How Do People Respond to Jesus?
John 20:30-31 “Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.”
I love a good, clear purpose statement. Maybe some of you remember writing papers in high school or college, where a thesis was required to be turned in ahead of the actual paper. I did not love writing papers, but I did like writing thesis statements. I suppose I am a main idea girl. So I love that John tells us exactly what his purpose was in writing his gospel. Now I know what to look for as I study the book. Ok, I admit that I secretly wish this statement was in chapter 1, so that it would match my nice, neat, organized requirements for a college paper. But anyway, back to John’s purpose statement. “These are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.” As I study John this year, I am going to be continually coming back to this declaration to see how each week’s study serves to accomplish this purpose.
So let’s do that now:
First, let’s look at how John shows us that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God:
In verses 29-51, John refers to Jesus using different terms
1st – Jesus
2nd- Lamb of God vs. 29, 36
3rd- the Elect One 34
4th- Rabbi 38, 49
5th- Messiah/Christ 41
6th- Son of God 49
7th- King of Israel 49
8th- Son of Man 51
9th- the One Moses wrote about in the law 45
Let’s also look at the responses of those who encountered Jesus in this chapter:
Vs. 20 John the Baptist started responding to Jesus before Jesus is even on the scene. His is a response of humility in his role as forerunner, and also confidence in his role. He was not Jesus, but he had a special job to carry out – to prepare hearts to receive Jesus. He was there to call people to repentance and to baptize them. It was not the baptism that was to come. John knew that the Messiah would change everything when it was time.
Vs 29 John the Baptist sees Jesus and responds to him – “Behold, the Lamb of God which takes away the sins of the world.”
“This is whom I said ‘After me comes a man who ranks before me, because he was before me.’”
John certainly may have known Jesus before he started his ministry. However, he did not know Jesus to be the One who he was leading the way for. All that changed when John baptized Jesus, and John saw for himself that Jesus was more than just an ordinary man. John’s response was one of faith. He believed Jesus to be the Christ, the Messiah. Vs 34 “And I have seen and have borne witness that this is the Son of God.”
It is because of John’s response of pure faith that we see the next responses:
Vs 35-36 John points out Jesus as the Lamb of God to two of his disciples. Again we see John’s humility and his faithfulness to his calling. He turns over his followers to Jesus – he points them in the way they should go. He knew it was time to turn his ministry over to the one he was waiting for.
And the response of the disciples? They followed Jesus, verse 37.
Andrew was one of these two disciples. He was so convinced that Jesus was worth following that he went and found his brother. He tells Simon that he has found the Messiah, and he brings him to Jesus.
The next day, Jesus asks Philip to follow him. Not only does Philip agree to follow Jesus, but he finds Nathanael and brings him to Jesus also. So right from the start, we see John (the author) showing us the way believing is supposed to work. First, we see who Jesus is, that he is the Son of God. Then we believe and have life. But we aren’t to keep this life for ourselves, we are to tell others. If we are really convinced that something huge is happening, we share it.
Nathanael is skeptical at first, but he goes with Philip to see for himself. And he finds for himself that Jesus is the Son of God. Once again, we see a response of recognition and faith in Jesus as Messiah.
What does this mean for you and me, as students of this book?
It means that we must start by asking ourselves who we believe Jesus to be. What do you believe about him as you study this Gospel? Do you also proclaim him to be the Messiah, the Son of God, the Christ?
And then we must ask ourselves how we will respond to Jesus. Will our response be one of faith? Will we believe and have life in his name? Not just eternal life, but redeeming life. Will we allow the Holy Spirit to move in our hearts and souls as we study the Scriptures? Will we allow ourselves to be challenged, convicted, broken apart as we experience the reality of all that Jesus is and how far we fall short of the standard he sets for us? Will we look deep inside ourselves as we compare ourselves to the Perfect One?
Hebrews 4:12 tells us what we might expect to happen as we study the Bible intently. “For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.”
How can we follow and respond to Jesus as a disciple during our study this year?
Discipline ourselves in our study time. This is an intensive study. It will be overwhelming if we are trying to do it all the night before, and it will become a burden. Don’t let the Word of God become a burden to you. Commit to set aside the time to do a little of your study each day, or several times during the week, so that you can put your heart into it. You will find so much more joy in Jesus if you aren’t stressed out about getting it done. I am really taking this to heart, and you can hold me accountable to this throughout the year.
Be faithful to come on Thursdays, and to participate. Let’s determine in our hearts to throw ourselves into this study this year.
Study prayerfully, asking God to teach us and to change us, to reveal himself to us.
If the Gospels are pretty familiar to you, try to approach the book of John from a fresh perspective. Read it as if you are reading it for the first time. Try to imagine that you are encountering him for the first time. Imagine that you are one of these disciples, who have come from a long line of people waiting for this moment. Waiting for the Messiah to come. Try to figure out what you would expect him to be like, and then see what John says that he really is like. Let yourself be blown away by this man, this man who is also God.
It is an exciting journey that we are on this year, to study the life and ministry of Jesus. Let’s prepare ourselves to respond warmly, openly, and eagerly to our Savior.