Robert E. Surgenor
John Following - His Conduct
For the next few months I would like to draw your attention to a man, who like us, was born a sinner, but who came to know and love the Son of God. His devotion to Christ is very noticeable in the gospel that the Spirit of God gave him to write - the Gospel of John. This fisherman was the son of Zebedee and Salome, and brother of James the elder. Evidently his parents were godly people, for when this son was born they named him John, which means, "Jehovah is a gracious giver." Perhaps they had experienced the good hand of God upon them in life, providing and meeting all of their need. Or perhaps they had great aspirations for their son and considered him a gift from a God, Who was a gracious giver.
John was an industrious fisherman, he and his brother worked hard for their father. When the call came to follow their Lord, they were busy mending their nets. A fisherman that mends his nets is a man who makes every move of his labor count. They were careful to make the most out of what they had. No fish, once in their net, would escape. They were efficient in their labors. Men with secular qualities such as this are the men that God chooses to employ for spiritual fishing. Men that are not lazy, but lively. Men that are not casual, but concerned. Men that are not dilatory, but diligent. Men that are not careless, but careful. Matthew records, "He called them. And they immediately left the ship and their father, and followed Him" (Matt. 4:21,22). Mark tells us that "they left their father Zebedee in the ship with the hired servants and went after Him" (Mk. 1:20). They immediately forsook the ship to follow the Saviour, learning to become fishers of men. What an impact this must have had on their father as he now loses the expertise of his sons in his fishing business. Let me ask you, are you immediate in your response to the commands of Christ whatever the cost may be?
CHRIST - HIS WORK (v. 29)
Prior to the net-mending scene, we have the effective call of John recorded in chapter one. Let us draw near and learn a few lessons from the scene. What a tremendous day that must have been! ĎJohn (the baptist) seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world" (v. 29). First of all, the baptist calls.his listeners to attention - "Behold." Not behold me, but behold the Lamb. A godly preacher never draws attention to himself. His holy object is to draw undivided attention to the Lamb! Next he unveils the character of His Person - "the Lamb." He is pointing Israel to the True Passover, the only lamb God would recognize for the putting away of sin. Not only this, but we see the character of the Holy One of God, meek and lowly. A Friend of publicans and sinners! Like a lamb, He never defended Himself, but went about doing good and healing those that were oppressed of the devil, committing His cause to His God. John goes farther and exclaims, "The Lamb of God," making his listeners aware of the deity of His being. Continuing in his short but tremendous message, the baptist then exclaims, "which taketh away," giving an indication of the result of His work, then its definition, "the sin," and finally its scope, "of the world."
CHRIST - HIS WORTH (v. 36)
"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" (v. 35-37).
You will notice Johnís message has changed. It is not so much the Lambís work now, but His worth. When I was first saved, all that I could think about was that Jesus died for me. That was exceedingly wonderful to realize and it is still wonderful. However, as time went on I became not only interested in Christís work for me on the cross, but I developed a thirst to know more about Him and His matchless worth. When Paul was saved about twenty years he exclaimed, "That I may know Him." Didnít Paul know the Lord? Absolutely, but he had a burning desire to know more and more about His Lord. Let me ask you, are you advancing in the knowledge of Him, or have you become a stagnant Christian? Peterís last expressed desire for Godís people was expressed in these plain words. "But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ" (2 Peter 3:18). The Hebrew saints are admonished with these words. "For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat... Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let usgo on unto perfection (full growth) " (Heb. 5:12; 6:1). It is very distressing to hear saints saved for a number of years talking about the Lord as one-year-old babes in Christ. I am afraid many among us are frittering away their time with unessential things. Time that could have been devoted to the intense study of the Holy Scriptures~ Young brother, young sister, forget the time consuming ski slopes and golf courses and purpose in your heart that you are not going to remain in spiritual diapers, but that you are going to grow in a knowledge of Him. To do so is exceedingly time consuming, but He is worthy of your slavery, He is worthy of your all. Remember, "Only one life, Ďtwill soon be passed. Only whatís done for Christ will last." Let us all make it our lifetime ambition to enter heaven, not with the rags of worldliness upon us, but rather clothed in the fine linen robes of righteousness - the acts of righteousness accomplished in our short lifetime down here. John the baptist declared His worth!
CHRIST - HIS WALK (v. 36)
You will notice in verse 35 that John stood, while in verse 36 we read that Jesus walked. Now this is significant and a vital truth. John was the last of the Old Testament prophets and him standing is a picture that the Old Testament prophets had now come to a standstill. Their work was over, their mission was accomplished. Then we notice that at this point, Jesus begins to walk. After thirty years of living in obscurity in a little cottage in Nazareth, He now moves out and begins a ministry that would be more unique than any prophet of old. Whenever you read of Jesus standing, you have the thought of His dignity. When you observe Him sitting, it is a picture of His lowliness and grace. However as we observe Him walking, we have conveyed to our souls His public manifestation.
John the baptistís message was geared in such a way that his listeners were drawn to Christ rather than to himself. Is this not a characteristic of all true and godly servants of the Lord? They never gear their preaching to draw attention to themselves. Their preaching tends to drive sinners to Christ. The man who was troubled on every side, yet not distressed; Who was perplexed, but not in despair; Who was persecuted, but not forsaken; Who was cast down, but not destroyed; Who was always bearing about in his body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in his body; Who was alway delivered unto death for Jesusí sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in his mortal flesh, is the same man who exclaimed, "For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesusí sake" (2 Cor. 4). What a tremendous servant Paul was! He was exceedingly humble and a virtual slave not only to His Lord, but also to the saints of God. These men never strove to get on the pedestal of popularity. Human praise meant little to them. Their sole aim in life was to exalt Christ. I would say that a servant of that character today would be exceedingly easy to host in your home. He would be no problem whatsoever. John said, "He must increase, but I must decrease" (John 3:30). His balance was right. May the Lord help us all to manifest the spirit seen in the forerunner of our Lord and also seen in the apostle to the Gentiles. In the will of the Lord we shall consider next month, The Wonder of Jesus and The Welcome of Jesus, in relation to John, the disciple whoms Jesus loved.