Emmaus on the first Christian Easter Sunday. It is an explanation that we can see now, and the disciples begain to understand AFTER the resurrection.

It seems unlikely to me that John the Baptist knew that Jesus would be executed on a Passover weekend. It he had, at the time he spoke these words, why would he have sent his very discouraged message to Jesus from prison? ‘Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?’ (Luke 7:20) If he knew - even through this prophetic statement - that the Christ would be sacrificed, why did his disciples, who left him to follow Jesus, oppose Jesus’ own prophesies that he would be handed over to the authorities in Jerusalem and be killed? If they understood so early in his ministry that Jesus was to die for the sins of his people, why were they devastated by the crucifixion when it happened, and so totally surprised when he rose again?

I do not at all disagree with what you write about the OT prophesies - Jesus went so far as to say Jonah’s time in the great fish’s mouth was a picture of his death, burial and resurrection. But I do have a hard time believing that John the Baptist, and Jesus’ own disciples understood that Jesus was the “suffering servant Messiah” at the time John the Baptist made his statement - that didn’t “compute” with their hopes, and their selective interpretation of the “law and the prophets.”

After Pentecost a whole lot became clear. One has only to read the book of Hebrews to learn the secrets of the OT that were there “as plain as the nose on your face” but which very few seem to have understood.

Unfortunately, John seems then to have slipped seriously backwards in the certainty of this progressive revelation, if his question from prison is taken into consideration. Also, I would have tho’t that Abraham’s answer to Isaac’s question about the lamb for the burnt offering should be somewhere in this progression.

But I thank you for what you wrote because you made some additional comments that I really appreciate.

An additional lateral thought: Many prophetic statements were made by individuals who didn’t seem to understand just how prophetic they were, or exactly in what way they were prophetic beyond an imminent event. I suspect that Abraham was not thinking that his imminent sacriftice of Isaac was a prophetic picture of God’s lamb being sacrificed for the world. I’m sure that Jonah didn’t think about his time in the Fish’s belly as a picture of the Messiah’s burial. I don’t think Pilate understood that his written statement over Jesus’ head on the cross “Jesus the king of the Jews” was prophetic, in the sense that the crucifixion was a declaration that Jesus as Messiah was not exclusively king of the Jews (in the guise they expected of the Messiah leading a revolution against Rome), but would rise to be the Lord above Lords - in heaven, on earth and under the earth - including all Gentiles and Pilate himself. This crucifixion was the death of the people’s desire (back in Samuel’s time) to reject God as their king in favour of selecting a king like the nations around them. For Pilate it was rubbing salt into the irony of the people crying “we have no king but Ceasar” going even further than the Isrealites in Samuel’s time (a history he probably knew nothing about and didn’t care). So I think that progressive revelation often comes after, sometimes a long time after, an individual says or experiences something.

More than enough from me. Thank you April

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Your comment about John’s struggle gets me on another topic:

John seems then to have slipped seriously backwards in the certainty of this progressive revelation, if his question from prison is taken into consideration.

I have always valued this glimpse of the amazing prophet because I see someone who had real relationship with Jesus, yet still struggled when he sat in adversity. If JTB can falter, anyone can. But his response to his shaken faith is the one we can all emulate. He sent his concern and question directly to Jesus, and Jesus responded.

Peter never expected to fail in his devotion when he said, “Even if all fall away on account of you, I never will.” Matthew 26:33.

I think this is part of what it means to be human, and Paul expresses it perfectly:

I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. Romans 7:15

Praise God we have a perfect Savior Who does not wait for our perfection to bring us into His kingdom!