Week 2 – John 1:35-51


Passage Intro

Recalling last week, John introduced his Gospel by painting a grand image of Jesus, God Almighty, through whom all of heaven and earth was created, coming into the world and bringing light to mankind. In verses 19-34 John the Apostle goes on to introduce John the Baptist, a prophet who was sent by God to prepare the way for Jesus through preaching and baptizing.(1:23) John testified that Jesus was in fact the Messiah, the Son of God.

Here we pick up in verse 35 where Jesus starts calling his first disciples. John’s testimony about Jesus had clearly gained some traction with his followers, considering two of them ditch him to follow Jesus instead. Those first two are the Apostle John and Andrew, who tail Jesus back to where he’s staying, which is likely the house of a distant relative or friend where he’s temporarily crashing. Pretty quickly Andrew goes off to bring his brother, Simon, who joins the group. Later in the passage we’ll see Jesus pick up two more disciples: Phillip and Nathanael. Nathanael gives Phillip a hard time for saying the Messiah has come from Nazareth; he couldn’t possible think the savior would come from a backwater, podunk town like that. But when Nathanael meets Jesus, Jesus shows off for just a moment by prophesying where Nathanael had just been sitting to prove that he’s really the Messiah (which maybe also implies, “And I heard what you said about Nazareth, too.”). He then references Jacob’s dream from Genesis 28, explaining that he has come to connect heaven and earth, providing mankind with access to God (also cross reference Heb. 10:19-20).

At this point Jesus has collected five of his twelve closest disciples, who will be with him for the next three years as Jesus completes his ministry. It might be helpful to reflect on this for a moment. John started his Gospel explaining how Jesus is the eternal, all-powerful God. So, based on that, can it really be true that God almighty became a man so he could spend three years couch surfing with these dudes? It’s crazy to think that in the divine counsel of the Trinity this plan, these 12 guys, was the best way to spread God’s Kingdom on earth. This is the foolish shaming the wise (1 Cor. 1:27), the mustard seed that grows into a tree (Matt. 13:31-33). This reminds us that human beings are inherently relational creatures, created in the image of a highly relational God, and reveals that the good news of Jesus is always ministered in the context of relationships. Because God came as a man and was bringing his Good News to mankind, it makes sense that he would do it through the most impactful medium. We in the West tend to think the best medium is rules and regulations, detailed policy, or a scientific deduction. But God knows us better than that.

Questions for Discussion

• Could someone read John 1:35-51 for us?

• What stood out to you from this passage?

• How do you think these new disciples felt about being called to follow Jesus?

• What can we learn from Jesus’ interaction with Nathanael?

• Why do you think Jesus had disciples?

• What can Jesus’ relational ministry tell us about God himself?

• How do you think this passage reflects on the way God relates to you?

Aside: If folks ask about v.51 and the angels descending on Jesus, feel free to read Genesis 28:10-12 and ask, “What can this tell us about Jesus?”