Jesus Begins to Form His Band of Disciples
John the Baptist had spent his ministry, we don’t know how long, preparing the way for the One who was to come. There was for John no other purpose in his life. It was the very reason why he was born. As his father had prophesied, “And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High, for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways.” And as the angel, Gabriel, said referring to John’s purpose before he was born, “to make ready for the Lord a people prepared” (Luke 1:17, 76). John would soon be imprisoned and thereafter beheaded. But he still had time to tell two of his disciples as Jesus walked by, “Behold, the Lamb of God,” just as he had said the day before. It was as if John were saying, “He is the One you must follow now.” And so Andrew and the other man left John standing there and ran after Jesus – which was exactly how John wanted it.
So what do these men do? Well, the first thing we read is that Andrew went and found his brother, Simon. Andrew tells him, “We have found the Messiah!” which for you non-Hebrew speakers means “Christ,” which for you non-Greek speakers means, “the anointed one” – the One whom God would send to save His people. It would have been wonderful to see Simon’s reaction. But he goes with his brother to meet this “Messiah.” Jesus immediately changes Simon’s name to “Cephas,” which for you non-Aramaic speakers means “Peter,” which for you non-Greek speakers means, “Rock.” It is common throughout the Bible for names to be changed (often by God) to reflect a character trait of that person, or a character trait that was hoped that person would acquire. Jesus renames Simon, “Rock,” which is interesting given that Simon was anything but, and a chronic sufferer of foot-in-mouth disease who later denied the Lord under threat. However, he later became a rock and even a martyr at the end of his life, choosing to be crucified upside-down, as he considered himself unworthy to die in the same manner as his Master.
Well the next day, Jesus calls a man named Philip to follow him, and Philip then finds Nathaniel. Nathaniel couldn’t believe anything good could come out of Nazareth, but when Jesus displayed some supernatural knowledge of Nathaniel’s recent stint under a fig tree, he then changes his mind: “You are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!” How fast our thoughts travel! Then Jesus refers to the account of Jacob’s dream (Gen. 28:10-17) when Jacob saw angels ascending and descending a ladder from earth to heaven; only this time, the angels are moving from heaven to Christ and back again, a far greater way to the Father than any ordinary ladder ever could be.