Scripture: The next day again John was standing with two of his disciples, and he looked at Jesus as he walked by and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God!” The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus. Jesus turned and saw them following and said to them, “What are you seeking?” And they said to him, “Rabbi” (which means Teacher), “where are you staying?” He said to them, “Come and you will see.” So they came and saw where he was staying, and they stayed with him that day, for it was about the tenth hour. One of the two who heard John speak and followed Jesus was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. He first found his own brother Simon and said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which means Christ). He brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said, “You are Simon the son of John. You shall be called Cephas” (which means Peter). John 1:35-42 ESV
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Observation: Recapping Yesterday’s Daily Focus, the Baptist sees Jesus approaching and announces to his disciples to behold “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world” (v.29). And John reiterates (from their conversation the day before) that this is the one who is superior to him. Indeed, John explains that he has been baptizing with water to reveal Christ (i.e., to prepare repentant Israelites to look beyond cultural expectations and perceive that Jesus is the Messiah, the one they should follow). Then, to remove any doubt, John adds that the Holy Spirit descended on Jesus from heaven and indwelled him. And he further explains that God foretold him of this supernatural anointing. Lastly, to ensure no misunderstanding of the Lamb of God’s identity, John tells his disciples that he is an eyewitness to Jesus being the Son of God.
Today’s devotion continues with the third day of Jesus’ ministry when he calls his first disciples. Standing with two disciples, the Baptist spots Jesus and reemphasizes that he is the Lamb of God. Picking up on the importance of Jesus’ relationship to God and his ministry, the two (one unnamed and the other Andrew, the brother of Peter) part company with the Baptist and pursue Jesus. Jesus turns and greets them with a question: “What are you seeking?” Perhaps anxious, they miss the deeper meaning of the question and respectfully address Jesus as Rabbi and then ask where he is staying. Jesus graciously responds to the level of their receptivity and invites them to come and see. So they follow Jesus and stay with him the remainder of the day, for it was late afternoon (tenth hours = 5 PM).
In scene two, unstated of the time passed, John tells us that Andrew, excited about what he has heard and seen, parts company and searches for his brother. When they meet, Andrew tells Simon that they have found the Messiah. So he brings Simon to Jesus and introduces him. Jesus again moves quickly to the matters of the heart, addresses Simon through his father’s name, and announces that he will call Simon “Cephas,” which translates to “Peter” in Greek.
Takeaway: Jesus’ query to Andrew and the other disciple asks more than they perceived. Like the surface question posed to the paralytic at Bethesda (“Do you want to be healed?”; see 5:6), Jesus probes to reveal what they truly desire. Are they curiosity seekers, or do they genuinely want to know the person called the Lamb of God? Being gracious to their prevarication, Jesus invites them to “come… and see,” i.e., to spend time with him. And apparently, they discover much more than they imagined regarding Jesus’ identity and mission. Excited, Andrew seeks and tells his brother they have found the Messiah and brings Simon to Jesus. But this time, the Rabbi responds not with a question but with a declaration regarding Simon’s new identity: he shall be called Peter (“rock” in Greek), and on this rock, Jesus will build his church (Matthew 16:18). Click here to read the Daily Focus that addresses the broader implications of renaming Peter concerning establishing the church.
Our takeaway? Jesus accepted each of these aspiring disciples as they were: naive, eager, and marred by sin. But he had so much more in mind for them: new and transformative identities as his followers. Still, at this point, Jesus asked no more of them than to get to know him. And he does the same for us. We come as we are. In this post-resurrection era, our conversion is instantaneous, but like Andrew and Peter, the transformation comes with the journey and requires trust, patience, and perseverance. And like Andrew and Peter, once indwelled and empowered by the Holy Spirit, he will strengthen, guide, and reroute us (when necessary) on this earthly journey of getting to know the Father and Son and who we are as his disciples. Indeed, the intimate knowledge we gain leads to eternal life with our Beloved (John 17:3). Moreover, when we enter his heavenly kingdom, our Rabbi will privately disclose to each of us our new names, written on white stones that represent purity and permanency (Revelation 2:17). Glorious!
Prayer: Father God, we thank you for your Son, who invites us to follow him, and for your Holy Spirit, who keeps us on track. Still, like Andrew and Peter, we bring baggage to the journey. So would you please help us to quiet our minds and spirits so that we might offload our agendas and be quick to listen to him and deepen our understanding of you and your Son and who we are (your beloved children) as we travel onward and upward? Amen.
Rev. Gordon Green, M.Div., M.A. Counseling