Study Two: A New Vision – the glory of the Son of Man
Read John 1:29-51
How many titles of Jesus can you identify in these verses?
- Verses 29 and 36
- Verses 38 and 49
- Verse 41
- Verse 45 (somewhat obscured)
- Verse 49
- Verse 49 (again)
- Verse 51
In the verse leading up to this paragraph John the Baptist makes it clear that he was not Elijah (as promised in Malachi 4:5-6), nor the Prophet (as promised Deuteronomy 18:15 [and referred to in Acts 3:22 and 7:37]), nor the Messiah. Christ was that promised Prophet, greater than Elijah, and indeed the Messiah (or anointed One).
John uses the term “the Jews from Jerusalem” not as a generic term for all people who lived in Jerusalem, but to refer more specifically to the [hostile] religious leaders, who were in the end responsible for handing Christ over to be crucified (John 18:28, 19:7, 14-15)
Their question to the Baptiser in verse 22, “Who are you, that we may give an answer to those who sent us? What do you say about yourself?” (John 1:22, NKJV) is almost identical to the question the Pharisees asked in 8:25, Then they said to Him, “Who are You?” (John 8:25, NKJV)
- Read John 1:26
Taking from our first study what we remarked about “darkness” (see table on page 5) why did they not know Jesus Christ?
2. Read John 1:31 and 33-34
What does the Baptiser say about himself and his knowledge of Christ?
3. Read John 1:29
Jesus came as One more than Elijah, He came as the promised Prophet and the promised Messiah. Why is He called the Lamb of God? See also Genesis 22 (the lamb was a substitute for Isaac), Exodus 12:1-11 (and Revelation 5:6-10, 7:17, 17:14), Isaiah 53:6-7.
As pointed out earlier “world” have different meanings in John. Christ takes away the sins “of the world”. What does “world” mean in this sentence?
The reference to Israel in verses 31 and 49, probably refers to verse 11, “He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive Him.” They were living in darkness (see also Isaiah 9:2) and could not see (or receive or believe) the Messiah.
4. Read Genesis 12:1-3
It was through Abraham, and ultimately the promised Messiah, that the world (“all the people on the earth”) would be blessed. Read also Galatians 3:26-29
Who, according to Paul in these verses, are children of Abraham?
By now we know that words like “see” and “look” are key words in John: Christ, who created everything, brought light into darkness of sin. The light of his grace and truth open the sinners eyes to see, his ears to hear, his heart to believe and his mind to understand. Without this work of mercy people live in darkness: they know not, understand not, can’t receive and can’t believe.
5. Read John 1:31
What was the main purpose of The Baptiser’s ministry?
One clear point The Baptiser made was that he was not the Messiah. He insisted that his ministry was temporary. He baptism with water was symbolic of the repentance of those who were baptised.
In the same way as the sacrificial system of the Old Testament could not offer complete and lasting effects concerning sin, for they were only copies of the lasting and true High Priest, the eternal Lamb (Hebrews 9:9, 24, 10:1,4), so the baptism of John was not meant to continue after the arrival of the Messiah.
The idea of “baptism” primarily finds its roots in the Old Testament purification laws: everything associated with sacrifices (the altar, utensils, and even the priests) were sprinkled with blood. People who became unclean were ceremonially washed. Hands had to be ceremonially washed before a meal just in case one touched something unclean (Exodus 30:17-21); this washing was not for hygienic reasons. In Mark 7:3-4 the word baptism is used for this washing and clearly points to this ceremonial practice. The Greek translation of the Old Testament, the Septuagint, regularly uses the word baptism for ceremonial washing.
So, in some sense the Baptiser’s activity was pointing to a cleansing which would be the end of all ceremonial cleansing. In this he connected the sacrificial work of the Lamb of God who would baptise with the Holy Spirit. This is in fulfilment of e.g. Ezekiel 36:25-27, where the sprinkling of clean water stands in connection with the Lord’s regenerating work in the hearts of his covenant people by replacing the old heart for a new and by giving the Holy Sprit.
- Jesus Christ was the last sacrifice – his blood completely washes away our sin
- The Holy Spirit applies the work of Christ to us: He gives us new heart and mind and enables us to live to the glory of God, the Father
6. Read Isaiah 11:1-2, 42:1, 61:1 (and Luke 4:18-19)
John the Baptist says in 1:34, “I did not know Him, but He who sent me to baptise with water said to me, ‘Upon whom you see the Spirit descending, and remaining on Him, this is He who baptises with the Holy Spirit.’ And I have seen and testified that this is the Son of God.” (John 1:33–34, NKJV). How were the words of Isaiah a literal fulfilment as John the Baptist saw and testified about it?
7. Read John 1:35-37
How did the first two disciples become followers of Christ?
8. Read John 1:37
Is the question of Christ perhaps more than just a superficial enquiry?
9. How did these two disciples address Jesus in verse 37?
10. The question “Where do you stay?”, according to some scholars might have a immediate meaning, but also a deeper meaning. Read John 1:15, 30, 8:14
11. Read John 1:40.
The two disciples spent the rest of the day with their new Rabbi. To what conclusion did they come?
All along in the paragraph of verses 29-51, the word “see” plays an vital role. This is in accordance with what the table on page 5 points out: “see” stands in connection with light, knowledge, understanding, faith and acceptance.
12. Read John 1:43-49 again.
Can you spot the significance of “see”?
Jesus promises Nathanael that, regardless of the present importance of this display of supernatural knowledge, he will see greater things than that (verse 50). Although Jesus is addressing Nathanael, the ‘you’ to whom He promises the vision in verse 51 is plural: the vision is for those also who would follow Him.
13. Read Genesis 28:10-15.
What are the similarities, and promises, between the vision of Jacob and the promise of a new vision to the disciples?
- The Baptiser revealed Christ as the Lamb of God who took away the sins of the world
- Jesus Christ is the Prophet and Promised One
- The glory of God is seen in Christ, upon which the Holy Spirit rests