John 1:35-51- Adding Disciples to the Fold
Explanation- From the start of this passage the ministry of John the Baptist is once again on full display. ‘Behold the Lamb of God’, he bellows for the second time and at this point the two disciples of John turn to follow Jesus. This again sheds light on the limitation of John’s ministry. I say limitation not in a nugatory way, but as a means of honoring his position and unique placement in redemptive history. The Gospel of the kingdom is not a means for men to gather unto themselves disciples of their own, but to make disciples for Christ! Although the text does not explicitly state this, I am sure that John the Baptist did not pout at the loss of these two disciples but rejoiced in knowing that they had gone on to follow Christ!
It is no coincidence that one of the two disciples that first followed Jesus was Andrew, the Apostle Peter’s brother, and now he goes to Peter and beckons him to come and see the Messiah for himself. This Peter who would be one of the pillars of the New Testament church is introduced to Jesus the Messiah in similar fashion to the way that Andrew was introduced to Him through the testimony of John the Baptist. Thus, we begin to form a model of God’s means of saving men in the early days of Christ’s earthly ministry. There is a speaking on the part of the minister, a hearing on the part of the listener, and a following as the Spirit moves upon the hearer’s heart and activates the words of Gospel truth into the flame of regeneration. Paul develops this idea in the book of Romans chapter 10. He says, “How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching?” (Rom. 10:14). God has chosen to use the ‘foolishness of preaching’ (1 Cor. 1:21 KJV) to confound the wise of this world and save the souls of men.
Lastly, I would like to comment on the statement of Philip in verse 45. He says that “We have found him of whom Moses in the Law and also the prophets wrote.” I wonder if Philip realized at this time the gravity of the words he spoke. This Jesus was the seed of the woman promised in Genesis, the prophet of Deuteronomy, the suffering servant of Isaiah, and the righteous branch of Jeremiah. He was the foretold Messiah of Israel (as well as the gentile world) and he had finally entered into the realm of human history to fulfill the purpose set before him before the foundation of the world!
Application- As we look to the early days of Christ’s earthly ministry let us take note of the simplistic method of evangelism utilized by Christ and His disciples, as well as John the Baptist. Men will not be won by the eloquence of an intelligent man, nor the wisdom of this world’s highest nobles (though God in His wisdom may choose to use both). Men are to be won to Christ by the simple proclamation of the Gospel. As we set out in our own evangelistic efforts let us take courage that the Spirit of God can move through our preaching (however weak and feeble it may be) and see men saved. It has been given unto us the responsibility to preach the Gospel in and out of season, but it is God who will see men saved.