The Gospel of John – What do you want?

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“Jesus looked around and saw them following. “What do you want?” he asked them. They replied, “Rabbi” (which means “Teacher”), “where are you staying?” John 1:38

Jesus asked the new disciples a very important question, what do you want? He already knew their hearts, but He wanted them to think about this question. Jesus knew that to follow Him means to give up all. At times, it means to suffer trouble. At times, following Jesus means that you will have to leave family and friends in order to follow Jesus. Jesus was forcing them to define their purpose and goals. Were the disciples looking for a revolutionary leader to overthrow Rome? They may have had this on their minds as they started to follow Jesus. Soon their purpose would change. They knew in their hearts that this man named Jesus was going to be their teacher. They, just at this time, did not realize how important this meeting was. This meeting would not just change their lives, but it was going to change the world.

We need to ask ourselves the same question, why do you want to follow Jesus? When I first started to follow Jesus, I don’t think I could have answered that question. I started to follow Jesus because I had tried everything else and nothing worked to fill that God-hole in my spirit. The disciples felt the same way. This is why they asked Him where He was staying. They wanted to know more about this man. They wanted to know why they were following Him. After more than thirty years of following Jesus, I can now say that there is no other way of life. Letting Jesus lead and having a personal relationship with Him gives me the peace to face all of life’s problems.

The Gospel of John – John

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“Now there was leaning on Jesus’ bosom one of His disciples, whom Jesus loved.” John 13:23

John was not mentioned in the first group of disciples, but we know that he was in that group because how else would he know so much about the first meeting of Jesus. John is known as John the beloved because Jesus showed such love for John and John for Jesus. John was not always so loving. John was also known as one of the sons of thunder, because he and his brother James wanted to call down lightning on the unbelievers.

His importance in the twelve grew as he matured, and after the crucifixion, he became a “pillar” in the Jerusalem church, ministered with Peter, and finally was exiled to the island of Patmos by the Romans, where he received from God the majestic visions that comprise the book of Revelation. As he grew in his walk with Jesus, John changed. He became more loving and his writings show how he grew.

In spite of these youthful expressions of misdirected passion, John aged well. He began to understand the need for humility in those who desired to be great. John’s is the only gospel that records Jesus washing the disciples’ feet (John 13:4-16). Jesus’ simple act of servanthood must have impacted John greatly. By the time of the crucifixion, Jesus had enough confidence in the young man to turn the care of His mother over to him, a charge John took very seriously. From that day on, John cared for her as if she were his own mother (John 19:25-27). John’s rash request for special honor in the kingdom had given way to a compassion and humility that would characterize his ministry in his later life. Although he remained courageous and bold, his ambition was balanced by the humility he learned at Jesus’ feet. This willingness to serve others and suffer for the sake of the gospel must have enabled him to bear his final imprisonment on Patmos where, according to reliable historical sources, he lived in a cave, cut off from those he loved, and was treated with cruelty.

“Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.” (1 Corinthians 1:25) In the first five disciples we can see the truth in this scripture. None of the first five disciples were ones that the world would have chosen. When God is involved they became great men of God turning the world upside down. As you answer God’s call on your life, remember that it is God’s ministry, not yours.

The Gospel of John – Nathanael

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“Philip went to look for Nathanael and told him, “We have found the very person Moses and the prophets wrote about! His name is Jesus, the son of Joseph from Nazareth.” John 1:45
Nathanael is the same as Bartholomew the Apostle. The name of Nathanael occurs in John but in none of the other gospels. He is introduced at the beginning and at the close of Christ’s ministry. His doubt of Christ’s Messiahship vanished when he met Him, and he was one of the seven to whom the risen Lord manifested Himself at the Lake of Galilee.

Philip was the friend that showed him Jesus. Nathanael was studying under a fig tree when Philip found him and led him to Jesus. Nathanael at first had his doubt about who Jesus was. “Nazareth!” exclaimed Nathanael. “Can anything good come from Nazareth?” “Come and see for yourself,” Philip replied.” (John 1:46) As they approached, Jesus said, “Now here is a genuine son of Israel—a man of complete integrity.” “How do you know about me?” Nathanael asked. Jesus replied, “I could see you under the fig tree before Philip found you.” Then Nathanael exclaimed, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God—the King of Israel!” (John 1:47-49) Nathanael knew that this was the true Son of God, because he was under the fig tree studying God’s Word. He knew the Bible and what it said about Jesus. Nathanael was a true son of Israel, because he had a pure heart. He was not like the church leaders in Jesus’ day. They were hypocrites, their mouth proclaimed that they had a heart for God, but their heart was cold and hard.

Nathanael was faithful to the end because he was faithful in the start. All of his experiences with Jesus and after the birth of the New Testament church only made his faith stronger. Nathanael, like all the other apostles, stand as proof that God can use the most common people and the most insignificant places to His glory.

The Gospel of John – Philip

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“The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. He found Philip and said to him, “Come, follow me.” John 1:43

The interesting thing about Philip, one of the Twelve, is that he was personally reached by Jesus himself. While Philip brought Nathanael to Jesus, and Andrew brought Peter to Jesus, no one brought Philip to Jesus. Instead, Jesus came right to him. John’s Gospel tells us, “The following day Jesus wanted to go to Galilee, and He found Philip and said to him, ‘Follow Me’ ” (John 1:43). Normally God reaches people through people, but this was an exception to the rule.
We don’t know a lot about Philip. The Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke give us no details about him. What we know about Philip appears in the Gospel of John. But from that Gospel, we discover that he was a completely different kind of person than Peter, Andrew, James, or John. He is often paired with Nathanael (also known as Bartholomew), whom he brought to Jesus.
Philip was a fact and figures man. He was a by the book kind of man, practical minded, corporate killjoy, pessimistic, narrowly focused, at times missing the big picture. He was at times a defeatist, rather than a visionary. We know that he was a man that Jesus knew that He could use in His group, because Philip was the first disciple called. Jesus saw him and said to him follow me. Philip was a man who studied the Bible. When Jesus called him he knew that Jesus was who He said He was because he knew the Bible. Philip had a heart for evangelism. The first thing that he did was find his friend Nathanael and tell him about Jesus.

It also would appear from John’s account of the Feeding of the Five Thousand that Philip may have been in charge of the supplies and food, the road manager of sorts. He was the kind of guy who was practical, always thinking about the bottom line. And on this occasion, Jesus trying to stretch Philip’s faith, posed a question to him as the crowd gathered: “Where shall we buy bread, that these may eat?” (John 6:5). Philip responded, “Two hundred denarii worth of bread is not sufficient for them, that every one of them may have a little” (verse 7). Philip didn’t do so well on that test. He wasn’t the first to have the most faith, but he was a follower of Jesus who was used by God.

The Gospel of John – Peter

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“Then Andrew brought Simon to meet Jesus. Looking intently at Simon, Jesus said, “Your name is Simon, son of John—but you will be called Cephas” (which means “Peter”).” John 1:42

His name was Simon Bar-Jonah and Jesus gave him a new name. His name was then Peter which means rock. Jesus knew that this man that was impulsive, out-spoken and over eager had potential to be a great leader. This is the man that stepped out of the boat to walk on the water when Jesus told him to come. This is the man that cut off the soldier’s ear when they arrested Jesus. This is the man that denied Jesus, not once, but three times when Jesus needed him the most. This is the man that asked more questions than any of the other disciples. This is the man that after the resurrection went back to fishing. He encountered Jesus when he returned from fishing and Jesus asked him three times if Peter loved Him. Each time Peter answered yes. This was Jesus forgiving Peter for denying Him three times. Jesus promised Peter that he was going to be the foundation of His church. This is also the man that after the Holy Spirit came, preached to the people and three thousand were saved. Jesus saw a leader in Peter and started his training as soon as He changed his name.

This man, named Peter, can teach us so many lessons. Jesus overcomes fear. Peter found courage in following Jesus. “Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear.” (1 John 4:18) Jesus forgives unfaithfulness. It seems that Peter burned his bridges when he denied Jesus, but Jesus lovingly rebuilt them and restored him to service. “If we are unfaithful, he remains faithful, for he cannot deny who he is.” (2 Timothy 2:13) Jesus patiently teaches. Over and over, Peter needed correction, and the Lord gave it with patience, firmness and love. “The Lord says, “I will guide you along the best pathway for your life. I will advise you and watch over you.” (Psalm 32:8)

The Gospel John – Andrew

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“Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, was one of these men who heard what John said and then followed Jesus.” John 1:40

Andrew was the first disciple to follow Jesus. He was a disciple of John the Baptist. When John the Baptist told them that Jesus was the Lamb of God, Andrew went and followed Jesus. Andrew had a very close relationship with Jesus because He was the first to follow Him. Andrew knew that Jesus Christ was the Messiah. He knew that He was the one that they had been waiting for.

There is not much in the Bible about Andrew. We do know that his greatest strength was to lead others to Jesus. The first person that he brought to Jesus was his brother Peter. He knew that the news was too good to keep to himself, so he wanted to tell others. He went to the person that he loved the most; his brother Peter. Andrew lived his life in the shadow of his better known brother Peter. Andrew was not one to want to be out front. He was the person that supported the others in the background. He was more comfortable working as a leader in the background. This is so important. We need more people in our churches that will work in the background to move the church forward. He was bold, decisive, and deliberate. Nothing about him was feeble or weak. He was driven by a hearty passion for the truth, and he was willing to subject himself to the most extreme kind of hardship in pursuit of that objective. Andrew saw the value of individual people. He was known for bringing individuals, not crowds to Jesus. Almost every time we see him in the Gospel, he is bringing someone to Jesus.

Andrew was the first to follow Jesus. He was part of the inner circle, given intimate access to Jesus Christ. Best of all, he had a whole lifetime of doing what he loved best; introducing others to Jesus Christ.

The Gospel of John – First Disciples

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“The following day John was again standing with two of his disciples. As Jesus walked by, John looked at him and declared, “Look! There is the Lamb of God!” When John’s two disciples heard this, they followed Jesus.” John 1:35-37

The disciples were only ordinary men. Most of them were follower of John the Baptist. I am sure that John the Baptist had talked to his disciples about the Lamb of God that was to come and take away the sins of the world. So it was natural for John the Baptist’s disciples to follow Jesus. There was no introduction; they just knew they were to follow Jesus. Jesus was enormously controversial. Jesus never promised them anything. He even told them that He had no place to live. Why in the world would anyone want to follow Jesus? It was by the drawing of the Holy Spirit that these disciples knew this was the man that they should follow. Interesting that Jesus never called any of the church leaders of His day. He picked men that had nothing; not even an education. In regard to the church, they were all outsiders. God chose these men. He knew all about them and these were the men that He wanted to turn the world upside down. What has happened to the church today? We don’t want anyone leading our church unless they have a doctor’s degree? What has happened to praying and letting God appoint the right pastor?

“Afterward Jesus went up on a mountain and called out the ones he wanted to go with him. And they came to him. Then he appointed twelve of them and called them his apostles. They were to accompany him, and he would send them out to preach, giving them authority to cast out demons.” (Mark 3:13-16)

In the following devotions, we will look at these first five disciples and see what type of men would follow Jesus.

The Gospel of John – All We Need

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“Then John testified, “I saw the Holy Spirit descending like a dove from heaven and resting upon him. I didn’t know he was the one, but when God sent me to baptize with water, he told me, ‘The one on whom you see the Spirit descend and rest is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’ I saw this happen to Jesus, so I testify that he is the Chosen One of God.” John 1:32-34

“Abide in the presence of the power of God, where victory is assured. If we remain in the right place with God, He can do anything with our lives. He can work through us. There was a power and majesty that fell on Jesus when He received the Holy Spirit. He was no longer the same. He received the mighty anointing power of God. He attained submission, and He submitted, He was more covered with the power and led by the Holy Spirit. He came out of the wilderness more full of God, more clothed with the Spirit, and more ready to fight. The empowerment had such an effect on Him that other people saw it and flocked to hear Him.” (Smith Wiggleworth) We need this changing power of the Holy Spirit in our lives. When we have the Holy Spirit in our lives and we are committed to listening to God and obeying His will for our lives, we can be a mighty force for God in our world. The key is submission; giving it all to God.

“And now I will send the Holy Spirit, just as my Father promised. But stay here in the city until the Holy Spirit comes and fills you with power from heaven.” (Luke 24:49) This is the power to witness. The power to act. The power to live. The power to show the manifestation of God in your life. The Holy Spirit is all that we need.

The Gospel of John – I am

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“I saw this happen to Jesus, so I testify that he is the Chosen One of God.” John 1:34

John the Baptist was telling us that Jesus was and is the Chosen One of God. He is the “I am.” The Gospel of John uses the “I am” statement showing us that Jesus is the Son of God. Helen Keller never communicated to the world around her until she was ten years old. Her parents arranged for her to receive religious instruction from the eminent Boston clergyman Phillis Brooks. One day during her lessons, Helen said these remarkable words to Brooks, “I knew God before you told me, only I didn’t know His name.” His name is “I am.” “But Moses protested, “If I go to the people of Israel and tell them, ‘The God of your ancestors has sent me to you,’ they will ask me, ‘What is his name?’ Then what should I tell them?” God replied to Moses, “I am who I am. Say this to the people of Israel: I am has sent me to you.” (Exodus 3:13-14) Some of the “I am’ Statements John talks about are; I am the bread of life, I am the Light of the world, I am the door, I am the good shepherd, I am the resurrection and the life, I am the way, the truth and the life, I am the true vine. In our study we will write about these “I am” statements in detail. Just remember that Jesus is the great “I am’ that loves us so much that He came into our world to save us.

The Gospel of John – Holy Spirit

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“Then John testified, “I saw the Holy Spirit descending like a dove from heaven and resting upon him. I didn’t know he was the one, but when God sent me to baptize with water, he told me, ‘The one on whom you see the Spirit descend and rest is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’ I saw this happen to Jesus, so I testify that he is the Chosen One of God.” John 1:32-34

The Holy Spirit descended on Jesus as a sign that He was the Messiah the one sent from God; the one that was prophesied about in the Old Testament. The one that John the Baptist was crying in the wilderness about; telling everyone that He was coming. The Holy Spirit did not just descend on Jesus and leave. The Holy Spirit stayed with Jesus. As a man, Jesus needed the Holy Spirit if He was to do great things for God. The Holy Spirit was the empowerment to start His ministry. Yes, He was the Son of God, sent by God into the world, but in His humanness He needed the power of the Holy Spirit. Jesus knew the power of the Holy Spirit. “Once when he was eating with them, he commanded them, “Do not leave Jerusalem until the Father sends you the gift he promised, as I told you before. John baptized with water, but in just a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 1:4-5) “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8) If we are going to do the will of God in our life, we must have the Holy Spirit. We see Peter, a man that denied Jesus not once but three times, when He was filled with the Holy Spirit he preached to over three thousand people. The power of the Holy Spirit can change lives.