Explore the Bible Sunday School Lesson for December 11

Explore the Bible Sunday School Lesson for December 11

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By Douglas K. Wilson, Ph.D.
Dean of the Center for Christian Calling, University of Mobile


John 1:40–51

Last week’s passage introduced Jesus as the eternal Word, the incarnate Son of God full of grace and truth and the Light who gives life to humanity.

Between that passage and our text today, John introduced his readers to John the Baptist, his ministry of repentance and baptism and his announcement of Jesus as “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (vv. 29, 36). This ministry likely took place on the eastern side of the Jordan River, possibly the place Origen identified as Bethabara, where Jews from Galilee crossed the river to and from Jerusalem in order to avoid Samaria.

Thanks to John’s announcements, some of his own disciples began following Jesus. The end of this chapter records that Andrew, Simon, Philip and Nathanael followed Jesus by invitation.

Andrew and Peter (40–42)

One of John’s disciples was Andrew, son of Jonah. Andrew became convinced Jesus was the Messiah, so he went to tell his brother Simon. They went to Jesus together, and the Lord called Simon by name and gave him a new name. The Master’s new name for Simon stuck, with references to the name Peter in the four Gospels, the Book of Acts and Peter’s epistles.

John repeatedly pointed to Andrew as a disciple who brought people to Jesus. In this passage, it was his brother Simon Peter whom he introduced to Jesus. Later, it was a little boy with his food (6:8–9). Still later in Jesus’ ministry, Andrew and Philip intended to bring some Greek men to speak with Jesus (12:20–22).

Philip (43–46)

Philip was from Bethsaida on the northern shore of the Sea of Galilee, just as Peter and Andrew were. And just like the Bar-Jonah brothers (Matt. 4:19) and Matthew (Matt. 9:9) were personally called by Jesus, Philip received Jesus’ invitation: “Follow me.” Philip’s immediate response was to tell his friend about Jesus. He told Nathanael that Jesus was the One promised in the Law of Moses and the Prophets.

What is the best approach when your family member or your friend is not convinced: more intensive evangelism or polemic apologetics? Philip believed simply bringing his friend to Jesus was the right approach. Who could better convince a loved one of Jesus’ identity than Jesus Himself?

Nathanael (47–51)

Jesus characterized Nathanael as a man having no deceit. We might think of him as a man without a filter: “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Jesus was not offended by his question, and Nathanael was drawn to Jesus by His willingness to engage in conversation.

Micah’s nativity prophecy points to Bethlehem as the Messiah’s birthplace (Mic. 5:2). But Isaiah prophesied about the Messiah’s ministry in Galilee of the Gentiles: “The people walking in darkness have seen a great light … for a child will be born for us, a son will be given to us” (Isa. 9:1–7).

Handel’s use of Scripture convinced me Jesus was the Messiah. God used “The Messiah” and a Gideon New Testament to convict me of my sinful state, Christ’s righteous work and my need to surrender to Jesus Christ as Lord.