Today’s message is John 1:35-51. Here we see Jesus starting to call his disciples. I think just from the beginning I must say this, the account of how the first disciples were called differs from Matthew to John. I know that Matthew, Mark, John and Luke, all had different purposes of writing their gospels and based on that purpose, they chose to write about the events during Jesus’s time that will highlight their point. This will obviously lead to different details or events being used by either of them.
Even with that, the difference between Matthew 4:18-22, Mark 1:16-20, Luke 5:1-11 and John 1:35-42 are extremely confusing. Most people say that they even contradict. Now , I can accept that they are confusing but I refuse to accept that they are contradicting. Simply because the bible was written by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit and the Holy Spirit cannot contradict itself. The fact that we don’t understand or we find these passages confusing, does not mean that these writers also are confused. Some things we may never understand while we are still alive. We have to learn to live with it. All I can say about this is that, Jesus first met Andrew and Peter at Bethany in Judea and stayed with them for a while. Jesus again met them in Galilee at the sea where Simon and Andrew were catching fish and that is when he did the miracle of them catching a lot of fish and then asking them to leave the nets and follow him. At this very sea, he also met John and James, the sons of Zebedee whom he also called to follow him. This is how it makes sense to me. Luke tells us that when Jesus saw Simon’s boat, he went into it and asked Peter to move it a little from the land. If Peter did not know Jesus already, why would he just agree to move his boat.
Anyway, let’s get back to today’s passage. We find John the Baptist and his two disciples still at Bethany in Judea.
John 1:35-51 (ESVST)
35 The next day again John was standing with two of his disciples, 36 and he looked at Jesus as he walked by and said, “ Behold, the Lamb of God!” 37 The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus.
As John looked up, he saw Jesus and he said, behold the lamb of God. The two disciplines that were with John, on hearing what John said, they followed Jesus. Now remember at this stage Jesus did not call them, they decided to follow him.
38 Jesus turned and saw them following and said to them, “ What are you seeking?” And they said to him, “ Rabbi” (which means Teacher), “ where are you staying?” 39 He said to them, “ Come and you will see.” So they came and saw where he was staying, and they stayed with him that day, for it was about the tenth hour.
When Jesus realized that they were following him, he turned and asked them what they are seeking. Instead of answering Jesus, they asked Jesus where does he stay and Jesus told them to come and they will see. I suppose the reason why they did not answer Jesus directly was they wanted to stay with him but did not know how to ask. The bible does say that it was the tenth hour, about 4pm and it was obviously getting dark. So, when Jesus told them to come and they will see, they ceased the opportunity and they went with him and after seeing, they decided to stay with as they initially wanted anyway.
40 One of the two who heard John speak and followed Jesus was Andrew, Simon Peter ‘s brother. 41 He first found his own brother Simon and said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which means Christ). 42 He brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said, “ You are Simon the son of John. You shall be called Cephas” (which means Peter).
The bible continues to say in verse 42 that one of these two disciples that decided to follow Jesus and stay with him was Andrew the brother of Simon Peter. Andrew went to find his brother Simon Peter and told him that they had found the Messiah which means Christ. Now you must understand that pretty much every Jew, knew who the Messiah was and they were all expecting his coming as promised by the Old Testament. So, when Andrew told him this, it must have shocked him. Andrew brought him to Jesus and Jesus, without been told, told Simon that you are Simon the son of John. Peter must have been double shocked now. First Andrew tells him that he has found the Messaih and now Jesus tell him who he is without knowing him. Jesus then said to him that from now on he shall be called Cephas which means Peter which means Rock.
43 The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. He found Philip and said to him, “ Follow me.” 44 Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. 45 Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found him of whom Moses in the Law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.” 46 Nathanael said to him, “ Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “ Come and see.”
Now here we see Jesus no longer in Judea but now in Galilee. He found Philip and told him to follow him. Unlike Andrew and Peter in Judea who decided to follow Jesus, here Jesus tells Philip to follow him. The bible tells us that Philip comes from the same town as Andrew and Peter which is Bethsaida. Now this place lies on the other side of the Sea of Galilee right next to the sea. Now Philip after he was told to follow Jesus, he went to find Nathaniel and told him that we not I, have found him whom Moses in the law and also the Prophets wrote about. Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph. Now, by we, he could have been referring to Andrew and Peter as well. Now Nathaniel’s response was, can anything good come out of Nazareth. The reason for him saying this was Nazareth seems to have been a very traditional, orthodox town; priests later considered it ritually clean enough to move there. But Nazareth was relatively small and obscure, with about sixteen hundred to two thousand inhabitants. It lay about four miles from the massive city of Sepphoris, which rivaled Tiberias for its urban Greek character in Jewish Galilee. Instead of arguing with him, Philip told him to come and see.
47 Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him and said of him, “ Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no deceit!” 48 Nathanael said to him, “ How do you know me?” Jesus answered him, “ Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.” 49 Nathanael answered him, “ Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!”
Now, Jesus had not met Nathaniel before but when he saw him coming said, behold an Israelite in whom there is not deceit meaning there is no trickery or bad heart. Nathaniel was shocked by this and he asked Jesus how he knew that. Jesus told him that before Philip called him, he saw him sitting under the fig tree. This answer convinced Nathaniel that Jesus is the Son of God and the King of Israel. It might not sound to us like a big deal. I mean so what if he saw him under a fig tree, how does it prove that he is the Son of God. It can only mean that according to Nathaniel, only the Son of God could have known that he was sitting under the fig tree. This means it was not possible for anyone to could have seen that he was sitting under the fig tree from where Jesus was.
50 Jesus answered him, “ Because I said to you, ‘I saw you under the fig tree, ’ do you believe? You will see greater things than these.” 51 And he said to him, “ Truly, truly, I say to you, you will see heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.”
Jesus then said to him, if this is what makes you believe that I am the Son of God then, you have not seen nothing yet. You will see even greater things. Jesus then gives him a taste of what he is yet to see. Jesus tells him that he will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man. Jesus here could have been quoting Gen 28:12
Genesis 28:12 (ESVST)
And he dreamed, and behold, there was a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven. And behold, the angels of God were ascending and descending on it!
It is not clear to me why he could have quoted this but whatever the reason, Jesus was saying to Nathaniel that this is the kind of things you will see.
And this brings us to the end of John Chapter 1! Yipiiiiiiiiii!
Father, thank you for sharing your word with us. Please gives us the wisdom to understand your word so that our faith might be enriched. In Jesus name, amen.