Sharing Christ With Others
Lesson 5

At the time Jesus was baptized, John was preaching and baptizing at Bethabara which was but a short distance from Jericho and near the place where years before God had stayed the flow of Jordan until Israel had passed over at the onset of their conquest of Canaan. As the eager crowds listened to the John’s stirring message concerning the soon coming Messiah they could not help but question whether God would again exercise His power on their behalf to free them from the hated Roman yoke.

The preaching of John had so stirred the nation as to demand the attention of the religious authorities. At this time, anything that had the appearance of insurrection was looked upon with suspicion by the Romans. John had not sought the authorization of the Sanhedrin which was the highest religious authority in the nation. In the days of Jewish independence the Sanhedrin was the supreme court of the nation exercising both secular as well as ecclesiastical authority. Though now subject to the Roman governors, it still exercised a strong influence over the nation. Fear of Roman interference, should the preaching of John come under scrutiny, led them to send a representative group to investigate.

1. In response to their questions, what did John say his work was to be?

John 1:23
John 1:23

Note: In responding to their questions, John was quoting from Isaiah 40. In ancient times, when a king journeyed through the less traveled parts of his kingdom, a group of men would go ahead of the royal chariot smoothing and leveling the road that the king might pass in safety. It was this to which the prophet made reference in describing the work of the gospel.

2. What is the gospel able to do for your thinking?

2 Corinthians 10:5
2 Corinthians 10:5

Note: The law judges deeper than the actions, reaching even to the thoughts and motives. See Matthew 5:27-28. However, if we consent, Christ will so identify Himself with our thoughts and aims, so blend our hearts and minds into conformity to His will, that when obeying Him we shall be but carrying out our own impulses. When we know God, as it is our privilege to know Him, our life will be a life of continual obedience. Through an appreciation of the character of Christ, sin will become hateful to us.

3. What was John’s response to their question as to whether he was Elijah?

John 1:21
John 1:21

Note: There was a general expectation that the prophet Elijah would come before the appearing of the Messiah. When asked if he was Elijah, John replied that he was not. Later, Jesus referring to John indicated that he was in fact the fulfillment of the prophecy and was the Elijah who was to come. (See Matthew 11:14.) John did truly come in the spirit and power of Elijah to do just such a work as Elijah had done, but as the Jews refused to receive him, this work could not be done for them. To them he was not Elijah, and the work of preparing them to receive Christ remained unaccomplished.

4. When John identified Jesus as the Messiah, what was the response among his own disciples?

John 1:37
John 1:37

Note: It was among those who had received the ministry of John that Jesus found His first disciples. It was by accepting the work of John that they were prepared to receive Jesus.

5. As a disciple of John and one of the first to receive Jesus, what did Andrew do next?

John 1:40-42
John 1:40-41

6. Who was the first disciple to be formally called by Jesus?

John 1:43
John 1:43

Note: If the disciples had trusted to the guidance of human authority, they would never have come to a saving knowledge of truth. By far the largest portion of the religious leaders of Christ’s day not only did not receive Christ, but they did all within their power to keep others from accepting him also. (See Matthew 23:13.) It is imperative that we study and know God’s Word for ourselves.

7. What was Phillip’s first work after being called?

John 1:45-46
John 1:45

Note: Every true disciple of Jesus is born into the kingdom of God as a missionary. His first impulse is to reach out to all who come within the sphere of his influence and introduce them to Christ.

8. As the disciples of John looked with jealousy on Jesus rising popularity with the people, what was their complaint?

John 3:26
John 3:26

9. What was John’s response?

John 3:30
John 3:30

John did not share his disciples disappointment at Jesus’ increasing influence with the people, but showed clearly that he understood his relation to the Messiah and he now gladly welcomed the One for whom he had been sent to prepare the way.

All too often when God calls someone to do a certain work; when he has carried it as far as he is qualified to take it and the Lord brings in others to take the work further, the introduction of new and advanced truth is met with resistance by those who feel jealous for the opening work already accomplished. They do not advance beyond the point where good men have already gone in proclaiming truth and reject any further advancement of light. John had been called out as a reformer and because of this, his disciples were in danger of fixing their attention on him, feeling that the success of the work depended upon his labors. In doing so, they lost sight of the fact that he was only an instrument through which God had worked to accomplish His ends.

Jesus knew that while the leaders of Israel had not accepted John, they would spare no efforts to create division between His disciples and those of John. Wishing to avoid all contention and misunderstanding, Jesus withdrew from Judea, returning to Galilee.

10. Heading to Galilee, through what area did Jesus pass?

John 4:3-4
John 4:3-4

Becoming weary, Jesus stopped to rest by a well while His disciples continued into the town to buy food. While resting, a woman of Samaria approached and filled her pot with water. As she turned to leave, Jesus asked of her a drink of water. While pride might have led her to refuse a kindness from Jesus, His request for a drink was a favor no Oriental could refuse to give.

As Jesus continued speaking to the woman, she was impressed with His words. Never had she heard such thoughts expressed by either the priests of her own people or from the Jews. Nothing she had ever come in contact with before had aroused in her such a recognition of a higher need. The question arose in her mind as to whether this might be the long-looked for Messiah. In answer to her question, Jesus replied: “I that speak unto thee am He.”

This plain statement to the woman could not have been made to the unbelieving Jews. That which He could not reveal to His own people, and which the disciples were afterwards enjoined to keep secret, Jesus plainly told the woman of Samaria.

Immediately leaving her water pot, the woman returned to the city, anxious to impart to others the precious light she had received.

11. What was the response to the woman’s invitation to the men of the city to come see Jesus?

John 4:30
John 4:30

Note: The amount of good which may be accomplished by a person who is devoted to God, is beyond estimation. Personal influence has a wonderful power and when we work in connection with the Holy Spirit to influence others for Christ, the work that can be accomplished is beyond our ability to measure. Where the disciples of Jesus saw nothing in Samaria to suggest it was an encouraging field, the woman they despised, by her influence, succeeded in bringing the whole city to hear the Saviour.

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