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A Practical Commentary On Holy Scripture by Frederick Justus Knecht D.D.

[John 1:28–51]

JESUS left the desert and returned to the country about the Jordan. As soon as John saw Him, he said to the multitude that surrounded him: “Behold the Lamb of God! Behold Him who taketh away the sins of the world! This is He of whom I said: ‘After me cometh a Man, who is preferred before me, because He was before me.’ I gave testimony that this is the Son of God.”

On the following day, when John was on the banks of the Jordan with two of his disciples, he beheld Jesus coming towards him, and he again said: “Behold the Lamb of God!” The two disciples, hearing this, left John and followed Jesus. And Jesus, turning, spoke to them: “What seek you?” They asked Him: “Master, where dwellest Thou”? He said: “Come and see!” They came, and saw where He abode, and they remained with Him all that day.

These two disciples were John and Andrew. The latter had a brother named Simon, who was wishing to see the Messias. Andrew went to seek Simon and said: “We have found the Messias.” And he conducted him to Jesus. When Jesus saw Simon, He looked upon him and said: “Thou art Simon, the son of Jona; thou shalt be called Cephas”, that is to say, Peter, a rock.

The next day Jesus went forth into Galilee, and on the road He met a man named Philip, who also longed for the coming of the Messias. Jesus said to him: “Follow Me!” Now Philip had a friend named Nathanael, an upright, God-fearing man. Philip hastened to him and told him: “We have found Him of whom Moses in the law and the prophets did write, Jesus of Nazareth.” But Nathanael said to him: “Can anything good come from Nazareth?” Philip answered: “Come and see.”

When Jesus saw Nathanael coming, He said: “Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no guile.” Nathanael asked in surprise: “Whence knowest Thou me?” Jesus answered and said to Him: “Before that Philip called thee, when thou wast under the fig-tree, I saw thee.”

Then Nathanael, filled with wonder and respect, cried out: “Rabbi, Thou art the Son of God: Thou art the King of Israel.” Jesus spoke to him: “Because I said to thee: ‘I saw thee under the fig-tree,’ thou believest; greater things than these shalt thou see. Amen, Amen, I say unto you, you shall see the heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.”

John’s testimony of Jesus. 1. John testifies to the fact that our Lord will give Himself as a sacrifice for the sins of the whole world, i. e. of all men; for he calls Him ‘the Lamb of God that taketh away the sins of the world’. The words of John further imply that our Lord would suffer innocently and patiently as foretold by Isaias (chapter LIII); and that in the sacrifice of Christ all other sacrifices find their fulfilment. Hence the Church has put these beautiful words in her Liturgy (Daily Mass, Holy Communion, Litanies).

2. John testifies to our Lord’s Pre-existence or Eternity, saying that though born after him He was before him.

3. Finally, the holy Baptist plainly testifies to Christ’s Divinity: “I (because I heard the voice which spoke from heaven, when Jesus was baptized), I give testimony that this is the Son of God!”

Jesus Himself made manifest His Divine Nature: 1. by knowing and revealing hidden and distant things. He knew and penetrated the hearts of Simon and Nathanael, and knew that Nathanael had been called by Philip, and that, before then, he had been under a fig-tree; 2. by allowing Nathanael’s confession of faith: ‘Thou art the Son of God’, to pass without protest, and by confirming it with the promise that still greater wonders should justify this faith.

The foundation of the Church. By the calling of His disciples, Jesus laid the foundation of His Church simultaneously with His first appearance in public. These disciples, at first, only remained for a short time with Jesus. Later on, He chose twelve to be His constant followers and disciples.

The rock on which the Church is built. God changes the names of those only whom He calls to accomplish great works. For example, He changed Jacob’s name into Israel, which was to be the name of the whole people descended from him, and which indicated his calling. By the change of Simon’s name to Peter, our Lord gave it to be understood that He had chosen this disciple to be the foundation-rock of His Church.

Humility. St. John the Baptist did not seek his own glory, but the glory of Jesus Christ, whose precursor God had called him to be. Without any thought of himself, he sent his disciples to our Lord. Even as the morning-star pales and disappears before the light of the rising sun, even so was it John’s desire to be extinguished when Jesus came.

Zeal for souls. Andrew and Philip were full of joy at having found the Messias and become His disciples. They showed their thankfulness for the great grace they had received, by their endeavours to impart it to their friends and relatives. All who love Jesus have a zealous desire to make their friends love Him also.

Sincerity also is a great virtue and specially praised by our Lord in the case of Nathanael. We may justly assume that by his sincerity of heart Nathanael obtained the grace of faith and of being called to be a disciple and companion of Christ.

APPLICATION. The disciples rejoiced that they had found Jesus and believed in Him. Do you daily thank God that you are a disciple of Jesus Christ and a member of His holy Church?

Can it be said of you: “Behold a real Christian, in whom there is no guile?” Do you not sometimes dissimulate? Do you always tell the truth?








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