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The Presbyterian of the South : [combining the] Southwestern Presbyterian, Central Presbyterian, Southern Presbyterian. [volume] (Atlanta, Ga.) 1909-1931, January 10, 1917, Image 10

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Persistent link: https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/10021978/1917-01-10/ed-1/seq-10/

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THE SUNDAY SCHOOL
FIRST DISCIPLES OP THE I.Oltl)
JESUS.
Jan. 21, 1917. John 1:35-51
Golden Text: "Jesus saitli unto
him, Follow me." John 1:43.
When Jesus first caine to John's
preaching after his temptation, John
pointed him out to those who were
about him saying, "Behold the Lamb
of God, which taketh away the sin
of the world" (vs 29). This seems
not to have made any special impres
sion upon his hearers at that time.
The next day John was talking with
two of his disciples and saw Jesus
again. He said to them, "Behold the
Lamb of God." This seems to have
been rather in tho nature of a pri
vate conversation than public preach
ing, as was the case the day before,
and it had much more effect. Verse
37 gives us a very simple summary
of God's way of saving souls. John
spoke, his disciples heard, and, after
hearing, they followed Jesus. What
men need today, as then, is to have
some on to speak to them of Jesus,
and, when they have heard, the only
thing left for them to do is to fol
low him. If men are pointed directly
to the Saviour, they will be much
more apt to follow him than if they
are pointed to the Church, or to some
special method of living. Jesus is the
only Saviour of souls, and the only
one that satisfies the longings of the
hungry heart. When these disciples
heard John they did not stop to argue
with him, but went immediately to
Jesus to find out from him for them
selves whether he was what John
claimed that he was. They were not
satisfied with a mere speaking ac
quaintance, but wanted to know him
intimately, and so they asked permis
sion to go home with him, and we see
how willingly he granted their re
quest. It was late in the afternoon
when they went with him, and they
seem to have spent the night with
him.
We have the name given of only one
of these two, that is Andrew. The
other may have been John, the writer
of this book, as he was very modest
about referring to himself. The first
thing that seems to have occurred to
Andrew was to go to his brother and
tell him of the Saviour he had found,
and we find that he brought the di
rect message that it was the promised'
Messiah of whom he spoke, and he
was not satisfied merely to tell him of
Jesus, but led Peter to him. We do
not hear very much about Andrew
in the gospels, but whenever he is
mentioned we have an account of his
doing something in a quiet way that
will bring others to the Master.
Looked at from a human standpoint,
we would say that the Church would
have met with a great calamity, if
Andrew had not brought his brother
to Jesus, for Peter became one of the
greatest of all the apostles. No man
can tell just what will be accomplish
ed by bringing a soul to Jesus. Every
one should be a missionary going after
souls. We should go to the members
of our own family, our friends, neigh
bors, and any that we can reach, and
tell them of Jesus.
Andrew's brother up to this time
was known as Simon, the son of Jona.
Jesus gives him a new name, which
is sometimes used in the Syrlac form
of Cephas, and sometimes in the Greek
form of Peter. They both mean the
same ? that is, a stone or piece of
rock. The Roman Catholic Church
has given a very different origin to
his name and have confounded It with
the word which means a rock ? that
is, the solid, unbroken rock as found
under the surface of the earth. Later,
when our Saviour spoke of the found
ing of the Church, he did not say that
it was founded upon Peter, the stone,
but upon the rock, which seems to
have referred to the great truth in
Peter's confession.
The day after the calling of Peter
to follow him, Jesus started to Gali
lee, and on his way he met Phillip,
who was of the same city as Andrew
and Peter. He said to him, "Fol
low me," and Phillip obeyed and fol
lowed him, but when he found out
who it was that he was following, he
was not satisfied to enjoy this great
blessing alone, and so he found his
friend Nathaniel and told him that he
had found the Saviour promised in
the law and propihets, and that this
Saviour was Jesus of Nazareth, the
son of Joseph. Nathaniel, knowing
the reputation that Nazareth had,
said. "Can any good thing come out
of Nazareth?" Phillip did not arguj
the question with him at all. IIo
might have said many things to show
that Nazareth was not all bad, and
that there might be some good people
there notwithstanding its reputation,
but he did not argue with him. He
just said to him, "Come and see."
The thing for us to do in trying to
win souls for Christ is to avoid all
arguing, and simply follow Phillip's
example.
When Jesus saw Nathaniel coming
to him, he said, "Behold an Israelite
indeed, in whom there iu no guile."
He did this, not for the purpose ot
complimenting or commending Na
thaniel, but to show him that he could
read his innermost thoughts. Na
thaniel was surprised naturally, and
asked him how he knew him. Jesus
tells him that he had seen him under
the fig tree. Just what he was doing
there we have no way of telling, but
it is probable that he was engaged in
prayer or meditation, when he thought
he was not seen by any save God.
And when Jesus, who was some dis
tance away evidently at the time, told
him what he was doing, It made a
deep impression upon him. There Is
an old Syriac tradition that Nathan
iel's mother had laid him under the
fig tree when the Infants were slain at
Bethlehem by Herod, and it was to
this that Jesus referred. Whether
there is any foundation to this tradi
tion or not, we do not konw. This
thoroughly convinced Nathaniel that
Phillip was right in believing Jesus
was the Messiah, and he makes his
declaration and confession by saying,
'Rabbi, thou art the son of God; thou
art the king of Israel." Nathaniel
showed that he expected the M"essiah
to be the son of God and to be the
king of Israel, yet he was willing to
accept this man of humble human
origin a? the promised Saviour. The
Saviour tells him that he will have
greater proofs of his Messiahship in
the future than he has received.
These proofs will strengthen his faith.
In verse 51 John uses the expres
sion, "Verily, verily." It is peculiar
to him alone among all the writers.
The word translated "verily" is our
common word "amen," and may toe
translated, "Be it so." John useR
this peculiar repetition of the word
twenty-five times in this gospel. It
is always at the beginning of a sen
tence, and always used by Christ him
self. It is intended to imply a sol
emn, emphatic assertion of some great
truth. Jesus tells Nathaniel that he
and the other disciples shall have evi
dence of his Messiahship in seeing the
angels of heaven descending upon
him. Just what is meant by this,
scholars are unable to say. They dif
fer very much in their opinion on the
subject. It could refer to the heav
enly beinga that appeaerd with Jasua
on the mount of Transfiguration, the
time when he prayed and angels min
istered unto him, or it may be the
appearance of the angels at his tomb
on the resurrection morn, or it may
refer to some event to take place in
connection with his second coming.
One of the great lessons to be learn
ed by this passage of Scripture is that
our Saviour expects his Church to be
built up 011 earth by the work of
individual members, going to others
one by one and telling them of the
Saviour that they have found.
We oftentimes do not realize what a
privilege this is, and what a great
blessing it will bring to us, nor do
we consider how much can be accom
plished by little effort on our part.
When we have found Jesus ourselves
and have given our hearts to him,
we need have no fear of going to
him and doing what the Master wants
us to do.
IN THK FOLLOW-ME SCHOOL.
Follow me. This is the word Jesus
ropeats again and again, under dif
ferent circumstances, with added ex
planations, to the same men, until
you feel that he meant it to stand out
as the great invitation to his disci
ples. It seems to mean different
things at different times; that is to
say, it grew in its significance.
Peter is a good illustration here.
The word really came to him six
times, with a different, an added
meaning each time. His first follow
ing meant acquaintance. (John 1:35
42.)
About a year after that "Follow
me" had a new meaning to Peter and
some others. (Matt. 4:11-22 with
Lk. 5:1-11.) Then the great draught
of fishes after the fishless night made
Peter feel the Master's power. The
sense of Jesus' power and with it a
sense of purity ? interesting how the
power made him feel the purity! ?
this brought him to his knees at our
Lord's feet, with the confession of his
own sinfulness. Peter was greatly
moved that morning, greatly shaken.
A new experience of tremendous
power had come to him. And out of
it came a new life, a radical change,
as he left the old occupation, fishing,
boats, father, means of livelihood, and
entered upon the new life. "Follow
me" meant a radical change of life,
constant companionship with Jesus,
sharing his life, going to school, get
ting ready for leadership and service;
yes, and for suffering, too.
It was some months after this that
another meaning grew into the words
"Follow me," and grew out of them.
The words are not spoken this time,
but acted. Out of the group of dis
ciples that he had gathered about him
our Lord prayerfully chose out Peter
and the others to be sent out as his
messengers to others. (Mt. 10:1-5:
Mk. 3:14-19; Lk. 6:12-17.) Part of
the schooling was over, now a new
part, a new term, was to begin.
He called them apostles, sent-ones,
missionaries. "Follow me" now meant
going to others. It meant more ?
power, power to do for the men all
the Master himself had done. First,
power felt that early morning by the
lake, now power given. That was a
great advance in training. Power
had to be felt before it could be' re
ceived. And it has to be felt before
it can be used.
But there was a special session of
the "Follow me" school one day, a
very serious session. (Mt. 16:13-28.)
The very setting of the words gives
the new meaning to them. John the
Herald had felt the keen edge of
Herod's axe-blade, and was now in the
Upper Presence. Jesus was in the far
northern part, because of the grow
ing danger threatening him by the
leaders.
It Is the turning point, where our
Lord Jesus begins to tell tliem that
he wag to suffer. Their ears could
not take in the words. Suffer? Their
dazed eyes show that they think they
could not have heard aright ? he to
suffer? What could this mean? Then
to Peter's foolish, foolhardy daring,
came words spoken with a new intense
quietness that made the words quiver:
"If any man would come after me, let
him deny himself and take up his
cross daily, and folldw me."
"Follow me" means sacrifice. It
means a going down as well as a going
up. And it proves to mean that one
can go up in power and service only
as far as he has gone down in the
obedience that includes sacrifice. Did
Peter take up the meaning that day?
I think not. Actions speak louder
than words.
That betrayal night a few short
months after, when the actual cross
was almost In actual sight, he "fol
lowed him afar off." (Mt. 26:58.)
"Without knowing it, that was as far
as ho had ever really followed thus
far. He wanted to keep as "far off"
from that cross as possible. He
always had. He balked at its first
mention, balked tremendously. Yet
he "followed." Poor Peter! He was
in a terrible strait betwixt two ? this
wondrous Master whom he really
loved, and this threatening cross of
nails and things and thorns. It was
a stiff struggle between heart and
flesh, between the longing of his heart
and the shrinking from pain and hard
ship and shame.
Six months or so after, there came
another "Follow me" to Peter. No,
it wasn't another; it was the same
one, this one he hadn't accepted. Pe
ter was to have another opportunity
at the same place where he fell so
badly. How patient our Lord Jesus
was ? and is!
It was one morning just after break
fast ? a rare breakfast ? on the edge
of the lake, after as poor a night's
fishing as that other time. (Jn. 21:
16-19.) Again the touch of power
revealed the Master's presence. Again
Peter had a special word with the
Master while the others are hauling
in the fish. Now breakfast is over,
and the seven are grouped about the
One, listening. The Lord's quiet,
skilled hand touches the heart-mean
ing of "Follow me." Its real mean
ing is a love meaning. Do you love?
Then "Follovj me." "Lovest thou
me?" Then you must follow; your
love draws you after, even though
the path be rough and broken."
Here is the meaning of "Follow
me" as It worked out in Peter's expe
rience ? acquaintance, a new life,
schooling, service, a sight of sacrifice,
and a balking, then ? a sight of Jesus
on the cross! and then a willingness
to go on, even though it meant the
sorest sacrifice.
In the thick of our present life, In
the noise and din of the street of
modern life, comes as of old the quiet,
clear, insistent call, "Follow me." ?
Condensed from "Quiet Talks on Fol
low Me," by S. D. Gordon.
THE PASTOR'S PLACE IN THE
SUNDAY-SCHOOL.
By George B. Stewart, D. D., LL. D.
Should the pastor teach? Should
he be the superintendent? What is
his official relation to the school?
Dr. Stewart takes up these question In
this article.
The pastor's place in the Sunday
school in not always the same. What
it is will be determined in a measure
by circumstances. But he must have
a place.
He might well make it his rule to
be the first to come and the last to
leave. 4 Before the session hart ended
he will hftV* made appointment*' with

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