John the Baptist again provides a model of witness, as he did in John 1:15.
A delegation from Jerusalem has come to investigate the impact of his ministry. John is insistent: he is not Elijah; he is not the Prophet, someone like Moses, as prophesied in Deuteronomy 18:15. Then ″who are you?″ they ask (v. 22). John is the voice (v. 23), the forerunner spoken of in Malachi 4:5 and Isaiah 40:3. The reason he baptises is to awaken Israel and identify the Messiah (v. 31). John is not worthy of performing even a slave’s duty of untying the Messiah’s sandals (v. 27). The coming one is the baptiser with the Holy Spirit (v. 33). In both instances (v. 15 and here), John is the persistently self-effacing witness.
There follow three brief cameos of Jesus, each introduced by the phrase, ″the next day″:
1. John says Jesus is the Lamb of God, the baptiser with the Holy Spirit, and the Son of God (vv. 29-34).
2. Again, in verse 36, Jesus is the Lamb of God. The two disciples of John hear John say this, but they don’t follow John; they follow Jesus instead (v. 37).
3. In verse 43, Jesus finds Philip, who finds Nathanael, who confesses Jesus is the Son of God, King of Israel (v. 49). Andrew finds Simon (v. 41); Philip finds Nathanael (v. 45); but Jesus finds Philip (v. 43), who may have been overlooked by others.
The envelope is fully opened in verse 51. In a clear reference to Jacob’s ladder (Genesis 28:12), now it is Jesus who is the ladder linking heaven and earth.
Note also the titles and descriptions of Jesus here in John 1. Bible teacher J. C. Ryle finds twenty-one descriptions of Jesus in this chapter, such as rabbi, Son of God, King of Israel, Messiah, but now the most exalted title of all is: Son of Man (v. 51)-the one with universal authority and everlasting dominion as prophesized in Daniel 7:13-14. He is fully God and fully man.
Verse 37 is God’s pattern for saving people: they hear the witness but don’t follow the witness; instead they follow Jesus. When Billy Graham left Sydney after his first crusade in 1959, crowds bid him farewell from Sydney airport. As they did, he spoke briefly from John 1:37 where the people heard John, but followed Jesus.
This is the pattern: we hear John, we hear Billy, but we follow Jesus!
Think of the individual titles Christ is given here. Then read Daniel 7:13-14, and spend time praising God.