FacebookTwitterRSS FeedPinterest

By Rev Charles Seet

Preached at / Published Life BPC 10:45 am service, 2007-05-06

Text: John 1:35-51

Many people would perhaps love to have an opportunity to meet or have a personal interview with a person of great rank or importance in the eyes of the world. The closest encounter of this sort that I ever had was 26 years ago when I met with the wife of the U.S. Ambassador. A friend of mine had brought me to lunch at a local sailing club and it so happened that my friend's father had invited the U.S. Ambassador to the club to sail in his boat that afternoon. 

After a brief introduction at lunch, the ambassador, my friend and his father got into the boat to set sail, and I was left sitting at the clubhouse with the ambassador's wife. I was only 19 then, but after I had got over the initial feeling of awe of being in her presence, I began to converse with her. As we talked I soon realized that she and her husband were really ordinary people. In fact both of them had suffered failed marriages before and their own marriage was the second one for both of them. The only children they had were the ones that they brought over from their previous marriages. 

Morever I found out that both of them were not believers, and that she was going deeply into astrology and the New Age movement. I sensed that she was searching for the truth, and so I took the opportunity to witness to her about Christ. Although she did not respond then to the gospel, she gave me her address and I corresponded with her for a while after that to tell her more about our Lord Jesus Christ. I have completely lost touch with her now but trust that God has somehow spoken to her heart. But what I learned from this interesting encounter is that one may be quite surprised when one gets to know the real person behind his or her outward facade. One may see something quite surprising.

Perhaps you too may have been similarly surprised before. It may have been by a famous professor you heard so much about, or an influential leader you admired, or an accomplished performer or a talented sportsman. You heard a lot of good and impressive things about him, and because of all that hype you get really thrilled and excited about him. You imagine him to be quite perfect and your esteem for him knows no bounds until the day when you have an unexpected opportunity to meet him and talk with him at length. And then you realize that not everything you had heard about him was true. You now find to your disappointment that beneath the exterior facade he actually has the very same faults and weaknesses as everyone else you have ever known. 

And the point that I want you to take note of is this: While many may have had such disappointing encounters with the ones whom they had held in very high esteem, it was not like that at all for those who encountered the Lord Jesus Christ. He stands uniquely apart from every person who has ever lived. Whatever great and glorious things that had ever been said about Him were all found to be true and real by those who had the opportunity to meet Him and follow Him closely. In fact they discovered to their amazement that they had not been told half of all the wonderful things that they found in Him! 

This is what we shall see now as we look at John 1:35-51. In this passage we see the very first encounters of 5 men with Jesus Christ. They had never met Him before, but their first encounters with Him were enough to convince them about who He really is. These 5 men were Andrew John, Simon, Philip and Nathanael. As we look at how each of them found Christ, I would like to suggest that we can learn 3 useful lessons. Firstly:

I. The Exciting Discovery of Finding Jesus (vv.35-41)

This discovery came about through the powerful witness of John the Baptist who had identified Jesus to be the 'Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world' (v.29). As we had seen in a previous sermon, this identification highlights the common need of all men - our need to have our sins removed from us. You may remember that we had already seen how John's bold preaching against sin had been so filled with impact that thousands of people from all walks of life confessed their sins and were baptized by him. But while this response was very necessary and good, it could not remove the sins which they had already committed. 

This removal of sins was something that John the Baptist could never provide to any of his followers. It was something that only the Lamb of God could provide. Therefore John the Baptist repeatedly pointed them to the Lamb of God so that they might seek after Him. 

And that was what two of his followers eventually did - they left John permanently to follow Jesus! John 1:35-37 '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.' Do you think John was unhappy to see them leave him? No, not at all because their leaving was not a defection, but a graduation. John had done his part of laying the foundation for them - to make them sense their sinfulness and their need of a Saviour. But for the main curriculum, they must now graduate from his school and join the higher college of the Master Himself. 

Perhaps there may be some here who need to do the same thing. You have been seeking sincerely for God's truth. And as you read the Bible and listen to messages preached from God's Word, you have awakened to the sense of sin in your life and to the danger of eternal death that your soul is in. But you are still dwelling in this and haven't graduated from it yet. Dear friend, if this is your state you can remain where you are but go on to follow Christ. Put yourself directly under His personal care and instruction, and you will see that everything that you need is found in Him. 

You may have learnt a lot from an excellent Sunday School teacher, or gained much knowledge from a skilled Bible study leader, but if you haven't sat at the feet of Jesus Himself to learn directly from Him, you have missed learning everything that really matters! Jesus invites you to come and learn from Him now. He says, 'Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.' (Matthew 11:29)

He gave the same invitation to the two disciples who left John the Baptist to follow Him. When He turned and saw them in v.38 of our text He asked them what they were seeking for. They wanted to know where He was staying. In those days this was the proper way to ask for a personal interview with a Rabbi. In v.39 Jesus welcomed them immediately by saying, 'Come and see.' 

And then they spent the rest of the day enjoying the most wonderful fellowship with Him at the place where Jesus was staying. Since they were far away from His home in Nazareth, this was probably not a house but just a small room at a nearby inn, or even a cave in the vicinity of the Jordan River (cf. Matthew 8:20). But his humble abode did not matter at all to them, because anywhere with Jesus is just like heaven on earth! 

Within those precious hours with Jesus the two disciples probably asked Him every question that they had wanted to ask until they were satisfied by all the answers and gracious words that He spoke to them. Dearly beloved can you imagine what it must have been like for them to enjoy such personal fellowship with the Lord Jesus? The question to ask then is, 'Are you enjoying such personal fellowship with Jesus?' Every believer ought to be seeking and having this blessed experience of meeting with Jesus every day, because He is with us, just as He had promised in Matthew 28:20 'Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.'

But perhaps you have been missing out on this intimate fellowship because you are too busy to spend any time with Him. Or perhaps your daily quiet time has become merely an outward form with the same routine prayers and the same dull reading every day. Dearly beloved, you will not receive any benefit out of your quiet time unless you earnestly desire to meet Jesus there! You cannot gain much from it unless you know that He is present with you. The same thing also applies to taking the Lord's Supper, which we will be having shortly - it is meant to be a time for your soul to commune with Christ and to delight in being in His presence!

In our text we see that the two disciples returned from their stay with Jesus quite changed and refreshed! There wa joy on their faces as they went to tell others all that they had discovered when they found Jesus. One of them was Andrew and in v.41 we see him telling his brother, 'We have found the Messiah!' What is interesting here is that the words 'We have found' comes from the Greek verb 'Eureka.' This word has been made famous through the story of how Archimedes, the Greek mathematician, found the solution to a problem just as he was about to take a bath. He was trying to find a way to determine the volume of the king's crown and when water spilled over the sides of the bath tub as he was getting in, he suddenly found the answer. 

And the story goes that he so excited with this discovery that he ran through the streets without his clothes shouting, 'Eureka! Eureka!' which means, 'I've found it! I've found it!' Since then many others have used the word Eureka at the moment when they made important discoveries. The American Association for the Advancement of Science calls its late-breaking scientific news site the EurekAlert. In the 1850s when prospectors discovered tons of gold ore in California they became so fond of the word Eureka that it still stands today as the official state motto of California!

But none of these Eurekas can compare with the one that was said by those who had met Jesus Christ. In v.41 Andrew told his brother, 'We have found the Messiah!' and in v.45 Philip told Nathanael, 'We have found him, of whom Moses in the law, and the prophets, did write, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.' What they had found was definitely far more precious than all the gold in the world, for He was none other than the Son of God. 

Finding Jesus is just like finding a pearl of great price which a merchant would sell all that he has, in order to purchase (Matthew 13:46). What the disciples found in Him was more significant that any scientific discovery, for Jesus alone can solve our problem of sin and meet the deepest need of our hearts which is to know God and be reconciled to Him. 

And all through the ages, countless souls have echoed those same words when they were gloriously saved 'I have found Him!' I have found Him in whom all the fullness of the Godhead dwells bodily (Colossians 2:9). I have found Him who loved Me and gave Himself for Me (Galatians 2:20). I have found Him in whom I have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace (Ephesians 1:7). 

But how about you, dearly beloved: Have you found Him? Have you come to Jesus and made Him your Lord and Saviour forever? If you have not found Him yet, I would urge you to do so today! For it is only when you have found Him that your sins will be forgiven and your joy will be full. If you have been looking for the way to be delivered from facing the awful penalty of all your sins in hell, Jesus is the answer! If you have been searching for truth that will set you free and give you everlasting life, look no further, for Jesus is the answer! 

And when you have found that all your deepest needs are met in Him then you must not keep Him all to yourself. When you have experienced the fullness of His love and you have drunk deeply from His life-giving streams, it is only right that you should share these blessings with others. This is the second lesson that we will learn now:

II. The Explicit Desire to Find Souls for Jesus (vv.40-42,45)

Let us look at verses 40-42 '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.' According to this, Andrew immediately went to look for his own brother. And what he did is the most natural thing anyone would do - to think first about those who are closest to oneself. That would include one's own spouse, parents, grandparents, brothers, sisters, sons and daughters. 

We thank God that many Lifers have done their best to bring their loved ones to find salvation in Christ. Quite a number who have been baptized here came to know Christ as a result of the witness of relatives who are members of our church. One family in our church had been praying for their mother's salvation for many years. Their prayers were answered when she was hospitalized at the age of 97 for a lung infection. While she was in hospital the grandchildren came and shared the Gospel with her in Cantonese. After one of them prayed for her, she kept silent for a while and was quite deep in thought. Finally she told them that she wanted to follow Christ! She never turned back.

Perhaps many of us may have loved ones who are still outside Christ. If you really love them, would you not want to see them saved? Would you not want to do all that you can to seek their salvation while there is still time? But what have you done so far to bring them to the Lord? Let us follow the example of Andrew who did 3 good things for his brother Simon. Firstly, v.41 says that he went to find him. Secondly, Andrew told him about Christ and probably all about his own personal encounter with Him as well. And thirdly v.42 tells us that he brought Simon to meet Christ. Perhaps God wants you to be an Andrew today by doing these three things for a particular person in your immediate family or in your extended family. And if you commit yourself to do this with God's help, who knows that the outcome might be just like that of Andrew's brother - he was gloriously saved. 

Andrew never wrote any book of the New Testament. He never preached a great sermon at Pentecost to deliver thousands of souls from hell fire. Neither did Andrew open the door of the Gospel to the Gentiles. But he did one very loving act - He brought his own brother to Christ, and that brother became the one whom God used to do all those great things! If it were not for this loving act of Andrew, Simon Peter would perhaps never have known Christ and served Him the way he did. God may not call you to be another Simon Peter, but perhaps He may call you to be an Andrew - an instrument by whom He will bring another Simon Peter to salvation! 

In our passage of scripture, we see that Andrew was not the only one who brought a soul to Jesus Christ. Another person who did this was Philip. Let us read vv.45-46 '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.' This event took place not long after Philip himself had begun to follow Christ (v.43). 

Unlike Simon who was Andrew's brother, Nathanael was not related to Philip. They were from two separate towns in Galilee. Philip was from Bethsaida (v.44) and Nathanael was from Cana (21:2). But both of them did have one common interest - they were both intently studying the Old Testament to learn about the promised Messiah. Perhaps they had spent many hours before, discussing the books of Moses and the writings of the prophets with one another. And when Philip found that Jesus was the Messiah, he naturally could not wait to share this significant finding with Nathanael. And Nathanael then found Christ.

Here we learn of another channel by which souls are brought to salvation in Christ: It is through people with whom we share a common interest. Dearly beloved, think about the people with whom who share something in common - If you are a working adult it may be your colleagues at work. If you are a businessman, it may be your business associates. If you are a student it may be your classmates or those you meet in your CCA. If you are retired, it may be the fellow retirees that you meet at social functions. How wonderful it would be if these people can come to know Christ through what you share in common with them. I know of one member of our church who was brought to Christ through her golfing partner who is also a Lifer! 

There are so many possibilities when you consider who you may share a common interest with, other than those who are already in Christ. But the decisive factor is your willingness to share Christ. Are you willing to do what Philip did for Nathanael, and have the joy of seeing a soul saved by Jesus Christ? 

Some of us may be afraid that they will not respond positively or that they may feel offended. One way to overcome this fear is to learn the principle that salvation is not the result of our efforts but of the unseen work of the Holy Spirit in the lives of sinners. If anyone does find Jesus and believe in Him it is only because Jesus found him first. This brings us to the third and final lesson that we will learn from the way the first disciples met Christ.

III. The Exceptional Privilege of Being Found by Jesus (vv.43-51)

In our passage it may seem that salvation depends on being at the right place at the right time, or on being related to the right person whether ashis brother or as his friend. So if you happen to be at Bethabara to hear John the Baptist pointing out Jesus as the Lamb of God, good for you. If you happen to be one of Andrew's brothers or sisters, how fortunate you are. If you happen to know Philip and share his interest in looking for the Messiah, you would probably have the opportunity to meet Jesus and be saved. Is it purely by chance then that you are saved? No. Behind all these events God's unseen providence was at work to bring each specific person to the Lord. And it is the Lord Himself who chooses those who will be saved and who will be His disciples.

The clearest example in our text is that of Philip - Jesus called him directly in v.43. But in v.42 we see that it was actually the case for Simon, because Jesus immediately recognized him and even gave him the new name 'Cephas' which tells about the important role that Simon would play in the church later on. Nathanael's calling also came from Christ Himself. This is evident v.48 where Jesus revealed to him, 'Before that Philip called thee, when thou wast under the fig tree, I saw thee.' Jesus revealed this wonderful truth to all His disciples much later on. In John 15:16 He told them, 'Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit'

What a startling revelation this must have been to them, as each of them remembered how they first met Jesus and responded to His call. They now realized that none of them became His followers by chance. Everything had been carefully planned from the start. It was Jesus who had found each of them, and not they who had found Him. They did not know Him before they met Him, but He had already known each of them. And this also means that He will keep them firm to the very end.

If you are a child of God, let this be a constant source of comfort for you: The day that you found Jesus Christ and believed in Him as your Saviour and Lord was not where your salvation began. Your salvation actually began deep in the secret counsel of God where from eternity, He had already chosen you and loved you and planned every event in your life to bring about your salvation and sanctification. Now that you are God's chosen vessel you must let Him use your life to fulfill His ultimate purpose in this world. May you follow your Lord Jesus Christ faithfully.

Vision & Mission

 

To build a united church family that is committed to making disciples through Salvation, Sanctification and Service, to the glory of God.

Verse for the Week

December 3 & 10 - Holy Living

Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, 2 Peter 3:11