John 1:35-42 Raising true disciples of Christ
John 1:35-42 Raising true disciples of Christ
Again the next day John was standing with two of his disciples, 36 and he looked at Jesus as He walked, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God!” 37 The two disciples heard him speak, and they followed Jesus.
38 And Jesus turned and saw them following, and said to them, “What do you seek?” They said to Him, “Rabbi (which translated means Teacher), where are You staying?” 39 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.
40 One of the two who heard John speak and followed Him, was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. 41 He found first his own brother Simon and said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which translated means Christ). 42 He brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said, “You are Simon the son of John; you shall be called Cephas” (which is translated Peter).
The way the disciples are drawn to the Lamb of God and their interactions with Him reveal to us the secrets to raising disciples towards a revival. While many are disciples of the church but few are true disciples of Christ. The role of the church is ultimately to nurture disciples and to release them to fulfill their respective calling. Only then can great revivals of the Spirit be realised. True disciples are those who are willing to be regenerated according to Christ’s likeness; in love, wisdom and power.
“Behold, the Lamb of God!” The two disciples heard him speak, and they followed Jesus.
A few days after Jesus was baptised, John saw Jesus passing by and proclaimed, “Behold, the Lamb of God!”. John did this apparently for the sake of his own disciples. John, in so doing gestured his disciples to follow Jesus. Although we observe at a later stage that John still has disciples of his own while in prison (Luke 7:19). We know from the text that upon hearing his words, the two men decide to follow Jesus. It is reasonable to assume that John may have given an adequate introduction to the disciples concerning the Lamb of God. Nevertheless, the term Lamb of God connotes virtues of sacrifice and surrender rather than glory and power. There are no existing categories such as the Lamb of God accorded to individuals in Jewish history. However, there is no doubt in the disciples’ minds that Jesus is the pioneer of the New Testament believers. Jesus’s first followers are indeed devout men of godly virtues. And He will pioneer a new race of priests and living sacrifices that will come after Him.
He said to them, “Come, and you will see.”
Seeing the two men coming towards Him, Jesus asked, “What do you seek?” The disciples’ response, “Rabbi, where are You staying?” indicated their interest to know who Jesus really is. Jesus’s response, “Come, and you will see” shows His willingness to fellowship with those who show true in the path of righteousness.
You are Simon the son of John; you shall be called Cephas.
After seeing for himself the Lamb of God, Andrew told his brother, “We have found the Messiah”. Jesus, having met Andrew’s brother for the first time changed his name from Simon to Cephas (Petros in Greek). The significance of this name change is not fully apparent in John’s gospel. Matthew 16:18 records,
I also say to you that you are Petros (Peter), and upon this petra (rock) I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven. Matthew 16:18-19.
The name change suggested a change of destiny, an awakening of a man whose true identity is Petros (Peter). He is the man through which the foundation of the New Testament church will be built upon.
The purpose of discipleship is to prepare believers to follow Christ.
The disciple maker points disciples in the direction of Christ, the Lamb of God in order to emulate Him. Hence, the role of the disciple maker is to help disciples develop a pliable heart and the discipline to read the Word. The first two disciples express the desire to know Christ: Rabbi, where are You staying? Many churches today push members through a conveyor system of programmes masked as disciple training. Their “disciple makers” are tasked to secure members’ commitment towards attendance and the funding of church projects. Many of these programs are designed not to equip members to become more like Christ, but to fulfill the leader’s aspirations. Authentic discipleship uses the word to help disciples become like Jesus, not to substantiate the purpose of the church’s own existence. John the Baptist proclaims in the presence of the disciples the Christ, “Behold, the Lamb of God.” A successful disciple maker is one who is himself a follower of Christ. And he encourages them to draw directly from God for truth and direction.
True disciples carry the mark of the Lamb of God.
The values of Christ comprises the attitude of surrender and personal sacrifice to do the work of God. However, present day discipleship ethos focuses on self-edification and personal growth. They bear the motivation: how can I succeed and prosper in life through the principles of God? Although this motivation is legitimate, it loses the essence of true discipleship as defined by Christ, the Lamb of God. A true disciple of Christ is not self-serving; it is all about God’s kingdom. The first of Christ’s disciples are drawn by the spirit of sacrifice for the salvation of Israel. As we know it, all of Christ’s disciples take after the call and passion of their disciple maker, the Lamb of God. What does it mean by being Christ’s disciple in the modern society? The apostle Paul teaches,
Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. Romans 12:1-2
Disciple makers and church leaders make disciples after their own kind. Therefore, leaders must first ascertain if they themselves are true disciples of Christ before they disciple others. True disciples live life choosing the ways of God as opposed to the ways of the world. To be a living sacrifice involves choosing to do God’s will even if it means inconveniencing ourselves, and to be uncompromising in matters pertaining to the truth.
True disciples are willing to change and embrace their divine calling.
One is not considered a disciple of Christ unless he is willing to let God control his destiny. Unless one is willing to deny his own agenda and seek God’s calling for his life, he is still considered a seeker. Peter is successful as an apostle because he allowed God to change even his name. Many churchgoers will struggle and fight to retain their old identity, idiosyncrasies, and ambitions. They cannot trust God enough to let Him shape their future. Hence, many cannot fulfill the potential that God has ordained for them. If we are willing to let God change our name, He will develop and use us according to our unique design. And we will leave behind for our disciples and children a glorious and eternal legacy.
What is the role and purpose of the church? Is the church a place to find friends and have your needs met? Or is the church the place to fulfil one’s personal ambition? The church is a place where members can serve one another; to be discipled to help establish God’s kingdom in the world.
Are there certain habits that you find difficult to change? It is because you keep the Holy Spirit out by reserving selective portions of your life to yourself. Start by presenting your body, heart and spirit unreservedly to God and you will begin experience changes in yourself and circumstances like never before.
Dear Lord, I will follow you, the Lamb of God by presenting myself as a living sacrifice at your service. I will not hold back any areas and decisions in my life from your control. Change me and mold me according to your wisdom, passion and power. Use me to raise up a revival in this nation by reaching out to those who are lost, poor and weak. In Jesus’s name I pray. Amen.