4 January 2013

John 1:35-42

"We have found the Messiah." (v. 41)


John the Baptist has been preaching to the people and pointing them to Jesus as the Lamb of God, the Spirit-baptizer and the Son of God. As he repeats his message again the next day, his words begin to take visible effect: two of his disciples begin to follow Jesus instead. This event would not have caused John to become despondent, but, on the contrary, it would have gladdened his heart, because it was always his wish that he should "decrease" and Jesus "increase" in importance (John 3:30).

This story shows that Jesus had disciples while John was still active in ministry and before he began to call men to abandon all to follow him. We only know the name of one of those two disciples who first followed Jesus, Andrew, a fisherman from Bethsaida, who later became one of the twelve Apostles. Having spent a day with Jesus he is convinced that Jesus really is the Messiah many Jews had been waiting for, and immediately he tells his brother Simon and brings him to Jesus also. The good news was too good to keep to himself.

Jesus looks at Simon and immediately sees his potential. He gives him a new name to match his character and calling: Cephas (the Aramaic word for 'rock', 'Peter' in Greek), because he will be the "rock" on whom, with others, Jesus will build his church (see Matthew 16:18; Ephesians 2:20). Peter did not always turn out to be as stable a disciple as Jesus hoped (Mark 8:31-34; 14:66-72), but on the day of Pentecost and thereafter Jesus' discernment was proved right after all: Peter's preaching brought 3,000 to Christ (Acts 2:41) and his leadership gave the early Church in Jerusalem a firm foundation.

To Ponder

  • How do you react when others who are more gifted than you are cause you to be put in the shade?
  • How eager are you to tell others of Jesus and bring them to him?
  • What role has Jesus given to you in the life of his Church? How well are you fulfilling it?

Bible notes author

The Revd Peter Ensor

Peter Ensor is a Methodist minister who teaches New Testament, biblical languages, and Early Church history at Cliff College, Derbyshire. He has also worked as a theological educator in Kenya, Cameroon and Ethiopia, and has served in three english circuits, latterly as superintendent of the Hazel Grove and Poynton Circuit in the Manchester District.