A First Introduction and its Result
The first entrance of our Lord into public service was apparently His journey from Nazareth to Jordan to be baptized of John. The day after the baptism, John seeing our Lord coming to him, exclaimed, “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). Again, the day following, looking upon Jesus as He walked, John said, “Behold the Lamb of God” (v. 36).
Now two disciples hearing this, left John and followed Jesus—blessed result of the Baptist’s ministry. Since he was the forerunner of our Lord, his ministry was to prepare souls for Him and point the way to Him, and in this case at least he was successful. We are then told that one of the two disciples was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother.
Now we know that Andrew and Peter were fishermen on the sea of Galilee. How then did it happen that they found themselves in the neighbourhood of Jerusalem? Is it too much to suppose that they were the subjects of God’s gracious dealings, and that they were consequently seekers after light? Is it too much to suppose that news of the ministry of John the Baptist had reached Galilee, and that these two men were sufficiently interested to travel a matter of sixty miles, not by motor car over beautiful roads in a couple of hours, but laboriously on foot, over rough roads, little more than bridle tracks in those far-off days? Is it too much to suppose that Andrew and Peter and the other disciple, possibly the writer of the fourth gospel, which describes the scene, were actual witnesses of our Lord’s baptism? It was only two days following, that the two disciples left John and followed Jesus—the truest compliment that could be paid to the forerunner’s ministry.
Be that as it may, it is clear that these two disciples had got to Bethabara beyond Jordan where John was baptizing, that they had become John’s disciples, and that one of them was Andrew, the Galilean fisherman. In turn he left John and became the Lord’s disciple. He then introduced his brother Peter to the Lord, who changed his name from Simon to Cephas or Peter, meaning a stone; proof that God had been working in new creation power, and our Lord recognised this, in Andrew’s brother. There the curtain drops in John 1.
The curtain is lifted in the narrative of Matthew 4. We can imagine how Andrew and Peter as they plied their lowly occupation on the sea of Galilee would speak much of John, the forerunner, but more, much more of our blessed Lord. Peter would often think of the new name he received, and of its significance.
One day our Lord left Nazareth, and journeyed to Capernaum to live there, and prosecute His work, where there was a big population and much going to and fro. One day walking by the sea, our Lord saw the two brothers in the act of casting their net into the sea. He said of them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men” (Matt. 4:19). They might have replied, “We are in the act of casting our net into the sea, and we cannot leave it. It is valuable to us, our instrument in earning our livelihood.” But no, we read, “And they straightway left their nets and followed Him” (v. 20).
In John 1 we get the introduction, in Matthew 4 we get the result. In John 1, those who witnessed the baptism of our Lord would realize something of who He was when the Father’s voice was heard, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased,” and the Spirit like a dove lighted upon Him. Those who heard John say, “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world,” might well appropriate the meaning of the sacrificial death that was to come. Just as the Procurator General said to young Martin Luther, “You believe the creed, when it says, I believe in the forgiveness of sins: whose sins do you ‘believe’ are forgiven?” In a moment Luther saw the personal application implied in the question. The light broke into his soul, and he replied, “I believe in this forgiveness of my sins.” So if the Lamb of God takes away the sin of the world, He may well take away my sins.
Then the presentation of our Lord, “Behold the Lamb of God” drew the two disciples to follow the Lord, and He welcomed them, as He ever will any who would seek to follow Him.
Then we find Andrew and Peter evidently retracing their steps to their homes by Galilee’s lake and following their calling of fishermen. Then the wonderful day arrived, when our Lord called them to follow Him, and they “straightway” responded. What a blessed life-long result of their introduction!
We may well ask ourselves, are we disciples, are we followers of our blessed Lord?
John 1 and Matthew 4 give us facts, as it were on the surface, but we know there must have been the Spirit’s work out of sight with these men that led them to the happy response, the blessed sequel of lives surrendered to their Lord.
May their example stimulate each one of us, may there be that inward working of the Spirit of God in each one of our hearts!