Summary: We are in the business of winning followers to their Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. It is not only Ministers who are called to evangelism, but all Christians. Having received the good news ourselves, our hearts yearn to share it with others.
PREACH, HEAR, FOLLOW
“The two disciples heard him speak, and they followed Jesus” (John 1:37).
John the Baptist was sent beforehand to ‘prepare the way for the Lord’ (Isaiah 40:3; Matthew 3:3). Thus, John’s ministry always pointed away from himself to the One who was to come: ‘He must increase, but I must decrease’ (John 3:30). Now that the Master was come, John twice pointed Him out to his own disciples (John 1:29; John 1:36).
Sometimes when we preach, the message does not ‘take’ the first time. So we Ministers seem to repeat ourselves, or re-run an old message. Jesus Himself was not averse to repeating Himself as a means of underlining His teaching: and that is why we have ‘repeats’ in the Gospels.
John’s message was important enough to bear repetition: “Behold the Lamb of God” (John 1:36). Steadfastly look at Him. Intently study Him - but also, get to know Him!
Two disciples took this to heart on the second hearing of the message: and they followed Jesus (John 1:37). Can we imagine the wrench on the Baptist’s own heart, to lose such a loyal follower as Andrew? - but he knew that it was right. We are not in the business of winning followers to ourselves, our church, our cause, or our denomination - but pointing them to their Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
Jesus requires a level of commitment which involves self-denial and daily sacrifice (Luke 9:23). He asked the two followers, “What are you looking for?” (John 1:38). It was a gracious encouragement to self-examination: ‘What do really want from me? do you understand what you are getting into? are your motives in following me pure?’
Their curiosity was sufficiently aroused for them to frame their desire to be with Him in the form of a question. “Rabbi,” they asked, “where do you reside?” (John 1:38) - meaning that they desired to spend time with Him, and get to know Him. The answer was an answer of grace: “Come and see” (John 1:39; cf. Matthew 11:28). So they dwelt with Him the rest of that day.
One of the two was Andrew, “Simon Peter’s brother” (John 1:40). Andrew first found his own brother Simon, and told him, “We have found the Messiah” (John 1:41). Then he brought him to Jesus (John 1:42).
It is not only ‘Ministers’ who are called to evangelism, but all Christians. Having received the good news ourselves, our hearts yearn to share it with others. It is not a secret to keep, but a message to proclaim from the rooftops (Matthew 10:27).
Seeing Simon, our all-knowing Lord named him - and re-named him. The Hebrew name ‘Simon’ means ‘he who has heard’ - with especial reference to the hearing of the word of God. How appropriate in the context!
But ‘he who has heard’ now becomes (in Greek) Peter: ‘a piece of a rock.’ The Lord calls us by name (John 10:3), and recognises potential within us that others do not always see. He gives ‘a white stone with a new name’ to those who overcome (Revelation 2:17).