Lesson 8: John 1:42-51 – The Third Time’s The Charm

by Pastor Ricky Kurth

You're listening to Lesson 8 from the sermon series "The Gospel of John" by Pastor Ricky Kurth. When you're done, explore more sermons from this series.



Peter had to be called three times! John 1:40-42 describes his first contact with the Lord. The Lord knew his name without having to be introduced, which should have told him that Jesus was Christ (cf. John 4:29). Peter remained unconvinced, however, for the Lord predicted he’d be as stubborn and hard to move as a stone (John 1:42). This stubborn tenacity would later serve him well as an apostle, but meanwhile provided an initial roadblock to his call.

The next day the Lord left for Galilee (1:43 cf. Mt.4:12), where He found Peter and Andrew casting a net into the sea (4:18), and James and John mending their nets (4:21). The Lord called these fishermen to be fishers of men, sort of like when God called a shepherd named David to feed the flock of Israel (Psalm 78:70-72). When Peter “straightway” followed the Lord, it showed that since his first introduction to the Lord, he had been mulling it over, and had now concluded that Jesus was the Christ.

Now it seemed that Peter was following the Lord for good, but the next thing that happened in Galilee (cf. Luke 4:14) was the healing of Peter’s mother-in-law (Luke 4:38-40). Despite witnessing this miracle, Peter returned to fishing (5:1-3). Then the Lord worked yet another miracle, this time showing He knew how to fish better than Peter (5:5-7). This miraculous draught of fish was just the Lord’s little way of paying Peter back for the use of his boat—and convincing proof to Fisherman Peter that He was the Christ

Well, the “stone” of Peter was finally broken, and he decided to follow the Lord. But why did he ask the Lord to depart from him because he was so sinful (v.8)? Partly because he had obeyed imperfectly in letting down only one “net” when the Lord had told him to let down the “nets” (v.4.5). But also because it had taken three calls to convince him to follow the Lord. But now he “forsook all” (v.11)—including his fishing boats—to follow Him.

“Bethsaida” (John 1:43,44) was not the kind of town you’d think would produce apostles (Luke 10:13), but it did! It doesn’t matter if no one else in town believes God, if you will, you can be used of God as greatly as Bethsaidans Phillip, Andrew, Peter and John.

The law and the prophets were all wrote about Christ (John 1:45), and about the end times (Acts 3:21,24). If you will keep this in mind, it will help you as you study the Old Testament. Also worthy of note in Verse 45, the Lord may have been born in Bethlehem, but He grew up in “Nazareth.” Nathanael’s question about Nazareth was an example of prejudice (v.46). When confronted with such prejudice, we should react as did Phillip, by simply saying, “Come and see” whether your prejudices are true.

“Guile” (v.47) means craftiness or deceit. Nathanael’s complete absence of it shows he was already a believer un-der the kingdom program (Psalm 32:1,2 cf. Rom.4:1-8). Such people will someday stand before God without guile (Rev.14:5). The Lord showed more supernatural power in John 1:48, which quickly convinced Nathanael that He was the Christ (v.49,50). He then went on to describe a scene that requires some examination (John 1:51).

Heaven is a real place with walls (Rev.21:12-19) and gates (Rev.21:12,13,15,21,25) that have to be opened (John 1:51) for beings to pass through (Luke 3:21; Acts 10:11; 19:11), including angels (John 1:51). In this vision, the Lord is describing a vision given to Jacob (Gen.28:10-12). But why were these angels going up and down on this ladder? Verse 13 explains, “the Lord stood above it.” These angels were going up to heaven to receive orders from the Lord, and returning to earth to execute them.

But in John 1:51, the Lord is not at the top of the ladder, for the angels are said to be “descending upon the Son of man.” This vision is not a vision of Jacob’s past, but rather of Israel’s future. During the future kingdom of heaven on earth, the Lord’s throne will be located on earth, and angels will go up from it into the heavens to do His bidding. And since Nathanael was a believer in Israel’s God, the Lord here tells him that he will someday see this take place. When he rises in the resurrection, this will come true.

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