The next day John again was standing with two of his disciples, and as he watched Jesus walk by, he exclaimed, “Look, here is the Lamb of God!” The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus (John 1:35-37).
Andrew and John (the John who wrote the Gospel of John) became the first two disciples to follow Jesus. They first began to follow Jesus based on the facts John wrote about in the first chapter of his gospel (John even recorded the fact that they first talked with Jesus at about four o’clock in the afternoon). A disciple was expected to learn what their teacher taught and do what their teacher said. Andrew and John were obedient servants of John the Baptist, a mighty servant and prophet of God. They eventually became disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Messiah and Son of God, who taught them the truth about God and who led them to love and obey God as Jesus revealed the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit to them.
Andrew and John prepared themselves to see and recognize Jesus was the Messiah by first becoming disciples of John the Baptist (no one needs to do that today). As disciples of John, they may have known that the Holy Spirit indwelt John the Baptist before John was born; if not, they recognized the presence and power of the Holy Spirit in John as a mighty prophet of God. In Luke 1:14-17, an angel told Zechariah, John’s father, some facts about John’s future before John was born: “You will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth, for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He must never drink wine or strong drink; even before his birth he will be filled with the Holy Spirit. He will turn many of the people of Israel to the Lord their God. With the spirit and power of Elijah he will go before him, to turn the hearts of parents to their children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous, to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.” The Jews expected Elijah to come before the Messiah came, and the angel told Zechariah that his son, who became John the Baptist, would come “with the spirit and power of Elijah.” Andrew and John saw the spirit and power of Elijah in John the Baptist because the Holy Spirit indwelt John the Baptist.
As disciples of John the Baptist, Andrew and John prepared themselves spiritually to look for and meet the Messiah. They knew from the Hebrew Scriptures that they should expect the Messiah to come, but no one knew when He would come until John the Baptist began preaching as a prophet sent from God. John’s preaching and baptizing in water prepared repentant people to expect the Messiah to come very soon so they could follow Him joyfully. The Gospel of John relates many facts and reasons why Andrew and John began to follow Jesus when they did. These facts can also give us good reasons to follow Jesus too. As we read more of the Gospel of John and begin following Jesus, we will learn even more facts about Jesus and build a stronger trust in Him as our Lord and Savior. Knowing the facts will strengthen our faith and trust in Jesus.
As we follow and obey Jesus more closely, as Andrew and John did, we will learn personally what John learned about Jesus when he described Jesus as “full of grace and truth.” In John 1:14, 16 and 17, John wrote, “And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s only son, full of grace and truth. From his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. The law indeed was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.”
In the Gospel of John, carefully and slowly read chapter 1, verses 1-37, (or better, read the complete chapter). Consider closely the testimony of John the Baptist in John 1:19-36. As you read the testimony of John, look for the 12 facts noted below (you may find more facts than I have found). As you later begin to read and study the complete Gospel of John, you will find even more facts that give good reasons to follow Jesus and tell others about Jesus. John does give his readers more reasons to believe in and trust Jesus throughout his gospel. These 12 facts in John the Baptist’s testimony, that John recorded in chapter one of his gospel, gave Andrew and John good and sufficient reasons to leave John the Baptist and follow Jesus. Likewise, all the facts that John described in the first chapter of John are good and sufficient reasons for us to begin following Jesus now (if we are not already following Him) and keep following Jesus forever as our Lord and Savior.
The Twelve Facts
1. Andrew and John knew that John the Baptist had been sent from God because John taught and baptized them, and they became disciples (students) of John. They probably baptized some of the multitudes of repentant sinners who came to see and hear John at the Jordan River. They trusted John and what John taught as words inspired by God. They knew John was preparing people to receive the Messiah when He came. They knew the Messiah would come very soon, and they too wanted to be prepared when the Messiah came.
2. They knew that the one coming after John ranked higher than John because John taught that fact instead of pointing people to himself.
3. They did not understand all that John taught, but they understood enough. They knew that the Messiah, the one to come, was before John and would come after him. Perhaps John explained what he meant to them.
4. They knew that John had come to prepare the way for the Lord. “To make straight the way of the Lord” in fulfillment of the words of Isaiah the prophet (see John 1:23 and Fact 5 below).
5. They knew that the one to come after John would be the LORD. Briefly, in Isaiah 40:3, the Hebrew name for Yahweh was spoken aloud as LORD out of reverence for the name of God, a God and a name so holy that the Hebrews would not pronounce God’s name aloud when they read the Hebrew Scriptures; so, they said the name LORD instead of pronouncing the name Yahweh. We are not able to recognize easily this fact in the New Testament Greek text of John’s gospel (see John 1:23). Andrew and John would need to follow Jesus longer in order to learn more about the Messiah and His nature and character (which John learned later and wrote more about in the early verses of John 1 and throughout his gospel. Remember what John wrote in John 1:1, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”
6. They knew John the Baptist had said that the Messiah to come was so great that John himself was not even worthy to untie His sandal.
7. They were present when John baptized Jesus at the Jordan River and when he pointed to Jesus and said, “Here is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (see John 1:29 and Matthew 3:13-17).
8. They knew John baptized in water so repentant people would be prepared to recognize and receive the Messiah, for that reason they had been baptized, and for that reason they recognized the Messiah when they first saw Him and heard what John said about Him.
9. They knew that when John baptized Jesus that John saw the Holy Spirit descend as a dove and remain on Jesus (John 1:32-33).
10. They knew that the one upon whom the Spirit descended and remained was one who would baptize with the Holy Spirit.
11. They knew that John had testified that Jesus “is the Son of God” (John 1:34). In Matthew 3:17, we learn how God spoke from heaven after Jesus was baptized: “And a voice from heaven said, ‘This is my Son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased.’”
12. They heard John say “Look, here is the Lamb of God” (John 1:36). When they heard what John said as he pointed to Jesus, they followed Jesus. As they followed Jesus, they would eventually learn what the title “Lamb of God” meant and many more truths about Jesus and His sacrifice for them.
As you read and study the Gospel of John, you will travel with Andrew and John and the other disciples of Jesus. You will learn as they learned step-by-step that Jesus is the Savior of the world, how He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life, and why He will return someday as He promised. You can become ready for His Second Coming even as Andrew and John were ready for His First Coming.