Robert E. Surgenor
JOHN FOLLOWING - HIS CONDUCT
Last month we noticed some particular things about the Lord Jesus, namely His Work; His Worth; and His Walk. John and Andrew have heard the tremendous message of John the baptist, and as a result, are now turning from the preacher to the Person who was the subject of his message - Jesus, the Lamb of God. Let us now draw near and view the following events in the lives of those two men who have been captivated by the Son of God.
JESUS - HIS WONDER (vs. 38)
When John and Andrew heard John the Baptist speak, "they followed Jesus. Then Jesus turned, and saw them following, and saith unto them, What seeh 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: [or it was about the tenth hour" (John 1:37-39).
It is interesting that the first recorded words of the Son of God in John’s Gospel are to two interested followers. Just as God called upon Adam to declare himself by asking the question, "Where art thou?" (Gen.3:9), the Lord turning to Andrew and John asked the question, "What seek ye?" Did the Lord know what they were seeking? He certainly did, but He wanted them to publicly identify themselves, thus we have their oral confession, "Rabbi, where dwellest Thou?" Let us ask ourselves the question, in our lifetime, just what are we seeking? Is it the world’s vain pleasure? The world’s popularity and fame? The world’s wealth? Be honest with yourself, just what are your goals in life? What are you seeking? Are you content with what you have, or do you have an unquenchable thirst for things bigger and better? These two men were seeking but one thing - communion with the Master! What a lofty occupation! What a holy desire! What a profitable occupation! Their time was far too valuable to fritter it away on the sports of a godless society; it was far too precious to spend it on hobbies and trivial vanities. They had one object before them and one goal in life, and it was this, "Master, where dwellest Thou?" What a noble inquiry; what a profitable desire! Brethren, let us wake up to our priorities! Do we have them in the right perspective? Are we seeking first the kingdom of God and His righteousness? Let us weigh our actions and our desires in the balances of the sanctuary. We have a spiritual gold mine before us to enjoy. Are we so shortsighted that we are groveling around in the garbage dump of this dark society for pleasure? Let us consider our ways, confess our sins, then "consider Him that endured such contradiction of sinners against Himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds." Let us look "unto Jesus the author and finisher of faith; who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God." And in doing this we shall be able to "lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and... run with patience the race that is set before us."
Notice how they address the Son of God. "Rabbi," meaning, "Master." In other words, "My honorable Sir," a term used by students willing to be taught by their teachers. The late Clay Fite often remarked, "Lord, make me willing to be willing to do Thy will." Are we willing? We may have knowledge, we may profess to understand some Greek and Hebrew words and their deeper meanings, we may understand the divine pattern laid out in the scriptures for the people of God, we may have a brain-knowledge of prophetic truths - however, are we totally willing to bow to the precepts of God that we have been taught, no matter what the cost? Are we willing to "buy the truth and sell it not" (Prov. 23:23)?
What matters for eternity is not how much I know, but rather how much I have bowed to the divine will. One is reminded of the sobering words of Samuel to a disobedient Saul, "Hath the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams" (1 Sam. 15:22). Saul had been told the truth but fell short of keeping it. Is it not true that we commenced our Christian journey with obedience? Paul remarks, "But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you" (Rom. 6:17). God said, "Repent and believe," and that is just what we did. We obeyed the command and experienced His salvation. Peter claims that this obedience to God is a characteristic of believers. Notice his words. "As the children of obedience, not fashioning yourselves according to your former lusts in the time of your ignorance: But like as He which called you is holy, be ye yourselves also holy in all manner of living" (1 Peter 1:14,15 R.V.).
Whenever I observe a professed believer constantly fighting against the Holy Scriptures regarding separation and conduct in this world, I place a big question mark over him as to whether he is born again or not. More than likely he has a false profession and is still in his sins.
JESUS - HIS WELCOME (vs. 39)
Upon their inquiry, the Lord replied, "Come and see." He didn’t say, "Well men, I have had a very busy day and need some solitude and rest, please come back some other time." Oh no, that is not the attitude of our blessed Lord to those that are seeking His fellowship. He never turns us away. James tells us, "Draw nigh to God, and He will draw nigh to you" (4:8). "They came and saw where He dwelt, and abode with Him that day: for it was about the tenth hour" (4 P.M.).
I am sure that upon entering the dwelling, they were not interested in the furnishings. In fact, I doubt if the furnishings were many. More than likely it was a humble dwelling having only the bare necessities of life. As all of us look around our homes, I am sure we must confess that we possess many things that are not really essential. Money has been spent on non-essentials that perhaps could have been given for the furtherance of the gospel. I understand that it is acceptable to have comfortable and accommodating homes, but do we go beyond that with ornate furnishings and items of luxury that are not really needed to make a satisfactory home? Paul likens himself as a runner in a race when he says, "Every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible" (1 Cor. 9:25). Are we more interested in our silverware than the scriptures? Are we occupied with our china figurines, our fine furniture, the luxurious decor of our dwellings, rather than the Lord who has promised to meet our every need? Are we temperate in all things? Andrew and John had one thing paramount in their heart and mind in that dwelling, namely Christ.
"They abode with Him that day: for it was about the tenth hour" (vs. 39). The time is recorded. Brethren, during our lifetime, God has given us all the time necessary to fullfil every work that He has purposed for us to accomplish. If we do not complete every thing that God has given us to do, then we are guilty of wasting our alloted time. Paul tells us to "walk in wisdom toward them that are without, redeeming the time" (Col. 4:5). That word "redeeming" simply means, "to make wise and sacred use of every opportunity for doing good." Peter relates, "he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin; That he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God. For the time past of our life may suffice us to have wrought the will of the Gentiles, when we walked in lasciviousness, lusts, excess of wine, revellings, ban quetings, and abominable idolatries" (1 Peter 4:1-3). "The rest of his time" refers to the allotted time given to us by God from conversion’s day to the day of our home-call. Our walk has changed, our allotted time has commenced. Let us be careful not to use that time to accomplish the strong desires of the flesh, but rather to fulfill the will of God. The man in Exodus 21:19 suffered "the loss of his time, "as a result of being confined to his bed. It is possible for us to suffer the loss of our time if we spend it on ourselves rather than using it to accomplish the purposes of God for us in our lifetime. Let us be very careful, how we spend our time. Time spent on worldly pleasure is definitely lost time, never to be recovered. "Lord help me to use the time that Thou hast given me for Thyself."
In closing, let me draw your attention to one more thing. Is it not lovely to see what Andrew accomplished immediately after his fellowship with the Master? He left the humble abode and found his own brother Peter and we read, "He brought him to Jesus." It is the man that dwells in the presence of the Lord that can effectively bring souls to Christ. What a tremendous fish he caught! What a mighty man Peter became for His Lord. Brethren, let us not be weary in well doing. Let us be intensely interested in the souls of others and let us seek to bring them to Jesus. Do you want to be a soul winner? you don’t need to be an orator; you don’t need to have great material possessions; you don’t need a college degree. All you essentially need is to be habitually in the presence of your Lord, enjoying communion with Him. That is what makes an effective soul winner. John followed Jesus. May God exercise all of us to manifest the same conduct as this disciple who was so devoted to Christ.