1 March, 2024

Feb. 4 Lesson | The Disciples Believe

by | 29 January, 2024 | 0 comments

INTRODUCTION TO FEBRUARY LESSONS: Belief has more than one nuance. It can refer to everything from believing it will rain, to believing the Cubs will win another World Series, to believing in God. If God does the providing for salvation, then people do the partaking of salvation. They do this by believing. Belief looms large in John’s Gospel. The verb believe occurs scores of times in this Gospel, and it never appears as a noun because, for John, belief is something one does. In this third month of the study of John’s Gospel, students will learn of the belief of the disciples, the lack of belief of the Pharisees, and how signs (miracles) and sight interface with belief.  

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Unit: John (Part 3) 
Theme: Believe 
Lesson Text: John 1:35, 40-50; 2:1-11 
Supplemental Texts: John 2:13-23; 4:39-42; 6:60-69; 16:25-33 
Aim: Testify about what Jesus has done for you and what you believe about him. 

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Download a PDF of this week’s lesson material (the study by Mark Scott, the Application by David Faust, and Discovery Questions): LOOKOUT_Feb4_2024

Send an email to [email protected] to receives PDFs of the lesson material each month.

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By Mark Scott

Years ago, Stuart Briscoe preached a sermon titled “The Cost of Discipleship” (Preaching Today). In it he spoke of how disciples were trained by the rabbis and philosophers of Jesus’ day. Some disciples were made by “protest.” Others were made by “procedure.” Still others were made by “philosophy.” Then he added that Jesus did not make disciples in any of those ways. Instead, he made disciples “personally.” Jesus encountered these early disciples one by one. 

After Jesus’ baptism (referred to in John 1:29-34), he stayed near where John the Baptist was preaching and baptizing. At this point he gave a “preliminary” call to Andrew, Peter, Philip, and Nathanael. (The formal call of these and others would yet remain—Matthew 4 and 10, Mark 1 and 3, and Luke 5.) 

Invited to Believe
John 1:35, 40-50 

In contrast to the rabbis of Jesus’ day who waited for students to ask to study under them, Jesus took the initiative and called his men to check him out. The phrase “come and see” occurs twice in this section (vv. 39, 46). It is a wooing invitation. Jesus wants his followers to use their brains. He would later expect them to use these same investigative skills at the resurrection (Matthew 28:6).  

Jesus’ earliest disciples were first disciples of John the Baptist. But because John knew his place, when these former students of his turned and followed Jesus, John the Baptist was most pleased (John 3:22-30). John the apostle presented this invitation in a series of consecutive days. Note the phrase “the next day” (John 1:29-30, 43) and then, “On the third day” (2:1).  

On the second of those “next days,” John the Baptist identified Jesus as the Lamb of God. That was all it took for Andrew and an unnamed disciple. They followed Jesus. But they did more than come and see. Andrew found his brother Peter. Andrew typically found people and brought them to Jesus (John 6:8-9; 12:22). When he found his brother (all three of Peter’s names are mentioned in the text—Simon, Cephas, and Peter), this Jesus encounter left Simon with a new name (i.e., Rock). 

Jesus was hustling to get to the wedding in Cana. But before he left down south he called Philip to follow him. Philip in turn found Nathanael. Philip was convinced that Moses’ prophecy had been fulfilled (Deuteronomy 18:15). Nathanael was more skeptical. The Messiah was from where? Nazareth? “Can anything good come from there?” Philip’s method of evangelism mirrored Jesus’—“come and see.” 

Nathanael approached Jesus, and Jesus made a pronouncement about his character—i.e., an Israelite in whom there is no deceit [guile].” This caught Nathanael off guard, and he questioned Jesus about it. It was obvious that Jesus knew far more about Nathanael than Nathanael ever could imagine. One could be seen under a fig tree, but because the branches come to the ground that would not be easy. Miraculous? Jesus promised Nathanael that he was the ladder to heaven (cf. Genesis 28:10-17). Nathanael was all in. 

Encouraged by Signs  
John 2:1-11 

Jesus would return to Judea for his first ministry Passover (John 2:12-25), but he made a quick trip to Cana for what would seem to be a family wedding. In the ancient Near East, weddings were lavish and long. Running short on wine would bring shame on a family’s name. The cryptic dialogue between Mary, Jesus, and the servants is filled with intrigue and irony. What is between the lines (“They have no more wine,” “My hour has not yet come,” and “Do whatever he tells you”)? What expectations did Mary have? What did Mary assume by what she told the servants?  

Reluctantly (?), Jesus told the servants to fill the jars normally used for ceremonial washings. The miraculous turning of water to wine must have taken place in the jars. When the servants took the water (now wine) to the master of the banquet he was undone—certainly by the quality of the beverage but maybe also by the abundance (six large stone jars). The host gave commentary about what was normal in weddings concerning wine. Jesus made lots of wine and the quality was unmatched.  

It was a miracle and John mentioned that it was the first sign by which Jesus revealed his glory. The prophets predicted that when the Messiah would come in the new age, wine would run down the hills in abundance (Joel 3:18; Amos 9:13-15). So, in the end, this miracle story was not about alcohol at all. It was about Jesus. The disciples’ faith was encouraged by the miracle but even more so by the miracle worker.  


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