The following day John was again standing with two of his disciples. As Jesus walked by, John looked at him and declared, “Look! There is the Lamb of God!” When John’s two disciples heard this, they followed Jesus. Jesus looked around and saw them following. “What do you want?” he asked them. They replied, “Rabbi” (which means “Teacher”), “where are you staying?” “Come and see,” he said. It was about four o’clock in the afternoon when they went with him to the place where he was staying, and they remained with him the rest of the day.
John the Baptist points Jesus out to his own disciples. This is at least the second time (see v. 29), and they decide to investigate. Imagine spending the afternoon with Jesus! Although we have the unspeakable privilege of being born again and filled with His Holy Spirit, and of praying in His name one on one, still…! To see Him in the flesh and be taught in person was also unspeakable privilege.
Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, was one of these men who heard what John said and then followed Jesus. Andrew went to find his brother, Simon, and told him, “We have found the Messiah” (which means “Christ”). Then Andrew brought Simon to meet Jesus. Looking intently at Simon, Jesus said, “Your name is Simon, son of John—but you will be called Cephas” (which means “Peter”).
Cephas was the Aramaic name given by Jesus, and Peter was the Greek equivalent, meaning “rock”. Jesus receives us the way we are, and immediately begins transforming us into the person we will become, by His grace. Impulsive Simon was not yet rock solid Peter, but filled with the Spirit of God, he would use his God-given abilities as a stalwart leader of the early church and writer of two epistles, I and II Peter. It is believed he also related to Mark many of the stories in the Gospel of Mark.
The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. He found Philip and said to him, “Come, follow me.” Philip was from Bethsaida, Andrew and Peter’s hometown. Philip went to look for Nathanael and told him, “We have found the very person Moses and the prophets wrote about! His name is Jesus, the son of Joseph from Nazareth.” “Nazareth!” exclaimed Nathanael. “Can anything good come from Nazareth?” “Come and see for yourself,” Philip replied.
Nathanael’s skepticism came from the fact that there was a Roman garrison in Nazareth, populated by their conquerors, who were Gentiles in addition. Enemies, really. It could also be that he knew enough of Old Testament prophecies to know that the Messiah was to be born in Bethlehem – not Nazareth. But he overcame his prejudices and went to see for himself.
As they approached, Jesus said, “Now here is a genuine son of Israel—a man of complete integrity.” “How do you know about me?” Nathanael asked. Jesus replied, “I could see you under the fig tree before Philip found you.” Then Nathanael exclaimed, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God—the King of Israel!” Jesus asked him, “Do you believe this just because I told you I had seen you under the fig tree? You will see greater things than this.” Then he said, “I tell you the truth, you will all see heaven open and the angels of God going up and down on the Son of Man, the one who is the stairway between heaven and earth.”
John 1:35-51 NLT
Jesus wasted no time in telling them that He was the Gate, the Door, the Way. He was the Stairway to God. Do you know Him?
My servant grew up in the Lord’s presence like a tender green shoot, like a root in dry ground. There was nothing beautiful or majestic about his appearance, nothing to attract us to him.
Isaiah 53:2 NLT
It is believed that this is the first meeting between the disciples and Jesus. Did they meet Him, hear His claims (maybe even believing Him to be the Messiah), and at least some return to their fishing? Jesus subsequently invited them to follow Him (Luke 5:1-11). Seeing the boatload of fish they hauled in at His command probably solidified their response!