Jesus Calls His First Disciples:
Verses 35-37: "The next day again John was standing with two of his disciples, 36and he looked at Jesus as he walked by and said, "Behold, the Lamb of God!"
In the synoptics (Luke 1:36) we are told that that Mary and Elizabeth were cousins, so Jesus and John the Baptist would have been cousins, but apparently were not acquainted.
The people acknowledged that John the Baptist was a prophet. They loved, trusted, and followed him throughout the region, as he baptized, preached, and told them of the soon coming Messiah.
His entire life had been absorbed in preparing the way for the Messiah, and now he says, "Behold, the Lamb of God." or "There He is, I have identified him."
It was God’s plan for Jesus to replace John the Baptist as the central character, and a short time later John would say: "He must increase, but I must decrease,"
Verse 37: "The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus."
The two disciples were Andrew and the Apostle John. From what we know of them it would not be in keeping with their character to rudely abandon John the Baptist. Many believe he actually sent them to Jesus.
Teachers normally trained disciples, who then went out and taught others. For a teacher to recommend his disciples to an even greater teacher was rare, and expressed confidence in the other teacher's superiority.
Therefore, Andrew the brother of Simon Peter, and the other disciple, believed to be John, the apostle-to-be and author of this Gospel, who had been followers of John the Baptist, would becpome the first disciples of Jesus.
Verses 38-39: "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?" 39He 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."
These disciples were a part of the Master’s plan. Their presence did not surprise Jesus; He knew they would be there.
Jesus did not ask, who, but what are you seeking?” It was Christ who had come to seek, (Luke 19:10).
He knew what they needed, and that someday they would become great Apostles who would evangelize the world.
However, at this point they would not have understood their great commission, (Matt 20:19-20); so Jesus does not provide the details, simply says, "Come and you will see."
The first disciples stay the day at His home:
The Jewish day began at daylight, so the tenth hour would have been around 4pm.
Verses 40-42: "One of the two who heard John speak and followed Jesus was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. 41He first found his own brother Simon and said to him, "We have found the Messiah" (which means Christ). 42He brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said, "So you are Simon the son of John? You shall be called Cephas" (which means Peter."
Andrew witnessing to Simon for Christ, is a great example of how we are to witness; by introducing others to Christ.
Of the four Gospels, only John used the Hebrew or Aramaic title, "Messiah." He translated it into Greek because, being outside Palestine, that was the language most of his Jewish readers spoke.
Here Jesus displays His perfect knowledge of all persons, names, and things. As with the Children of Israel in Jer 18:3-4, He would be the potter, Peter the clay.
Jesus knew Peter's weaknesses, as well as his potential. He knew the trials, failures, and successes that would one day build Him into the mighty Apostle, “Peter, a Piece of the Rock.”
The name Cephas is equivalent to the Greek word Petros, rendered "Peter." (Petra) means a rock, (Petros), a piece of rock. Peter was the latter, (a piece of rock).
Jesus Calls Philip and Nathaniel:Verse 43: "The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. He found Philip and said to him, "Follow me."
As with this example Jesus set with the very first disciples, we are to follow Him.
Of the twelve disciples, only Philip and Andrew had Greek names, and they were the ones who took the Gospel to the Greeks. Tradition tells us that Philip died a martyr at Heirapolis.
Verse 44: "Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter."
Bethsaida was located on the northern edge of the Sea of Galilee.
The first five of the twelve disciples lived near the beautiful Sea of Galilee, (Picture) (not far from Capernaum). (Andrew, John, Peter, Philip, Nathaniel)
Verse 45: "Philip found Nathaniel and said to him, "We have found him of whom Moses in the Law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph."
Nathaniel, meaning the gift of God, is another name for Bartholomew; however, John never uses the name Bartholomew, nor is it mentioned in the synopses. Nathaniel was from Cana in Galilee.
Moses prophesied the coming of the Messiah (Jesus):
"I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers. And I will put my words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him," (Deut. 18: 18), also (Micah 5: 2; Isa. 53: 1-12).
Philip was right concerning Jesus, in that He was the One of whom Moses and the prophets had written; however, in the truest sense, Jesus was the Son of God, not the son of Joseph. Joseph was His stepfather, God was His Father.
However, it is easy to understand how those who saw Jesus grow up in the home of "Joseph the carpenter," being unaware of His Diety, would assume that Joseph was His father.
Verse 46: "Nathaniel said to him, "Can anything good come out of Nazareth?" Philip said to him, "Come and see."
Nazareth doesn't appear to have been any more sinful than other areas. It seems to have been a very traditional, orthodox town in which priests later considered ritually clean enough to live.
The reason some of the people were confused about Nazareth (the hometown of Jesus) is simply because it did not fit their preconceived ideas about where the Messiah should arrive.
Therefore, Philip, answering Nathaniel's objection, says, "come and see." Philip was apparently saying, just wait until you meet Him, you will change your mind!
Verses 47-49: "Jesus saw Nathaniel coming toward him and said of him, "Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no deceit!"
Jesus knew all about Nathaniel, even before the two had met, just as He does all of mankind: "...He Himself knew what was in man" (John 2:25:).
Nathanael was "An Israelite indeed," a true Israelite, who wrestled with God, (unlike the hypocrites on the street corner), (Gen. 32:24).
Verse 48: "Nathanael said to him, "How do you know me?" Jesus answered him, "Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you."
Teachers often taught under trees for their shade, but Jesus, knowing which tree Nathaniel had sat under, is a demonstration of genuine supernatural knowledge.
“Sitting under the fig tree,” represented being in quietness, composed of spirit, while in communion with God.
Nathaniel had never witnessed such miraculous power, nor had anyone else.
Verse 49: "Nathanael answered him, "Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!"
The Jewish nation had waited for centuries for the promised messiah.
Now, amazed that Jesus knew all about him, in advance, Nathaniel declared that Jesus had to be the Messiah, the Son of God, and King of Israel!
He would soon learn that there are no secrets from God. All things are naked and lay open before Him. (Heb 4:13)
Nathaniel's heart had been prepared beforehand for this moment, perhaps under the Fig Tree.
Christ being very respectful and tender toward him, raises his hopes and expectations; and in the next verse says:
Verses 50: "Jesus answered him, "Because I said to you, 'I saw you under the fig tree,' do you believe? You will see greater things than these."
Jesus was pleased with Nathaniel's faith and promised that he would seen even greater things.
Like Nathaniel, true Believers who take their faith and relationship with God seriously, will find their faith increasing.
With the help of Christ's wonderful faith building response and blessings, their faith will develop into an Abrahamic type of faith, with a powerful, expectant, inner knowing and assurance.
Verse 51: "And he said to him, "Truly, truly, I say to you, you will see heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man."
The title, "Son of man" was used at least forty times by Jesus, twelve times in this Gospel; (Stephen also used it in Acts 7:56).
Jesus later used the title, “Son of God,” meaning King of Israel. It would have been disastrous for the multitude to crown him “king,” (as many were eager to do). To prevent this from happening Jesus also used the title, 'Son of Man.'"
Although Jesus is speaking to Nathanael, the verbs are in the plural, meaning that He was also speaking to the other disciples, and they did witness the scene above.
Most think this verse is one of the references, with the scene of Jacob's ladder, and the angels ascending and descending, Gen 28:10-22).
At least three of the disciples were present on the Mount of Transfiguration, and witnessed Jesus, Moses, and Alijah, in the Glory of Heaven.
All were present when Christ ascended into Heaven, thereby confirming his mission and solidifying the faith of His disciples.
Jesus is now man’s link to Heaven. He is the focal point of divine glory, the contact between God and man, Heaven and Earth.
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Jesus Calls the First Disciples