THE temptation in the wilderness was passed, and the Lord came again to the place where John was baptizing. People of every kind had come together to see and hear John, questioning whether he were the Messiah, the great King, whom they were expecting, There were publicans, as the tax-gatherers were called, and soldiers, and priests, and Pharisees from Jerusalem, and common people from the country all about. And there were fishermen from the Sea of Galilee, who listened earnestly to John and were ready lo follow the Lord. There were others in other places who were ready when the Lord should call them.
The Lord, who made all things, in His great love for men had come to live with them and save them! He had been living among men now for thirty years. He had been a little child in Bethlehem; He had lived many years in Nazareth; He had questioned with the doctors in the temple at Jerusalem. He had been living in the midst of them, but they did not yet know that He was the Lord. John’s Gospel simply and sadly says,
He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not. He came unto his own, and his own received him not. But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.—John I. 10-14.
The same Gospel then goes on to tell of the first recognition of the Lord among the followers of John the Baptist
The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world. This is he of whom I said, After me cometh a man which is preferred before me: for he was before me. And I knew him not: but that he should be made manifest to Israel, therefore am I come baptizing with water. And John bare record, saying, I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it abode upon him. And I knew him not: but he that sent me to baptize with water, the same said unto me, Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and remaining on him, the same is he which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost. And I saw, and bare record that this is the Son of God.
Again the next day after John stood, and two of his disciples; And looking upon Jesus as he walked, he saith, Behold the Lamb of God! And the two disciples heard him speak, and they followed Jesus. Then Jesus turned, and saw them following, and saith unto them, What seek ye? They said unto him, Rabbi, (which is to say, being interpreted, Master,) where dwellest thou? He saith unto them, Come and see. They came and saw where he dwelt, and abode with him that day: for it was about the tenth hour. One of the two which heard John speak, and followed him, was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. He first findeth his own brother Simon, and saith unto him, We have found the Messias, which is, being interpreted, the Christ. And he brought him to Jesus. And when Jesus beheld him, he said, Thou art Simon the son of Jona: thou shalt be called Cephas, which is by interpretation, A stone.
The day following Jesus would go forth into Galilee, and findeth Philip, and saith unto him, Follow me. Now Philip was of Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. Philip findeth Nathanael, and saith unto him, We have found him, of whom Moses in the law, and the prophets, did write, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph. And Nathanael said unto him, Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth? Philip saith unto him, Come and see. Jesus saw Nathanael coming to him, and saith of him, Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile! Nathanael saith unto him, Whence knowest thou me? Jesus answered and said unto him, Before that Philip called thee, when thou wast under the fig tree, I saw thee. Nathanael answered and saith unto him, Rabbi, thou art the Son of God; thou art the King of Israel. Jesus answered and said unto him, Because I said unto thee, I saw thee under the fig tree, believest thou? thou shalt see greater things than these. And he saith unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Hereafter ye shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man.—John I. 29-51.
Author: William L. Worcester 1904
Gathering of the first disciples >> Privilege and duty of helping one another to know the Lord
“Where dwellest Thou?” >> Desire to know the quality of the Lord’s life and of heaven
The twelve apostles >> Various elements of Christian character that are gradually awakened and led to the Lord
Peter and John >> Faith in the Lord and Love of the Lord
James, the brother of John >> Love of the neighbor
Andrew, Peter’s brother >> Obedience to what one knows of the Lord
Philip (lover of a horse) >> Intelligence and understanding
Nathaniel (sitting under the fig tree) >> Simple Goodness
Peter calls the Lord “Messiah or Christ” >> Faith in the kingly power of Divine truth
Nathaniel calls the Lord “Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph” >> Simple Goodness recognizing the bringing of Divine Power into the natural life of the world
Pictures: James Tissot —-Courtesy of the Brooklyn Museum