Today, I want to share a shortened version of a sermon I recently preached on John 1:35-51. In this passage from the Gospel of John, we see Jesus inviting us to follow Him on a life-changing journey.
Let me start by sharing a personal story. Last December, my wife and I traveled to Costa Rica to officiate a wedding for a former high school student and long-time friend. Excited but tired from our journey, we embarked on a road trip in a small rental car. Unfortunately, we ended up following incorrect directions and found ourselves stuck by a river with a flat tire. In that moment, I realized the importance of following the right path and the consequences of straying from it. Have you ever felt like you're on the wrong path in life? Today, we'll explore how Jesus invites us to follow Him and embark on a life-changing journey.
Our passage begins with the transition from John the Baptist to Jesus as the Messiah. John, a humble leader focused on building the Kingdom of God, points his disciples to Jesus, calling Him "The Lamb of God." This title connects Jesus to His purpose of atoning for our sins through His work on the cross. John exemplifies a selfless leader, passing his disciples to Jesus without bitterness or loss. In a world focused on personal following and influence, John shows us the importance of building God's Kingdom.
To understand the significance of following Jesus, let's explore the concept of discipleship in the ancient world. In those times, disciples would spend extensive time with their mentors, modeling their lives after them. Similarly, the first disciples of Jesus spent about three years with Him, learning and growing in their relationship. In our modern culture, we often limit discipleship to weekly meetings, but we can aspire to a deeper level of discipleship based on this passage. Following Jesus means incorporating His teachings and actions into our daily lives, treating others as He did and loving them with His love.
The passage reveals what disciples do. Andrew, one of the first disciples, immediately finds his brother, Simon Peter, and tells him about Jesus. When we encounter good news, we naturally want to share it with others. Andrew goes beyond sharing; he brings his brother to meet Jesus. Similarly, we are called to bring people to Jesus, spending more time following Jesus than we do our favorite bands or TV shows. By following in Jesus' footsteps, we develop a new perspective and serve others, sharing the incredible love of Jesus.
In the latter part of the passage, Jesus approaches Philip near the Sea of Galilee and simply commands him, "Follow me." There is no elaborate speech or promise of an easier life, just a direct command. Philip, who may have longed for a greater purpose, immediately follows Jesus. This invitation resonates with those who have felt rejected or overlooked. It reminds us of the importance of choosing whom we follow in life. Just as following incorrect directions can lead us astray, following the wrong advice or influence can have negative consequences. Jesus invites us to follow Him and experience a life-changing journey.
In the conversation between Philip and Nathaniel, we see Nathaniel's initial skepticism when he learns Jesus is from Nazareth. In Jewish culture, people expected the Messiah to come from Bethlehem, not Nazareth. However, Philip invites Nathaniel to "come and see" for himself. This invitation allows room for personal experience and revelation. Jesus, knowing Nathaniel intimately, surprises him with His knowledge