John 1:35-51 – Great Expectations
We all enter into new experiences with expectations, whether we realize them or not. How our experience then measures up to our expectations will often dictate our opinion of how well it went.
If I go into a new experience with the expectation that it will not go well, it most likely will not.
On the other hand, we often have unrealistic or misguided expectations that go unmet, which result in conflict and frustration. This was no different with the first time Jesus met what would become His twelve disciples.
They all came with differing expectations and motivations. Jesus flips them all upside down and leads them in love to simply be with Him, know Him, follow Him, and leave the expectations behind. We too are called to simply trust and follow after Jesus.
Our expectations of Jesus will dictate how well and how long we follow after Jesus, so we too must examine them on a regular basis. Each day brings a new set of experiences and expectations, we can find insight into how to manage these expectations in John 1:35-51.
35 The next day again John was standing with two of his disciples, 36 and he looked at Jesus as he walked by and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God!” 37 The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus. 38 Jesus turned and saw them following and said to them, “What are you seeking?” And they said to him, “Rabbi” (which means Teacher), “where are you staying?” 39 He said to them, “Come and you will see.” So they came and saw where he was staying, and they stayed with him that day, for it was about the tenth hour.
“What are you seeking?” He’s really being blunter than that, Jesus is essentially asking, “What do you want?”
At first blush it seems like an odd question for Jesus to ask, after all He is all knowing! But as is often the case when God asks us questions, it isn’t because He lacked the answer but because we lacked self-awareness.
Jesus is really guiding them to evaluate their motives for wanting to follow Him. He wants them to know that this isn’t going to be the normal Rabbi/Disciple relationship. He is recruiting them to change the world! And it will not be easy.
Normally it was the student that applies to be a disciple of a Rabbi, which is why they responded with, “Where are you staying?” They were entering into a formal interview process, but Jesus throws that out and simply invites them to come hang out with Him. Jesus doesn’t search the crowds for people He finds worthy to follow Him, He invites everyone to simply be with Him and see that He is worthy of worship and devotion.
Are you still trying to hand God your spiritual resume? He invites you to simply come and abide in His presence, allowing Him to change you from the inside out.
40 One of the two who heard John speak and followed Jesus was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. 41 He first found his own brother Simon and said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which means Christ). 42 He brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said, “You are Simon the son of John. You shall be called Cephas” (which means Peter).
Next, we see Jesus meet Simon and He literally changes His name at their first meeting! Think about the handful of times that God gives and name to a person, Adam, Abraham, Israel, these are big names in the history of God’s people. Talk about changing expectations!
Simon was a zealot, He expected the Messiah to come in force and overthrow Rome the oppressor. Simon himself was rash and turbulent, he was his own worst enemy. His own expectations on himself and on the world certainly drew him into constant conflict and upheaval.
But Jesus changes His name to Cephas or “the rock” and thus his identity and expectation of himself and the Messiah. He would go from unstable to the rock of the early church!
What new identity is God building in you? What new name is He giving you?
43 The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. He found Philip and said to him, “Follow me.” 44 Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. 45 Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found him of whom Moses in the Law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.” 46 Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.”
Nathanael asks, “Can anything good come from Nazareth?” It was a common expectation that nothing important would come out of this unimportant town. This brings up the very important point that often the world around us creates our expectations of how God will/should work. Nathanael thought the Messiah would come from a big important city and from a big important family.
We can allow our expectations to be framed by the world’s understanding of justice, goodness, love, etc.
But Jesus steps in and blows away our understanding of true love and forgiveness, of true justice and mercy.
47 Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him and said of him, “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no deceit!” 48 Nathanael said to him, “How do you know me?” Jesus answered him, “Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.” 49 Nathanael answered him, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!”
The ironic thing was that Nathanael’s expectation of where the Messiah would hail from echoed his own expectations that he was never going to amount to something great. Jesus saw Him reading or meditating on scripture under the fig tree, we learn from verses 50-51 that it is was most likely Genesis 28 and the story of Jacob’s dream of the angelic ladder.
Would he ever get to have an awesome revelation from God like Jacob did?
The first time Jesus meets Nathanael He comments on his integrity, a sharp contrast to the deceitful Jacob of Genesis. Nathanael is shocked that this Jesus he had never met knew him at that level.
Jesus saw the real Nathanael and God knows and loves the real you. Sometimes we feel like we are Nazareth, unimportant and not worthy of anything great happening.
Jesus knows you and see your faithfulness and obedience. God does have great things instore for you if you trust Him and follow after Him. But not greatness as defined by the world.
But isn’t being known and loved by the God of the universe great?
What happens when our expectations of ourselves and of God are that nothing will ever happen?
That God doesn’t notice you?
50 Jesus answered him, “Because I said to you, ‘I saw you under the fig tree,’ do you believe? You will see greater things than these.” 51 And he said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you will see heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.”
Jesus blows Nathanael’s expectations out of the water, he wouldn’t just get to see something great like Jacob saw, he would be apart of the greatest thing ever, the redemption of mankind! You see Jesus is Jacob’s ladder, the God-man bridging heaven and earth.
We too have been called to follow after Jesus, and He invites us to great expectations that only a life fully devoted to Him can experience!
What are your expectations of Jesus today? Bring them to Him and just sit at His feet, allow Him to set the agenda and then watch Him lead you to great things!