John 1:35–51—Jesus Calls His First Disciples
35 The following day John was again standing with two of his disciples. 36 As Jesus walked by, John looked at him and declared, “Look! There is the Lamb of God!” 37 When John’s two disciples heard this, they followed Jesus.
38 Jesus looked around and saw them following. “What do you want?” he asked them.
They replied, “Rabbi” (which means “Teacher”), “where are you staying?”
39 “Come and see,” he said. It was about four o’clock in the afternoon when they went with him to the place where he was staying, and they remained with him the rest of the day.
40 Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, was one of these men who heard what John said and then followed Jesus. 41 Andrew went to find his brother, Simon, and told him, “We have found the Messiah” (which means “Christ”).
42 Then Andrew brought Simon to meet Jesus. Looking intently at Simon, Jesus said, “Your name is Simon, son of John—but you will be called Cephas” (which means “Peter”).
43 The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. He found Philip and said to him, “Come, follow me.” 44 Philip was from Bethsaida, Andrew and Peter’s hometown.
45 Philip went to look for Nathanael and told him, “We have found the very person Mosesand the prophets wrote about! His name is Jesus, the son of Joseph from Nazareth.”
46 “Nazareth!” exclaimed Nathanael. “Can anything good come from Nazareth?”
“Come and see for yourself,” Philip replied.
47 As they approached, Jesus said, “Now here is a genuine son of Israel—a man of complete integrity.”
48 “How do you know about me?” Nathanael asked.
Jesus replied, “I could see you under the fig tree before Philip found you.”
49 Then Nathanael exclaimed, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God—the King of Israel!”
50 Jesus asked him, “Do you believe this just because I told you I had seen you under the fig tree? You will see greater things than this.” 51 Then he said, “I tell you the truth, you will all see heaven open and the angels of God going up and down on the Son of Man, the one who is the stairway between heaven and earth.”
Points of Interest
- ‘When John’s two disciples heard this, ‘they followed Jesus’—John’s second announcement also has a more targeted audience. Yesterday, he seems to have made the pronouncement more generally. Today, he tells two particular disciples, ‘You might be interested to know that that guy right there is the Lamb of God.’ It works. They leave John the Baptist and follow after Jesus. Disciple, by the way, means, ‘follower.’ It was the term used for someone who was being trained under a particular teacher; it was rather like, ‘intern’ or ‘apprentice.’ These two are essentially transferring schools to study with a different professor.
- ‘We have found the Messiah (which means “Christ”)’—as I said earlier, the Messiah is God’s Special Agent in the world. Various Old Testament prophets spoke of some servant of God who would come along and fulfill people’s deepest longings or accomplish the impossible or finish the work that God had started. Later readers figured out that all of these different servant prophecies were actually describing the same person, whom they gave the title the Messiah. Christ is just Greek for ‘Messiah.’ Apparently, John’s audience is mostly Greek-speaking; so he translates the Hebrew term for them.
- ‘you will be called Cephas’—Cephas and Peter mean ‘Rock,’ in Aramaic and Greek respectively. Jesus boldly gives Simon a nickname the very first time they meet. In fact, more than that, Jesus predicts a nickname other people will give Simon: ‘People are going to be calling you Rocky.’ Jesus looks at Simon, and he doesn’t just see Simon as he is now; he sees clearly into Simon’s future.
- ‘Can anything good come from Nazareth?’—as far as we know, Nazareth is a perfectly respectable, but small and unimportant, town (IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament)
- ‘and the angels of God going up and down on the Son of Man, the one who is the stairway’—from now on, there will be frequent traffic between heaven and earth. ‘Son of Man,’ by the way will become a favorite title Jesus has for himself. It’s a bit like John the Baptist calling himself ‘a voice in the wilderness,’ unassuming and at the same time full of prophetic import. What could be more plain than calling yourself ‘just some guy’s son’? And yet, it also evokes a famous picture of the Messiah:
- As my vision continued that night, I saw someone like a son of man coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient One and was led into his presence. He was given authority, honor, and sovereignty over all the nations of the world, so that people of every race and nation and language would obey him. His rule is eternal—it will never end. His kingdom will never be destroyed. (Daniel 7:13-14)
Taking It Home
- For you: The disciples followed Jesus because he was what they had been looking for. Jesus called them to “come and see,” thus extending an invitation for them to experience him for themselves first hand. As we start the Leap of Faith, take some time to think about how you would like to experience Jesus. Write down a few of those ways and spend a couple minutes talking to Jesus about what you want to experience with him.
FF Family/Household Option: Share with your family (or friends) what you’re looking for from Jesus. Pray together that you would each experience Jesus firsthand for yourself.
- For your 6: Each time a disciple meets Jesus, the first thing they do is tell their friends about what just happened. It seems natural to share the good things going on in our lives. Perhaps that is one of the reasons why we post things on Facebook, and why we ‘like’ other peoples’ posts. First of all, pray that God would do good things for your 6, so much so that they would want to share about it. Secondly, ask God for a chance to share genuinely with each of your 6 something good God has done for you recently.
- For our church: Don’t you love how instantly and intimately Jesus knows his disciples? He gives them new names and knows exactly where they were before they met. Ask God to make our church a place where people feel instantly and intimately known—both by God himself and by other people.