26 June 2014

John 1:35-51

“What are you looking for?” (v. 38)


"What are you looking for?" lies at the heart of the gospel message. As Jesus began to gather a band of followers around him he was interested to know how they saw him. While that is interesting it is not the most important element in this story, what Simon Peter, Andrew, Nathaniel and Philip do not realise was that Jesus was looking for them! These men were eager and excited; they had identified Jesus as the one for whom John was preparing the way, but they actually had no idea who he really was and what following him would involve. This doesn't actually matter because Jesus is looking for them and he gives them a new vocation, as followers.

In the other Gospel accounts we discover more about Simon Peter and Andrew, but only John's Gospel writer tells us something about Nathanael. When he first met Jesus Nathanael was looking for a thrilling experience. He was ready to be excited by what Jesus did and to treat him as some kind of a magician. The exchange between Jesus and Nathanael did not go well for him and we don't know what he said in response to the put down he got from Jesus (verses 50-51). We don't know if he ever came to understand Jesus' reference to himself as the ladder of the angels (verse 51). Why didn't Jesus send him away? Surely it can only be because before Nathanael came to Jesus and before Nathanael had said anything to him, Jesus had decided he wanted him to be a disciple. Even Nathanael can be a follower of Jesus.

This story is a great encouragement for all of us who come to Jesus after Nathanael. If Nathanael can be chosen by Jesus as one of his closest followers, so can we. What is of prime importance is that Jesus is calling us to follow in spite of what we do and say!

To Ponder

  • What do you think Jesus saw in Nathanael? What do you see of yourself in Nathanael?
  • Which of the disciples do you feel is most like you? Why?

Bible notes author

The Revd Diane Clutterbuck

Diane is an ordained presbyter in the Methodist Church. She works as as a coach, supervisor and trainer mainly in the public and voluntary sectors with people and organisations who are committed to growth and development.