Study 2 WITH HIS FIRST FOLLOWERS IN GALILEE
OUR LORD’S INTERVIEWS
by Francis Dixon
(Scripture Portion: John 1:35-51)
In Mark 3:13-19 we read of the occasion when Jesus called His disciples, and Mark tells us the names of these men who were to be with Him for His three years of public ministry. In John 1:35-51 we read of how six of the Lord’s first followers came to Him – Andrew (v.35-40); John (it is generally assumed that John, the writer of this Gospel, was the second disciple mentioned in v.35), Peter (v.41-42), James (it is also generally assumed from v.41 that as Andrew found his own brother, John also found his brother, namely James), Philip (v.43-44), and Nathanael (v.45). Each of these men had a vital, personal interview with the Lord and as a result they became His friends and disciples throughout His public ministry. Note carefully the following lessons:-
1. Christian experience begins when we recognise Jesus as the Lamb of God.
Verses 35-36: the supreme fact about the Lord Jesus is that He is the Lamb of God; that is, He is the Sin-bearer, the One who came into the world to bear our sins away in His body on the Cross – compare Isaiah 53:5-6; 2 Corinthians 5:21; 1 Peter 2:24. Then John the Baptist cried out (John 1:29; 1:36), thus identifying the Lord Jesus as the One foretold in type and prophecy as the true Messiah who would come to put away the sins of His people. Look up and compare Revelation 13:8 with Exodus 12:13; John 19:36; 1 Corinthians 5:7; 1 Peter 1:19. Christian experience begins at the Cross.
2. A Christian is someone who enters into a personal relationship with the Lord.
Verses 38-39: these two disciples recognised that Jesus was the Lamb of God, the promised Messiah, and now they wanted to meet Him and get to know Him (v.38)! To their great joy Jesus replied (v.39). How significant the words are – “so they went and saw…”, and evidently they spent a number of hours in His presence! Why does John tell us about the length of time he and Andrew spent with Him? Surely the reason is that that interview changed their lives. A personal interview with the Lord Jesus will result in a complete transformation of the life every time. It is not enough to know about Him or even to believe that He is the Lamb of God who died for you; that is very wonderful, but you must come, as these two disciples did, because a Christian is someone who not only believes about Him but who knows Him personally. Look up and compare John 17:3 with 2 Timothy 1:12. Do you know Him?
3. The simplest description of those whom God calls and who know Him is that they are His followers.
Verses 37,38,43: to be a follower implies at least five things:-
- 1. It means going after Him – that is, going wherever He leads.
- 2. It means keeping close to Him. You cannot really follow at a distance (Luke 22:54)!
- 3. It means leaving some things behind (Luke 18:28).
- 4. It means being like the Lord and doing what He would do (1 Peter 2:21).
- 5. It involves an open confession. We cannot follow secretly!
4. The Lord calls all kinds of people to serve and to follow Him.
One commentator says that Andrew is the cautious one; John is the poet; Simon is straightforward; Philip is the shy one; (James he does not describe); and Nathanael is the ingenuous one. How wonderful God’s grace is! We are all so different, yet the Lord loves us and has a place for us all in His service. Different types of people are found in every church – different temperamentally, socially or racially – yet they are all made “one” (Galatians 3:28).
5. The Lord has a plan for the life and service of each of His followers.
Verses 40-42: How revealing these words are! – “Jesus looked at him”. Yes, He knew how impetuous Peter was and what a deep work of grace would be needed in his life. Jesus said to him, “You are…you will be…” Knowing all that Peter was, He prophesied what He was going to make of him (Matthew 16:18). Have you asked Jesus about His plan for your life?
6. It is the Lord’s plan that all His followers should be missionaries.
Verses 41 and 42: we read of Andrew finding Peter and bringing him to Jesus. In verse 43 Jesus found Philip, and in verse 45 Philip found Nathanael, and as we read on through the Gospel and into the Book of Acts we see that this is how the Church grew. Each one reached one! A missionary is not someone who is in a profession, but someone who has a passion. How many missionaries do you have in your church? Be careful how you answer, because every member is a missionary – or should be.
7. Two examples are given of the kind of missionary testimony that the Lord’s followers should give.
First we have Andrew’s testimony in verse 41; and then Philip’s in verse 45. Notice: (1) their earnestness. How determined they were to bring loved-ones and friends to Jesus! (2) the simplicity of their testimony. (3) how clearly they spoke. (4) how close to scripture their testimony was (verses 41,45). Notice their refusal to argue (verse 46)!
All this happened 2,000 years ago when Jesus began His public ministry, yet it is still happening today. From the Throne above, where our Lord Jesus is exalted, He is calling men and women to Himself and sending them out as His missionaries. Are you one of these?