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And John bare record, saying, I saw the Spirit descending from heaven, like a dove, and it abode upon him.
And I knew him not: but he that sent me to baptize with water, the same said unto me, Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending and remaining on him, the same is he which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost.
And I saw and bare record, that this is the Son of GOD.
ANNOTATIONS AND REFLECTIONS.
It has been before observed, that John was sent to bear witness that Jesus was the MESSIAH: we find, from the beginning of this section, that he was also to testify, that JESUS was the first promulgator of the Divine will, or the author of divine revelation, that light which lighteth every man that cometh into the world, which the Evangelist before told us was the EVERLASTING WORD *, and that through him should be given to mankind grace and truth, or full and free salvation, and a clear revelation of the Divine will. John was a faithful witness; for when the Sanhedrim sent a deputation of priests and Levites to enquire on what pretence the Baptist collected together such multitudes of people, he readily answered all their questions, boldly asserting that he acted by divine commission, and announced the coming of the MESSIAH.
On the next day, after the visit of the Levites, and probably before they went back to Jerusalem, JESUS returned from the temptation, and presented himself again to John, who acknowledged him to the world as
* See Sect. xii.
the Lamb of GOD, declaring him to be the person whose superiority he had so lately confessed.
All that the Baptist spake of our LORD was by Divine inspiration; and the expression, "Lamb of GOD," alluded to the sacrifice which JESUS was appointed to make for the sins of the world. John assured his hearers, that there was no collusion between our LORD and him; for he asserted, that the person of the MESSIAH was un. known to him, till the HOLY SPIRIT pointed him out but that he had now no doubt concerning this matter; as, besides the secret intimation which his mind had received, when JESUS came to be baptized, he had been an eye-witness of the descent of the HOLY SPIRIT, which he had been taught by divine revelation to expect would rest upon the MESSIAH; and that, therefore, he verily believed JESUS to be the Son of GOD, He who was to baptize with the HOLY GHOST.
This testimony of the Baptist should confirm our belief in CHRIST as the Son of GoD, the Saviour of the world.
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.
Then JESUS turned, and saw them following, and saith unto them, What seek 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; for it was about the tenth hour.
One of the two which heard John speak, and followed him, was Andrew, Simon Peter's brother.
He first findeth his brother Simon, and saith unto him, We have found the Messiah, which is, being interpreted, the CHRIST.
And he brought him to JESUS. And when JESUS beheld him, he said, Thou art Simon the son of Jona; thou shalt be called Cephas, which is, by interpretation,
The day following, JESUS would go forth into Galilee, and findeth Philip, and saith unto him, Follow me. Now Philip was of Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. Philip findeth Nathanael, and saith unto him, We have found him of whora Moses in the law and the Prophets did write, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.
And Nathanael said unto him, Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth? Philip saith unto him, Come and see.
JESUS saw Nathanael coming unto him, and saith of him, Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no guile.
Nathanael saith unto him, Whence knowest thou me? JESUS answered and said unto him, Before that Philip called thee when thou wast under the fig-tree, I saw thee.
Nathanael answered and saith unto him, Rabbi, thou art the Son of God, thou art the King of Israel.
JESUS answered and saith unto him, Because I said
unto thee, I saw thee under the fig-tree, believest thou? thou shalt see greater things than these.
And he saith unto him, Verily, verily I say unto you, Hereafter ye shall see heaven open, and the angels of GOD ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.
ANNOTATIONS AND REFLECTIONS.
The Baptist sook every occasion of bearing testimony to JESUS, and of communicating to others what the HOLY SPIRIT had lately revealed to him, that Christ was the LAMB of GOD. This expression might not be fully understood either by John or his hearers, for it was prophetical; and therefore to be explained, as other prophecies were, by its completion. What CHRIST himself afterwards taught, and what he suffered, threw light on John's testimony..
We read in a former section, that when John the Baptist preached the doctrine of repentance, numbers of persons resorted to him, and were baptized, confess. ing their sins. One of these was Simon Peter, a man of a very zealous temper, extremely desirous of being instructed in the truth, and therefore a very proper person to attend the MESSIAH, as a witness of his life and conversation; it appears that our LORD's other chosen companions were equally fit for this purpose; his selection of them, therefore, shews that he knew all hearts.
When Andrew and the other disciple followed JESUS, he, knowing their disposition, kindly invited them to accompany him, and soon gave an evident proof that he was possessed of divine knowledge, by the name which he gave to Simon Peter. Cephas signifies a Rock, and was prophetic of the firmness with which Peter would maintain the truth of the Gospel,
JESUS, having entered on his public ministry, removed from Bethabara to Galilee. Bethsaida, the place where Philip, Andrew, and Simon, dwelt, was a town of Galilee, on the sea of Tiberius.
- Nathanael, though a native of Galilee, had, in common with other Jews, a very mean opinion of Nazareth,' as worse than the rest of the country. Philip advised him not to be led away by popular prejudice, but to see and converse with JESUS himself. The heart of the good Nathanael was well known to our SAVIOUR, and immediately on his approach he gave public testimony to the rectitude of the mind and conduct of this worthy man. By an Israelite indeed, we are to understand a plain upright person, just and true in his dealings with mankind, and humble and pious to God.
Nathanael was greatly surprised that JESUS, whom he regarded as an entire stranger, should thus undertake to answer for his character; but still more so to hear, that he was acquainted with the private conversation which passed between him and Philip in their secret retirement; and immediately acknowledged our LORD to be, not only the expected King of Israel, but the Son of GOD; since even the inward recesses of the human mind were thus open to his view.
JESUS assured Nathanael that, as he was so ready of belief, he would give him still greater proofs of his divine nature, by the performance of miracles; and convince him, that though he appeared on earth as the Son of Man, he could open the kingdom of heaven to all true believers, where they should hereafter behold him attended by the holy Angels.
What pleasure must the good Nathanael have received from this kind discourse of our SAVIOUR! Let us endeavour to imitate the example of this worthy