JESUS’ FIRST DISCIPLES JOIN HIM
After 40 days in the wilderness and before heading back to Galilee, Jesus returns to John, who had baptized him. As Jesus approaches, John points him out and exclaims to those present: “See, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! This is the one about whom I said: ‘Behind me there comes a man who has advanced in front of me, for he existed before me.’” (John 1:29, 30) Though John is a bit older than Jesus, he is aware that Jesus existed before him as a spirit person in heaven.
A few weeks earlier, when Jesus came to be baptized, John did not seem certain that Jesus was to be the Messiah. “Even I did not know him,” John acknowledges, “but the reason why I came baptizing in water was so that he might be made manifest to Israel.”
John goes on to relate to his listeners what happened when he baptized Jesus: “I viewed the spirit coming down as a dove out of heaven, and it remained upon him. Even I did not know him, but the very One who sent me to baptize in water said to me: ‘Whoever it is upon whom you see the spirit coming down and remaining, this is the one who baptizes in holy spirit.’ And I have seen it, and I have given witness that this one is the Son of God.”
John is with two of his disciples the next day when Jesus again approaches. John says: “See, the Lamb of God!” (John 1:36) At this, these two disciples of John the Baptist follow Jesus. One of the two is named Andrew. Likely the other is the very person who recorded this event, who is also named John. It seems that this John is a cousin of Jesus, being a son of Salome. She is probably Mary’s sister, and her husband is Zebedee.
Turning and seeing Andrew and John following him, Jesus asks: “What are you looking for?”
“Rabbi,” they ask him, “where are you staying?”
“Come, and you will see,” answers Jesus.
It is about four o’clock in the afternoon, and Andrew and John stay with Jesus the rest of the day. Andrew is so excited that at one point he finds his brother Simon, also called Peter, and tells him: “We have found the Messiah.” (John 1:41) Andrew takes Peter to Jesus. Later events suggest that John similarly finds his brother James and brings him to Jesus; yet, John does not include this personal detail in his record of events.
The next day, Jesus finds Philip, who is from Bethsaida. It is near the north shore of the Sea of Galilee and is the home city of Andrew and Peter. Jesus invites Philip: “Be my follower.”
Philip then finds Nathanael, also called Bartholomew, and says: “We have found the one of whom Moses, in the Law, and the Prophets wrote: Jesus, the son of Joseph, from Nazareth.” Nathanael is doubtful and says to Philip: “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?”
“Come and see,” Philip urges him. Jesus notices Nathanael approaching and says: “See, truly an Israelite in whom there is no deceit.”
“How do you know me?” Nathanael asks.
Jesus answers: “Before Philip called you, while you were under the fig tree, I saw you.”
Nathanael replies in amazement: “Rabbi, you are the Son of God, you are King of Israel.”
“Do you believe because I told you I saw you under the fig tree?” Jesus asks. “You will see things greater than these.” Then Jesus promises: “Most truly I say to you men, you will see heaven opened up and the angels of God ascending and descending to the Son of man.”
Very soon after this, Jesus, along with his newly acquired disciples, leaves the Jordan Valley and travels to Galilee.