The First Recruits, John 1:35-51, 20 May 2012

Big Idea: Jesus recruits four disciples: Andy, Pete, Phil and Nate

John 1:35-51

The next day John was there again with two of his disciples. When he saw Jesus passing by, he said, “Look, the Lamb of God!”

When the two disciples heard him say this, they followed Jesus. Turning around, Jesus saw them following and asked, “What do you want?”

They said, “Rabbi” (which means “Teacher”), “where are you staying?” (John 1:35-38)

We talked about this last week. Jesus is again called the Lamb of God.

Because of John’s witness, two of his own disciples leave him and start to follow Jesus. John realizes he is number two. What humility!

Bestselling author Jim Collins who wrote
Good To Great says that the highest form of leadership requires leadership. His formula is Humility + Will = Level 5 Leadership.

As we said previously, John prepared the way. He humbled himself for the sake of helping people encounter Jesus. That’s our role today.

This wasn’t a case of them getting a better offer, but John saying, “He’s the One I’ve been preparing you to meet.” They shift their allegiance from John the Baptist to Jesus...and it’s ok. It’s great. It’s supposed to happen.

Jesus asks why they are following Him! “What do you want?”

“Come,” he replied, “and you will see.”

So they went and saw where he was staying, and they spent that day with him. It was about four in the afternoon.
(John 1:39)

Jesus says, “Come and see.” John includes a detail about it being 4:00. He was likely an eyewitness, and maybe one of the unnamed disciples in the previous verses.

Jesus invites them to spend the day with Him.

Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, was one of the two who heard what John had said and who had followed Jesus. The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon and tell him, “We have found the Messiah” (that is, the Christ).
42 And he brought him to Jesus.

Jesus looked at him and said, “You are Simon son of John. You will be called Cephas” (which, when translated, is Peter).
(John 1:40-42)

Was Andrew excited about finding the Messiah? Had he heard Jesus was in the neighborhood?

“The first thing” Andrew did...

Andrew is often seen bringing people to Jesus (6:8; 12:22). What about you?

Cephas is also known as Simon and is renamed Peter which means “rock.” The Greek is petros. This is a nickname more than a common name, like we would call someone “Rocky” today.

Jesus’ authority to change Simon’s name is significant. He is casting a vision for what Simon will become, a rock.

The next day Jesus decided to leave for Galilee. Finding Philip, he said to him, “Follow me.” (John 1:43)

Galilee is about one hundred miles north.

Jesus “finds” Philip and invites him to follow.

Philip is a popular Greek name that means “horse lover.”

It’s a simple invitation. He doesn’t beg, coerce, force, or yell. He just invites.

Philip, like Andrew and Peter, was from the town of Bethsaida. Philip found Nathanael and told him, “We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote —Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.”
(John 1:44-46)

Philip recruits Nathanael, who might also be called Bartholomew.

Andrew recruits his brother Peter.

“Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?” Nathanael asked.
(John 1:46a)

Nazareth obviously does not have a good reputation! Actually, it was probably not bad, just small. Nathanael was from Cana, a rival village. He had seen others claim to be the Messiah.

Don’t judge a book by its cover!

Philip replies...

“Come and see,” said Philip.
(John 1:46b)

Do you see how Philip is already following Jesus. He says what Jesus said earlier: “Come and see.”

When Jesus saw Nathanael approaching, he said of him, “Here truly is an Israelite in whom there is no deceit.”

“How do you know me?” Nathanael asked.

Jesus answered, “I saw you while you were still under the fig tree before Philip called you.”
(John 1:47-48)

How do you know me?

Jesus knew Nathanael before Nathanael knew Him.

Jesus knows you, too, whether you are aware of it or not.

Then Nathanael declared, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the king of Israel.” (John 1:49)

Nathanael gets it! He changes his tune about Jesus. He experiences a miracle and believes.

In one sentence we see three names for Jesus:

Rabbi, which we saw earlier literally means “teacher”
Son of God (deity)
King of Israel

Jesus said, “You believe because I told you I saw you under the fig tree. You will see greater things than that.” He then added, “Very truly I tell you, you will see ‘heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending on’ the Son of Man.”
(John 1:50-51)

The “you” is plural. He is no longer just speaking to Nathanael.

There is another instance of angels ascending and descending in Genesis 28.

Jesus is the stairway to heaven. He is greater than Jacob and greater than the ladder. He is the place where we meet God!

John is telling us in the first chapter of his Gospel that the entire Scriptures point to Jesus. He sees history through the story of Christ.


We have come to the conclusion of the first chapter of John. Only 20 more to go!

We have seen John the Baptist prepare the way for Jesus.

We have seen Jesus’ first recruits, though we know little about them. The focus is on Jesus.

We see that contact with Jesus leads to self-denial. This is true for John the Baptist and the first disciples of Christ.

Note that conversion is not about merely learning information; it is about personally taking action and following Jesus.

This passage shows us that loving God must be connected to knowing God. Christian faith is both commitment and content.

Who is Jesus? We have been introduced to Him in several ways...

  • Messiah (20, 41)
  • the Prophet (21)
  • Jesus (29)
  • Lamb of God (29, 36)
  • one who baptizes with the Spirit (33)
  • chosen [Son] of God (34)
  • rabbi/teacher (38, 49)
  • Christ/anointed one (41)
  • son of Joseph (45)
  • Nazarene (45)
  • Son of God (49)
  • King of Israel (49)
  • Son of Man (51)

  • In conclusion, we have been introduced throughout John’s first chapter to Jesus. He is God. He is human. He created everything. He came on mission. He invites others to follow Him, but doing so is not a casual thing. We must commit both our minds and our hearts.

    The great news is that when we fully surrender to Jesus, He remains faithful to us...always. We don’t risk devoting ourselves to someone who will betray, abandon, or harm us. When we draw near to Him, He promises to draw near to us and be with us always, to the very end of the age.

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