Come and See
16 November 2014
A study in the series on the Gospel of John by John Dugas
Grace Bible Church, Tulsa
Full Audio Message
Under a shady fig tree somewhere in Galilee, a godly man sat meditating on the life of Jacob. Jacob was a puzzle. He was chosen by God to be the father of a holy nation, and yet he was deceitful. A turning point came when God gave him a dream while running from his angry brother. He had just deceived his own father to steal Esau’s blessing. He dreamed of a stairway from heaven to earth and angels were moving up and down it. Jacob named the place Beth-el (God’s house).
As Nathanael is musing on Jacob’s life and transformation and this heavenly vision, here comes his friend. Philip is from another town with “Beth” (house) in its name. He is from Beth-saida (Fisherman’s house). Philip, having just been caught by the chief Fisher of men, is about to catch his first fish. Out of breath and excited out of his head, he announces, “We’ve found Him!”
This is the news that they have been anxiously awaiting. “Messiah is due on the scene any day. And now we’ve found him.” How many lively talks have Philip and Nathanael had about who Messiah will be and when will He come and how will we know Him?
Philip now has the answers. Messiah is here and Jesus is His name. He is from Nazareth. That makes Nathanael skeptical. “Surely Messiah will come from some place more noble than the humble town of Nazareth. Is this possible?” Already a good fisher of men, Philip replies, “Come and see.”
Like Philip and Andrew (whom we’ll meet shortly), we too are called to be fishers of men. We can learn from these two early evangelists. Some of you are fish who have not yet been caught. I hope that you will “come and see” too. You must be caught as a fish before you can fish for men.
The writer gives a sequence of events in rapid fire. Religious leaders investigate John the Baptist on day one. On day two John points his followers to the Lamb of God. On day three some of John’s disciples leave to follow God’s Lamb and Andrew brings his own brother to meet Jesus. On day four, Philip brings his friend to Jesus. John the Baptist’s ministry is working. He has the attention of his disciples and sends them to follow the Lamb. First we see this…
I. John the Baptist points his disciples to Jesus (John 1:35-39).
John points out Jesus as the Lamb of God again. This time two of his disciples move their allegiance from John to Jesus. That’s the way it’s supposed to work.
Jesus turns to them and asks, “What do you seek?” Are they just curious or really wanting to know Him. Those who desire to follow Jesus need to consider what it is that they are seeking. Is that what Jesus provides? His followers must be serious about becoming His disciples.
They reply, “Rabbi, where are you staying?” They respectfully and politely ask for an interview. What they wanted to learn would take more time than a simple answer can provide. John uses one of his favorite words here: staying or abiding. It is the Greek verb meno which means ‘to abide, remain.’ John uses it more than all the other NT writers combined. In this passage, it simply means ‘to stay’ but John is warming up his readers for an important discussion on ‘abiding in Christ’ in chapter 15. They ask where Jesus is abiding and Jesus replies, “Come and you will see.”
Discipleship is abiding with Jesus…staying with Jesus…remaining with Jesus. It is only by coming to Jesus and seeing for yourself that you can know Him. And if you come to know Him, you will remain with Him. So these two men followed Jesus and they stayed (meno) with Him. It was the tenth hour. It was probably 10am (going by official Roman time). This allows time to interview Jesus, decide to remain with Him and for Andrew to go get his brother. So next…
II. Andrew invites Simon to investigate Jesus (John 1:40-42).
Andrew is the first to proclaim Jesus as Messiah. R. C. Sproul said that they named their church “St. Andrews” after this disciple. Whenever Andrew appears in this Gospel, he is bringing someone to Jesus (John 6:4-9; John 12:20-22). Andrew tells his brother Simon “We have found the Messiah”. Messiah (Hebrew) and Christ (Greek) refer to ‘the Anointed One.’ In the OT, priests and kings were anointed with oil. It was a picture of God’s Spirit empowering them for service. Over time, Messiah came to be known as the Anointed One.
Jesus gave Simon the Aramaic name Cephas which translated into Greek is Peter (Petros). It means ‘a rock.’ The name Simon (Hebrew: Simeon) is appropriate for Peter. Like Jacob’s son Simeon, Peter is impulsive and tended toward violence (Gen 34:25-31; Jn 18:10). But Jesus prophesied that the grace of God would transform impulsive Simon into a rock—a stable, solid man who would one day himself confess Jesus as the Messiah (Mt 16:18; 1 Pet 2:4, 5). And now point three,
III. Philip invites Nathanael to investigate Jesus (John 1:43-51).
On the fourth day in this string of events, Jesus and His disciples move north to the region of Galilee and to Bethsaida, Andrew and Peter’s city. Philip may have heard John the Baptist preach, but he didn’t come to Jesus by that man or by the evangelism of these new disciples. Jesus sought him out and said, “Follow Me.” We come to Christ in different ways.
Like Andrew, Philip can’t keep this news to himself. He sets out quickly to find his friend Nathanael. Philip announces that he has found the Messiah promised in the OT Scriptures (Moses in the Law and the Prophets). Philip reports that this Man is the son of Joseph, historical evidence that Jesus is in the line of David the king. He also points out that Jesus is from Nazareth. Nathanael being from Cana of Galilee (John 1:21:2), he is familiar with nearby Nazareth.
Nathanael at first stumbled over the humble origins of Jesus. He was expecting someone who was from a more respectable city. “I’m not so sure anything good can come from Nazareth, much less Messiah. Is this possible?” Philip doesn’t try to argue. He wisely says “Come and see.”
Jesus then made use of His supernatural knowledge. He knows Nathanael’s character and what he’s thinking. He calls Nathanael an Israelite without guile. Nathanael is not deceitful. This word comes from “bait for fish” and is a good picture to describe deceit, trickery. While fishing for men, we do not use bait to lure them to Jesus by trickery. Jesus had in mind casting a net to catch them.
Nathanael was thinking about Jacob. Jesus uses this. Isaac said to Esau, “Your brother came deceitfully and took your blessing” (Gen 27:35-36). Jacob (“trickster”) was renamed “Israel” after he encountered God and experienced a transformed life (Gen 28:10f; Gen 32:24-30). Nathanael is not only without the deceit of Jacob, he is an ‘Israel’ and not a ‘Jacob’ (an Israelite without deceit).
The phrase ‘under the fig tree’ described meditating on God’s law. Godly Jews took time to meditate on God’s Word at home. Jesus displayed His deity, showing that He knew exactly what Nathanael was meditating on. That moved Nathanael to realize that Jesus is the Messianic King of Israel (Ps 2:6-7). Messiah was to have supernatural understanding (Isa 11:1-2).
Jesus’ phrase, you shall see greater things than these, refers to the signs that Jesus shall perform, which we will begin looking at next week.
One event that Nathanael focused on was that in Gen 28:12 where Jacob saw in a dream, the angels of God ascending and descending along a ladder or stairway. In Jacob’s dream, Yahweh stands above the stairway and communicates His promise to Jacob. Jesus shows Nathanael that God is now at the bottom of that stairway and speaking to Israel (John 1:1:11,John 1:14) in the person of Jesus.
Jesus uses the name Son of Man for Himself. It comes from Dan 7:13f where “One like a Son of Man…came up to the Ancient of Days” and He is given a kingdom. “Son of God” tells us that Jesus is like His Father. Jesus is fully God. “Son of Man” tells us that Jesus is like His earthly ancestor Adam. Jesus is human. Jesus lived, suffered and died as the perfect man in obedience to God. His divine and human natures are both important for His role as Messiah.
Let me alleviate some of your evangelism fears. You are not called to convince anyone. Like Andrew and Philip you are only expected to invite men and women to investigate Jesus for themselves. You know where the truth is found about Jesus. Lead them to that. Leave the convincing work to Jesus and His Holy Spirit. Your job is to invite them, “Come and see!”
Some of you have not yet come to Jesus to see whether He really is the One who alone can save you from your sins. Is He really who He claimed to be? You must come and see for yourself. Your parents can’t do it for you. Come to Jesus and investigate Him. Discover for yourself that He really is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.