Today’s Scripture Focus: John 1:43-51
“Come and see”. This phrase appears twice in the first chapter of John, both times in reference to Jesus’ first disciples, or followers. What is a disciple? In the world of the Bible, a disciple is a student who follows a rabbi or teacher as closely as possible, memorizing their teachings and mimicking their actions. Jesus’s followers take on this learning aspect of discipleship more so in John than in the Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke). In the Synoptics, the disciples are called by Jesus to revolutionary action. In John, the disciples seek Jesus out, see for themselves who He is, then go invite others to come along side them.
The exception to this is Philip. He is the only disciple in John who is personally invited by Jesus to become His disciple. On the first day of Jesus’ public ministry, John proclaimed Him the Lamb of God. Andrew, John, and Peter were following Him by the end of the day. Then, Jesus traveled to His new followers’ hometown of Bethsaida, on the shores of the Sea of Galilee, where he invited to Philip to “Follow me” (become my disciple). Somehow Philip immediately recognized Jesus’ true identity, because he immediately went and found a friend and proclaimed Jesus of Nazareth was the One (Anointed One, or Messiah).
At first this friend, Nathaniel, scoffed. He could not accept that any person of importance could come from Nazareth, let alone Messiah. Nathaniel should know—according to John 21 he was from Cana, another small village near Nazareth. In the world of the Bible, where you were from told strangers everything about you. When Jesus met Nathaniel and proclaimed “Ah, here’s a true Israelite in whom in no deceit”, Nathaniel’s reply was basically “how can you claim to know anything about me; you assume I’m from Bethsaida!” Jesus’ reply—”I saw you under the fig tree” was a way of saying “I know where you are from and who you are.”
The word “see” or some form thereof appears 107 times in the Gospel of John. To John’s community, “seeing” was another way of saying “believing”. Jesus said to Nathaniel “you believe because I saw you under the fig tree, but you will see greater things than this.” The Israelites’ ancestor—Jacob the deceiver—had once had a vision of angels ascending to and descending from the heavens on a ladder. Nathaniel would now “see” Jesus as bridging the gap between God and humans. Nathaniel proclaimed Jesus the Son of God. Jesus replied by self identifying as the Son of Man. Jesus came to see all of us as we are so we can see God as God is. Let us all “come and see” greater things today!
- Go around the table and share prayer requests. Have someone lead in prayer.
- Let everyone who would like to share anything exciting from their week.
- Ask these three questions. Let as many answer each one as they would like.
Describe a time you have seen God at work—not something someone else has told you about, but something you yourself have witnessed (a personal answer to prayer, a beautiful aspect of nature, the birth—physical or spiritual—of a child, etc.)
Is there anything in today’s scripture that especially speaks to you?
What questions would you like to ask about today’s scripture?