30 November 2023

John 1:35-42

One of the two who heard John speak and followed him was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. He first found his brother Simon and said to him, ‘We have found the Messiah’. (vs 40-41)

Psalm 27


Today we take a break from Daniel to mark the saint's day for Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. Here, John’s gospel has an account of the calling of the first disciples that is quite different from the account in the synoptic gospels (those of Matthew, Mark and Luke), where Jesus calls Andrew and Simon from their fishing. In particular we start with Andrew and another (traditionally thought to be John the author of this gospel) who are already disciples of John the Baptist.

Here, John the Baptist points the two of them at Jesus, describing Jesus with the title 'the Lamb of God'. That title is only used twice, here and in the earlier verse 29 (also by John the Baptist). We don’t know for certain why John used this title and what he meant by it. There are a number of possibilities: he might have been referring to the lamb in Isaiah 53:7 or quite similarly in Jeremiah 11:19 or to the lambs of sacrifice such as in Genesis 22:8 (a lamb is sacrificed instead of Isaac) or to the lambs sacrificed at Passover. Later we see this image in Revelation starting with 5:6.

When Jesus sees these two disciples following him he invites them to come and see where he is staying (and by doing so to see who he is and begin a relationship with him). 

Compared to the account in the synoptic gospels, we see another significant difference, Andrew says to his brother Simon “We have found the Messiah." (v. 41) By contrast in Mark’s Gospel that realisation doesn’t happen until chapter 8 and is used as a significant 'hinge point' that changes the direction of the whole gospel from learning who Jesus is towards his death on the cross.

John's Gospel starts with a much clearer statement of who Jesus is and therefore moves quickly from the prologue to the start of Jesus’ active ministry. By using the name 'Lamb of God' he also sets the tone for a Messiah who is going to be very different to the one expected by many (one who would defeat the Romans and restore Israel).


To Ponder:

  • There are many titles used for Jesus. How do you find this rare one: 'The Lamb of God'? How well does it fit with your faith as a disciple? Why?
  • How do you feel about scripture when there are differences between different passages (such as here, with the differences between John's Gospel and the other gospels)? Do the differences help you go deeper or do they trouble you? How do you respond when people say the Bible can’t be trusted because of these differences?


Bible notes author

The Revd Dave Warnock

Dave Warnock is a Methodist minister in Wythenshawe, Manchester. He is passionate about lots of things (including Scripture, discipleship, gender/sexual equality, pacifism, sailing and cycling) and loves being part of the Methodist people.

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