5. The First Disciples

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Can you imagine what it was like to be the first disciples of Jesus? If I were them I’d probably be thinking, “I must be nuts!” Yeah, Jesus was the Messiah but how could they be sure? We have testimony about the his death and resurrection to go on but they didn’t. Sure, he could do miracles but what if they turned out to be elaborate magic tricks? I give them a lot of credit for believing in Jesus at this stage of the game. Let’s read about the calling of the first few disciples:

The next day John was there again with two of his disciples. When he saw Jesus passing by, he said, “Look, the Lamb of God!”

When the two disciples heard him say this, they followed Jesus. Turning around, Jesus saw them following and asked, “What do you want?”

They said, “Rabbi” (which means “Teacher”), “where are you staying?”

“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.

Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, was one of the two who heard what John had said and who had followed Jesus. 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 1:35-42).

It’s a shorter passage today but I think there is so much we can learn even from the first sentence so don’t get too comfy! Lol.

First, let’s discuss, “The next day John was there again with two of his disciples.” One of the greatest perils of reading the Bible is reading it out of context. It is important to read and interpret Scripture in light of other Scripture, especially that which immediately precedes or follows a passage. The day before this passage occurs we find John the Baptizer doing what he does best, telling others about Jesus. It just so happens that John was with some people (we don’t know if they were disciples or just crowds standing by because it doesn’t say) and he sees Jesus walking by and he says, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! This is the one I meant when I said, ‘A man who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’ I myself did not know him, but the reason I came baptizing with water was that he might be revealed to Israel,” (John 1:29-31). That brings us to our passage; it is the day after John makes these statements about Jesus. And guess what- our friend John the Baptizer is at it again. He is with two of his disciples, sees Jesus walking by and he says, “Look, the Lamb of God!” (getting deja vu?) I think this is where we can learn our first lesson. John repeated his message to anyone and everyone who would listen. I don’t know if John ever got tired of his job of constantly telling people about Jesus, but if he did he never let it stop him. If I am being completely honest here, I will tell you that after I do tell someone about Jesus (which isn’t hardly often enough) I feel like God should give me a break because I just worked so hard. Or, I get so proud of myself over that one instance that I focus on what I did instead of to keep doing it. No, I’m not perfect. Shocking, I’m sure. John was at it day after day after day after day and we should too. Are you still working on the challenge I gave you to write your Jesus story? I didn’t forget! The best way for us to tell others about God is to tell about what God did for us. It’s your story, no one can say it didn’t happen because you were there! It’s your story. I am praying for you all as you begin to write it down. Your story is powerful so get busy!

Alright, so John never stops telling his message, right? And what is this message? Well, at least on these two occasions it is the same message, “Look, the Lamb of God.” This brings us to another lesson. John is consistent with his message. If you keep saying the same thing over and over again, eventually someone will get it stuck in someone’s head and hopefully in their heart as well. This time the message stuck with two guys, one we find out later is Andrew and the other is unnamed. After they hear John’s statement about Jesus, they left John and started following Jesus. Here is yet another lesson for us. It’s time we leave the safety of our churches and start following Jesus. Now let me stop for a minute before you quit reading. I don’t literally mean stop going to church. Unfortunately for many of us Church has become for many people a place to go and feel good and safe. We need to stop just going to church and going out into the world to give light to a people walking around in darkness. Do you realize what a sad and lonely place the world is? I would venture to guess that you wouldn’t even need to go far to find these people. They go from day to day just trying to survive and make due. Some are trying to fill a God shaped hole in their life with stuff, others with people, others with their job, others with substance abuse, others with who knows what. In a way, we are helping them get to Hell in a hand basket if we are not at least trying to tell them about the peace, joy, love and forgiveness found in Christ. I think this may be the greatest act of unlove that a Christian can do- helping a dying world die by not caring enough to tell them about Jesus. If it is true that “greater love has no one than this; to lay down one’s life for one’s friends,” then what does that say about someone unwilling to even open their mouth for one’s friends?

Let’s finally move past the first line, shall we? The very next thing we see after John points out Jesus as the Lamb of God is his disciples leaving him and following Jesus. I imagine this next scene to be a bit comical in my own mind- The disciples walking behind Jesus as Jesus keeps walking just ahead of them. Each disciple nudging the other as if to say, “You talk to him.” “No, YOU talk to him first.” Then Jesus, already knowing they are there suddenly turns around and says, “Can I help you?” I don’t know if it happened that way but it gives me a chuckle regardless. Anyway, Jesus turns around and says, “What do you want?” Sounds harsh when it’s written out like that but I don’t think he was being nasty or even cold. He already knew what they wanted, I think he was trying to break the ice. The next line is priceless; I think it shows the nervousness of the disciples and supports my idea of them being afraid to speak to Jesus. Notice they don’t answer his question. I think part of that is because they were caught off guard when Jesus turned around and spoke to them. In short, I think they just said the first thing that came to mind at the time. I also think that they didn’t answer his question directly because they didn’t really know what they wanted from him. They were just compelled to be with him and that was all they knew at the time. And isn’t that the way some of us came to Christ? I was a Christian (in the loosest sense of the term) for as long as I can remember but I certainly didn’t live like one especially when I was younger. Yet, I always went to Church and even taught Sunday School. There was just something about feeling close to Jesus that felt right. I think this may have been what the disciples were experiencing.

Next lesson: When the disciples asked where Jesus was staying, he didn’t tell them, he showed them. He took the time to invite them to go with him. I liken this to telling someone about church. Yeah, that’s dandy and noble but it has been my experience that people don’t usually show up. But if you invite them to meet you at church or, even better, invite them to go to church and then over to your house for lunch or out to coffee or whatever, you have a better chance of making that connection but it requires an investment on your part. Say you invite someone to church and then lunch, even if they turn you down for the church part you still have a connection with them. You still have a chance to be Jesus and to tell them about Jesus.

Yet another lesson: In verse 39, It the original text literally says “in the tenth hour” and not “It was about four in the afternoon.” Why does it matter? Well the Roman day started at midnight like our days but the Jewish day started at 6 am. If John is going by Jewish timekeeping methods, it would indeed be 4:00 pm. But some Bible scholars argue that he could have been using Roman time which would put the hour at 10:00 am. Who cares?! The lesson here is that sometimes Biblical scholars think too much. Moving right along…

Anyhoo, next we learn that Andrew was one of these disciples that left John, the Baptizer and went to follow Jesus. I love what it says about Andrew, “The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon and tell him, “We have found the Messiah.”  And he brought him to Jesus.” Wow! The very first thing he did after he realized Jesus was legit was to go find someone and tell them about it. Do I need to go on here about how we should be excited and share the good news with others? I didn’t think so. I want to get to the next part of Andrew’s actions anyway, “And he brought him to Jesus.” Once again, we see someone taking time to invest in the life of someone else. Jesus invited the disciples to come with him and now Andrew is inviting Simon to come with him. Do you see a successful marketing strategy here? We must begin to invest our time and lives into the lives of others. Whenever I am faced with a decision to invest or not to invest my life for the kingdom of God I raise my hand as if raising a sword and shout, “For the Kingdom!” Go ahead and laugh. My husband and I laugh too but it helps to put things into perspective for me. It helps me to remember why I need to do it and not make excuses for why I shouldn’t. Try it. You’ll at least get a good laugh at your own and my expense.

This next observation of the text took me off guard. I always assumed that when Jesus called his disciples they immediately left everything and followed him. Let’s reread this part about Simon closely:

Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, was one of the two who heard what John had said and who had followed Jesus. 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 1:40-42).

So far Andrew and the unnamed disciple have started following Jesus and Andrew has brought Simon to Jesus. The first recorded thing we have Jesus saying to Simon is a declaration of his current name and then he gives him a nickname. Then Simon’s story ends for a while. The next thing we read in the Bible is about Jesus calling Philip to be his disciple. There is nothing recorded in the Scripture at this time that indicates that Simon decided to follow Jesus that day. In fact it isn’t until later we read in Matthew 4:18-20 that we see Peter leaving his fishing boat behind and following Jesus.

As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.” At once they left their nets and followed him.

Which brings us to another point. Sometimes people need multiple interactions with Jesus before they will follow him. Good grief, I grew up in the church for crying out loud. I had tons of interactions with Jesus before I really started following him. The lesson here is not to get discouraged if you share the good news and the person doesn’t accept Christ right away. With Peter it probably took a few weeks but some people, like myself, take years! You just have to keep praying and interacting with them. Don’t give up on them! Don’t write them off as not worth your time!

The funny thing about this passage of Scripture is that I thought this was going to be a boring study. It seems like a straightforward passage but as I began to really read and study the Word, I discovered so many practical applications for my life. In fact it is one of my favorite studies so far and to think I almost missed it! Next time we will be studying another passage I accidentally skipped over as we go chronologically through the ministry of Jesus, the miracle at the wedding feast in Cana. Don’t forget to keep writing your 2, 10 and 20 minute version of your Jesus story.

The End.

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One response »

  1. Pingback: Fishers of Men | I am Nacho Momma.

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