John: First Disciples Follow Jesus

Read: John 1:35-51

John the Baptist testified about Jesus, now he releases his disciples to follow the One he was there to proclaim. The voice in the wilderness points to Jesus and Andrew listens. We are introduced to Peter, Philip, and Nathanael in this section. There is some debate about Nathanael’s identity, but the model for discipleship is presented here by John as we witness the first few following Jesus.

Two of John the Baptist’s disciples hear him say, “Look, the Lamb of God,” and respond immediately. The begin to follow Jesus. I’m not sure where Jesus was going or how this event unfolds. There are probably several movies that have tried to depict these events in various forms. All I can say is the lack of details suggests it’s not important. What does matter is that Andrew, and most likely John, were listening to John the Baptist and did something, they took action.

They ask Jesus where He is staying and Jesus is quoted as saying,

“Come,” he replied, “and you will see.” John 1:39

John isn’t mentioned by name. Theologians point out the John avoids using his name in the text, he keeps himself behind the scenes. As an eyewitness to the events, we get details that describe the location and time of day.

Andrew and Peter

I love the idea that Andrew’s first response is to go and get his brother. He heard John the Baptist’s declaration, followed Jesus, then:

The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon and tell him, “We have found the Messiah” (that is, the Christ). And he brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said, “You are Simon son of John. You will be called Cephas” (which, when translated, is Peter). John 1:41-42

There’s no mention of debate here, no words that suggest Simon through Andrew was hallucinating or perhaps was a little off after hanging out with the Baptist character. I like to think that Andrew’s face beamed like Moses’ after talking with God. In my mind, when Andrew found Peter, the brothers’ eyes met and he knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that something incredible had happened.

What is our response when we recognize we have come face to face with the Messiah? Have we become so comfortable with the label Christian that we simply put on the t-shirt and go about our day? We have seen the Messiah with our hearts. Think about the day Jesus was revealed to you and go invite someone to see Him in you.

Jesus Calls Philip and Nathanael

John tells us that Jesus is moving around quite a lot. They’re headed to Galilee where they find Philip. Philip’s response is similar to Andrew’s, but the story has a bit of a twist.

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.” John 1:45

You have to love Nathanael’s response:

“Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?” Nathanael asked. John 1:46

Philip’s response is assertive, not the least bit defensive. He simply says, “Come and see.”

We don’t read much about Nathanael. Some suggest he was also named Bartholomew and counted among the Twelve. Others point us to the Seventy-Two that went out and preached. There’s little doubt that Jesus had many disciples beyond the Twelve. In any case, I would be incredibly honored to hear Jesus say such words about me,

When Jesus saw Nathanael approaching, he said of him, “Here truly is an Israelite in whom there is no deceit.” John 1:47

When Nathanael asks how Jesus could make this assertion, He explains He saw Nathanael under a fig tree before Philip invited him to come and see. This must have been incredible to Nathanael. He made an early declaration without delay or requests for signs and wonders:

Then Nathanael declared, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the king of Israel.” John 1:49

John records Jesus’ response that must have felt like time completely stopped when Philip and Nathanael heard the words:

Jesus said, “You believe because I told you I saw you under the fig tree. You will see greater things than that.” 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.” John 1:50-51

Jesus explains to these early disciples that something like Jacob’s stairway to heaven will be revealed to them. They will see with their eyes, hear with their ears, God’s testimony about Jesus, the Son of Man, as He teaches and preaches all over the area for the next three years. Wow!

We will see greater things when we set our eyes on Jesus. I can’t tell you you’ll see a stairway to heaven, but I can say with confidence that when we focus on Christ and dwell in His presence, we will see great things. Things will be revealed to us for His glory, not ours. These marvelous things will fill our minds with wonder, lift our weary heads, and fan the flame of the Spirit within our hearts.

Holy Spirit, come and fill this place. Speak to our hearts. Stir in us the excitement that caused Andrew and Philip to seek out others with conviction.

Thoughts about serving others

This link includes a list of posts about Serving the Least, the Lost, and the Lonely.

My prayer is for you to join me on this journey. Subscribe to this blog below to get an email when a new post is available.

Let the Word evoke words. May your life encourage lives.

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