This is an excerpt from a new series I’m preaching through and writing about. It takes us through the Book of John. You can hear the full audio by checking out my podcast: Michael J. Chanley Teachings, available wherever you get your podcasts.

If you’d like to turn in your Bible to John chapter 1, I have three things I’d like you to take away from verses 19-51. Really, it is just one thing, but let’s look at three things, and end with the one thing.

The three things are Look, Come, and Follow.


First off, is the question of John the Baptist. Who is he? He is mentioned earlier in John 1 and is also in all four gospels. Scholars agree he is not the author of the Gospel of John. 

John the Baptist is quite the interesting figure. He is the final prophet of the Old Testament. We miss that sometimes. In all of creation there is a red line that separates the Old and New Covenant. That red line is why we celebrate Easter. It is the death of Jesus Christ. It is the red line of His blood and, in all of human history, there is only the before Jesus and after Jesus.

John the Baptist is born, preaches, and dies in that period before Jesus’ death and, therefore, he dies under the Old Covenenant.

You get the sense John  is laser focused on his mission. He rejects the comforts of this world and lives in the most simple manner as a bold messenger of God.

So, who is he, who is John the Baptist, and why the emphasis on him in all four gospels?

Well, John the Baptist is a type of herald who is sent by God before the Christ. He, like the Old Testament that his preaching represents, points us to Jesus Christ.

In Biblical times, when a person of great import was traveling, heralds would go ahead of them. They would, for example, tell people to get ready, something is about to happen, the king is passing through, look your best, be presentable. This was a way of showing respect and honor to conquering and/or ruling kings; but, it also was a way to help ensure the king thought well of you and your family. In Biblical times, it was not wise to offend those in authority. 

Our tradition of announcing the Bride and Groom at a wedding party is a reflection of this same concept. Someone announces the newlyweds before they enter the reception. As they do, they are telling everyone, “Hey, look here, today is a day for these two happy people, get ready, welcome them, rejoice!” 

Understanding this tradition, although it is a bit foreign to us, is a good starting point to consider as we attempt to answer who is John the Baptist and why is he important?

John the Baptist is the prophesied foreteller of the coming Messiah. His message is clear, “The King is coming… get ready… make straight the path!!”

This is what is going on in John 1:19-28 (NIV). John is interrogated about his identity. He says:

20 … “I am not the Messiah.” 

21 They asked him, “Then who are you? Are you Elijah?” 

He said, “I am not.” 

“Are you the Prophet?” 

He answered, “No.” 

22 Finally they said, “Who are you? Give us an answer to take back to those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?” 

To answer them, John goes back to a prophecy from the Book of Isaiah.

23 John replied in the words of Isaiah the prophet, “I am the voice of one calling in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way for the Lord.’ ”

The exact prophecy, in my opinion, only helps to strengthen our faith if we look it up and read from it. It is written in Isaiah 40:1-5. Keep in mind Isaiah lived about 740 years before Jesus as you read it.

John makes it clear he knows his own identity by deflecting any attention to Christ. This makes him humble. Importantly, it makes him a good herald. He is the proclaimer. He is the one who goes ahead and prepares everyone for the coming King.

This deflection, of course, confounds the stiff-necked religious leaders. They want to know about John’s authority to baptize. He says, 

26 “I baptize with water,” John replied, “but among you stands one you do not know. 27 He is the one who comes after me, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie.” 

Next, we read this, starting in verse 29.

29 The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! 30 This is the one I meant when I said, ‘A man who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’ 31 I myself did not know him, but the reason I came baptizing with water was that he might be revealed to Israel.” 

32 Then John gave this testimony: “I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him. 33 And I myself did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, ‘The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’ 34 I have seen and I testify that this is God’s Chosen One.”  

Again, John the Baptist is pointing everyone’s attention to the coming Christ, to Jesus. This first thing I want you to see is that John the Baptist says, quite simply, “LOOK… this is the Christ!” 

He says, “It is not me you should look at… it is Him!”

And we then see John’s followers begin to follow Jesus.


The second point I want us to take from this bit of text comes from a key verb John, the author, uses repeatedly. 

It is the Greek verb – ἔρχομαι ĕrchŏmai, er´-khom-ahee.

It is a verb that is only used in the present tense and the imperfect. If you’re like me and you grew up hating grammar class, imperfect tense just means an incomplete action that began in the past. For example, “was walking.”

Anyways… the verb ἔρχομαι ĕrchŏmai, er´-khom-ahee; translates to English as I go or I come. 

Ĕrchŏmai conveys motion and action.

If we thread John 1 together, using just this verb, and shorten the message, we’d see this: 

7 He [John the Baptist]] came as a witness…

THAT 9 The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world.

11 He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him.

John the Baptist declares that, in verse 15

… ‘He who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.

27 He is the one who comes after me, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie.

Then, we read verse 29-31… 

29 The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! 30 This is the one I meant when I said, ‘A man who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’ 31 I myself did not know him, but the reason I came baptizing with water was that he might be revealed to Israel.”

So, therefore, we see in John 1 that Jesus is God and God is here. He has come to the Earth as it has been declared by the prophets of old, including John the Baptist.

The second point is that God came to us and it leads us into the third point.


To understand this final point we have to look at John 1:43-51.

It is a powerful passage and will be worth our time to read it afresh as we think about what is happening here anew.

43 The next day Jesus decided to leave for Galilee. Finding Philip, he said to him, “Follow me.” 

44 Philip, like Andrew and Peter, was from the town of Bethsaida. 45 Philip found Nathanael and told him, “We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote—Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.” 

46 “Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?” Nathanael asked. “Come and see,” said Philip. 

47 When Jesus saw Nathanael approaching, he said of him, “Here truly is an Israelite in whom there is no deceit.” 

48 “How do you know me?” Nathanael asked. Jesus answered, “I saw you while you were still under the fig tree before Philip called you.” 

49 Then Nathanael declared, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the king of Israel.” 

50 Jesus said, “You believe because I told you I saw you under the fig tree. You will see greater things than that.” 51 He then added, “Very truly I tell you, you will see ‘heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending on’ the Son of Man.”

The message of Jesus, God in the flesh, the light of the world, the destroyer of darkness, is simple, it is FOLLOW ME. 

Jesus says, paraphrasing here, “I see you for who you are… yet, I beckon to you, FOLLOW ME.”

Follow me is an invitation from God for us to be changed and to become more like Him.

Look. Come. Follow. Is the message that begins John’s gospel story.

And, that brings us to the final point. This is really the ONE Point I wanted to make today.


JESUS – is the one thing. His message is “I am here… for you… for all.” So, “Follow me.”

Our social media obsessed world loves this “follow me” language. Self-included, I abuse it too. I think of it every time I listen to a podcast or read a blog… “like, follow, subscribe” … it is the language of our era.

Our online obsessed world uses “follow me” to imply a passive engagement or connection.

Yet, the message of Jesus Christ is not passive. It is active. It is that God has come to us, for us; and, He wants us to follow Him and be transformed. He wants to change us to become more like Him.

In everything we do, we say, “Look, there is Jesus.”

We, as His followers, echo to the world, “Come and see.”

And then, in the still moments when we experience Christ, when we truly connect with God, we still hear His voice say, “Follow me.”

Jesus calls to us and says, simply, “I see you. I know you. I love you… Follow Me.” 

His disciples leave everything. They follow Him.

May we ever do the same.