In John 1:35-42, the apostle John says this:
“Again on the morrow John was standing, and two of his disciples; and he looked upon Jesus as he walked, and saith, Behold, the Lamb of God! And the two disciples heard him speak, and they followed Jesus. And Jesus turned, and beheld them following, and saith unto them, What seek ye? And they said unto him, Rabbi (which is to say, being interpreted, Teacher), where abidest thou? He saith unto them, Come, and ye shall see. They came therefore and saw where he abode; and they abode with him that day: it was about the tenth hour. One of the two that heard John speak, and followed him, was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. He findeth first his own brother Simon, and saith unto him, We have found the Messiah (which is, being interpreted, Christ). He brought him unto Jesus. Jesus looked upon him, and said, Thou art Simon the son of John: thou shalt be called Cephas (which is by interpretation, Peter).”
In this passage, John gives us 2 witnesses to the fact that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God. These 2 witnesses are disciples of John the baptist.
This passage may be divided into these sections:
1. The Setting of the Witness
2. The Stance of John the baptist
3. The Statement of John the baptist
4. The Seeking of the Witnesses
5. The Speaking with the Witnesses
6. The Stay with Jesus
7. The Sibling of Simon
8. The Sharing of the Messiah
9. The Surname of Simon
First, John begins with the setting of this witness: “Again on the morrow . . .”
Now, why does John begin this passage with the word, “again”? To tell us that he is saying that what follows has happened before. And what happened before?
“John was standing . . .”
Where was John standing? On the eastern side of the Jordan River, near the wilderness. Here is where he was baptizing, according to John 1:28. So, just like the passage before this one, John was engaging in his ministry of preaching repentance for the forgiveness of sins, and baptizing people who had repented.
And all this happened “on the morrow”, or the next day. Why does John tell us that this all happened on the next day? To show us that the events that happened on the previous day were quickly followed by the events on this day. What happened on the previous day? John the baptist testified that Jesus was the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world, and that he had seen the Spirit descending like a dove out of heaven, and remaining upon Him, showing him that Jesus was the Son of God about whom God had told him. And why did John say all this? To testify to his disciples and the many people who were there to listen to him, and be baptized by him, that Jesus was the Messiah, the Son of God.
But, next, John tells us what the baptist’s stance was: “. . . John was standing, and two of his disciples . . .”
Why does John tell us that the baptist was standing? To tell us that he was still preaching and baptizing people at the Jordan. And why does he tell us that two of his disciples were standing with him? To let us know that these disciples were there the previous day, and had heard what the baptist had said about Jesus, as well as to tell us that they were about to hear what he was about to say.
This is the statement of the baptist: “. . . and he looked upon Jesus as he walked, and saith, Behold, the Lamb of God!”
First, John makes a statement simply by looking at Jesus as He walked. What does this mean? That, while John was standing with his disciples in one place, engaging in his ministry, Jesus was walking passed, and engaging in His, which was going to go across the Jordan, to the rest of Israel. Also, it shows us that John was paying attention to Jesus, making sure that his disciples saw who he was looking at. Why? So they would know that he was telling them to behold this man when he said, “Behold, the Lamb of God!”
Why did John tell his disciples to behold the Lamb of God? To show them that Jesus was the long-awaited sacrificial Lamb of God that was pictured in the Old Testament sacrificial lambs, and would be sacrificed by God to atone for the sin of the world.
Next, the apostle shows us the seeking of the witnesses: “And the two disciples heard him speak, and they followed Jesus.”
So, why did John’s disciples follow Jesus? Because they heard John say that He was the Lamb of God. They must have understood that John meant that He was the Messiah, and they wanted to find out from Jesus Himself if He was indeed the Messiah.
After they start following Jesus, we next see the speaking with the witnesses: “And Jesus turned, and beheld them following, and saith unto them, What seek ye? And they said unto him, Rabbi (which is to say, being interpreted, Teacher), where abidest thou? He saith unto them, Come, and ye shall see.”
So, who initiated the conversation? Jesus. And why did He initiate it? In order to ask the 2 disciples what they were seeking. But notice how they answer — with the question of where Jesus, as a Rabbi — not as the Messiah — was staying. Why would they answer His question with this question? Because they wanted to go somewhere where they could sit down and have a lengthy conversation about who He was.
Notice, then, how He answered their question: “Come, and ye shall see.” He was ready and willing to talk to them about who He was, and He invited them to His home.
After this invitation, John tells us about the stay of the witnesses: “They came therefore and saw where he abode; and they abode with him that day: it was about the tenth hour.”
So, just like Jesus said, they went to where he was staying, and stayed with Him that whole day. Why? Because it was the tenth hour. What was the tenth hour? According to Jewish timekeeping, this would be 4 in the afternoon. So, why would they stay with Him for the rest of the day? What this probably means is that it was so late in the day, and they spent so much time talking with Him, and they were such a great distance from where they had been staying, that they decided to remain the whole day with Him, and spend the night. And what were they discussing most, if not all, of the time? Who He was — the Lamb of God and the Messiah.
Next, John gives us the identity of one of the 2 disciples — the sibling of Simon:
“One of the two that heard John speak, and followed him, was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother.”
Why does John tell us that Andrew was Simon Peter’s brother? To give us a connection to the story of Christ and of His first church. Simon Peter was the head leader of the 12 apostles, and of the first church in Jerusalem, so it is significant that his own brother was one of the first witnesses of who Jesus was.
But John also gives us another reason for telling us that Andrew was Simon Peter’s brother by describing the sharing of the Messiah:
“He findeth first his own brother Simon, and saith unto him, We have found the Messiah (which is, being interpreted, Christ). He brought him unto Jesus.”
Why does John tell us that Andrew found his brother Simon first? To tell us that Simon was the closest person to him. So, naturally, he went to him first to tell him that he and the other disciple of John had found the long-awaited Messiah of the Old Testament. Why does John translate “Messiah” for us? Because the original readers of the Gospel of John spoke Greek, which is what “Christ” comes from — christos. It is simply the Greek version of the Hebrew word, mashiach, from which we get “Messiah”. All three of these words mean “anointed one”. And why was Jesus called the Anointed One? Because He was anointed, or empowered, by the Holy Spirit, to be the supreme Prophet, High Priest, and King — speaking the final Word of God, serving as the Sacrificer, Mediator, and Intercessor of His people, and being the King of the universe.
Not only does Andrew tell Simon that he found the Messiah, but he also brings him to Jesus, to show him that Jesus is indeed the Messiah.
After he does this, Simon gets his surname: “Jesus looked upon him, and said, Thou art Simon the son of John: thou shalt be called Cephas (which is by interpretation, Peter).”
Notice, first, that Jesus immediately knows who Simon is, just by looking at him. How did He know this? Probably, just like He knew Nathanael in the next passage, by a revelation of the Holy Spirit. And who was Simon? The son of John. Why would Jesus call him this? Because, in that culture, men were know by whose son they were, at least partly because names were so common, like Simon. Now, who was John? He was a fisherman, just like Andrew — it was a family business. Jesus probably would have known who this John was, since He was now familiar with this family, having just spoken to Andrew not too long before. However, Jesus also calls Simon “the son of John” to tell him that that was his former identity. Now, by Jesus’s authority, he was going to be called Cephas, which means “little rock” in Aramaic, a form of Hebrew. However, John tells us what the transliterated Greek equivalent of this name is: Peter.
Why did Jesus change Simon’s surname to Peter? To say that he was the little rock that would be the first stone to go into the foundation of the apostles and prophets — the foundation of the church. This does not mean that Peter was the first pope, but simply that he was the first head leader of the church, after Christ Himself.
Have you beheld Jesus, the Lamb of God, by believing that He is the divine Son of God who was sent by the Father to die for our sins, to be raised from the dead, and to give His forgiveness of sins to all who will change their minds about Him, and depend only on Him for God’s forgiveness?
If you have beheld the Lamb of God like that, are you habitually beholding the Lamb of God by thinking about what His Word says about Him?
Are you standing with the disciples of Jesus in ministry and in fellowship?
Are you following Jesus to learn from Him, and to talk to Him?
Are you seeking Jesus Himself by following Him?
Do you think about where Jesus abides — heaven — and do you spend time with Him there by talking to Him or your Father?
Have you found those closest to you, and told them that Jesus is the Supreme High Priest and King?
Have you brought those closest to you to Jesus by showing them who He is, and by praying for them?
Has Jesus turned you into a new person, so that you might as well have a new name to describe who you are?
Are you living like a living stone in the temple of the living God?