Again the next day after John stood and two of his disciples; and looking upon Jesus as he walked he saith, “Behold the Lamb of God !”. And the two disciples heard him speak [ie John the Baptist speak] and they followed him [ie they followed Jesus].
The rest of John the Evangelist’s account outlined in chapter 1 of his Gospel is devoted to the calling of the first disciples of Jesus.
It is highly instructive as to how people come to be disciples of Christ.
In the passage quoted above we see the first two disciples coming to Christ. In their case they are pointed to Jesus by the prophet or minister of God, John the Baptist. Because they believe in what John says, having been followers of John, they go to Jesus.
Two critical matters to consider. Firstly these two men had responded to John’s message of repentance and had been baptised. They had taken seriously John’s message to turn away from being disobedient to God and become obedient. They showed that sincerity of change of heart to themselves and to others by being baptized. There was real repentance toward God and there was outward evidence of repentance to God but they had not yet come to Christ.
Now they did. But it was because of the spiritual revelation to John the Baptist which he faithfully passed on to them. Their own revelation came very soon after they started following Jesus and actually speaking with him. As John the Evangelist records here, Andrew tell his brother Simon Peter that they have met the Messiah, the Anointed One of God whom the Jews were awaiting.
And Peter responding with faith in his brother’s report himself comes to Christ and is immediately given spiritual revelation as to his intended role for Christ. Thou shalt be called Cephas.
These are each examples of a person receiving revelation about Jesus being the Son of God via another person who has had the revelation direct from God.
That is the case for many today.
But there are time when Jesus seeks someone out directly, as he does in these final verses of chapter one where John the Evangelist records these words:
The day following Jesus would go forth into Galilee and findeth Philip and saith unto him, Follow me ! Now Philip was of Bethsaida the city of Andrew and Peter.
Jesus goes to Philip himself and calls him to be his disciple. He gives the revelation direct, not via someone else in this instance. But why does he go ? Presumably he was known to Andrew and Peter being of the same city, and presumably Andrew and Peter had spoken of Philip to Jesus.
Those who had had the revelation of Christ themselves, then intervened for another with Jesus. They prayed ! And in response to such intervention or intercession, Jesus himself went and called Philip directly not concerning himself to engage another on his behalf this time.
After that, we see the previous pattern of a witness who has had the revelation of Christ as the Messiah – the Anointed Saviour sent from God to save his people – going to another and telling him, and by telling another with the words of personal belief and experience, yet another comes to Christ.
Philip findeth Nathanael and saith unto him, We have found him of whom Moses in the law, and the prophets did write Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.
Now we know from the following verses that Nathanael has questions and is not entirely convinced. But he has enough curiosity to go and see Jesus to check it out for himself. And in doing that he meets Jesus and it is Jesus who answers the doubt by supernatural revelation of something which evidently only Philip knew.
And it is that revelation of something only Nathanael could know humanly, that prompts the confession out of Nathanael’s mouth, a confession which springs from the depths of his being.
Rabbi thou art the Son of God; thou art the King of Israel !
And in response to this heartfelt confession, Jesus goes on to give yet further revelation.
Thou shalt see greater things than these.
Notice then the characteristic marks of conversion to Christ:
- personal witness and
- personal revelation and
- personal response in
- inner belief, and in
- repentance, and in
- action, and in
- spontaneous confession and in
- water baptism
It is worth noting, too, that when God or his servant speaks, we human beings just know it
Nothing has changed …