The following write-ups are “homework” from a new Timothy Group which began in early December 2016.The bible passage for this week is John 1:35-42, which continues to explore the Great Commission and Jesus’ strategy for restoring the Kingdom of God. Throughout this series I will be using the New Living Translation version of the bible.
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.
John was continuing his ministry of teaching and making disciples when Jesus crossed paths. On seeing and recognising Jesus, John proclaimed Jesus as the sacrificial Saviour and Messiah. The disciples of John, on hearing this revelation and joining the dots between John’s teachings and realising who Jesus was and how it all made sense, then concluded that the next step of faith for them was to follow Jesus. When Jesus realised they had started following him, he asked them for their view on what His discipleship would achieve.
The disciples responded by asking Jesus where He was heading and planning to stay that evening. Instead of directly responding, Jesus simply directed them to join Him in the journey. Given it was already later in the day, they accompanied Jesus. Just before they departed their hometown area, Andrew first went to get his brother Simon Peter to join them in this new adventure.
What is God Showing Me?
One of the stand-out points from reading this passage, which my paraphrasing reflects, is that John’s ministry and teaching clearly prepared Andrew and all his disciples that the Lamb of God/Messiah was coming. In this way, when Jesus came along, it was, in my opinion, very natural and indeed expected that all of John’s disciples would adopt a similar reaction to the two mentioned in this passage. Some interpretations could view it in the opposite way – that John lost His disciples, but I make the case, based on what I think is a revelation from God, that John’s ministry prepared all his followers for the coming of Christ.
For John’s disciples, present in this passage, they were eye witnesses to a literal revelation where John physically identified Jesus. This was a highly unique experience never to be repeated. Since His first coming, and during this season where we have the Holy Spirit instead of the physical presence of Jesus here on earth, the revelation and identification that this person is Christ is not possible. Instead, we have a spiritual equivalence where we can know and see God in a spiritual sense; the Holy Spirit can unveil our eyes to recognise and see God at work through His people and non-physical manifestations.
John was a bridge for the Jews of the early first century, teaching them and preparing them for Jesus, culminating with this passage encounter with Christ. With Christ having come and served his ministry, the modern day equivalent to John and his teachings are the Gospels and New Testament. When we read the Bible God via the Holy Spirit can unveil our eyes to see Jesus working in our lives.
Andrew’s reaction in first sharing the good news with his brother is a great lesson and instruction. Upon hearing and learning that Jesus is the Messiah, he is compelled to quickly find his brother Simon Peter, arguably the person he is closest to, to let Simon know the news. When we encounter God and have that moment of revelation, we should be energised and excited to share the good news.
How is the Message being Communicated?
Let us first clarify – the message is that Jesus is the Messiah. Literally, the statement from John is “Look, the Lamb of God!”
The answer can be simplified to “orally and audibly”, but there is so much more going on in this interaction. John’s ministry in baptising people and preparing them for the coming Christ. As a role model for today’s modern world, John was the proto-evangelist. He taught and pointed people to God and to the coming Messiah. As per this passage, where he encountered Christ, the Lamb of God, he stepped aside from the limelight so that the focus would shift, rightly so, to Jesus and His ministry.
John’s message differed slightly to Jesus’ in that his was to prepare people for Jesus. With Jesus arriving on the scene, the need to prepare for Jesus shifts. We can directly encounter Jesus and hear His voice and message. John did not just preach and teach, his whole life was a testimony to God, espousing humility yet confidence in his identity and role within the Kingdom of God. His message was simple and direct: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near” (Matthew 3:2). He knew that once Jesus appeared on the scene, John’s work would be all but finished. He willingly gave up the spotlight to Jesus saying, “He must become greater; I must become less (John 3:30). Perhaps there is no greater example of humility than the one demonstrated by both Jesus and John in Matthew 3:13-15 where Jesus came from Galilee to be baptised by John in the river Jordan.
Andrew’s response is timely to John’s message “Look, the Lamb of God!” and the action of following Jesus. He first goes and shares the news with his brother. Simon Peer would go on to become the leader of the disciples, the rock on which Jesus would build His church. No doubt, Simon Peter would have indirectly, if not directly been a disciple of John to begin with.