30 November 2015

John 1:35-42

“Look, here is the Lamb of God!” (v. 36)

Psalm: Psalm 27


As today is St Andrew's day, we focus the account of his call to be a disciple in John's Gospel. Andrew and another unnamed disciple of John the Baptist respond to the declaration by the Baptist that Jesus is the Lamb of God. This follows on from his earlier statement in John 1:29. Verse 37 says that the two men followed Jesus. In John's Gospel, 'follow' can be understood in two ways - the simple physical action of following after someone and the deeper sense of following as a disciple. Perhaps John's Gospel is hinting here the two men's first steps on the road of discipleship.

Written for a Gentile (non Jewish) audience, John's Gospel defines its terms beginning with the address "Rabbi" (v. 38). By the time the Gospel was written a rabbi was a religious teacher who had undertaken training and accreditation, but at the time of Jesus it was a term of respect meaning 'my great one'. Thus it could be applied to Jesus even though he had not had formal rabbinical training. Andrew and his companion stayed with Jesus from four o'clock onwards, probably late into the evening, and we can imagine them deep in conversation. We are not told what they said to each other, but clearly Andrew was convinced that what the Baptist had said about Jesus was true. It was probably the next morning when Andrew "first found his brother Simon" (v. 41).

Andrew is best remembered for bringing Simon to Jesus (verse 42). Simon is given a new name by Jesus, Cephas, which John's Gospel obligingly translates as Peter, or Petros, the Greek word for 'Rock'. As we read the Gospels, we see Peter as anything but rocklike, but John's Gospel probably means readers to understand that even at this early stage in the narrative, Jesus saw that potential in him. Andrew's important role is over. He remains as a 'foot-soldier' amongst the disciples, but appears twice later in a similar role. It is Andrew who brings to Jesus a boy with his picnic lunch at the feeding of the five thousand (John 6:8-9) and some enquiring Greeks after Jesus has entered Jerusalem in triumph (John 12:22).

He brings people to Jesus, who does the rest.

To Ponder

  • Did someone close to you introduce you to Jesus? How can you do this for someone else?
  • Andrew is designated a saint by the Church. How do you understand sainthood? 

Bible notes author

The Revd Richard Bielby

Richard is a supernumerary Methodist presbyter in Stockton on Tees. He is a part-time prison chaplain and also serves as a voluntary chaplain at Durham Cathedral.