Testimony of the First Converts (John 1:35-51)

John wrote his gospel so that we may “believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that by believing we may have life in His name” (John 20:31). In our current section of the Gospel of John, he presents for us seven witnesses who testify that Jesus is the Christ. Our first witness was John the Baptist who testified that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God and he has come to prepare His way. Our second testimony comes from Jesus’ first converts who testify that they have found the Messiah and He is worth forsaking all and following.

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Unnamed Disciple (John?)

We heard John’s testimony last week and now he tells two of his disciples that Jesus is “the Lamb of God!” (1:36). Upon hearing John’s testimony, both of these disciples started following Jesus. When Jesus saw them following, He said to them “‘What do you seek?’ They said to Him, ‘Rabbi (which translated means Teacher), where are You staying?’ He said to them, ‘Come, and you will see.’ So they came and saw where He was staying; and they stayed with Him that day, for it was about the tenth hour” (1:38-39). They immediately left John to follow Jesus because of John’s testimony that Jesus is the Christ.

Andrew

One of the disciples mentioned was “Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother” (1:40). Andrew heard that Jesus is the Lamb of God and knew He was the Christ. Andrew followed Jesus and stayed where He was. One of his first actions was to seek his brother Simon and tell him: “We have found the Messiah” (which translated means Christ)” (1:41). Andrew believed and sought out his brother so that he would believe as well. Andrew testified to Simon and to us that Jesus is the Christ! 

Simon (Peter)

When Jesus saw Simon, He looked at him and said, “You are Simon the son of John; you shall be called Cephas” (which is translated Peter)” (1:42b). It is remarkable that there is no mention of Peter’s response. We are left to assume (rightly) that Simon accepted his new name and immediately followed Jesus. Why did Jesus change Simon’s name to Peter (which means “a rock”)? It is because Jesus knew the important role Peter would play as a disciple. He was a rock amongst them and would “strengthen your brothers” (Luke 22:32). Peter testifies to us that Jesus is the Christ! 

Philip

We are told that on the next day Jesus decided to go into Galilee. He found Philip there and said to him, “Follow Me.” (43). Philip followed Jesus and one of the first things he did was to find Nathanael, saying: “We have found Him of whom Moses in the Law and also the Prophets wrote–Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.” (45). Like Andrew, Philip immediately had to share this good news with someone. Philip testifies to us that Jesus is the Christ.

Nathanael (Bartholomew)

Nathanael, also known as Batholomew, heard Philip speak of finding the Christ and described Him as “Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph” (45). Nathanael replied, “Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see” (1:46). Why did Nathanael disparage Nazareth like that? I believe the best interpretation is a reluctance on Nathanael’s part to believe that the Messiah would come from Nazareth. I believe this is the best reading because Jesus says of Nathanael Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no deceit” (1:47).

Nathanael, surprised by this greeting, said to Jesus: “How do You know me?” Jesus replied, “Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you” (1:48). This had a profound impact on Nathanael, who answered: “Rabbi, You are the Son of God; You are the King of Israel” (1:49). Jesus answered, “Because I said to you that I saw you under the fig tree, do you believe? You will see greater things than these…Truly, truly, I say to you, you will see the heavens opened and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man” (1:50-51). Jesus supernaturally revealed to Nathanael that He is the Christ and, invoking the image of Jacob’s ladder from Genesis 28, promised that Nathanael would see more than this because Jesus is the means through which heaven comes to earth! Nathanael testified that Jesus is the Christ.

What Can We Learn From Their Testimony?

Robert Stein wrote: “Being a Christian involves following Jesus and leaving everything.” What do we leave behind? We are to leave behind everything that hinders us from following Him. As Hebrews 12:1-2 says, “Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance, and sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus.” 

If you are not a Christian, Jesus is calling you to “Follow Me.” What is keeping you from becoming a Christian? Jesus is Lord whether you accept Him or not. As Lord, He is “declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent, because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead” (Acts 17:30-31). Repent and believe.

Maybe you are a Christian, but you have become “ineffective and unfruitful” (2 Peter 1:8). What are the areas in your life not fully surrendered to God? Is it your job? Your house? Your family? Your finances? Jesus’ first converts testify that He is the Christ, the Son of God and He is worth forsaking all and following Him! These first converts committed their life to following Jesus. Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God and you cannot remain neutral with Jesus. Surrender all to the One who loves you the greatest. Only in Jesus will we find rest.

Published by First Baptist Church of Scott City, MO

Bringing the love of Christ to a hurting world.

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