BOOK BY BOOK BIBLE STUDY
BIBLE STUDY LESSON
For the week beginning Sunday December 22, 2013
(The first disciples)
The phrase, “The LAMB of GOD”, that is used by John the Baptist to identify JESUS in chapter 1, verse 29, in the Apostle John’s Gospel account, reflects the true atonement value of GOD’s only begotten SON. John, by way of the HOLY SPIRIT, and through Old Testament analogies, saw JESUS as the “sacrificial victim” who came to give up HIS human life to atone for “the sins of the world”.
Here John quickly identifies JESUS and connects HIM to the Old Testament prophecy of Isaiah, some 700 years earlier. JESUS is the “Suffering Servant” in Isaiah 53:7, and HE is the recognized sacrifice that was provided by GOD as a propitiation for our transgressions. No animal sacrifice could qualify as a ransom to permanently remove the stain of sin and death from mankind. Only JESUS could fulfill the role of the “Suffering Servant of GOD”.
In verse 31, the Apostle John records that John the Baptist uttered the unusual statement, “I did not know HIM”, in reference to JESUS. This statement can be easily explained by a quick visit to two of the three other “synoptic” Gospel accounts. The Gospel of Luke (Luke 1:26-38) tells us that JESUS’ mother, Mary, was a cousin of Elizabeth, the mother of John the Baptist, and so the two had to be related (cousins), and even we have relatives whom we do not know, or have never met. Therefore, the word “know”, in this instance, means “recognize”. Apparently John did not recognize his cousin JESUS as the ONE WHOM GOD had sent to be the SAVIOR of mankind.
The Gospel of Matthew (Matthew 3:14), on the other hand, hints that John must have known JESUS quite well, and in fact, knew HIM so well that, at first, he refused to Baptist HIM, because he knew that JESUS was not a sinner like the others he had baptized. John’s baptism was for sinners, and he knew JESUS, WHO was without sin, had no reason for repent, and thereby, had no need for his baptism. He probably felt that, to baptize the MESSIAH, at best, would be an insult, and at worse, would be blasphemous.
And so, even though he knew of the prophecy of a “coming SAVIOR”, he certainly did not know, beforehand, that the coming SAVIOR would be a relative of his. That particular information had previously been withheld from John the Baptist, by GOD. He knew only that GOD would identify such a person by the descent of the HOLY SPIRIT, in the form of a dove, upon the man whom HE would send (John 1:32-34).
The initial contact that JESUS made with the men, who would later become HIS disciples, was made when John the Baptist pointed the SAVIOR out to two of his own students. The two men curiously followed after JESUS, and when the MESSIAH looked around and saw them, HE asked them what it was that they wanted. The two men requested to know where it was that JESUS was staying, and JESUS invited them to come and see.
It was about four o’clock in the afternoon, and they went with JESUS, and abided with him for the remainder of the day. One of these men was named Andrew, and he was the brother of Simon Peter. After spending the afternoon with JESUS, the first thing Andrew thought to do was to bring his brother, Simon Peter, on board by giving him the good news about CHRIST. He ran and told his brother that he had found “the long-awaited MESSIAH”, and then, he took him back to meet JESUS.
Those three men were the first to get to know JESUS, in the literal sense. Today we get to know JESUS through HIS written word, and, by associating with HIS people, or, those who genuinely believe on HIM. John the Baptist knew JESUS spiritually, (He saw the doves descend on JESUS and remain with HIM) and because of that, he recognized JESUS was without sin.
The next day JESUS decided to go to Galilee, where HE found Philip and invited him to be HIS disciple. Philip was a native of Bethsaida, Andrew and Peter’s hometown. Now the first thing Philip does, is, go and find Nathanael, who was “an honest man”, to tell him the good news about CHRIST. After learning that JESUS was from Nazareth, a curious Nathanael asks, “Can anything good come from there?”
After coming face to face with JESUS, JESUS shows Nathanael a bit of HIS supernatural knowledge by telling him of HIS knowledge of Nathanael’s character and reputation for being an honest man. JESUS also discloses to him that HE had already seen him “underneath a fig tree”, an expression that often meant “in a place of safety and leisure”. Impressed by JESUS’ knowledge of him, Nathanael was prompted to confess JESUS as both the “SON of GOD” and the “KING of Israel”.
Throughout the Holy Scriptures, JESUS refers to HIMSELF as the “SON of Man” more than 80 times, and in this particular passage, we are presented with one of those occasions (v.51). It is a term that speaks of HIS humanity and suffering, and, of HIS work as the ideal man. In other words, JESUS sought to convey to us, that, HE had come to be a living, “100 % human example” of what the life of every man, who wishes to worship GOD in Spirit, and in Truth, should be like.
A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander
LARRY D. ALEXANDER- Official Website