Posts Tagged ‘disciples’

John 1: “Come and you shall see”

August 21, 2012 Comments off

I’m enjoying S. Lewis Johnson’s series through the gospel of John, the most in-depth teaching I’ve seen on a familiar gospel.  Already I’ve learned several interesting things in the details of some of these narrative texts.  For this post, a look at Jesus’ first meeting with the disciples in John 1:

Andrew and the other disciple call him Rabbi and ask Jesus where He is staying.  Their response here to his question, “What are you seeking?” is a good response, of those indicating their attachment to this man as their Rabbi/teacher.  Jesus’ next sentence, “Come and you will see,” (John 1:39) is a phrase well-known within Rabbinic literature, a Rabbi’s way of introducing something new.  So the conversation has Jewish meaning not so obvious in a casual English reading.  “Come and see” continues throughout this section, again with the idea of learning something new.

I had learned before, from a John MacArthur lesson, that sitting under a fig tree was something done by Jewish students; under the fig tree was considered a place for meditation upon God’s word.  Here in SLJ’s lesson, it was also fun to listen to SLJ’s comments about the fig tree he had planted in his yard, and his hopes to someday be able to sit under that fig tree:

That’s why I planted a fig tree last spring.  It’s this high right now.  It’s not so big at the moment and I can hardly get under it, but you’re going to be amazed at the spiritual revelation that will come from me when that thing grows high enough for me to sit under it and get some spiritual meditation, spiritual truth.

Yet I hadn’t noticed, in the conversation with Nathanael in John 1, that Nathanael had likely been meditating specifically on the Genesis 28 text, in which Jacob, fleeing from his brother Esau, fell asleep and had the vision of the angels ascending and descending on the ladder.  Yet this is the background in Jesus’ greeting to Nathanael, “Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile!” (or “no deceit” ESV).  That greeting could also be phrased “in whom there is no Jacob,” since the word Jacob had that meaning of guile and deceit.  Thus Jesus,  in His first words to Nathanael, immediately referenced what Nathanael was thinking about – the life of Jacob, one who was full of guile and deceit.

Jesus’ last words in John 1, about the angels of God ascending and descending upon the son of Man, is a well-known point with reference to Jacob’s dream, and the change Jesus makes here: that He is the ladder upon which the angels of God ascend and descend; He is the great mediator.  This sentence again confirms the specific text that Nathanael had been reading and thinking about.