It’s interesting to look at the different reactions of Jesus’ first disciples when He called them to follow Him. The story can be found in John 1:35-51. I think we can all identify with at least one of the first disciples.
Andrew was a disciple of John the Baptist. He was used to seeing some pretty crazy stuff, but at the same time he apparently “got” John’s message. As soon as John pointed to Jesus and stated that He was the lamb of God, Andrew took off without hesitation. John was a good man, but Jesus was the Son of God. Andrew knew whom He should follow. He believed immediately and never looked back. Right from the start, Andrew just wanted to be with Jesus, to spend time with Him. His first question of Jesus was, “Where are you staying”? As a result, Andrew ended up staying the whole day with Jesus. I can only imagine the conversations they must have had. I can only imagine what my first conversations with Christ will be like. I only know I will be enthralled at His words and overwhelmed that He would dare take the time to speak to one such as me.
After this first meeting, Andrew ran and retrieved his brother Peter so he too could meet Jesus. I wonder what Peter’s first thoughts were when Andrew told him he had found Jesus. The Jews had been waiting for the Messiah for a long time, so I’m guessing Peter had a few questions running through his head. “Why then? Why now? And how in the world did my brother happen to find Him?” To Peter’s great credit, he apparently showed similar enthusiasm to that of his brother. He immediately came to meet Jesus. How incredible must it have been for Jesus to immediately assign him a new name? Names have powerful meaning in the Jewish culture. I’m thinking a name that means “rock” has to be a good thing; it describes strength, stability, and unwavering purpose. If Peter had ever lacked for confidence, those days were quickly behind him.
Phillip was an interesting case because we are not sure what he was doing at the time Jesus called him. All we know is that Jesus was walking by and simply told Phillip to follow Him. We don’t know if Philip knew who Jesus was, after all He had yet to gain any popularity in the region. But Philip got up and followed. We don’t know whether he knew who Jesus was immediately or after talking to the other disciples, but Philip believed quickly and with all of his heart. After Jesus called him, Philip shortly thereafter ran and told his friend Nathaniel that he had found the Messiah.
Nathaniel’s reaction was quite different from that of Peter’s. Instead of believing right away and coming to find Jesus, he was skeptical and even responded with the socially judgmental comment of “Can anything good come from Nazareth”? If only he knew! Philip must have held some credibility in the mind of Nathaniel because despite his reservations, he went to meet Jesus. Jesus wasn’t offended by the honesty of Nathaniel. Jesus told Nathaniel of things that should have been impossible for Him to know, events that happened before Phillip had even gone to meet with Nathaniel. This miraculous knowledge immediately convinced Nathaniel that Jesus was the Son of God. Here was a guy that was quick to speak and quick to change his mind. My guess is his mouth probably got him in quite a bit of trouble over the years, a truly reactionary individual. I imagine him stumbling through an apology about the Nazareth comment and Jesus having a good laugh, patting him on the shoulder and reassuring him. Those must have been interesting days indeed.
So how do we react when Jesus calls to us? Do we immediately drop everything, no questions asked, to follow him? Will we do anything just for the opportunity to spend some time with Jesus? Will we believe on faith the witness of others or must we touch and see? Are we quick to speak and slow (so very slow) to understand? I want to be like Andrew, a man willing to do whatever it takes just to be in the presence of Jesus. With whom do you identify, and whom would you desire to be like? We who know Christ are all followers, just like the early disciples. Let us seek Him with the same wonder and faith.