CHAPTER II (CONTINUE)
THE INAUGURAL PERIOD (CONTINUE)
4. The First Disciples
(Reference: John 1:35-51)
A. John Loses Two Disciples. The next day after the baptism of Jesus, John was standing with two of his disciples and saw Jesus walk by, and John said to them, “Behold the Lamb of God.” Immediately the two disciples left John and followed after Jesus. John had a very large following at first, but gradually his followers began to follow Jesus. A little later some of the people came to John with apparent concern that John was losing his followers: “And they came unto John and said unto him, Rabbi, he that was with thee beyond Jordan, to whom thou barest witness, behold, the same baptizeth, and all men come to him” (John 3:26). John’s reply was: “He must increase, but I must decrease.” This is a lesson for every servant of Christ. Preachers usually attract certain people. They like the preacher’s appearance, his manner of speech, his intelligence, his ability to expound the Scripture. They become his followers. There is always the danger that the preacher will forget John’s example here, that it is his business to decrease and cause Christ to increase. We are not to make disciples unto ourselves but unto Christ.
B. First Recorded Words of Jesus’ Public Ministry. When Jesus saw these two disciples of John, He turned and asked them, “What seek ye?” His next recorded words were, “Come and see.” We are doubtless familiar with His last words, spoken from the Cross, and the last words He spoke before His ascension, but what is perhaps just as important for us, is His word spoken to us from heaven through the Apostle Paul. We should be familiar with all the words He spoke, but especially with those He directed to us as members of His body.
C. The Names of the First Disciples. One of the first two to follow Jesus was Andrew, brother of Simon Peter. The name of the other disciple is not given, but it was apparently John, the writer of this Gospel. They came with Jesus to the place he was staying and it was about four in the afternoon (the tenth hour). (The first hour was sunrise, or six A.M. Ten hours later would be four P.M.) The very first thing Andrew did was to find his brother and tell him, “We have found the Messiah”(Hebrew word for “the Anointed One,” same as the Greek word “Christ”). And he brought him to Jesus. The lesson for us is obvious. Jesus not. only knew Simon’s name, He knew his nature and renamed him Cephas, or Peter, meaning “a stone.” (Cephas is Aramaic and Peter is Greek for “rock.”)
The next day Jesus started on His way and found Philip and said to him, “Follow me.” Here we learn that Philip, Andrew, Peter, and Nathaniel were all from Bethsaida, a town located at the northeastern end of the Sea of Galilee, just a short distance east of Capernaum, and between 80 and 90 miles north of Jerusalem. Philip finds Nathaniel and excitedly tells him, “We have found him, of whom Moses in the law, and the prophets did write, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.” We have spoken earlier about the reputation of Nazareth, so it is no wonder that Nathaniel replies: “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Philip didn’t argue with him, he just replied, “Come and see for yourself.”
The more we can get people into personal touch with the Lord Jesus, the more likely we are to win them; surely more likely than arguing with them. As Nathaniel approached Jesus, Jesus said: “Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile.” This amazed Nathaniel and he asked, “How did you know me?” Then Jesus told him, “Before Philip called you, I saw you standing under the fig tree.” Apparently the fig tree was too far away for Jesus to have seen him with His physical sight, for this so impressed Nathaniel as Divine power that he cried out: “Rabbi, thou art the Son of God, the King of Israel.” There are many such ascriptions to the Deity of Jesus Christ in the Gospels and in none of them does Jesus deny the fact. Either Jesus was or He was not the Son of God. There is no middle ground. If He was not then He was indeed a blasphemer, a mere man making Himself equal with God.
D. Greater Things to Come. Jesus asked Nathaniel, “Did you believe on me because I said I saw you under the fig tree? You are going to see something greater than that. Verily, verily, I tell you all, hereafter you shall see heaven open and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man.” These words remind us of Jacob’s dream, back in Gen. 28:12: “And he dreamed, and behold a ladder set up on earth, and the top of it reached to heaven; and behold the angels of God ascending and descending on it.” In Jacob’s dream the angels were ascending and descending upon a ladder. In Christ’s words the angels are going to ascend and descend upon Himself. Christ is, therefore, the Ladder between earth and heaven. He is the way and the only way that man can reach heaven. The reference to the angels probably points to the future Kingdom when there will be visible communication between heaven and earth (Rev. 21:1-3).
This brief section has told us how disciples are made and how Christ is able to reveal Himself to others when we simply bring them to Him and let them taste for themselves.
5. The First Sign – Water Turned to Wine
(Reference: John 2:1-12)
A. Signs in John’s Gospel. The Bible uses a number of words to describe what we usually mean by the miraculous. There is the word “dunamis,” translated wonderful works, mighty works, miracles, the meaning of which is a display of great power .Then there is the word “teras,’ translated wonders, something strange which causes the beholder to marvel. Another word is “thambos,” translated wonder and amazement, describing the effect of a miracle upon the beholder. Finally, there is the word “semeion,” meaning a sign, mark or token. It is used 17 times in John to describe the mighty works of Jesus, being translated miracle 13 times and sign 4 times. A sign signifies or points out something, even as a sign on a place of business indicates what kind of establishment it is.
There are eight great signs in John’s Gospel. They point out, first of all, the power and glory and Deity of our Lord Jesus Christ. Then, as we shall see, they also point out certain truths concerning the nation of Israel. And further, there seems to be a correspondence between the first and the eighth, between the second and the seventh, between the third and the sixth, and between the fourth and the fifth.
It might be well at this point to remember that the Jews require a sign (1Cor.1:22). From the very beginning of the national life of Israel God has dealt with that nation through signs. Nineteen times in the Pentateuch alone God speaks of the signs He wrought when He delivered Israel out of Egypt. Signs are mentioned 75 times in the O.T. Isaiah and Ezekiel are full of signs. The Kingdom Gospel which Jesus gave to the Twelve Apostles to preach had signs which accompanied it (Mk.16:17,18).
B. This is Jesus’ First Miracle. This fact is stated in vs. 11: “this beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee.” We mention this fact merely to silence all of the myths which sprang up about miracles which Jesus did even as a baby.
C. The Narrative. There was a marriage in Cana of Galilee and the mother of Jesus was there. This indicates that she was probably one of the relatives, for she is not said to have been invited, as Jesus and His disciples were. It should be observed that Jesus often entered into social times with the people. The Pharisees murmured at Him because He received sinners and ate with them (Lk. 15:2). In Lk. 7:33,34 the Lord said: “For John the Baptist came neither eating bread nor drinking wine and ye say, He hath a devil. The Son of man is come eating and drinking; and ye say, Behold a gluttonous man, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners.”
D. The Miracle. Mary discovered they had used up all the wine and so she came to Jesus and told Him, “They have no wine.” Catholics use this passage to bolster the doctrine that Mary is the Intercessor so that whatever we ask of Mary, she will intercede with Jesus to do, However, notice Jesus’ reply: “Woman, what have I to do with thee? Mine hour is not yet come.” This was a reprimand. He did not even call her Mother, but Woman. Up until now He had recognized His relation to His mother and family in the flesh, but now that He has begun His public ministry He is no longer merely Mary’s Son, but Mary’s Lord. He is now taking orders, not from His mother but from His Father in heaven. Mary apparently recognized her mistake and bowed out of the picture, saying to the servants: “Whatsoever He saith unto you, do it.”
There were six stone water pots there, containing twenty or thirty gallons, which were used in purification ceremonies. Jesus told the servants to fill them with water and then draw some out and take to the master of ceremonies. This they did and when the ruler of the feast had tasted the water that was made wine and not being aware from where it came, although the servants knew, he said to the bridegroom, “Every one puts out the good wine at the beginning of the feast and later on that which is worse, but you have kept the good wine until the last.”
After the wedding feast Jesus, accompanied by His mother, brethren and His first five disciples went down to Capernaum, about 16 miles to the northeast, and remained there a few days.
E. The Sign. It is obvious that this miracle was a sign of the Deity of Christ, for He created wine out of plain water. Christ as the Word was introduced by John in chapter one as the One by whom all things were made that were made, and that without Him not anything was made that was made. Paul in Col. 1:16 says, “For by him were all things created that are in heaven and earth.” And John tells us in connection with this first sign, “Jesus manifested forth his glory and his disciples believed on him.”
We believe that this miracle could also be pointing to the day when Christ’s glory will be manifested, not in a little village in Galilee, but in the whole universe, when He comes again as King of kings and Lord of lords. Isa: 62:4, 5 predicts a great wedding in the future when Israel is married unto Jehovah, and Rev. 19:7-9 speaks about the future Marriage of the Lamb. Both of these prophecies point to Millennial times, when Israel is restored, and the glory of Christ is manifested throughout the whole earth.
F. The Counterpart Sign. We believe it will be helpful to include at this point the eighth sign which corresponds to the first. The sign is recorded in John 21:1-14. This incident took place after the resurrection of Christ at the Sea of Tiberias, which is another name for the Sea of Galilee. Seven of the disciples were together, probably not knowing what to do with themselves after the events of the past few days, when Peter said, “I’m going fishing,” which was his old trade. The others said, “We will go with you.” They fished all night but caught nothing. When morning came Jesus stood on the shore but they didn’t recognize Him. Then Jesus asked them, “Do you have any fish?” They answered, “No.” Then He shouted, “Cast the net on the right side of the ship and you will find.” Upon casting their net, it was filled with fish, so many they could not draw it in.
The disciple whom Jesus loved, that is John, said, “It is the Lord.” When Peter heard that he put on the fisher’s coat and jumped into the water and swam ashore. The others came in a dinghy dragging the net behind them. On shore they found a fire of coals with fish cooking and bread. Jesus told them to bring the fish they had caught, and they counted 153 great fish but the net was still intact. Then Jesus said, “Come and dine,” and He gave them to eat. This was the third time Jesus showed Himself to His disciples after His resurrection.
Notice now the correspondence between the marriage at Galilee and the miraculous catch of fish. At one they had no wine, at the other they had no fish. The first happened on the third day; the other was the third time Jesus has manifested Himself to His disciples. In both cases it is stated that Jesus manifested Himself (2:11 cf. 21:14). In both cases there are numbered objects: 6 water pots and 153 fish. In both cases Jesus commanded something to be done: “fill the water pots with water,” “cast the net on the right side of the boat.” In both cases the same verb is used: “enegko,” translated “bare” in 2:8 and “bring” in 21:10.
Both of these signs depict the ability of Christ to supply sustenance far in excess of their needs: about 150 gallons of wine and 153 great fish. These signs show the riches of God’s grace. One is reminded of Paul’s statement: “Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, unto him be glory in the Church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen” (Eph. 3:20,21). The blessing in these signs, will come upon Israel in the Kingdom age. The spiritual blessings of Paul’s epistles are for us today.
(Main Source: Understanding The Gospels – A Different Approach – Charles F. Baker)