Again the next day after John stood, and two of his disciples; and looking upon Jesus as he walked, he saith, Behold the Lamb of God! And the two disciples heard him speak, and they followed Jesus. Then Jesus turned, and saw them following, and saith unto them, What seek ye? They said unto him, Rabbi, (which is to say, being interpreted, Master,) where dwellest thou? He saith unto them, Come and see. They came and saw where he dwelt, and abode with him that day: for it was about the tenth hour. One of the two which heard John speak, and followed him, was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. He first findeth his own brother Simon, and saith unto him, We have found the Messias, which is, being interpreted, the Christ. And he brought him to Jesus. And when Jesus beheld him, he said, Thou art Simon the son of Jona: thou shalt be called Cephas, which is by interpretation, A stone. The day following Jesus would go forth into Galilee, and findeth Philip, and saith unto him, Follow me. Now Philip was of Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. Philip findeth Nathanael, and saith unto him, We have found him, of whom Moses in the law, and the prophets, did write, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph. And Nathanael said unto him, Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth? Philip saith unto him, Come and see. Jesus saw Nathanael coming to him, and saith of him, Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile! Nathanael saith unto him, Whence knowest thou me? Jesus answered and said unto him, Before that Philip called thee, when thou wast under the fig tree, I saw thee. Nathanael answered and saith unto him, Rabbi, thou art the Son of God; thou art the King of Israel. Jesus answered and said unto him, Because I said unto thee, I saw thee under the fig tree, believest thou? thou shalt see greater things than these. And he saith unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Hereafter ye shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man.
Our attention has been directed already to John’s testimony concerning our Savior as the Lamb of God. We have considered verse 29 where we read: “The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.” This announcement had to do with our Lord as the great sin offering. All through the Old Testament dispensation the types and shadows and direct prophetic messages had pointed on to the time when God would send the true sacrificial Lamb, and now John declares, “He has come.”
The next day after, he exclaims again, “Behold the Lamb of God.” It is not now “the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world”—that was yesterday—but now it is, “Look at the walk of the Lamb of God.” Jesus came walking across the plains, and John’s attention was directed to Him in a new way. There was something about the walk of God’s blessed Son that led His forerunner to exclaim, “Behold the Lamb of God!” How different His walk was to that of any other, and by “walk,” of course, we mean behavior. As we think of the holy behavior of the Son of God we cannot but realize how it stands out in contrast to our own devious ways. The great difference is this: our behavior is dominated so much by selfishness. We act as we do because we are so self-centered. We are occupied with ourselves. We are concerned about self-pleasing and about that which ministers to self. But the Lord Jesus could say, “I came… not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me” (John 6:38).
The only Man who has ever walked through this scene who never had one selfish thought but who found all His joy in doing the will of the Father, was our blessed, adorable Lord. We may well “Behold the Lamb of God” in this sense. If, at times, we are tempted to justify things in ourselves that are contrary to the mind of God, we need only to gaze, by faith, upon the Lamb of God as He was down here, and behold His unselfish walk, in order to realize at once how far short we come of that perfection which was manifest in Him. The result will be that we will seek to become increasingly like Him. “But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory even as by the Spirit of the Lord.”
As we read this word, as we see the holy Savior moving undefiled through the vile scenes that are depicted for us by the Holy Spirit, as we see how gentle, careful, and considerate of others He was, surely it should rebuke our own wickedness and selfishness and lead us to confess our own failures in the presence of God and to desire to become more like Him. “Behold the Lamb of God!” Contemplate His lovely ways and dwell upon His subject spirit. We are told that when John uttered this exclamation, “Behold the Lamb of God,” it so appealed to two of the disciples who were standing with him that “the two disciples heard him speak, and they followed Jesus” (v. 37). After all, this was the real object of John’s ministry. He did not come to occupy people with himself or with his service, but he came as “the voice of one crying in the wilderness.” He said, “He must increase, but I must decrease” (3:30). “This is He, who, coming after me, is preferred before me.” So you can well understand how John’s heart thrilled with gladness when they went after Jesus. This was the very purpose for which he came baptizing with water. This should be the purpose of every servant of Christ. He should ever point others to this Lamb of God—the Lamb of God, the Sin-bearer; the Lamb of God, the perfect example.
The two disciples heard John speak and they went after Jesus. Of these, we read, one was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. The other one keeps his own name hidden all through this gospel, but he was the disciple who leaned on Jesus’ breast, the disciple whom Jesus loved, that is, of course, the apostle John. So these two, Andrew and John, followed Jesus. “Then Jesus turned, and saw them following, and saith unto them, What seek ye?” (v. 38a). I think the Lord Jesus might well address that question to many today who presumably seek His face. Many people come to Jesus, I think, because they hope to be benefited by Him. Some come hoping for physical relief. What do you have in mind when you come to Him? “What seek ye?” What would you have Jesus do for you?
I am often grieved when I invite people who want to know Christ as their Savior to come to our prayer room that our friends there may pray with them and make clear the way of life, and some come ostensibly because they are exercised and anxious to know the Lord. But it is soon evident they are far more concerned about temporal need than about their spiritual condition. I would rather have a man come to me and say honestly, “I am not concerned about my soul, but I am greatly concerned about my body. I need a place to sleep, or I need food.” I am glad to do what I can for a man who comes to me like that. But it really hurts to have people come professing an interest in spiritual things when they are only concerned about temporal relief.
Well, Jesus turned to these men and said, “Why seek ye Me?” and they seem just a bit embarrassed. “They said unto him, Rabbi, (which is to say, being interpreted, Master,) where dwellest thou?” (v. 38b), as much as to say, “We would like to go with You to Your home.” Where did He really dwell? He had no home here on earth. He could say, “The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head” (Matt. 8:20). He was a homeless wanderer as He began His ministry, after leaving the carpenter’s shop in Nazareth. But He had a home in the bosom of the Father, for we read, “No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him” (John 1:18). That was where Jesus dwelt. He dwelt in the Father’s love and that place He never left. He was always the object of the Father’s delight and always enjoyed the fellowship of the Father except when, upon the cross, God’s face was hidden from Him when He became the substitute for our sins. Then He cried in the anguish of His soul, “My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me?” (Matt. 27:46; Mark 15:34). Yet He was never dearer to the Father’s heart than in those dark hours when He was “made sin” for us.
But here He did have a temporary abiding place. Just where it was we are not told, but He said to them, “Come and see.” So they went with Him “and abode with him that day: for it was about the tenth hour” (v. 39) .That would be about four o’clock in the afternoon, and oh, what a sacred time that must have been! Doubtless they plied Him with questions, and He probably answered them and gave them the revelation of His love and grace, and from that time on they were never the same. They were never able to settle down to the earth or give themselves entirely to earthly occupations. Their hearts were won for Himself, and they longed to share this blessing with others.
Has He won your heart? Do you really know Him as the sent One of the Father? Has His love and His grace and His holiness been so revealed to your soul that He has won your affection for Himself? Then surely you want others to know Him. I think this is one of the surest proofs of a genuine conversion. One of the first evidences that people really know Christ is that they turn to others and say, “Come, I want you to know Him as I know Him.” The rest of this chapter is devoted to service in seeking to win others to Christ.
One of the two was Andrew. “He first findeth his own brother Simon” (v. 41a). It might seem, simply, that the first thing Andrew did was to find his brother. But, we are told by scholars, that what is really implied here is that John went off to find his brother James, but Andrew was the first one to find his brother. It is characteristic of the apostle John to hide himself. Two of the New Testament writers, John and Luke, two very self-effacing men, never mention themselves, and yet they have quite a close connection with Jesus. They are always hiding themselves. The Lord, however, would have us know that, having come in vital contact with Christ for themselves, John at once thought of his brother, and Andrew thought of his brother. Have you a brother still out of Christ? Are you saved yourself? Is there a brother, a sister, a friend, who does not yet know the Savior? Have you tried to find them? Perhaps you wrote a letter. Perhaps you could only send some gospel tracts. Perhaps you could only have a word with them, but you have been concerned about them. Have you not? I cannot understand how you could really know and love Christ yourself and be indifferent to the claims of those who are still strangers to Him. Let us seek to emulate these men.
Andrew was the first to find his own brother Simon. They had both been listening to John. In the first chapter of Acts, Peter speaks of those who were with them “beginning from the baptism of John” (v. 22). Thus they were prepared to receive the Messiah when He was manifested. So Andrew hurried off to find Peter and said, “We have found the [Messiah], which is, being interpreted, the Christ” (v. 41b). Then in the verse that follows we read, “He brought him to Jesus” (v. 42a). Did you ever do that for anyone? Notice that he did not go out to argue with his brother, but he simply went and told him of the One who satisfies the heart. He probably told Simon of his own experience and then said, “Now, Simon, I want you to know Him, too. Won’t you come to Him?” Oh, there is many a longing heart you might lead to Christ. Too many of us are content to leave this to the preacher, or perhaps to those who teach in the Sunday school or in some other public place. But every believer is called to be a representative of Christ, to go to men and women with this message, “We have found Jesus, the Savior of sinners, who meets every need of the lost and the undone.”
When Jesus saw Peter coming, He turned to him and said, “Thou art Simon the son of Jona: thou shalt be called Cephas, which is by interpretation, A stone” (v. 42b). Jesus loved to give men new names. He does it still. Whenever you put your trust in Him, He gives you a new name. “Now, Peter, you are going to be a rocklike man, and you are going to stand firmly for the truth in later days. Your name is Cephas. Your name is a stone.” You remember how in Matthew 16 we read this: “And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (v. 18). And in his own first epistle, Peter speaks of all believers as living stones built upon the rock foundation, Christ. Oh, are you afraid to confess Christ, afraid to trust Him lest you should not be able to stand? Come to Him! Acquaint yourself with Him, and He will make you a rocklike man or woman. But, you tell me, Peter himself failed. Yes, at one time he was a pretty shaky sort of a rock. Was he not? But after he received the Holy Spirit it was different. Oh, how Peter stood for Christ in those early days of the church, and after years of testimony and suffering Peter sealed his testimony with his blood. He became truly the rocklike man as Jesus, by giving him this name, indicated he would.
We have not only Andrew and John going after their brothers, but we find Jesus calling another man. “The day following Jesus would go forth into Galilee, and findeth Philip, and saith unto him, Follow me. Now Philip was of Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter” (vv. 43-44). We do not hear of any great profession he made, but he heard the words, “Follow me.” At once we find him going after a friend. “Philip findeth Nathanael, and saith unto him, We have found him” (v. 45a). He did not preach a long sermon. He said, “We have found Him, Nathanael.” “We have found him, of whom Moses in the law, and the prophets, did write, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph” (v. 45b).
You say, Why does he call Him the son of Joseph? He was actually the Son of God. But Joseph, you see, by marrying Mary had become the legal father of Jesus, and it is this that Philip recognizes. He says, as it were, “Why He has been among us all these years, and we did not realize that that carpenter in the shop at Nazareth was the Messiah.” Philip says, “I want you to know Him too, Nathanael.” And Nathanael said to him, “Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth?” (v. 46). “Can any good thing come out of that city?” If the Nazareth of today with its filthy streets resembles the Nazareth of old, it is no wonder that Nathanael asked that. It was the time for Philip to begin an argument, but he was too wise to do that. He simply said to him, “Come and see. If you only get to know Him as I know Him, you will be convinced.”
And this is my message to you unsaved ones. I think of some of you, torn by doubt, anxious, and perplexed. You say, “Can it be possible that Jesus is really the blessed Son of God, the Savior of sinners?” I say to you earnestly, “Come and see.” Come to His feet. Let Him speak to you words of peace and pardon. Won’t you come? He says, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matt. 11:28). “Come and see.”
Nathanael decided to go. Jesus saw him coming—no one ever came toward Him but that He saw him coming; He sees you today if you are moving toward Him—and Jesus said, “Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile!” (v. 47). He was saying, “I know that he is genuine, that he rings true.” “Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile.” Nathanael catches the word and says, “Whence knowest thou me?” (v. 48a). Jesus said, “Before that Philip called thee, when thou wast under the fig tree, I saw thee” (v. 48b). What did He mean? Why, I suppose that Nathanael had a fig tree in his garden behind the wall. Possibly he was under that fig tree studying the Word of God or praying for light, and Jesus saw him there long before Philip called Him. Wherever you are today, friend, Jesus sees you, and if your heart yearns for light and peace, He waits to give them. “Before that Philip called thee, when thou wast under the fig tree.” This so stirred the heart of Nathanael that he said, “This must be Him.” He cried out at once, “I believe that ‘thou art the Son of God; thou art the King of Israel’” (v. 49). You see, “Faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the Word of God,” and so in faith Nathanael was added to the little company.
“Jesus answered and said unto him, Because I said unto thee, I saw thee under the fig tree, believest thou?” (v. 50). When you did not think I could see you I knew—does that make it clear to you that I am more than man? “Verily, verily, I say unto you, Hereafter ye shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man” (v. 51). He was speaking of His second coming in power and glory. The mind of Nathanael went back to the book of Genesis when Jacob lay down to sleep in Bethel, and there saw in his dream a ladder (an ascent, really) reaching up to heaven, and the angels going up and down. Jesus practically says to Nathanael, “I am the One by whom man ascends from earth to heaven, and some day when I come again in power and glory I will come accompanied by the angels of God.” He is Himself the connecting link between earth and heaven, soon to be manifested in power and glory!