Today we pick up in verse 35 as we continue to meet the key players in the life of Jesus. We meet five individuals today… they are Philip, an unnamed disciple, Cephas/Peter, Andrew and Nathaneal. All five of these men have an encounter with Jesus that forever change their lives.
John 1:35 - 51
Verses 35 - 42
The day after John the Baptist’s declaration of Jesus as the Lamb of God he is standing with some of his disciples and once again sees Jesus walking by. The Baptist was standing with two of his disciples and pointed out to these two men that Jesus is the Lamb of God.
Disciple – A learner, close follower, a student, one who is tutored but is more than one who just gains information. A person who has a close relationship (academically and relationally) with the teacher.
John had many disciples. The two disciples he was standing with are Andrew (the brother of Peter) and an unnamed disciple (who traditionally is believed to be the Apostle John – the author of this Gospel). The reason Andrew is named the brother of Peter (even before Peter was introduced in the story) is because by the time of John’s writing of the Gospel Peter was a well known figure throughout Christendom. When the disciples hear John’s statement from the they followed (or became followers of) Jesus. F.F. Bruce writes about this departure from John, “It is not certain what John expected his disciples to make of his words, but they left their teacher’s side at once and hurried after Jesus to catch up with him. They certainly did not grasp the depth of the meaning which modern readers find in the title ‘Lamb of God’; but they probably understood that John was pointing this man out to them as the Coming One of whom he has spoken before. No wonder, then, that they were eager to know more of him.”
As they catch up to Jesus, he asks “What are you seeking?” He is essentially asking them what their motives are or what’s on their minds. They don’t answer his question instead they ask him a question and Jesus doesn’t answer them. Instead He invites them to come and follow him and see for themselves. Thus begins their journey of faith that will forever change their lives.
The first thing Andrew does is goes out and finds his brother Simon A.K.A. Peter and informs him that they have found the Messiah. Immediately we see Andrew giving an example of true Christian expansion… Notice Andrew doesn’t say, “Jesus, will you come with me and talk to my brother about maybe becoming your disciple?” The first act Andrew does is shares his experience with his brother. Andrew brings Peter to Jesus and introduces him to the Lamb of God.
As Peter is brought to Jesus He looks at him and says, “You will no longer be called Simon, you are now Cephas (Peter – Rock). This is significant because from the moment Jesus meets Peter he has a plan for this mans life. As we will see later down the road before Jesus is crucified he tells Peter that he will become the foundation (The Church) that Jesus will establish through him and the gates of hell cannot and will not prevail against this foundation (Matthew 16:18)
Verses 43 - 51 - The next day Jesus finds a man named Philip and calls him to become a follower (disciple). Philip’s response to Jesus’ call was similar to Andrew’s as he goes out and finds Nathaneal and tells him about Jesus. Once again we see what D.A. Carson calls, “The foundational principle of truly Christian expansion.” This Nathaneal is believed to be Bartholomew (one of the 12 disciples).
After Philip finds Nathaneal he tells him that he has “found him of whom Moses in the Law and also the prophets wrote about.” His name is Jesus of Nazareth. Philip refers to Jesus as the “coming one” as written about in Deut. 18:15 and also the one whom the Prophets wrote about.
Nathaneal’s response is almost humorous in some ways, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Not, “Wow you found the Chosen One! Please take me to meet Him!” Now if a Nazarene would hear this I would think they would be slightly offended; just as someone would be offended if I said the same about their hometown. His contemptuous reply could be attributed to a local rivalry between Galilee and Nazareth or could be something a little deeper. Regardless, we can know for certain he did not have high expectations for this Nazarene at first.
What kind of come back can you offer to Nathaneal’s remarks other than what Philip says, “Come and see for yourself”? Philip didn’t spend time trying to talk Jesus up or prove that he was right; his response is exactly the same as ours should be when someone responds to Jesus in a negative way… Come and see for yourself. This is not only an invitation to meet Jesus but a challenge to put aside his prejudices and see beyond his origin of birth and see God’s bigger plan.
I find it interesting to see Jesus’ response to Nathaneal, “Now here is an Israelite in whom there is no deceit!” Nathaneal didn’t have good things to say about Jesus of Nazareth but Jesus speaks wonderful words about Nathaneal and calls him a genuine man without hidden motives.
His response to Jesus would certainly be the same as mine if someone I did not know said such things about me. I would be a little skeptical of the person and a little puffed up with pride but certainly would ask, “How do you know me?” Jesus’ assessment of Nathaneal must have been correct since he seemed to gain his attention. Apparently impressed by Jesus’ supernatural knowledge of him Nathaneal addresses Jesus more respectfully and claims he is the Chosen One of Israel.
When Jesus hears Nathaneal’s response and claims Jesus essentially says, “Well, you have only seen a small part of what is yet to come. Buckle up man, because the ride is going to get wild.” The imagery in Jesus’ final words is taken from the vision their forefather Jacob had of a ladder (Genesis 28:10 -22). If you read this account you know it is a vision Jacob had of a ladder that reached to heaven. The angels of God ascended and descended on the ladder in this vision. The LORD stood at the top of the ladder and spoke a promise to Jacob about his descendants. Upon waking Jacob knew He met with God there and he set up a pillar and called it Bethel (The House of God). Jesus in a way is saying that now the presence of God will be revealed through Him and no longer in the Temple. Certainly Nathaneal and Philip could not grasp what Jesus was saying here. I think the key words of Jesus are “You will see” and they will see great and mighty things through the Son of man through his life, His ministry, His death and resurrection. They will certainly see!
A lot happens in the account of Jesus calling the first disciples. I think we can take some of what we have talked about today and apply it to our lives in the present as to what it means to be a disciple of Jesus Christ. What does a disciple of Christ look like? Does he/she have a certain look, attitude or air about them? Is there a Christian disciple mold we all fit into? I don’t think so. If we go with the definition of a disciple as interpreted in the original language as a “learner”, “A close follower” or “a student”. As Christians we are called into discipleship; we are called to be learners, followers of the master (Jesus) and students of his word. This means that our faith must be proactive and not passive or apathetic. We must continually be growing in our faith (there is no set standard of what that looks like but it has to be growing and not become stagnant). As a believer of over 20 years who has read the Bible numerous times, went through school specifically for Bible training, read books which number beyond my comprehension and serving as a pastor for 20 years I am still growing and I am still learning. We MUST continue to grow and not allow our relationship with Christ go stagnant.
Being a disciple takes a lot of discipline and work. If we look at the examples of today’s text I came to three points of application in what the life of a disciple can look like…
 Bruce, F.F. (1994) The Gospel of John p. 56. Grand Rapids, MI: William B Eerdman’s Publishing Co.
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I currently live in Florida with my beautiful family. The Lord has blessed me with 20 years of full time ministry. He is and has been faithful. I am currently serving at a church as an Associate Director of Discipleship.