Overview: The narrative of Jesus’s life in the Gospel of John begins with the ministry of John the Baptist and continues with the formation of a small band of disciples. John the Baptist’s ministry becomes public before that of Jesus and elicits questions from the Jewish leadership, which gives him the opportunity to downplay his own identity in order to highlight the person and work of Christ. John the Baptist’s role as a voice and a witness leads his disciples to follow Jesus, which in turn leads to others being introduced to Jesus. Andrew recruits Simon Peter, Jesus recruits Philip, and Philip recruits Nathaniel, whose closed mind becomes open when he meets Jesus. Our author, John, thus records how the early ministry of Jesus took shape not by great gatherings or miracles but by word of mouth, thus instructing us on how to share Jesus with others in our day.
01. In order to be effective witnesses, we must think more highly of Jesus than we do of ourselves or anyone else.
02. In order to be effective witnesses, we must invite people to explore who Jesus is and discover what He has done.
03. In order to be effective witnesses, we must spend time with Jesus and give time to those who do not know Jesus.
04. In order to be effective witnesses, we must live a life pleasing to Jesus so others can see Jesus in us.
QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION & DISCOVERY
01. The purpose of John’s gospel is to elicit faith in Jesus based on the entirety of His ministry, including His miracles, teaching, and resurrection (John 20:30-31). With this goal in mind, would the inclusion of events from Jesus’s childhood add anything to this message besides satisfying our own curiosity?
02. In what ways does John the Baptist downplay his identity when questioned by the Jewish leaders (John 1:19-27)? What was John doing that drew attention to his ministry (see Matthew 3:1-17 and Luke 3:1-17)? Why is it important for us to point people away from ourselves in order for them to see Jesus for who He is?
03. Note the multiple titles used of Jesus in this section. Jesus is the Lamb of God (1:29, 36), the Son of God (1:34, 49), Rabbi (1:38, 49), the Messiah (1:41), the King of Israel (1:49), and the Son of Man (1:51). What do these titles tell us about Jesus? Do you think John and the earliest disciples fully understood what these titles meant? What does their initial confession suggest about the importance of confessing Jesus as Lord even when we do not fully understand what that entails?
04. How does each person in this section discover who Jesus is? What does John the Baptist attribute his knowledge of Jesus to (1:32-34)? How did the two disciples discover who Jesus is (1:37-39)? How did Nathaniel discover who Jesus is (1:44-48)? What do these different encounters with Jesus suggest about the variety of ways in which people may come to know the Lord?
05. Do you recall when you first heard about Jesus? Did you believe in Him right away, or was there a process in which you learned more and eventually came to faith? What people are in your sphere of influence (family, friends, co-workers) who need to hear about Jesus? Pray for opportunities to share the gospel with them so they can know Jesus as their Savior.
For Further Reading: Mark Dever, The Gospel and Personal Evangelism (IX Marks, 2007; Crossway, 2017).