Preached at Cornerstone Church in Cascade, IA on January 24, 2016
Open your Bibles to John 1:35-51. Before we read our text for today, let us get oriented by way of review. So far, up to this point, we have examined the prologue of this Gospel (Verses 1-18) and we have examined the initial testimony of John the Baptist (Verse 19-34). In those two sections the Apostle John was introducing us to some of the characters in the story.
As we saw, when the curtain opens in the Gospel of John we see the single figure of Christ standing on the stage, surrounded by absolutely nothing, “In the beginning was the Word.” John makes very clear that his story that he will tell revolves around this Person he names the Word.
As scene 2 begins we are introduced to a second person, John the Baptist. We are told that John the Baptist is a prophet sent by God himself. The primary purpose of John was to be voice of one crying out in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way of the Lord.” We are told that the story isn’t about John the Baptist, it is about Jesus. And in fact, the primary role of the Baptist is for people to realize this fundamental truth, that it is not about him, but about Christ. So as we ended last week, we saw John the Baptist doing what he does best, pointing people to Jesus Christ and saying, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” And with that brief review, let us read our text, pray, and examine God’s Word together to see what scene three has in store for us.
Who is John speaking to? As we saw last week, thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of people were coming to hear John preach. Was John speaking to the multitudes? Oddly enough, no. In this particular case, John is speaking to two of his disciples. So instead of hundreds of thousands, or tens of thousands, or even hundreds, or dozens, the audience at this particular moment is two. These two, however, were not just two random men, they were disciples of John the Baptist.
The Greek Word for disciples is “mathētēs” (mä-thā-tā's). This word means a learner or pupil. It is used 73 times in the book of John and a total of 246 times in the four Gospels and the book of Acts. The word disciple plays a significant role within the Church age.
The idea of a disciple is that you would attach yourself to someone who was skilled in a certain craft or discipline, and through your relationship with that person you would pick up the knowledge necessary to do what they did. You would be an apprentice of sorts.
With this in mind, take a moment and think about John’s Disciples. These were the people who followed John so that they could do what John does best. They wanted to learn from John, copy John, imitate John. What does John do best? As we said last week, John testifies about Christ. The skill that John had was his ability to point people to Jesus, His talent was to say things like “Behold the Lamb of God.” Therefore, these disciples were being trained up to point to Jesus Christ and say “Behold the Lamb.”
The Lamb of God
Last week, because of time, I did not unpack those words, “Behold the Lamb of God.” So let us briefly do that now.
What is John saying when he says “Behold he Lamb of God whom comes to take away the sin of the Word”? The animal of the lamb finds its theological roots all the way back to Genesis 4:4 where it says, “and Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat portions. And the LORD had regard for Abel and his offering.” Therefore, the very first offering we see given to God and received by God with approval is the firstborn lamb of the flock.
Next in Genesis 22 we see another significant story revolving around a lamb. This is a story where God instructs Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac. They walk up Mount Moriah and on their way up to the top of the mountain Isaac says “Behold, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?” 8Abraham said, “God will provide for himself the lamb for a burnt offering, my son.” So they went both of them together.” And Abraham was right. Just before he sacrificed his son, and angel of the Lord intervened and God provided a ram for the sacrifice as a substitute offering for Isaac.
The next time we see a lamb is in the launching of the nation of Israel. God says this Exodus 12:3, “Tell all the congregation of Israel that on the tenth day of this month every man shall take a lamb according to their fathers’ houses, a lamb for a household. ….5Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male a year old…7“Then they shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts … 13The blood shall be a sign for you, on the houses where you are. And when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and no plague will befall you to destroy you, when I strike the land of Egypt. 14“This day shall be for you a memorial day, and you shall keep it as a feast to the LORD; throughout your generations, as a statute forever, you shall keep it as a feast.”
It was the death of the sacrificial lamb, and his blood that was a sign of God’s covenant people. The blood on the doorposts of the people’s homes was the reason God’s wrath did not fall upon a family. We call the even the Passover.
Again we see a picture of a lamb in the book of Isaiah, a prophet of Israel. In Isaiah 53 we are told of a man of sorrows, who bore our grief, smitten by God, pierced for our transgression, chastised, and crushed for our inequities Why is this? To bring us peace, to heal us, to be an offering for guilt.
And this is what it says right in the middle of the chapter about this man, verse 7, “He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth.”
So when John says “Behold the Lamb of God who comes to take away the sin of the world” he is grabbing hold of the thread of God’s story that has its beginnings in the beginning and runs throughout the Old Testament and he ties this string right to Jesus. John is effectively telling his two disciples that this is the true lamb, that all the others lambs were just types, or shadows, or clues pointing to the greater reality of Jesus Christ. John is proclaiming that that Jesus is the substitutionary sacrifice for the sins of the world. That Jesus is the only offering that is sufficient to deal with the worlds sin in a final and decisive way. So in effect, with these brief words of John, John is sharing the gospel.
Power of The Gospel
So what happened when John shared the gospel with those closest to him? It worked! Verse 37, “The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus.” Does this seem strange to you? John is a the pinnacle of his career, wildly popular, John then shares perhaps the most simple gospel message possible with these two disciples, and they jump off the Baptist Bandwagon and follow Jesus of Nazareth, Joseph's Son. To our knowledge, Jesus hadn't preached a single sermon, performed a single miracle, cast out a single demon, nothing, yet the gospel had a effect on these men, and not just a subtle effect, but a life changing affect. They abandoned all they knew, and attached themselves to someone new, Jesus.
Why? Because this is the power of the Gospel. Romans 1:16 says, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.” The gospel message of Jesus Christ being the single sacrifice for our sins is not just interesting, it is awakening. The Gospel is powerful, and it is only through testifying to whom Christ is that people will be converted to follow Jesus and be saved.
I am so tired of so called Christians saying that they don't like to preach to people, they just like to be a good example. What foolish words! How are they to hear without someone preaching! If you do not share the Gospel with them, then who will? If no one shares the Gospel with them they burn in Hell forever. The most unloving thing you can do, is to not preach Christ to those closest to you.
Thankfully, for Andrew and the other disciple, John the Baptist did not adopt the heresey that is so commonly spread in Churches today. I am sure you have heard it and perhaps even spoke it yourself: “preach always use words if you have to.” We must instead embraced the motto “preach always, use words.” For it was the words “Behold the Lamb of God” that was the means by which God transferred John's Disciples into the Kingdom of his beloved son.
Disciple Making Disciples
And what do we see these disciples of John immediately do? Verse 40, “One of the two who heard John speak and followed Jesus was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. 41He first found his own brother Simon and said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which means Christ). 42He brought him to Jesus.”
These two men, follow the teaching of John and do exactly what John did. They testify that this Jesus is the long awaited for Messiah, the Christ. They didn't wait around to see how this following Jesus thing panned out, they didn't wait for weeks, months, years, for that perfect moment to introduce their family to Jesus. As new disciples of Jesus, the first thing that was on their mind was to make more disciples. They were disciple making disciples.
We then see the exact same thing happen with Philip. Verse 43, “the next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. He found Philip and said to him, “Follow me.” 44Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. 45Philip 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.”
Once again, without hesitation Philip had a strong desire to immediately make disciples. He did not wait until Jesus held a national conference on evangelism, nor did he wait go and order the greatest books on how to share your faith. He simply went and shared the Gospel by saying, “We have found him of whom Moses in the Law and also the prophets wrote.” Nothing fancy, nothing long, just simply Jesus, the one we have been waiting for, come and see.
And who did Andrew and Philip go to? To those closest to them. They wanted their loved ones to see what they saw. Their excitement over the majesty of Christ compelled them to invite others to gaze upon the beautiful reality of the Word becoming flesh.
And so in scene 3 of John's Gospel we see very clearly the DNA of the Kingdom of Christ. It is one that is based upon multiplication. Multiplication by Gospel proclamation. We are to understand that the disciples of Jesus are to be first and foremost disciple makers themselves. This is how God would build a Kingdom for his Son. And this strategy of disciple making disciples through the proclamation of the Gospel did not end when Christ ascended into heaven.
In the end of this book in John 17, Jesus prays these words the night before his arrest in verse 20, “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word,“ And after Jesus resurrection we see in Matthew 28:19-20 Jesus says these familiar words, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
This strategy of disciples making disciples is to go on until Christ returns, to the end of the age. We have not reached that end. Our commission remains the same. To be disciples who make disciples, just like Andrew and just like Philip. So the question is, are you? Are you going to those who are closest to you, your family, your friends, your neighbors, your co-workers and are you telling them to behold, to come and see this Jesus in whom you follow?
If you are a follower of Christ, this is not optional. It is the primary reason that God has left you hear on this earth, to testify about the Christ. He has not left you hear to be comfortable. He has not left you hear to climb the corporate ladder. He has not left you hear to watch football or plug your kids into every conceivable activity known to man. He has left you here to build the Kingdom of God, one soul at a time.
This commission to be disciple making disciple is not just for pastors, it is for all of us. It is for the young and the old, the new believer and the mature believer, male and female. We do not need to read the latest book, or attend some Bible study on how to share your faith, all we need is to know is the Gospel and share it. It is not rocket science, it is merely loving obedience. Week in and week out, many of you come to Cornerstone and study your Bibles and sing these songs and encourage each other, and all of those things are great, but if you are not going out their and testifying about Jesus Christ, then what is the point?
I have no desire here at Cornerstone to build a monument, my heart, and I hope yours also, is to build a movement. A movement of people who spend their week, not chasing their dreams, but chasing gospel opportunities. A movement of people who ooze the gospel. A movement of people like John, Andrew, and Philip.