Reflective Bible Study.
Listen to this episode and/or subscribe on ReflectiveBibleStudy.com...Year in John – Episode 3: As the first chapter in John’s gospel finishes up, discover how Jesus’ first followers begin to spread the word, before Jesus has done anything special or significant, and how their example is a great model for us to follow when we invite our friends to experience Jesus as well. Read the transcript: As we continue moving through John’s gospel, we come to the place where John begins to shift his focus away from John the Baptist and onto Jesus. John does this by following the first two people who chose to follow Jesus, one who was known as Andrew, and the other who is not named but who could easily have been the disciple John, the author of this gospel. Let’s read about what happened and discover what we can learn from these first followers of Jesus. Our passage is found in the gospel of John, chapter 1, and we will read from the Contemporary English Version. Starting in verse 35, John’s gospel tells us: 35 The next day, John was there again, and two of his followers were with him. 36 When he saw Jesus walking by, he said, “Here is the Lamb of God!” 37 John’s two followers heard him, and they went with Jesus. 38 When Jesus turned and saw them, he asked, “What do you want?” They answered, “Rabbi, where do you live?” The Hebrew word “Rabbi” means “Teacher.” 39 Jesus replied, “Come and see!” It was already about four o’clock in the afternoon when they went with him and saw where he lived. So they stayed on for the rest of the day. 40 One of the two men who had heard John and had gone with Jesus was Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter. 41 The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother and tell him, “We have found the Messiah!” The Hebrew word “Messiah” means the same as the Greek word “Christ.” 42 Andrew brought his brother to Jesus. And when Jesus saw him, he said, “Simon son of John, you will be called Cephas.” This name can be translated as “Peter.” 43-44 The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. There he met Philip, who was from Bethsaida, the hometown of Andrew and Peter. Jesus said to Philip, “Come with me.” 45 Philip then found Nathanael and said, “We have found the one that Moses and the Prophets wrote about. He is Jesus, the son of Joseph from Nazareth.” 46 Nathanael asked, “Can anything good come from Nazareth?” Philip answered, “Come and see.” 47 When Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him, he said, “Here is a true descendant of our ancestor Israel. And he isn’t deceitful.” 48 “How do you know me?” Nathanael asked. Jesus answered, “Before Philip called you, I saw you under the fig tree.” 49 Nathanael said, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God and the King of Israel!” 50 Jesus answered, “Did you believe me just because I said that I saw you under the fig tree? You will see something even greater. 51 I tell you for certain that you will see heaven open and God’s angels going up and coming down on the Son of Man.” In this passage, I am amazed at how this early group of followers grew. In these few verses that conclude chapter 1 of John’s gospel, we see Jesus’ first followers going and telling those they know about Jesus and inviting them to come and see Jesus for themselves. This is incredibly significant in my mind because Jesus has done no miracle, Jesus hasn’t really said anything wise, and Jesus is from a less-than-reputable location. This group of early followers has three things in common: They heard about Jesus from someone else, they believe the testimony they heard, and they accept the invitation to come and see Jesus for themselves. About the only amazing thing Jesus says is the statement to Nathanael about seeing him under the fig tree, which doesn’t mean that much to us today, and the greater declaration that the disciples would see even greater things than this. It is also amazing, but to a lesser extent, that when Jesus meets Simon for the first time, Jesus gives him the name Peter. While this could be an official new name, Jesus could also have given him what we might call in today’s culture a nickname. However, far from being a nickname that is based on what Peter had done in the past, this name signaled what Peter would do in the future and how instrumental he would be when standing up for God. The way this passage shares about Jesus’ first followers I suspect is a model that we are called to apply. When Jesus has done something for us, or when we have found Jesus, the best thing for us to do is share Jesus with those around us. Specifically, when we have been invited to experience Jesus, we should intentionally invite someone else to come and see too. In our own lives, sometimes we might be afraid of what other people will think of an invitation to church or to a Bible study. Sometimes these fears are valid concerns. There are definitely times and places where sharing Jesus would not be welcomed or wise. However, if Jesus is the answer we know would solve the pain, anxiety, or stress in a friend, family member, neighbor, or coworker’s life, it would be cruel to keep Jesus from them. These first followers intentionally shared Jesus with those in their lives, and their invitations early on, before Jesus had entered the public spotlight, speak volumes to how their faith in Jesus was not based on miracles or on fame, but on the understanding that Jesus had a solution their lives needed. While each of Jesus’ early followers may have had different reasons for accepting the invitation and sharing it with others, they all knew early on that following Jesus was important. While we might feel fear about following Jesus or inviting others, intentionally push past the fear because what Jesus did for us is more significant than the worst response we could receive when inviting someone to come to Jesus. The worst response we could receive is anger, hostility, and/or rejection. The response we receive when inviting someone to Jesus doesn’t say anything about ourselves; the response we receive when inviting others to Jesus reveals their hearts and their state of mind. It is normal to feel a little nervous at times about sharing Jesus with others, but we should push past this fear because we might be surprised how God steps in and shifts the conversation in ways you might be surprised to discover. Jesus’ early followers didn’t try to impress their friends with what Jesus had done, they simply invited them to come and see Jesus for themselves. When we share Jesus with others, the focus is not on us and the conversation isn’t about us. When we share Jesus with others, focus on sharing Jesus. We share what Jesus has done for us, we invite others to come and see, and when the focus stays on Jesus, God moves in amazing ways. As we come to the end of another podcast episode, here are the challenges I will leave you with: As I always challenge you to do, continue seeking God first in your life. If you are unsure or fearful about inviting someone to church or to a Bible study, pray for strength, an opportunity, and the opening to share. Trust that God will bring an opening into your life to share. However, also know that God may be waiting for you to make an opening for Him to step into. When inviting people, keep the focus on Jesus and on what Jesus has done for all of us! Also, continue praying and studying the Bible for yourself to learn, grow, and discover what God has done for us. The Bible is God’s story of history, and it is our story of redemption through what Jesus accomplished for us. While critics and skeptics can try to discount the Bible based on passages or events they dislike, look past the critics and onto the cross. Look past the skeptics and into the face of Jesus, who came to give His life for you and me. In the pages of the Bible, discover how much God loves humanity, and lean on God’s love for humanity when looking for the strength to invite others to Jesus. And as I end every set of challenges by saying in one way or another, never stop short of, back away from, chicken out of, or let fear paralyze you out of where God wants to lead you to in your life with Him!