Jesus’ First Disciples
AFTER 40 days in the wilderness, Jesus returns to John, who had baptized him. As he approaches, John apparently points to him and exclaims to those present: “See, the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world! This is the one about whom I said, Behind me there comes a man who has advanced in front of me, because he existed before me.” Although John is older than his cousin Jesus, John knows that Jesus existed before him as a spirit person in heaven.
Yet, a few weeks earlier, when Jesus came to be baptized, John apparently did not know with certainty that Jesus was to be the Messiah. “Even I did not know him,” John acknowledges, “but the reason why I came baptizing in water was that he might be made manifest to Israel.”
John goes on to explain to his listeners what happened when he baptized Jesus: “I viewed the spirit coming down as a dove out of heaven, and it remained upon him. Even I did not know him, but the very One who sent me to baptize in water said to me, ‘Whoever it is upon whom you see the spirit coming down and remaining, this is the one that baptizes in holy spirit.’ And I have seen it, and I have borne witness that this one is the Son of God.”
The next day John is standing with two of his disciples. Again, as Jesus approaches, he says: “See, the Lamb of God!” At this, these two disciples of John the Baptizer follow Jesus. One of them is Andrew, and the other is evidently the very person who recorded these things, who was also named John. This John, according to indications, is also a cousin of Jesus, apparently being a son of Mary’s sister, Salome.
Turning and seeing Andrew and John following him, Jesus asks: “What are you looking for?”
“Rabbi,” they ask, “where are you staying?”
“Come, and you will see,” Jesus answers.
It is about four o’clock in the afternoon, and Andrew and John stay with Jesus the rest of that day. Afterward Andrew is so excited that he hurries to find his brother, who is called Peter. “We have found the Messiah,” he tells him. And he takes Peter to Jesus. Perhaps John at the same time finds his brother James and brings him to Jesus; yet, characteristically, John omits this personal information from his Gospel.
The next day, Jesus finds Philip, who is from Bethsaida, the same city Andrew and Peter were originally from. He invites him: “Be my follower.”
Philip then finds Nathanael, who is also called Bartholomew, and says: “We have found the one of whom Moses, in the Law, and the Prophets wrote, Jesus, the son of Joseph, from Nazareth.” Nathanael is doubtful. “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” he asks.
“Come and see,” Philip urges. When they are coming toward Jesus, Jesus says about Nathanael: “See, an Israelite for a certainty, in whom there is no deceit.”
“How does it come that you know me?” Nathanael asks.
“Before Philip called you, while you were under the fig tree, I saw you,” Jesus answers.
Nathanael is amazed. “Rabbi [meaning Teacher], you are the Son of God, you are King of Israel,” he says.
“Because I told you I saw you underneath the fig tree do you believe?” Jesus asks. “You will see things greater than these.” Then he promises: “Most truly I say to you men, You will see heaven opened up and the angels of God ascending and descending to the Son of man.”
Very soon after this, Jesus, along with his newly acquired disciples, leaves the Jordan Valley and travels to Galilee. John 1:29-51.
▪ Who are the first disciples of Jesus?
▪ How is Peter, as well as perhaps James, introduced to Jesus?
▪ What convinces Nathanael that Jesus is the Son of God?