“We have found the Messiah”
John 1:29-51 from the daily reading in the One Year Bible
The next day he saw Jesus coming to him and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! 30 This is He on behalf of whom I said, ‘After me comes a Man who has a higher rank than I, for He existed before me.’ 31 I did not recognize Him, but so that He might be manifested to Israel, I came baptizing in water.” 32 John testified saying, “I have seen the Spirit descending as a dove out of heaven, and He remained upon Him. 33 I did not recognize Him, but He who sent me to baptize in water said to me, ‘He upon whom you see the Spirit descending and remaining upon Him, this is the One who baptizes in the Holy Spirit.’ 34 I myself have seen, and have testified that this is the Son of God.”
35 Again the next day John was standing with two of his disciples, 36 and he looked at Jesus as He walked, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God!” 37 The two disciples heard him speak, and they followed Jesus. 38 And Jesus turned and saw them following, and said to them, “What do you seek?” They said to Him, “Rabbi (which translated means Teacher), where are You staying?” 39 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. 40 One of the two who heard John speak and followed Him, was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. 41 He found first his own brother Simon and said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which translated means Christ). 42 He brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said, “You are Simon the son of John; you shall be called Cephas” (which is translated Peter).
43 The next day He purposed to go into Galilee, and He found Philip. And Jesus said to him, “Follow Me.” 44 Now Philip was from Bethsaida, of the city of Andrew and Peter. 45 Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found Him of whom Moses in the Law and also the Prophets wrote—Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.” 46 Nathanael said to him, “Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.” 47 Jesus saw Nathanael coming to Him, and said of him, “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no deceit!” 48 Nathanael said to Him, “How do You know me?” Jesus answered and said to him, “Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.” 49 Nathanael answered Him, “Rabbi, You are the Son of God; You are the King of Israel.” 50 Jesus answered and said to him, “Because I said to you that I saw you under the fig tree, do you believe? You will see greater things than these.” 51 And He said to him, “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.”
As I meditated on today’s text a thought occurred to me about one of the greatest challenges which the church and Christians today face when telling others about Jesus, the Christ, the Messiah. Unlike today, the people of Israel were looking for the Messiah. They had an expectation based on their faith that Messiah was coming. In today’s text it says: Again the next day John was standing with two of his disciples, and he looked at Jesus as He walked, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God!” The two disciples heard him speak, and they followed Jesus. And Jesus turned and saw them following, and 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. One of the two who heard John speak and followed Him, was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. He found first his own brother Simon and said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which translated means Christ). There had been no mention of Messiah. John called Jesus the Son of God and the Lamb of God, but these who were expecting the Messiah, recognized that Jesus was the one they were seeking.
There were of course many in Jesus day, who also rejected Him, not believing He was either the Son of God or the promised Messiah. They disqualified Jesus as Messiah based on their own expectations and preconceived ideas. Some looked for a military leader who would deliver them from the oppression of the Roman rule and reestablish an earthly kingdom. Others objected to His behavior and criticized the people Jesus associated with. Still, even they were looking for Messiah to come. What is it that people are looking for today? Surely most of the people we meet and interact with on a regular basis, who don’t know Jesus as Messiah, Lord and Savior, are not looking for a Savior and certainly not for a Lord. Like in Jesus day, some do seek a political leader who will bring about a better earthly kingdom. Others too may be seeking someone or something to make things better, whether physically, for healing, emotionally, in finances or material things, but these are not seeking a redeemer, someone to take away their sin, they are seeking someone to take away their problems.
The church, the institutional church has responded to this change in people’s expectations primarily in one of two ways. Either they have tried to make people realize that they need a Savior by focusing on sin. Far too often though, this approach leads to a doctrine that requires people to change their behavior. People are told what they should and should not do. They are told they must change to be accepted by God. Most often these people will seek another god. They are not looking for Messiah, so they will seek a god who gives them what they want. Even those who are convinced of their sin are often put in bondage to religion rather than delivered by Messiah. Other churches have decided that in order to reach people, they will give them the things they are seeking. They make Jesus into more of a Genie, who will grant people’s wishes, than a Savior or Redeemer who died to forgive their sins. These people will be faithful to Jesus as long as they believe He will give them what they want. In truth many of the churches who take this approach are trying to build the church, they are trying to draw people to the church, not to Jesus, the Messiah. They too are building an earthly kingdom, not a heavenly one.
How then should we as believers tell others about a Messiah who they are not looking for? Here’s the thing, everyone is seeking something. Paul speaks of his message and method when he preached. In 1 Corinthians 1:18-25 he says: For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written, “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, And the cleverness of the clever I will set aside.” Where is the wise man? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not come to know God, God was well-pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. For indeed Jews ask for signs and Greeks search for wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block and to Gentiles foolishness, but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. Paul says the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but yet he says, we preach Christ crucified. The message of the cross and Christ’s crucifixion may seem like foolishness to many people, but that doesn’t change the fact that, to those who are being saved it is the power of God. In our culture and society the cross is not only seen as foolishness, it is also considered offensive. The thing about the cross is this. Far too often we make the cross about sin. The cross becomes offensive because we focus on sin. People are not looking for a Savior who requires them to change. In John 16:7-8 Jesus says: “Nevertheless I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you.And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment.” It is the role of the Holy Spirit to point out and convict people of sin. Without the presence of the Holy Spirit people will have no awareness of their need for a Savior. Yet Paul says we are to preach Christ crucified. Here is the thing we miss. The cross is not meant to point out people’s sin. John 3:16 says: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” Romans 5:8 says: But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. The cross and the crucifixion are about love.
People will reject a message that requires them to change. But love will cause people to be changed. 1 John 4:19-21 says: We love, because He first loved us. If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from Him, that the one who loves God should love his brother also. 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 says: Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails. Only the love of God, demonstrated in the crucifixion and the cross can truly meet the standard of love.
Heavenly Father, Lord Jesus Christ, Messiah; precious Holy Spirit, thank You for the demonstration of love, the cross. Thank You for drawing me with love then gently through the Holy Spirit convicting me of sin. Thank You that You cause and not require me to change through the power of love and the cross. Help me to cause others to seek You, through the love You have shown the world. Amen.