THE INVITATION

Again the next day John was standing with two of his disciples, and he looked at Jesus as He walked, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God” The two disciples heard him speak, and they followed Jesus. And Jesus turned and saw them following, and said to them, “What do you seek?” They said to Him, “Rabbi (which translated means Teacher), where are You staying?” He said to them, “Come, and you will see.” So they came and saw where He was staying; and they stayed with Him that day, for it was about the tenth hour.  One of the two, who heard John speak and followed Him, was Andrew, Simon Peter's brother.  He found first his own brother Simon and said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which translated means Christ).  He brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said, “You are Simon the son of John; you shall be called Cephas” (which is translated Peter). - John 1:35-42

Some have wondered at this story of Andrew and Peter’s first meeting with Jesus because the other Gospels all seem to indicate that Jesus called them while they were earning their living as fishermen by the Sea of Galilee rather than near the Jordan River where the scene above took place.  But John’s record of this initial meeting helps us to understand that there was a process the disciples went through before they became full-time followers of Jesus.  Many people assume that Jesus used some hypnotic power to compel these fishermen, who had not met Him before, to leave all to follow Him.  A number of movies of Jesus’ life make it appear this way.

It is true that they were deeply impressed by Him at their first meeting and followed Him so long as their resources allowed.  But when their family duties called them home, they left Jesus and went back to fishing.  Some scholars see that there were actually two occasions when Jesus asked Andrew and Peter, along with the sons of Zebedee (James and John) to quit fishing and follow Him.  The first occasion is recorded in Matthew 4:18-22 and Mark 1:16-20 whereas the second and final occasion is recorded in Luke 5:1-11.  This explains Peter’s words to Jesus on this second occasion, after the miraculous catch of fish:  “Depart from me, Lord, for I am sinful man!” Having gone back to fishing once more, he no doubt felt some guilt after not keeping to his original resolve to forsake all and follow Jesus.  The miraculous provision of fish finally convinced Peter that he could indeed trust that he and his family would be provided for while he gave full time to following Jesus.

So with that matter clarified, let us go back to this, the apparently first time they encountered Jesus after John the Baptizer pointed Him out to them as “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world”. (John 1:29)  Andrew was one of two disciples of John the Baptizer who heard this testimony repeated on the following day.  The other disciple was probably John, the son of Zebedee, the author of this Gospel.  They approached Jesus and asked where He was staying.  He replied, “Come, and you will see.”  This was not merely an invitation to see Jesus’s current dwelling place, which may have been a rented house, an inn or even a campsite, but to spend time with Him, getting to know Him.  The result of this day-long visit, starting at 10am was that Andrew at least became convinced Jesus was the Messiah.  He, in turn, found his brother Simon, gave his report, and brought Simon to Jesus to see for himself.  At this meeting, Jesus renamed Simon, “Peter”, that is, “a stone” (cephas in Aramaic;  petros, in Greek) used for building.  This indicated Jesus’ desire to build Himself a home, not of literal stones but of human beings, that is, the Church.  Peter, Jesus was saying, is good building material for His real and enduring home.  Knowing Peter’s failings as we do from his subsequent history we can see how Jesus can take even the most unlikely material and transform it to advance His loving purposes.  But there is more here than that.

What we also see in this account is the way Jesus builds His home, the Church.  As with any building, you must bring the material to the building site in order to incorporate it into the structure.  Jesus will be found in His home.  Jesus said, “For wherever two or three are gathered together in My name, there I am in their midst.” (Matthew 18:20)  Where will people find the Lord?  They will find Him where He is dwelling.  Of course, the individual believer is a temple of Christ’s Spirit but it is instructive to note that Jesus sent out His disciples by twos rather than singly.  By this He was saying that He dwells especially in the community of believers.  In other words, the glory of God is especially meant to be displayed in the community of those who trust in Him.  After all, God is a community of persons who each fully possess the one divine nature: the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.  So, likewise, is His Church – a unity of faith, hope and love among a diverse community of human persons.  It is there that He has chosen to especially manifest His glory and work His miracles.

When we invite people to consider Jesus, one of the things they should be exposed to is to His people, whether they are meeting in a home, a building or they are on the streets doing good works in His name.  To invite people to find Jesus living and working in His followers and in the midst of His people seems a scary thing to do.  After all, we frequently remind unbelievers that they should look at Jesus and not His followers to find reasons to believe in Him.  However, Jesus prayed for us, His followers, “that they all may be one… so that the world may believe that you have sent Me.” (John 17:21)  Our unity in love is a sign to the world that Jesus is the Messiah, the One sent by the Father to save the world.  Today, to a world that is asking where Jesus dwells, the answer still is – “Come, and you will see.”  Only now, it is not an invitation to come to a house made with hands but to a living house made of living stones, Christ’s Church.  Don’t be shy about inviting people to meet God’s people for in meeting them they may also meet Him.  This will be even more reason to let Christ work in us – so the world may see more of Him in us!