Who is Jesus of Nazareth? (John 1:19-2:11)
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I. The Lamb of God
When asked, John makes clear that he is not the Christ, but rather the voice that prepares the way of the Lord (Isaiah 40:3). The next day, when John sees Jesus, he raises His voice and declares that this One is the “Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29). Throughout the Old Testament there were different sacrifices of lambs that pointed forward to the sacrificial death of Christ, our Passover Lamb. He was offered up in our place, to deliver us from eternal death, eternal separation from God. He appeased God’s wrath, made atonement for our sins so that we might be forgiven and live in the eternal favor of God. Jesus is the Lamb, unblemished and spotless, who has appeared and offered Himself up as a sacrifice so that we now have eternal life through faith in Him (1 Peter 1:18ff).
II. The Messiah / Christ
When Andrew heard Jesus speak he began to follow Him, and he told his brother, Simon Peter, that he had “found the Messiah” (v. 41). “Christ” is a translation of the Greek word “christos,” which comes from the Hebrew word “messiah,” which means “anointed one.” The Old Testament priests were anointed with oil, but Jesus was anointed with the Holy Spirit for the purpose of carrying out the work of salvation (c.f. Luke 4:16-19, Isaiah 61:1-3). The title “Christ” also refers to one who is set apart for a special purpose. Jesus alone has been set apart to be the divine Deliverer and Ruler, and today is the “acceptable time” when God is receiving all who will come to Him through the anointed One, Christ Jesus.
III. The Son of God
When Nathanael calls Jesus the Son of God, he is making reference to His divine nature. Nathanael recognized that only God could know him the way that Jesus knew Him (v. 48). The fact is, Christ knew Nathanael better than Nathanael knew himself, just as He knows us better than we know ourselves. Undergirding any knowledge that we have of Jesus, is Jesus’ knowledge of us. The title, “Son of God,” expresses oneness with God, the oneness that exists between Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Later in Jesus’ ministry, in John 8:58-59, the Pharisees took up stones to kill Jesus because He clearly stated His equality with God the Father.
IV. The King of Israel
Not only does Nathanael identify the divine nature of Jesus, but he also recognizes that He is “the King of Israel” (v. 49). He is the descendant of David who would rule and reign forever in righteousness. At the coming of Jesus Christ, the Kingdom of God was inaugurated. We await the day of its final consummation!
V. The Son of Man
The most common self-designation used by Jesus is “Son of Man” (v. 51). This title goes beyond a mere reference to his humanity or incarnation but reaches back into the Old Testament book of Daniel where we read of One who has universal authority and everlasting dominion, and whose kingdom will never be destroyed (Daniel 7:13-14). For this reason, Jesus can say of Himself that all authority has been given to Him (Matthew 28:18).
VI. Jesus’ First Signs
Soon after Jesus is identified as the Lamb of God, the Messiah, the Son of God, the King of Israel, and the Son of Man, he performs his first sign (John 2:1-11). Signs are not empty displays of the miraculous. Rather, they are the powerful display of God’s glory, intended to reveal Jesus’ true identity and produce faith in those who receive Him. The power displayed at the wedding at Cana pointed toward who He is and what He would accomplish, and it was met with the belief of the disciples.
- What does each of these titles reveal about the glory of Jesus? What aspect of each title should lead you to worship Him?
- Jesus’ signs manifest His glory and give affirmation to His identity as the divine Messiah. How have you responded to Jesus? Do you believe? Have you accepted that each of these titles is true of Him? Are you trusting Him as the only Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world?