Last posts in this series
- The Gospel of John – Make Way
- The Gospel of St John – Light of the world
- The Gospel of John – Jesus at Creation
Meeting Jesus personally will change your life forever
John 1:35-51, we read the story of five men who met Jesus at the start of His ministry. All of these men met Him personally and began to follow Jesus. Eventually He called them to be His apostles. But here, they meet Him and He invites them to follow Him as disciples (or learners).
John’s Disciples Follow Jesus
35 The next day John was there again with two of his disciples. 36 When he saw Jesus passing by, he said, “Look, the Lamb of God!”. 37 When the two disciples heard him say this, they followed Jesus. 38 Turning around, Jesus saw them following and asked, “What do you want?” They said, “Rabbi” (which means “Teacher”), “where are you staying?” 39 “Come,” he replied, “and you will see.” So they went and saw where he was staying, and they spent that day with him. It was about four in the afternoon. 40 Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, was one of the two who heard what John had said and who had followed Jesus. 41 The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon and tell him, “We have found the Messiah” (that is, the Christ). 42 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).
Jesus Calls Philip and Nathanael
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.”
How do we direct others to follow Jesus?
Something we can all learn from John the Baptist is how to direct others towards Jesus. In particular, he is an example of how to redirect attention from ourselves towards Christ. John the Baptist gained a following as a result of his preaching, but was more than willing for Christ to get the glory, the followers, and the attention. As he sees Jesus walk by, he voluntarily tells two of his own disciples, Andrew and John to follow the Messiah, “The Lamb of God”. Until now, John had been telling people the Messiah is coming, now, He can say “He’s Here!”
In my Introduction post on the Gospel of John I mentioned that “John has the most unique material in his book, 90% of the information is not in the other three Gospels.” Here we come to know that John was present from the very beginning of Jesus’ ministry and the event of Jesus’s life, and is proven by the minute details he offers in his Gospel.
Jesus was direct
Jesus, throughout His ministry, always cut right to the most important questions. Verse 38 here is no different when He asks John and Andrew “What do you want?” Why you seek Jesus is as important as to what you find. In verse 38, they refer to Jesus as Rabbi, which John defines as Teacher, a sure sign of respect. They do not hesitate to ask if they may have a chance to meet with Him, and Jesus’ response is gracious as He meets with them immediately.
In Andrew joy of being with the Messiah, he immediately finds brother, Simon (who Jesus later renames Peter) and brings him to Jesus. Imagine being there, with the Messiah, in the flesh – would you be able to contain your excitement?
Next, Jesus recruits Philip and Nathanael. Philip seems eager to follow Jesus. Nathanael, on the other hand is skeptical, but when Jesus demonstrates His supernatural wisdom by knowing exactly who Nathanael is; Nathanael proclaims Him as the “Son of God” and “The King of Israel.” Jesus responds by predicting even more spectacular signs, and refers to Himself using the term “Son of Man,” an important figure in Jewish prophecy.
The final verse, When Jesus says, “you will see heaven open,” the word is plural. In other words, all will see the miraculous works Jesus will perform under the command of His Father.
Jesus refers to Himself here as the “Son of Man”, which, for the Jewish people, is very important because it refers to a major prophecy of the Messiah. When they heard this phrase, they know it referred to the Saviour and King of Israel.
Each of these five men had different personalities and gifts. The Lord would use each of them in different ways. Peter and John were more well-known than the others and both men would write inspired Scripture. Peter was changed from impulsive to a man who is a solid, faithful leader in the early church. John, became the apostle of love. Andrew is always listed fourth in the lists of apostles. He was content not to be first or to preach to large crowds. But in John’s Gospel, he is always bringing someone to Jesus.
Philip was a faithful servant of Christ. We know almost nothing else about Nathanael.
But each of these men met Jesus and He changed their lives drastically for time and eternity.