"The Next Day After"

An Address on Worship, Work, and Witness (John 1:35-42)

Every Bible reader should know that John's Gospel shows the Lord Jesus in the fullness of His glory. It opens, as Augustine said, as with a peal of thunder. We are carried back to the beginning when the voice of God, the Almighty, broke the silence of Eternity in creatorial power, and that voice was the voice of Him whom we know as JESUS. "All things were made by Him and without Him was not anything made that was made." But more, He was the only-begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father: not only did omnipotence dwell in Him, but He dwelt in infinite and eternal love — the Father's love to the Son. And all this was before the pendulum of Time began to swing, when nothing was but God. Then He was there, the eternal Son in the Godhead, THE WORD. He created the world and it rebelled against Him. Then He came into it. He came not to condemn it but to save it. HE CREATED, HE CAME. The first means power, the second was grace. But mark the reception that was given Him when He came. "He was in the world, and the world was made by Him, and the world knew Him not. He came to His own and His own received Him not." In such terse statements as these was the world's indictment written. Ignorance and hatred scowled upon Him from His advent, surrounded Him, pursued Him, and at last crucified Him as a malefactor. But He was the light in the darkness of the world's ignorance, He was the full manifestation of the love of God when the world hated Him most, for His death was a sacrificial death. Men led Him to the place of it, but when their ignorance and hatred had reached their utmost limit God triumphed, for "Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that He Loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins."

Let us notice that the Spirit of God divides things into days in this chapter. The next day introduces the Lord Jesus as the Lamb of God. Then the day before the next was the day of His coming into the world, the day when "the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us." What a great day was that! The angels of God celebrated it with rapturous praise, and may well have wondered at the indifference of the world. But what shall we say of the next day? "The next day John sees Jesus coming to him and says, Behold the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world" (v. 29). It was for this day that He came, and as the Lamb of God He must fill the eye of faith as we look backward. He came into the world but He went out of it, He went out of it by suffering and death. These two days were wonderful days in God's work for the blessing of men — the coming of the Saviour and His death as a sacrifice for sin; but if they were to be effectual there was need of the next day after, and the great question was, Could the Lord Jesus reach to this day? We see Him pass through the first and second days, filling them up as He passed through them with grace and truth and love; but shall there be a third day, a resurrection day — a next day after? If not, then His coming was useless, for "If Christ be not raised your faith is vain, ye are yet in your sins" (1 Cor. 15:17). We may be sure that the devil hoped that the next day would be the last day, that it would sink down into everlasting night unbroken by any further light from heaven, that the love of God would be for ever quenched in the utter defeat of the Lamb of God, and that death and judgment would sweep with unrestrained victory over the human race, and that God would lose for ever the sons of men in whom He delighted. But thank God for "the next day after." "Again the next day after John stood, and two of his disciples; and looking upon Jesus as He walked, he says, Behold the Lamb of God! And the two disciples heard him speak, and they followed Jesus" (vv. 35-37). The next day after shows us a living person who can detach the hearts of men from the world and everything else that holds them captive and attach them to Himself, and lead them into His own dwelling-place. And He dwells in the bosom of the Father in the blessedness of the Father's love, and to that home of eternal rest He brings all who follow Him. It is this living Person that men need, that we all need. Yes, we needed a sacrifice of infinite value for the salvation of our souls, but we need a living Person for the satisfaction of hearts. Without the sacrifice we could never have had peace with God, our sins could never have been blotted out. Without the living Person of our Lord we shall be at the mercy of every passing attraction that the world and the devil may flash before us.

Christ is risen from the dead, He has attained to the third day. His work is a finished work, and here we rest eternally secure, His blood has made a full atonement for our sins, and consequently our consciences are purged and we are free to think of Him who has done it all, and to follow Him who was dead, but who now lives for evermore. And that brings me to my object in this evening's address. I want to show you what the Lord can do with those who follow Him. It is shown us in pattern in the first three men who ever did it. There can be no doubt that JOHN was one of the two disciples that followed Jesus. They followed on this occasion without being told to do so, they followed Him because He was so attractive to them as they looked upon Him that they could not help it. In John we see the worshipper. And it is well that we should begin here, for this will give its own tone to all that may follow. If we turn to John's Epistle we shall see how he worshipped, and the cause and basis of it. "In this was manifested the love of God towards us," he says, "because that God sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. HEREIN IS LOVE, not that we loved God, but that He loved us, and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins" (1 John 4:9-10). Do we not feel as we read these words the wonder that was in John's heart as he wrote them? The measure and the character of God's love seem to overwhelm him as he cries, "Herein is love." It is as we wonder that we worship. Let us never cease to wonder, for if we cease to wonder we cease to grow and we cease to worship. But we shall not cease to wonder if we continue to contemplate this great love; and the precious blood of the holy Victim gives us boldness in the very presence of God who gave Him. We can come into His presence, not as trembling sinners dreading the just judgment of our sins, or even now as hoping for mercy as once we did; but we can come as worshippers filled with wonder at the measure and the way of His love.

But John speaks further and says, "Behold, what manner of love the Father has bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God" (1 John 3:1). Again we feel that John was a wondering worshipper as this exclamation broke out from him. And we bow down and worship with him as we read what he has written. This is not the manner of men, it is the manner of the Father's love. We, like the prodigal of the parable, would have been glad to have been sheltered in the kitchen where with hard toil we could have earned the bread that would have preserved us from starvation. That was our highest expectation, but not so was the Father's thought for us. He ran to meet us and covered us with kisses as we fell into His embrace. He clothed us in the best robe and brought us into His own home and called us His children. Oh, the wonder of it! We had no claim upon this. He has not treated us thus because of what we were; in this His own love has found its expression, and we wonder and worship before Him as we think of it. But this could never have been known by us if Christ had not come, and we can only enter into the experimental enjoyment of it as we follow Him as John did. It is the Son of God, risen from the dead, who declares the Father's Name to us, and as we listen to His voice He makes us worshippers — and such the Father seeks.

This contact with the Lord on ANDREW'S part had a wonderful effect upon him. He became a WORKER, for we read: "One of the two which heard John speak, and followed [Jesus], was Andrew, Simon Peter's brother. He first findeth his own brother Simon … and he brought him to Jesus." He was more successful than Philip was when he went forth, or at least his work was done with greater ease. And these two men stand out in contrast to each other in this Gospel of John. Andrew had found such an object for his trust and affection in Jesus that he cannot be idle, he must find someone else to share his joy and satisfaction, and who more likely than his own brother? He had been so affected by that one day spent in the Lord's company that he effectually affected his brother. He had no difficulty in bringing him to Jesus. Philip had not been drawn in the same way after the Lord. He had to be commanded to follow, and when he set out to work as Andrew had done he met with questions and doubt. There was not the same clear, convincing ring in his witnessing, and not until he urged Nathanael to come and see for himself did he succeed.

In chapter 6 a multitude surrounded the Lord, and they needed bread, and to test Philip the Lord said to him, "Whence shall we buy bread that these may eat?" Philip did not know. Two hundred pennyworth of bread would only have given them a very little each. But Andrew, standing by, says to Him, "There is a lad here with five loaves and two small fishes." It is true that he added, "but what are these among so many?" But that may have been because the other disciples looked upon him with impatience and astonishment for calling attention to that which was only enough for a lad's hunger. We pass that by and rejoice in the faith and expectation that moved Andrew to bring the lad and his meal to Jesus. How he must have rejoiced when he saw the Lord bless that meal and distribute it to that great company, until they were all filled with such a feast as they had never tasted before.

In chapter 12 the Greeks come to Philip and say, "Sir, we would see Jesus." But what could Philip do? Were not these Greeks outside the pale? Would the Lord receive them if he brought them to Him? A perplexed, because an unintelligent servant was Philip that day; but he comes and tells Andrew, and in that he was wise. He felt that Andrew would find a way out of the dilemma, and he did, for he brings him straight to the Lord with the difficulty: "Andrew and Philip tell Jesus."

In the 14th chapter the Lord had to say to Philip: "Have I been so long time with you, and hast thou not known Me, Philip?" It was different with Andrew. He knew the Lord so well, that on every occasion on which we read of him in this Gospel he is bringing someone or something to Jesus, and this because he had found his heart's satisfaction as well as the centre of his life and activity in Him. He was a successful worker, and so shall we be if we come in the same way under the attractiveness and gracious working of our living Lord Jesus Christ.

PETER was brought to Jesus that he might become an outstanding WITNESS to the grace that was in Him. We have only to study the history of his soul with the Lord as it is given to us in the Word to learn this. And what an instructive history it is. Peter had to learn, as we all have, that in him no good dwelt. That all his aspirations and vows could only fail; fervent they might be, but unavailing. He had to learn, as we all have, that it is what God is as revealed in Christ that alone avails. Grace it must be that greets us and saves when we come first to the Saviour, and grace it must be until we reach the glory for which we have been saved. This wonderful grace never failed Peter in all the ups and downs of his experience, and at last he became the great witness to others of it. It is the theme of the letter that he was inspired by the Holy Ghost to write to us. In the letter he declares that THE LORD IS GRACIOUS (1 Peter 2:3), and he tells us of THE TRUE GRACE OF GOD WHEREIN WE STAND (chap. 5:12). What a witness he was to the grace that is in the Lord when he preached on Pentecost, and for many a day afterwards. He proclaimed the remission of sins to others because he knew that his own sins had he remitted; he had himself been the subject of the grace that he proclaimed to others.

Thus the Lord is working in "the next day after" which is this present day, drawing men to Himself, making Himself the supreme object of their hearts and changing them into worshippers, workers, and witnesses; and that we each may be what these three men were is my prayer for His Name's sake.